Moisturizing DIY PH Balanced Shampoo

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I will 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.

Trying The No Poo Life

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 for a short amount of time, but to be safe I keep it in the fridge (where it’ll keep for a week or so). 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. This is the best way to use this shampoo and always have some on hand! My hair is just past my shoulders and I use about 2 teaspoons of shampoo on mine.

Moisturizing DIY PH Balanced Shampoo


Make It

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. This will separate some, so shake well before each use.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If your hair is very thin you can decrease the amount of oil you use.
  • There will likely be a bit of a transition period, so keep that in mind.


Not feeling particularly DIYish?

Simply not enough hours in the day? Pinning more than you could ever tackle these days? No worries. I have got you covered.

Please, head on over to my Pronounce Skincare Shop where I sell my skincare creations. I love making them for my family and for you!

Comments 64

    1. Great question! There is no preservative in this recipe. We suggest storing it in the fridge for that reason. Happy DIYing 😊

  1. Hi! I recently tried to make this recipe and I used almond oil and unfortunately my hair came out a greasy mess. Did I do something wrong? Or do I need to add castile soap. The rest of my hair is super soft feeling. I do have super thin hair so maybe I applied too much…I just felt like it was hard to work through my scalp

    1. Hey Angelica! There will be a transition period while using this shampoo. Since you have thin hair you may have applied too much. You haven’t done anything wrong! Just a heads up, if you do want to add the Castile it will change the pH of the shampoo. It also may strip color-treated hair. Hope this helps you!

    1. Megan, great question! This recipe does not require a conditioner but if you choose to use one we have a great DIY conditioner recipe here. Happy DIYing 😊

  2. I have been tested for allergies, and a lot of the common additives and preservatives in food and personal care products are some of my allergies, my issue is that I have really greasy hair. if I don’t wash it every day it is super oily, stringy, and matted down, will this help with that?

    1. Megan, this recipe should help with that! Keep in mind though this shampoo won’t lather but it will cleanse and moisturize your hair. There is also a detox period that can last a few weeks. Hope this helps you!

    1. Hi Linda! Great question. I don’t see anything in this recipe that would strip color treated hair. Hope that helps you!

  3. Hi Jess, could i add some xantham gum (mixed properly to not make lumps) to thicken the mixture so its not as liquidy? Or would that change the ph too much? Thanks, Adele

    1. Hi Adele~ Great question, but difficult to answer. I did a bit of research and see that the Ph of xanthan gum varies pretty widely (anywhere between 2–12), but when it’s in a aqueous solution it appears to have a Ph of 7. All of that said, this is just a bit of research I did quickly and I didn’t look into how it would react with the other ingredients. You could probably get a better response in an online chemistry forum. Sorry I can’t be more help!

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  5. I’m not sure this recipe is as acidic as you think it is. I would take the time to test the ph of the final product. I say this because it takes quite a lot of material to change the ph of a substance. Your recipe’s ratio of acidic substances to neutral is only 6/27, which according to my research, shouldn’t be nearly a high enough concentration to meaningfully change the ph of the coconut milk. I’d like to try this recipe but, if possible, could you take the time to test the final product’s ph? I’d love to hear the result!

    1. Thanks for your feedback! We do not have the proper tools and equipment to test the pH of the final product. We did list the pH level of each ingredient in the recipe for our readers. If you choose to make this recipe and test the final pH level we’d love to know!

  6. i have been trying diy shampoos for a couple years.. none have worked but i keep trying… one way or another they just mess up my dry frizzy hair & make it worse…. i tried this one this weekend and i really liked it. my hair actually felt better than it has in a couple years 🙂 really nice recipe for shampoo… i will continue to make this… . thank you for posting this shampoo recipe

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  8. Going to try this recipe. Wondering what can I add to make it last longer than a week without having to put it in the fridge/freezer

    1. Hey Jae! We really recommend using the shampoo within a week in the fridge or up to a year in the freezer. Happy DIYing 😊

  9. Can I use lemon/ lime to subtitute apple cider vinegar? To avoiding the smell and considering it has low pH too. Thank you

    1. The PH of lemons and ACV are the same, so that makes sense. You might be aware that lemon can lighten your hair, so just keep that in mind. If you give it a try please let us know how it works for you!

  10. I’ve been considering DIY shampoo and wanted to know if I can use unrefined coconut oil? It is organic. I don’t have caster oil can I leave that out?

    1. Hi Dixie! If the coconut oil is fractionated it would work. Regular coconut oil would solidify in your shampoo. You can leave the castor oil out, but it’s amazing for your hair. I offer small amounts of castor oil here in my herbal boutique. Happy DIYing!

  11. hello. just crossed your post. going to try this.. may i knpow the shelf life or fridge life of this DIY shampoo ? can i use coconut/ almond/castor oil instead of jajoba oil? awaiting for your reply

    1. Hello! If you store this in the refrigerator I would use it within a week. If you cube it in ice cube trays you won’t have worries about it going bad within a year. Happy DIYing!

    1. Hi Diane,
      As long as the only ingredient is honey, you’ll be okay. You just don’t want to use “fake” honey (aka corn syrup etc). Raw, real honey is best.

