Moisturizing DIY PH Balanced Shampoo

It's all about that PH baby. Many "no poo" and DIY shampoo methods disrupt our hair's PH causing itchiness. This DIY PH balanced shampoo recipe should take care of that problem!
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Trying The No Poo Life

I’ll admit that I happily hopped on the no-poo bandwagon last year. My husband was eager to try water washing, so I used him as my case study towards this shampoo-less lifestyle. I wasn’t brave enough to try it on myself yet, but he didn’t mind me experimenting on him. I’ll frequently shove a spoonful of a new recipe in his mouth for a secondary opinion. Or approach him with a new bodycare product that I’ll just start applying on him without saying anything. The man is used to it.

He started off by washing his hair thoroughly every day with water. After 5 weeks of “transition,” it was unbelievably greasy. He even got our neighbor to try it, but with the same failed results. We then switched to an apple cider vinegar and essential oils rinse. This was poured on and combed through. Finally he had results. His hair was soft, shiny, not greasy, and the dandruff from his psoriasis had been tamed.

Excited by his results, I decided it was time to ditch my bottle of shampoo. I tried the vinegar rinse and about 4 weeks later, I looked like a stringy, greasy mess! I had read that many fellow no-pooers would use baking soda as shampoo, before rinsing in vinegar, so I decided to give it a try. I instantly had perfect, nongreasy hair. I was hooked!

The Problem with Homemade Shampoo

Three months later, I couldn’t stop itching at my scalp. The problem with this method, and many other DIY shampoos is that they drastically raise the PH value of the scalp, then shock it when it’s hit with the acidic vinegar. Over time this disrupts the scalps natural PH and causes itching and flaking.

Castile soap is often used as a base in homemade shampoos, but it’s ph value is 10-11, while the scalps natural ph is closer to 5.5. And if your hair is colored or treated, the castile soap can strip the color according to Lisa Bronner.

After failing at my no poo experiment I caved and went back to my health food store brand, even though I wasn’t entirely impressed with the ingredients. Recently though, I discovered that not just soap or baking soda can be used to cleanse the hair.

It’s All About That PH

I don’t know the exact PH of this shampoo recipe, but I do know it’s not highly alkaline like baking soda. The ph levels of each ingredient are listed beside it so you can see for yourself how this works. Ideally you want the final ph to be between 4.5 and 5.5. All of the ingredients are in this range, except for the coconut milk which is between 6-7, so I added some apple cider vinegar to counteract the higher ph.

Many DIY shampoo recipes call for mixing coconut milk with castile soap, but I skipped the soap and added raw honey instead. This article does a good job explaining why raw honey is so good for the scalp and helps tame dandruff and frizz.

Many people have used castor oil to successfully grow hair, so I’ve included this in the recipe, but it can be skipped if your hair is naturally very greasy. I also use jojoba oil, which is technically a wax and closely mimics our hairs natural sebum. Learn more about carrier oils here.

So How Does it Work?

This recipe won’t lather like regular shampoos, but it will cleanse and moisturize. Don’t use too much though, or you’ll end up with leftover residue in your hair, making it feel gunky.

If you’ve been using a regular shampoo you may experience a detox period that can last for a few weeks while your hair adjusts. To minimize this you can slowly replace your regular shampoo with this recipe. So for example, if you wash your hair three times a week, start off with using the store bought shampoo for two of those washes; then the next week, reduce it to one. After a week or two, start using this recipe only. Even if you’ve been “no pooing” for awhile, it may still take a few times before your hair and scalp adjust to this recipe.

Storing Your Shampoo

In theory this DIY PH balanced shampoo can be stored at room temperature, but to be safe I keep it in the fridge. If you want to make a big batch up, pour the mixture into ice cube trays and keep in the freezer for later. Thaw out a cube or two every week as needed. My hair is just past my shoulders and I use about 2 teaspoons of shampoo on mine.

Moisturizing DIY PH Balanced Shampoo
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. This will separate some, so shake well before each use.
  2. To use, massage a small amount on the scalp and use your fingers or a comb to spread through the hair. Leave on for a few minutes before rinsing off.
  3. If your hair is naturally very oily, you can follow this up with an apple cider vinegar rinse made with ¼ cup apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup purified water.

Still feel the need for a DIY Conditioner? Yup, you got it……

Comments 54

  1. When using this Shampoo, do you not need to use conditioner? Is it easy to comb your hair after you wash it with this?

