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What is Natural Shampoo?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Natural shampoo is a hair cleansing product that utilizes only ingredients found in nature as part of the formula. This is in contrast to most commercial shampoos that use all synthetic ingredients in the product, or shampoos that are a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients. A natural shampoo product can be purchased in a limited range of retail outlets or made at home using ingredients that can be easily obtained from an herbalist.

While natural shampoo does not tend to have as long a shelf life as commercial products, proponents of the shampoos claim that natural hair care products nourish the hair in ways that commercial products could never manage. In addition, a natural hair care product of this type is often formulated to act as both a shampoo and a conditioner. This eliminates the need to shampoo the hair, rinse, and then apply a separate product in order to nourish the hair.

There are a number of different recipes for making homemade natural shampoo. Many of the recipes call for the inclusion of a natural sulfur compound known as methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM. This organic sulfur helps to nourish the scalp, as well as help the other ingredients in the natural shampoo to work into the hair follicles and nourish each strand of hair as well as the roots.

The natural shampoo makes use of herbs to clean as well as nourish the hair. Sage is often included, as it contains antioxidants that are good for the skin. Lavender provides a pleasing scent while also working to moisturize a dry scalp. Rosemary is sometimes included because the combination of vitamins and minerals contained in the herb help to promote healthy follicles. Chamomile and peppermint may be included to help stimulate the scalp as well as nourish the hair.

Along with the MSM and a combination of herbs, a small amount of castile soap is also helpful. The soap helps the natural shampoo to lather in a manner similar to other types of hair products. The soap is gentle, especially when combined with the other ingredients in a natural shampoo.

Most recipes for natural shampoo call for steeping the herbs in hot water for anywhere from thirty to forty-five minutes. Once the brew has steeped for an appreciable period of time, add the MSM. After the MSM has completely dissolved into the liquid, strain the liquid to remove any small remnants of the herbs.

The final step in creating natural shampoo involves adding a small amount of castile soap to the liquid. Since the ingredients will tend to separate when the product sets for longer periods of time, it is a good idea to shake the bottle holding the product just before applying to the scalp. The combination of scents as well as the stimulating feel of the herbs gives the shampoo a pleasing sensation that few commercial products can match.

Part of the beauty of using a natural shampoo is that all the ingredients are readily available at any herbalist shop. Drugstores often carry castile soap as well as MSM if those ingredients are not readily available from other outlets. It is important to note that both the herbs selected and the MSM may not interact well with various types of prescription medications. For this reason, it is a good idea to consult a physician before making or buying a batch of natural shampoo.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By candyquilt — On Jan 14, 2014

Most "all natural" shampoos on the market are not really natural. These shampoos do contain some natural ingredients like plant extracts and oils. But they also usually contain various chemicals and additives. Plus, the FDA does not regulate "natural" products so anyone can put the word "natural" on their label. It's not like organic products where an organic certification for the product is required.

So those looking for a natural shampoo, please read the ingredients. Don't shop just by looking at labels or you will be mislead.

Natural shampoo is nice but true natural shampoo is not the easiest to use. Natural shampoo is usually in the form of a powder or it has to be made from scratch and boiled with fresh ingredients.

By discographer — On Jan 13, 2014

@ddljohn-- There are many different types of natural herbal shampoo that may help with an oily scalp. As far as I know, lavender shampoo, neem shampoo and chamomile shampoo are all beneficial. Especially neem shampoo is used for various scalp infections like fungi and mites. So you might want to try that.

Tea tree oil, mint and basil also contain substances that treat various infections. If you can't find neem shampoo, you can try a shampoo with one or more of these ingredients instead.

By ddljohn — On Jan 13, 2014

What is the best natural hair shampoo for an oily, itchy scalp?

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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