  12. Can i use this shampoo on my black hair? I have highlights and have heard that honey lightens hair colour

  13. So far I have really liked this recipe! I’ve had issues with itchy, red, and flaky scalp for a couple years. I’ve tried so many different things but I can tell my scalp likes this already. I have noticed that when I brush my hair it gets a bit staticy. I am using a brush with plastic bristles. Wondering if maybe because of the more natural stuff the plastic is causing a reaction? Or maybe I’ve dried out mu hair a bit by thinking I’m on the oily end by following the shampoo up with some honey? My hair is really thin and light.

    1. I’m so happy it’s helping! You might try some type of hair serum, or even sleeping with coconut oil on your scalp with a shower cap a night or two a week. You can see my hair serum in the shop here. It might help, too.

  14. Hello! I have done some reading on diy shampoo and some articles say that honey will naturally dye or lighten my hair. Do you know if this is so, if it is do you know of something that could replace the honey? I do not want my hair to lighten, but this recipe looks like exactly what I am looking for otherwise. Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi Gracie. Great question! The amount of honey is so small that I wouldn’t put to much worry in it. If you give this a try, please let us know how you like it!

  15. Would it mess with the recipe too much if you added a bit of water so it could be used in a foaming pump dispenser?? I’d love to try more DIY shampoos, but with non-lathering options I never feel like it actually spreads across my entire head to really clean all my hair. I have fine oily hair.

    1. Hi Laura. So sorry for my delayed response. That would definitely change the recipe quite a bit (as well as the PH). This simply isn’t meant to be a DIY shampoo that lathers. I’m sorry. BUT…if you gave it a try, please let us know how it went!

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  17. Hello, and THANK YOU! I’ve been struggling with Low and No Poo for years after discovering sensitivity to traditional shampoos. I tried Health store brands, John Masters, shampoo bars, baking soda, salt wash, rinses, you name it. I was feeling like I was destined to wear hats forever as my hair always felt and looked awful. I made your “shampoo” today and the relief for my scalp was incredible. Remember those awful Herbal Essences commercials? That was me. And so I sit here, my hair is still wet, and I can’t believe how it is feeling soft and not at all waxy as it dries. My scalp is relaxed and happy for the first time in a long time. ( I used sweet almond oil, and apricot kernel oil as I didn’t have the ones in your recipe. I did not add essential oils to this batch) This was amazing, can’t wait to try some of your other stuff.

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  19. I’m so eager to make this and try it! (Though I wish you made it and sold it so I could just buy it instead. :p) I’ve been using natural and DIY shampoos for years and have had an itchy scalp for like a year and a half. So when I read that castille soap and such did this for you i was like hooray! Maybe this is my answer! I sure hope so. I’ll try to remember to report back after I try it out for awhile.

  20. I love the idea of this, but holy man was my hair oil. Like disgusting looking! Maybe I’ll try agian and cut the oil like others have done, but I’m afraid that won’t be enough. Maybe I used too much since there are 0 suds???

    1. Hi there! Yes, yes…a little goes a long way. You might have used too much, trying to get a suds action, but you won’t get that (and you don’t need that). There is also a period of adjustment, since this is likely unlike any other shampoos that you have used. I hope this helps!

  21. I have been using this shampoo for about 2 weeks now (every 3-4 days, with my regular shampoo in between). Next time I will try with half the amount of oil because for the moment I still need to use my regular shampoo after 24-48h, my hair being naturally oily. I freezed half of the content, for the moment it still smells wonderful and the consistency seems a bit thicker than the first day? My hair feels a lot stronger and is shinier, 2 weeks ago it would break so easily. I am very happy with this recipe, thank you so much!

  22. I love your website and how much research youve done you sound alot like me my husband gets overwhelmed with all my thats not healthy or good for you/toxic lol but for the most part ive tried to replace everything with healthy honemade if possible. I grew up with a very herbs are amazing mother that made and sold castile soaps. I had kinda deviated from all that until me and my husband finally gave up on store bought shampoo/soap with sodium lauryl sulfate because our heads were always itchy and i read some very disturbing articles about it. I make my own soap now like my mother and bought equipment to make batches of bars 240 at a time and ive found so many ppl are starting realize how bad store bought soap can be! But anyway back on track ive read alot about soap ph and tested alot of batches of liquid shampoo and ive got one currently i really like but the down side of low ph is that the sudsing effect kinda gets lost which is sad for me because i love me some foamy shampoo but its still a work in progress and there still might be something i havent tried yet that will work! Im def gunna try this and the conditioner out tho to see how they work! Keep up the good work 🙂 -danielle

    1. <3 I love that you and your hubby are "getting back on track!" I think you'll really enjoy this DIY shampoo.

  23. Thanks so much for your recipe. This has made my hay hair feel so soft. I did reduce the jojoba, and castor oil to 1/2 t. because sometimes it makes my hair look oily, but that just becomes a ponytail day cause it’s worth it to have soft hair which I’ve never had before in my life. Thanks again.

  24. Lovely recipe!! It is easy and affordavblebleble. My hair smells wonderfully like coconut and is as soft as silk. I will never go back!

  25. I love the fact that you considered the ph. I don’t see others considering the science of this. I will definitely make this.

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