There are many considerations to formulate and make natural shampoo. First, you need to determine the type of shampoo you want to formulate I covered this in Part 1. Next, decide on the surfactant system best for the type of shampoo, review In Part 2. Here are some other considerations formulating natural shampoo.

Hair Physiology

Understand the basic science of hair physiology, hair structure.

Purpose of Shampoo

The main purpose of shampoo is to cleanse the scalp and the hair. To remove dirt, build-up of styling products and sebum (oil). In addition the shampoo needs to perform all of these functions without overly removing the sebum. Or it will result in dry, coarse, dull and frizzy hair.

  1. Wet hair and scalp.
  2. Apply shampoo evenly onto the hair and massage into the scalp and through the hair.
  3. Rinse the shampoo completely out of the scalp and hair with lots of water.

Directions for shampooing the hair

Type of Shampoo

Understand the specific hair type and the shampoo best for that hair type. 

Cost of the Shampoo Formulation: wholesale and retail 

It’s important to calculate the cost of raw materials at the very beginning to make a profit from the shampoo. Some of the costs to include are the container, ingredients and labor making the shampoo formulation. Determine your wholesale and retail price. If the cost is too high, adjust the raw materials and container to fit your needs.

Ingredients – Raw Materials in the Formulation

Use ingredients derived from plants.

Use ingredients that are not tested on animals.

Use sulfate-free surfactants. 

Use sustainable ingredients; environmentally friendly, biodegradable.

Surfactant System 

For the best foam use a combination of surfactants that work together. A main surfactant is usually paired with a secondary surfactant. The secondary surfactant assists with increasing the formulation thickness and foam and decreases harshness. Determine the percent active in the surfactant. The supplier should provide the active percent.

The active percent is the amount of solids (detergent/surfactant) diluted in water. Refer to the section Active Surfactant Solids in Part 2. Decyl glucoside contains around 55% actives, the remaining is 45% water. The higher percent of actives, the more the surfactant will clean t in a shampoo. If the active percent is lower you may need to use a higher amount of surfactant in your formulation.

Formulations are calculated on the percent of actives. The actives in shampoo formulations is usually between 10% – 15% (not total surfactant). For decyl glucosde at 55% active and using 15% decyl glucoside in the formulation, you will need 27% decyl glucoside in the shampoo formulation.

Preservative System
Use preservatives that are NPA approved, GRAS and Eco-Cert.

pH adjusters
Adjust the pH to the specification of the preservative and the type of shampoo..

Use natural polymers like plant gums.

Conditioning Agents 
Add conditioning agents to leave the hair feeling smooth, soft and manageable.

Botanical Extracts
Use plant extracts known for benefits to the hair like rosemary, hibiscus, horsetail, nettles and bamboo. 

Plant Oils
Use plant oils at a minimum. Plant oils can easily adhere to the hair and weigh the hair down. If a high percentage of plant oil is used, an emulsifier may be needed.

Use scent from plants like essential oils and plant-based fragrances.

Natural Shampoo Formulation

Making natural shampoo is fairly easy. Here is a generalized overview of a shampoo procedure. It all depends on the raw materials used in the formulation, the reaction of the ingredients and this dictates which phase to add the ingredients. 

Phase A
Water ingredients (glycerin, gums, hydrolyzed proteins, water-phase preservative)

Phase B
Scent (essential oils, plant-based fragrance oil) 

Phase C
Reactive amphoteric surfactants (cocamidopropyl betaine)
Conditioning agents

pH adjustor

  1. Combine Phase A into Phase B and gently mix to reduce creating a lot of bubbles
  2. Add Phase C and gently mix 
  3. Adjust pH 

Allow shampoo and bubbles to settle.

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