Dryness, Buildup, Frizz & More: 4 Easy Shampoo Bar Recipes For Every Hair Concern

mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Dryness, Frizz & More: 4 Shampoo Bar Recipes For Every Hair Concern
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Shampoo bars, while sustainable and portable, often receive a bad rap—they're typically made using a saponification process, which increases the pH of oils and results in an extremely alkaline product. If you're well versed in the role of pH in beauty, you likely know alkaline hair products raise the cuticles, which can lead to dryness, frizz, and damage. 

But wait! That doesn't mean you must shy away from these eco-friendly products—just make your own at home. You should be picky about your shampoo bar, which might make the DIY venture way more appealing. You control what goes into your mold—all the hydrating ingredients, with none of the stripping players—to create a seriously heavenly lather. 

Ahead, four shampoo bar recipes for varying hair concerns and how to use them right. 

Which ingredients should you look for? 

For a very basic bar, you'll at least need some sort of base, like lye or calendula wax. Tara Pelletier, product formulator and co-founder of Meow Meow Tweet, uses a method called "cold process soapmaking" for the brand's own vegan bar, but she says you can also use a glycerin melt and pour soap base, as long as you make sure the ingredients are pure and high-quality (here's a plant-derived option with plenty of hydrating ingredients). From there, you can sprinkle in your moisturizing oils, butters, and the like. "Add ingredients for your particular concerns according to the base instructions," she notes. 

In terms of which fun add-ons to include, the choice is yours. Coconut milk, avocado oil, olive oil, and shea butter are all common moisturizing adds, and some include essential oils for their potent hair-healthy properties (more later). 

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4 shampoo recipes for different hair concerns. 

Below, four recipes to try. You should note that shampoo bars aren't for everyone—even the ones you make in your kitchen!—as they do contain a higher pH than other balancing shampoos. You can buffer the drying nature by adding soothing oils and add-ons (you'll see below), but those with delicate or color-treated locks may want to find another cleansing option. 

1. For dry strands.

If your strands run dry, you'll want to load your bar with moisturizing oils and butters. Here's a quick recipe to inspire your parched locks: 

  1. Chop your glycerin soap base into 1-inch chunks, then measure out 1 cup.
  2. Melt the soap base on medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. 
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat and add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, 1 Tbsp. avocado oil, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and 1 Tbsp. shea butter. Stir until well combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into soap molds (or baking molds) and let cool for at least 30 minutes or until completely firm. Pop them out of the molds and place them on a sheet of wax paper. Air-dry them overnight. 

2. For dandruff and buildup. 

Got flakes? A clarifying bar is key. Essential oils can effectively remove buildup, not to mention calm an inflamed scalp and stimulate healthy hair growth. Now, you don't want to use this number every night, as you can dry out the hair or irritate the scalp. Use this recipe when you need a thorough rinse: 

  1. Chop your glycerin soap base into 1-inch chunks, then measure out 1 cup.
  2. Melt the soap base on medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. 
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat and add 3 Tbsp. jojoba oil, 1 to 2 drops of rosemary, tea tree, and tamanu essential oils. Stir until well combined. 
  4. Pour the mixture into molds and let cool for at least 30 minutes or until completely firm. Pop them out of the molds and place them on a sheet of wax paper. Air-dry them overnight. 

3. For frizz. 

The key to battling frizz? Locking in hydration. That's why you'll want to invest in products that seal the cuticle—i.e., a moisturizing shampoo. Make your very own with this recipe:

  1. Chop your glycerin soap base into 1-inch chunks, then measure out 1 cup. 
  2. Melt the soap base on medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. 
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat and add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, 1 Tbsp. avocado oil, and 1 Tbsp. argan oil. Optional: Add 1 Tbsp. pure aloe vera. Stir until well combined. 
  4. Pour the mixture into molds and let cool for at least 30 minutes or until completely firm. Pop them out of the molds and place them on a sheet of wax paper. Air-dry them overnight. 
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4. For curls. 

"When considering ingredients for a shampoo bar, curly girls should always look for products that will moisturize and hydrate hair," says hairstylist Miko Branch, co-founder of natural hair care brand Miss Jessie's. "I recommend looking for shampoo bars that are formulated with coconut oil and shea butter as both ingredients help condition hair, smooth out any frizz, and help promote better curl formation." 

  1. Chop your glycerin soap base into 1-inch chunks, then measure out 1 cup.
  2. Melt the soap base on medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. 
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat and add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, 1 Tbsp. shea butter, and 1 Tbsp. honey. Stir until well combined. 
  4. Pour the mixture into molds and let cool for at least 30 minutes or until completely firm. Pop them out of the molds and place them on a sheet of wax paper. Air-dry them overnight. 

How do you use a shampoo bar?

Once your bars are dried solid, they're ready for the shower; either apply it directly to your hair or create a lather in your hands before scrubbing with your fingertips. If you do decide to apply it head-on, though, just remember to rub in small, circular motions—large circles can easily tangle the strands. Also make sure your strands (or hands) are wet enough to create a lather: "The idea is that a shampoo bar is waterless, but it does need water to distribute through your hair and rinse out properly. If it isn't spreading or lathering well, add more water!" says Pelletier.

And, again, curls deserve their own moment. Ringlets and coils can easily snarl, so it's best to use the lather method in your hands. And while each curly girl might follow slightly different shampooing schedules, you might want to use the bar sparingly. As Branch explains, "To maintain healthy curls, it's crucial to avoid overwashing, as doing so strips moisture from the strands." 

When you're done shampooing, follow up with a hydrating conditioner to drench the strands with moisture, and make sure to store your bar in a completely dry area to keep it from breeding bacteria. Regardless, make sure to wash it before each use, which can reduce the amount of bacteria transferred over to your scalp.

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The takeaway. 

Shampoo bars don't have to strip those strands—when you make your own, you control all the moisturizing ingredients and add-ins for a healthy lather. Straightforward, eco-friendly, and fun to whip up.

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