Homemade Coconut Milk Shampoo

Coconut milk shampoo
Coconut milk shampoo

It’s easy to make your own homemade shampoo—one that gets your hair squeaky clean and is free of the harmful chemicals found in commercial shampoos.

While it’s fair to question whether commercial soaps and shampoos are really all that harmful, many a mom has learned to make her own soap in order to help children or other relatives with skin troubles. One of my own in-laws tells me that her homemade soap cured her mother’s eczema, and local herb ladies tell me they’ve seen it work.

And it does appear that some people, at least, are sensitive to the detergents and chemicals found in commercial hair and body products.

According to industry chemist and author David Pollock, several chemicals commonly included in commercial shampoos may be carcinogenic, or potentially harmful to skin and hair in other ways. According to Pollock, “The sodium and ammonium laureth sulfates are known cancer-causing ingredients,” as is polyethylene glycol (PEG). Other ingredients, in Pollock’s view, could lead to thinning of the hair or allergic reactions.

You can quickly and easily make a homemade shampoo that is far superior to commercial shampoos, which can be made with pure, organic ingredients. It will provide both better cleaning, better conditioning and a wonderful, silky feel to your hair, without any need to use a separate conditioner after shampooing! The coconut milk in this shampoo contains coconut oil—one of nature’s finest hair conditioners—and in just the right amount to make your hair soft and lustrous.

Homemade shampoo is a special joy for those who are particular about fragrances. I have probably never purchased a bottle of shampoo, conditioner, or fabric softener without removing the cap and taking a whiff. If you try this, you’re likely to notice that many of the different shampoo fragrances are nearly indistinguishable from each other—and none of them smell particularly good. They often have a harsh, “chemical” odor—nothing remotely like the flower on the label.

With homemade shampoo, if you want your shampoo to smell like honeysuckle—or some other floral, herbal, or citrus scent or combination—you need only add a few drops of essential oil.

Plus I think you’ll notice quite a difference in the quality of the product itself. This natural shampoo has a wonderful silky feel, smells heavenly, and gets your hair squeaky clean. This shampoo is best used without following up with a commercial conditioner--or any conditioner at all. You'll find you don't need it, for one thing. But you'll also find that when used without following with conditioner, it gives your hair a marvelous soft, silky feel, and a subtle shine.

This recipe can be made using only water, coconut milk, and real lye soap of any kind (Castile soap made with 100% olive oil makes the best shampoo), but substituting rose water for the water adds a nice, light fragrance and a luxurious touch. Other flower waters, besides rose water, are also available at many health food stores. Lavender-flower or orange-flower water would also be lovely in this recipe.

This product also makes a fine liquid hand and body wash that is both cleansing and moisturizing.

This homemade shampoo does have the minor drawback of separating after even brief storage, and should be shaken before use. While it is good made with almost any real lye soap, it is great when made with olive oil soap! This may be the homemade shampoo recipe you’re looking for, and except for needing to be shaken before use, it is pretty much to die from!

Also, this recipe is best made in small batches, used up quickly, and kept refrigerated to avoid spoilage. There is probably no preservative, or combination of preservatives, that will prevent spoilage of a product with such a high percentage of milk--and hydrosols, if you choose to include rosewater.

Obtaining the Pure Lye Soap for this Recipe

I use my own homemade cold-process lye soap for this recipe. If possible, make your own 100% olive oil Castile soap! If this is not possible, you can probably buy a hand-crafted soap at the health food store that is made with 100% olive oil (plus, of course, lye and water). Or, if you have a friend who makes soap, ask her to make a 100% olive oil soap for you.

Other types of real lye soap can also be used—as long as it’s a real, natural soap—it’s just that I’ve found olive oil soap to make the finest shampoo. I have also made this shampoo with almost pure coconut oil soap.

Depending on the type of soap used, you can get a somewhat different product. If you make this recipe with Castile (olive oil) soap, it will barely froth up in your blender at all, and makes a creamy shampoo.

Coconut oil soap, on the other hand, is a very bubbly soap, and whirling it a blender with the other ingredients causes at least a fourfold increase in volume, so that you have to wait for the bubbles to be re-absorbed into the liquid before you can bottle.

These two soaps have somewhat different properties in other ways: Coconut oil soap is a much more powerful cleanser—does a better job of removing dirt and oils from the hair. Olive oil soap, on the other hand, is gentler and more conditioning, and is preferred because it does not strip the hair of natural oils.

You may find that most hand-crafted real lye soaps work well in this recipe, even those made with other oils, or combinations of oils.

Here's a link for directions for a wonderful, no-fail Castile soap:

Choosing between Rosewater and Distilled Water

Making this recipe with rosewater can get expensive! And, frankly, I kind of doubt that the quality difference is significant. While you can substitute plain water for rosewater in this recipe, it is important to use distilled water, if you do. The minerals in tap water notorious react with soap to produce soap scum—which is especially undesirable on your hair. Other impurities in tap water might also react with soap in such a way as to make a less-than-wonderful product.

