What’s in your shampoo? And how to make your own

What’s in your shampoo? And how to make your own

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Have you ever read the ingredients listed on the label of your shampoo bottle? Well, perhaps you should. If you’ve ever actually tried this, you would have discovered that it feels a lot like reading Greek! Truth is, most of it is in Latin or listed by its scientific name, I suppose to make it sound more fancy. Here’s a breakdown of what’s really in your shampoo bottle.

The most prevalent ingredient will be listed first, and it’s usually aqua i.e. water. That’s easy enough.

Herbs or plants

Next up there might be a list of herbal ingredients: Rosmarinus officinalis which is rosemary, calendula officinalis (marigold) and salvia officinalis (sage). Lavandula angustifolia is lavender, citrus medica limonum is lemon.


Yes, your shampoo will contain acid.When you see palmitic acid,stearic acid, lauric acid, linoleic acid, arachidic acid, oleic acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, or myristic acid on the label, don’t worry. It just means you’re using shea butter, cocoa butter, palm oil or something like that.


Tocopherol and panthenol are vitamins E and vitamin B5, respectively.

Surfactants aka detergents

This is the scariest of the ingredients, the chemicals used to actually clean your hair.

Here is a list of the harmful surfactants to avoid:

Cocamide DEA, MEA, TEA or MIPA

Lauramide DEA

PEGs-(with PEG-n designation)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Cocamidopropyl Betaine


Emollients reduce the loss of moisture and are excellent for dry and damaged hair. Lubricants reduce friction between hair strands while smoothing hair and adding shine. Vegetable/plant oils such as olive oil and evening primrose oil are great natural emollients and lubricants. Panthenol and aloe vera are great safe moisturizers.

Emollients to be avoided include mineral oil (a petroleum derivative) and silicones such as dimethicone. Silicones do not biodegrade; thus, they pollute the environment.

Ever thought of making your own shampoo?

Here’s an easy coconut shampoo recipe from wellnessmamma.com.


  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup Liquid Castille Soap (a vegetable soap available from Faithful to Nature / Dischem)
  • 20 drops of essential oils of your choice
  • For dry hair: add ½ tsp olive or almond oil (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in an old shampoo bottle or jar of some kind (pump soap dispensers and even foaming dispensers work well for this. If you use a foaming dispenser, add 1/4 cup of distilled water)
  2. Shake well to mix.
  3. Keep in shower for up to a month.
  4. Shake before each use.
  5. Use about a teaspoon every time you shampoo.
  6. If you use a foaming dispenser, it also makes a great shaving cream- just dilute with 1/4 cup distilled water!



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