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      Author

      I wouldn’t use a conditioner with it because it is very moisturizing. I find that it’s easy to comb afterward, but I also follow it with the optional vinegar rinse I mentioned in the post. And my hair doesn’t need the jojoba oil in it either. If you use too much, you may get a buildup. But everyone’s hair is different and responds to different things. If you’ve always used a store bought shampoo, or even if you’ve been doing the typical no poo baking soda and vinegar, your hair will have an adjustment period with this.

  2. This seems like a lovely recipe to try. Something that has worked very well for my oily hair and dandruff is amla powder, soap nuts, and soap wort (or shikakai). It works in hard water areas and I had no transition period. I can go 3-4 days in between washes!

    1. Natalia I would love your recipe. I am new to the no shampoo and also have oily hair and itchy scalp. I didn’t have very good results with the baking soda, it left my hair feeling strange and the rye flour was too messy and left little pieces in my hair even with very thorough rinsing.

    2. Natalia I would also love to know your recipe! I have super oily hair and most shampoo recipes just make my hair even stringer then before :S …and leave weird bits or build up in my hair 😛 Please please please share the recipe! My hair will thank you! 😀

  3. Hi, I made a shampoo with coconut milk and aloe Vera gel and my hair was so greasy! Yesterday I used henna and to mix the powder, I used coconut milk. It felt very good on my head and was easier to rinse the henna out. I used a henna shampoo bar afterwards to wash it very good because I knew the coconut milk was fatty. This morning my hair still looked wet it was so oily. Felt like I was 15 again with the greasy hair! Back to the sink this morning and used a soapnut liquid, rinsed, washed with my shampoo bar twice before finally not greasy after drying my hair. Oh and I did rinse with ACV this morning. Soooo do you think this would do the same? My hair is bra strap length but is fine textured and hasn’t been greasy in a very long time. Anyway, just wondering if this was ever an issue you have seen using coconut milk in hair?

    1. Post
      Author

      Different people do better with different things when it comes to alternative hair care, so I’m not sure how this will work for you, but you can try it! The thing about washing your hair with a soap is that it strips the hair of its natural oils, so it overcompensates and gets greasy faster. It takes awhile, usually several weeks, for your hair to adjust to an alternative “shampoo.”

      You could also try just using a little amount of coconut milk and watering the recipe down.

  4. hi,
    I love your website, very impressive and extremely helpful. I started making homemade natural soaps this past year. The more I got involved in it, the more I was learning, not only about soaping and the horrible ingredients in even, supposedly, the better soaps on the market but I was also getting so much more
    info about everything else that we use, daily, in our lives, that is terrible for our bodies, and probably, in the end, not very beneficial for our minds too. Who knows.
    Well anyway, I too, like you, am on a mission to reduce and eliminate as many toxins as possible so I have been picking up a recipe here and one there for natural diy products to that end.
    I have very bad eczema and drryyy skin and have found my homemade soaps are definitely helping it. If you have any advice or other resources I could go to, I would greatly appreciate your input, if you have any.
    Oh and one other thing, what is “no pooing”???
    Thank you so much, can’t compliment you enough about your insight and help.
    Patty in southern NH.
    I wanted to know what “no pooing” is.

  5. Love, love, love how my hair is looking after using this shampoo 3 times! However, after almost 2 weeks, the mixture has curdled and has an off scent. I was thinking it might be the acidity of the vinegar affecting the coconut milk?? Or, maybe because it went unrefrigerated. I want to keep these ingredients on my head and in my hair! They work for me. So, I was thinking of replacing the ACV with a small amount of baking soda and following with an ACV rinse. Do you have any ideas of how I might be able to preserve the shelf life of this miracle? Maybe vitamin E oil?

    1. Post
      Author

      I’m glad you’re liking it! I did experience some curdling in mine over time because of the vinegar, but if it has an “off” smell, then yes, don’t use it. I recommend in the post keeping this in the fridge and I also give some tips on how to preserve it even longer. Adding some vitamin e oil instead of the jojoba probably wouldn’t hurt. I don’t recommend putting baking soda in this because then it will no longer be ph balanced and healthy for your scalp. As I mention in the article, alkaline shampoo or baking soda will “drastically raise the PH value of the scalp, then shock it when it’s hit with the acidic vinegar. Over time this disrupts the scalps natural PH and causes itching and flaking.”