The rose water scent is very nice, but a few drops of essential oil (any fragrance you like!) can be added to the plain-water version to provide scent.

Made with distilled water, this shampoo should provide a wonderful, natural shampoo that is inexpensive enough for the whole family to use every day—and one they’ll love!

Coconut Milk Shampoo Recipe

1 cup grated real lye soap, not packed, Olive oil (Castile) soap preferred

½ cup distilled water or rose water

½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (canned—the kind for used in cooking)

Fragrance (optional)

Makes about 1 ½-1 3/4 cups shampoo (This, too, depends on the type of soap used.)

NOTE: Even the cheapest canned coconut milk works wonderfully well in this recipe, but having tried the somewhat more expensive—and thicker and creamier kinds of canned coconut milk—I would suggest using a somewhat fancier brand. My last batch was made with Native Forest organic coconut milk. It makes a thicker, creamier shampoo. On the other hand, one woman who tried this shampoo felt it made her hair feel oily. (Most people love it.) If the shampoo is too rich in oils for your hair, try making it with a lower-fat (and usually cheaper) brand of coconut milk. If you love this shampoo with a high-fat coconut milk, you could even try adding a very small amount of shea butter to the recipe, for still more shine and conditioning. I haven't tried this yet, but I will probably try adding 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of shea butter to my next batch.

Many people feel that rosemary is especially beneficial to the hair and scalp. It has a long history of use against dandruff, and feels pleasantly stimulating on the scalp. A few drops of oil of rosemary would be a nice--but not necessary--addition to this shampoo.


Put all ingredients except fragrance in a blender and whirl until the soap is dissolved.

Depending on the type of soap you have selected, this combination may get very foamy in the blender, so that it looks like you have more than a quart of liquid, but the bubbles will gradually subside (allow two hours or more), leaving about 1 1/2 cups of silky liquid.

If you use 100% olive oil soap in this recipe, it will hardly foam up at all.

Once the foaminess has subsided you can add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance, if desired, and stir to blend in. It will smell really nice without added fragrance, because of the rosewater.

Now you can decant the finished shampoo into a bottle. The final product, while creamy and lush feeling on the skin, may be more “runny” than commercial shampoos. This, too, depends on which type of soap and quality of coconut milk you have selected. The olive oil version is more thick and creamy, as is the version made with a thicker coconut milk.

To Use and Store

This shampoo should be gently shaken before use, since it will separate into layers. Tipping the bottle upside-down a few times should do it. You may want to store in a clear glass or plastic bottle, so you be sure to remember to “shake before using.”

It is best to store natural products in the refrigerator, and use within a week or two, if they are made without preservatives. Plus preservatives don't work well with products that include very high amounts of milks and/or hydrosols (rosewater, in this case), so there is little point in considering a preservative for this shampoo.

My experience is that no conditioner is required after using this shampoo. In fact, I feel that following it with a commercial conditioner is likely to undo its benefits: Soft, shiny, silky-feeling hair. Try using it without conditioner for awhile, and you'll see what I mean.

Need a Larger Recipe for Gift-Giving or Enough for Family-Size Bottles?

Here is a recipe that will make 4 8-ounce bottles—or two 16-ounce bottles. By which I mean the apothecary bottles sold in health food stores. The advantage to going to a somewhat larger recipe is that you can use up the whole can of coconut milk and the whole 8-ounce bottle of rosewater all at once. No leftovers!

You’ll find you want to share this shampoo with friends and family.

2 cups grated Castile soap

1 8-ounce bottle rosewater

1 13.5-ounce can of Native Forest Coconut Milk (or any good thick unsweetened coconut milk)

Prepare as for the first recipe.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 24 months ago from USA

If I can get a hold of the right soap, I intend to try this recipe.

blueheron profile image

blueheron 24 months ago from Odessa, MO Author

Most health-food stores probably carry a pure 100% olive oil Castile soap. Also, if you check with your city to find out who is in charge of the nearest farmer's market, they should be able to refer you to someone who makes and sells soap. If your friendly neighborhood soaper does not have it on hand, I'm sure they'd be delighted to make some for you, and for the purposes of making shampoo the soap need not be cured, but should be usable for shampoo about 48 hours after it's made.

Even better: Make your own! It's easy! Here's a link to my recipe:

Homemade soaps, incidentally, are to die for!

blueheron profile image

blueheron 24 months ago from Odessa, MO Author

I know I should know when to quit, but my hair just keeps getting softer and silkier and shinier using this shampoo!

Also, I just made CHOCOLATE soap! I so need to post the recipe, which is loaded with fine oils, cosmetic clays, cocoa powder, honey, and heavy cream--and feels divine on your skin.

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