Moisturizing Homemade Foaming Shampoo

There are a ton of different homemade shampoo recipes out there.  Lots of them are good, too…but most of them lack the foaming property that most of us have gotten used to with store-bought shampoos.  After months and months of failed attempts, I finally found a recipe that not only cleans like your hair like a champ, it foams and moisturizes at the same time!  I couldn’t be more thrilled!


So how do I get this shampoo to foam without soap, you ask? It’s a great question, one that took me a long time to figure out.  If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know I’m a huge fan of soapnuts.  They contain saponins that emulsify oils to clean your hair.  Alone they have a slight foaming action but when combined at the right concentration along with some guar gum, you get a shampoo that resembles a store-bought version…but much better for your hair!

First, you’ll have to make a soapnut concentrate.  Depending on how often you wash your hair, it can last up to 2 months in the fridge before you use it all up.  Then, you just use a 1/4 cup at a time to make your shampoo before every wash.

Soapnut Concentrate:

  • 50 whole soapnuts
  • 2 cups water, distilled or boiled (but cooled now)
  • jar

1. Fill your jar with the soapnuts and the water and let sit for 24 hours.

2. Pour both the soapnuts and the water in your blender and blend on high for a minute or so. You’ll get a very stiff foam with soapnuts in it.

3.  Then you just have to wait for the soapnut foam to liquify again. This can take up to 2 hours…all that foam means your hair will be getting squeaky clean!

4. Strain the soapnut liquid from the soapnut bits using a cheesecloth.

5.  Now your soapnut concentration is ready! Stick that in the fridge.


Homemade Foaming Shampoo:

  • 1/4 cup soapnut concentrate
  • 1/4 cup aloe vera (goo from the whole leaf,  or gel/liquid from store-bought brands)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon guar gum
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil (option but good for cleansing scalp)
  • 5 drop rosemary essential oil (optional but good for stimulating hair growth)
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil (optional but good for balancing scalp and providing an amazing scent)

1. Combine the soapnut concentrate, aloe vera, and raw honey in the blender and blend on low for a minute or two.

2. Add in the essentials oils, if using, and blend for a few seconds.

3. Add in the guar gum last and blend for about 30 seconds or so.

4. Transfer the (foamy!) shampoo to an applicator bottle and use like you would regular shampoo.

I usually follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse for extra lustrous and shiny hair.

Normally my hair grows obnoxiously slow but I’ve noticed quite a bit of new hair growth this past month since I’ve been using this recipe.  Who knows if it’s the shampoo, a super healthy diet, the stress-free vacation I just went on, the fact that it’s spring, or just pure coincidence…but given how nice my hair looks after each shampoo, I’ll definitely be continuing to use it!



24 replies

  1. You are a genius!! I just made this shampoo last night and it’s amazing, it foams like regular shampoo, and smells amazing! Next, I’m trying the sunless tanner recipe – thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    • I’m so so so glad you liked it! It’s one of my favorites as well. Definitely keep me posted on what you think of the sunless tanner 🙂

  2. Am I reading this correctly? 50 soap nuts? All other places I read up to 10 or 20 with much more water. I have been using soap nuts liquid on my hair for about 3 weeks. I find it to be very oily. I read it could be due to using to little or too much. I have tried to shampoo daily or skip a day and it still come out that way. I have tried with dry or wet hair. What am I doing wrong? I want to make the thickened shampoo but know it will spoil quickly. I don’t want to use up large amounts of the nuts to simply have it spoil Please fill me in on the how and why.

  3. Hi Cheryl,

    Yup, you read that correctly. The 50 soapnuts is just for making the concentrate, of which you use only a portion for a batch…which pretty much makes it come out to what you were saying. The more concentrated way of brewing it (and blending them whole) makes for a much more foaming shampoo than just making soapnut liquid the regular way and I find that this allows the moisturizing ingredients to work a little better. The concentration doesn’t spoil quickly if you keep it in the fridge so I just store it in there until I’m ready to make a batch.

    As for why you are having the issue of oil, I have a few thoughts. First of all, have you tried clarifying recently? I find this most often is the cause of most natural-hair-recipe problems. This is especially important if you’ve recently started transitioning from more traditional hair products. Secondly, I’ve found that most people having oily hair problems is because they need to use less of the soapnut solution, not necessarily more. And lastly, are you following up with an acidic rinse (like apple cider vinegar, citric acid, etc)? I find that with any natural hair cleansers, I need to follow up with something like this to make my hair look more shiny and clean…and it’s especially important if you have hard water like I do!

    Hope some of that helps, let me know if you have any other questions about anything!

  4. Hi there..
    I just wanna know whether this shampoo will cause any build up on my scalp as we add guar gum as a thickening agent.. My scalp is very oilt and hence prone to dandruff.. So just wanted to know before trying it..

  5. Hi Alex,
    Loving the DIY recipes.. Just wanted to know if flax seeds gel + soap nut concentrate could do the trick instead of using guar / xanthan gums. My scalp is prone to dandruff and would like to skip the gum part.
    Also, I would like to use this all natural shampoo with the shampoo consistency..

    • Hm, I’ve never tried replacing the gum with flax seed gel…I’m imagining that that would work though… You’re right though: you can leave out the gum entirely and it’ll work just fine but it’s much more runny that way.

  6. Alex,
    I made the soapnut liquid concentrate ready.. ( yippeee…!! ) Will try it out with flax seeds and oats flour..
    Will keep you posted about the results.. Fingers crossed.. 🙂

  7. Flax seed + soapnut shampoo gel worked wonders undoubtedly!! It’s a conditioner cum shampoo.. Worth trying.. I should try an oatmeal soapnut shampoo as well.. Will keep u posted.. 🙂

    • I haven’t ever had it go bad before I used it up so it’ll store at room temp for a couple weeks but I usually stick it in the fridge just to be safe and then it’s been good for several months 🙂

  8. Hey… Thanks a lot for doing this.. I finally found the shampoo that suits me.. But, how will I find out that it has gone bad? Will it start smelling bad or will the ingredients split out?

    • Yay! So glad it works for you! Usually the smell shows up first and then usually things start to grow in it (green, brown, or black splotches) but I haven’t had any go bad by the time I used it (but I did leave a small batch out just out of curiosity for how long it’ll last!)

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