  6. Hi, I agree with your opinion on no-poo method. I tried it for several months and now I have terrible dandruff and itchy skalp. I really like your recipe, but the problem is that I have dreads, so I’m affraid of residue which can get stuck in my dreads. Do you have any idea how to avoid this? Or any other recipe suiteble for dreadlocks? Thanks a lot!

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      Author
  7. Will this shampoo rinse out my hair dye faster.I am trying to find a healthy shampoo that will not rinse the hair color out. Thanks

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      Author
  8. I also started getting an itchy scalp after being on a no poo regime for a few months. I am going to mix up some of this and give it a try. I’d like to go back to a homemade shampoo, because I liked the ACV rinse and how it made my hair feel. Thanks for posting this!

  9. Someone may have already asked this and I didn’t see it, but I was wondering about the pH of the essential oils-does that matter, or should you just pick one you know to beneficial to hair?

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      Author

      I haven’t been able to find what the ph of essential oils are, and they’re such a small part of the recipe I don’t think it would really effect it anyway. Rosemary and lavender are especially good for your hair and are what I use.

  10. Are there diff kinds of coconut milk out there? I bought a can to try this recipe but it says once open it keeps a max of two days in the fridge! That won’t work to make this recipe :/

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      Author

      I used Native Forest full fat coconut milk. Mine says it lasts for 4 days in the fridge, but you can freeze the shampoo in ice cube trays and then thaw a cube out when you want to use one.

  11. My hair is way too greasy using 2tsp of shampoo and vinegar rinse. I also noticed a waxy build up my brush and comb. How do I get the greasy out? I have been using Castile soap and acv rinse prior to this recipe for about 6 weeks. That was creating a greasy and static at the ends. Does hard water play a factor in getting a recipe to work properly?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Rachel! Since this is a no poo recipe your hair can take a few weeks to a few months to adjust. Even after using castile soap. And unlike regular shampoo you should only wash your hair with this about every 3-4 days. I’ve heard hard water can have an effect on no poo methods too. If you used oil in with the coconut milk you can cut that out of the recipe too.

      1. What would you recommend to reduce the greasy feeling? Rinse with water and vinegar with no shampoo for a couple of days?

    1. Post
      Author

      Tea tree is a highly concentrated essential oil with different properties than the jojoba or castor oil. It would probably be irritating and maybe even unsafe to sub it in for the amount of the carrier oils called for in this. I would just omit the castor and jojoba in the recipe. You can just use 1tsp of tea tree though as mentioned in the recipe.

        1. I’ve used lemon juice to bring out the highlights in my hair before so it might work in this. I haven’t used any acid other than vinegar in a shampoo, but let me know if you try it;

  12. I was so excited to try this out, but I used it last night and now my hair is super greasy. I know that there is gonna be an adjustment period, but my hair is so greasy it looks like it is still wet, but I know it’s not. So, is there anything I can do that can make more of the greasyness go away?

    1. You can rinse with straight apple cider vinegar after using the shampoo. If you used lemon instead of vinegar in the recipe that could have affected it too. You can do a detox hair mask to speed along the process, but the greasy period of no poo can still last awhile.

  13. I had been switching between a coconut and aloe shampoo and a Dr. Bronners based shampoo and found out I had to use filtered water to wash my hair in order for it to work and my ends would be dry. So I made this and it’s worked great! If I feel like there is residue I just spray my hair with Apple cider usually only on my scalp since my ends are usually dryer. My hair has been looking so much better, I only wash it every 4-5 days. I thought the jojoba would be too much but so far it’s what the bleached ends have needed!!! I get so many compliments.

  14. PH balance has become really important to me lately. I knew that it was important for hair, but it can be hard to find PH balanced shampoos even with that said. I will definitely try out this DIY and I think that I’ll love it!

  15. All I know is I want to stop buying store bought shampoo, I’m trying to shy away from chemicals and toxins in my hygiene routine as well as life. I do have naturally greasy hair, so I would follow your advice with the apple cider rinse, but can you please specify for me whether I follow up with the rinse in the shower or just when my hair starts to turn greasy.

    And…as I’m completely new to the no pooing idea, how many times can I use this shampoo on my hair per week? (Sorry if this was written in the article, I just like specifying so that I fully understand).

