Shampoo – or Not

As I stated previously, I was geared up to make my own luxury shampoo at a fraction of the cost of store bought.  Here is my tale.

I had read about shampoo bars and how popular they are becoming, so I looked up  few recipes.  I didn’t want a bar soap, I was interested in liquid soap and thought, “If those ingredients make a great bar soap, they should be good in a liquid.- right?”  I proceeded to gather all the necessary supplies.

This was going to be a challenge.  Otion, my friendly local soap supply store, does not offer liquid soap classes because the process is very time consuming, so I did my research and dove it – at around 3:00 in the afternoon.  Plenty of time, right?  Wrong.

Liquid soap is a hot process and the soap has to cook until it reaches the ‘vaseline’ stage – looks not texture – and while it cooks, it has to be ‘stirred’ regularly.  I use the word stir facetiously.  After bringing the mixture to trace, it becomes very stiff very fast.  Stirring in this case is done with a potato masher.  So, every 30 minutes or so, I mash up this near solid goo, hoping that the next time I check it, it is the obligatory transparent gold I’ve been told to expect.  I was up until 1:00 am.  At his point, additional boiling water is added, then the pot is covered and you wait for the soap to dissolve in the water.  I went to bed.  In retrospect, I probably should have started with a tried and true recipe instead of trying to concoct my own.

Come morning, the soap had not completely dissolved, so I added more boiling water.  Sigh.  Big mistake.  When the soap was eventually completely dissolved, it was very thin.   All the instructions I read told me to be patient.  I wasn’t.

I neutralized the soap per instructions and then proceeded to use in on my hair.  Oh.  My.  God.  I have never used a harsher shampoo.  It stripped all the oil right out of my hair.  It felt like straw and not even my super luxury conditioner could fix it.  On a positive note, it lathered great!  Now, how to fix it.  Without getting to detailed about my process, I’ll just say – I didn’t – fix it that is.  I will tell you that we now have nearly a gallon of very nice liquid hand soap that I will never be able to replicate.

I tried again, with similar results.  This time I didn’t bother trying to fix it and just mixed it in with the first mistake.  Two gallons of hand soap/bubble bath/body wash.  NEXT!

I turned to the vast reaches of the internet for guidance and learned that soap doesn’t really make a great shampoo and despite all the hype, shampoo bars are not beloved of most.  Ah- ha!  So, how does one make shampoo?  Detergent.  Turns out there are some good, naturally derived, biodegradable detergents available for the formulation of a nearly natural shampoo.  (Some companies using these derived detergents advertise All Natural.  They get away with it due to the fact that the term ‘natural’ is not clearly defined and this fuzzy area allows for a lot of fudging.  Or is that fibbing?)  ‘All Natural’ or not, they are environmentally safe, non-toxic and pretty gentle on hair.  I’m going to give it a try some day.

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