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Courtney, there are tons of ways to do the no-poo style, and it takes some experimenting to get it right for your personal needs. Generally with no poo you wash your hair every 3-4 days. I would use a vinegar rinse every time afterward while in the shower. The transition period can take a few weeks to a few months before the oils in your hair balance out. There are Facebook groups you can join too to share tips on how to tweak your no poo method.

  16. Hey. Thanks for this recipe! Ive been no-pooing for 3 months using baking soda and an acv rinse. I haven’t experienced any negative side effects, but wanted a more ph balanced method.

    I tried this recipe as you wrote it and I too experienced hair that was so greasy it looked wet. I’ve used it for 3 washes 3-4 days apart. I experienced some improvement by rinsing with acv, but was still unable to wear my hair down.

    Would cutting out the castor oil be enough? I’m planning to make a second batch to try before switching methods.

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      Author

      You could try cutting out both the jojoba and castor oil both and using it for at least a month. I used the baking soda with acv washes for about 8 months before my scalp was itching and my hair was falling out more. This method never allows the oils in your hair to really balance themselves, so it will take a few weeks to a few months for your scalp to adjust using a shampoo like this. After that you can really have a better idea if it just isn’t the shampoo for you.

  17. I’m going to start trying this, but I blow dry my hair. I’ve heard you shouldn’t blow dry your hair with “no-poos” as it can dry your hair even more. Is this the case with this shampoo?

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      Author
  18. Found your site this morning after overwhelmingly searching through recipes to try. We were trying one on my daughter and her hair looks horrible.It is greasy and stringy. I’m thinking of trying this but cutting the oil in half. I’m wondering if this wouldn’t work as a body wash also?? Sure would be nice to only need one bottle in the shower.

    I’m also hoping to find something that works great for my husband. He has super thin hair and if it isn’t washed every single day it gets REALLY greasy. Hoping to get his hair to where it doesn’t need to be washed every day.

  19. So I tried this last night and my hair is so greasy. I put cocoa and corn starch to combat how greasy I look it’s actually embarassing. Do I wash my hair with water and a vinegar rinse to hopefully get this grease out? I love the idea of being natural but I don’t want to look dirty.

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      Author

      Hi Lisa, because this is a “no poo” shampoo, it will take several weeks to several months for your hair to adjust to a shampoo that doesn’t strip the natural oils from the hair. I would definitely follow it up with a vinegar rinse each time, and use the shampoo maybe once every 3 days. A lot of people wear hats or ponytails to help hide the grease during transition, but it will look greasy. You can also cut out the jojoba and castor oil.

  20. I like this idea except for the fact that I am allergic to coconut in all forms. So while it may make my hair wonderful, I’d have to use an epi pen and go to the er after every time I used it. Is there something other than coconut milk I can use?

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  21. I really was excited to try this. I had been no-pooing for about 5 months with baking soda and acv and decided to switch due to ph. With Bs and Acv my hair was great, but I wanted a better option.

    My hair was extremely greasy and wet looking after using this. It improved slightly with an acv rinse but not enough to wear my hair down. I tried it a few times before switching to Rye Flour and ACV. I love how rye makes my hair feel, but I have to wash it ever 2/3 days and it’s still not great down.

    Would cutting out the castor oil be enough? Or should I cut both oils?

  22. Hi, I read in another recipe using aloe vera gel. Can I add that to this recipe without it interfering with any other ingredients?

    Thank you! I look forward to trying this recipe!
    -Danielle

    1. Post
      Author

      You could try it, I’m not sure how the new shampoo would feel/work in the hair though. I will say that vinegar causes aloe vera to separate and get kind of chunky, so it might mess with the consistency.

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  25. Hey
    I’ve recently developed an allergy to foaming agents (sodium laurel sulphate and stearic acid and who knows what else) so now forced to use expensive ‘natural’ shampoos – but my hair is so unhappy. It got home dyed recentlyto cover the greys and now so, so dry and frizzy. Reading through the various articles on DIY shampoo on the net, I wanted to say – this is the best article I’ve found. Kudos to you 🙂 🙂

  26. Hi, I’m about to try this recipe out. Just 1 question, can I add both rosemary and peppermint essential oil into this recipe? If can, how many tsp should I add in for each type of essential oil?

    Thank you! Can’t wait to try this recipe 🙂

    Jess

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