How To Make Shampoo for Black Hair

How To Make Shampoo for Black Hair

No one enjoys moving around with dirty hair. There are many shampoos for black hair being sold out there. But then do the shampoo manufacturers really care about what happens to your hair? Do they know as much about your hair the way you do?

The sad reality is that most commercial shampoos have some unhealthy suspect ingredients. Though some shampoo manufacturers have been slowly getting rid of the dangerous ingredients, there is a much better way for you to know exactly what goes in your hair by simply making your own natural shampoo.

I guess that’s why you’re here. You can make your own natural shampoo with ingredients you probably already have at home. It’s also cheaper than commercial shampoos and works just as well. Today I’ll share the natural shampoo recipe I have been using for the past 2 years made from African black soap.

My shampoo recipe is easy and uses just 3 basic ingredients. I’ve tried several recipes but they didn’t work well on my hair. Most of them didn’t cleanse my scalp while some left my hair dry and crunchy.

Understanding the nature of black hair and why it disagrees with most commercial shampoos

Black hair is prone to undergo breakage. Due to its curly nature, it’s difficult for natural oils from the scalp to work their way down the hair shaft thus the hair tends to be dry. Due to dryness, black hair tends to be quite unmanageable and lacks elasticity leading to breakage.

Natural black hair needs moisture. As a result, you need to be careful of what shampoos you use on your hair. There are several shampoos out there targeted for black hair but are they all really suitable for natural black hair ? That’s the big question you should ask yourself.

So then what ingredients should you avoid from using on your hair?  The big answer is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as well as other sulfates. Sulfates are the most common ingredients found in commercial hair care products like shampoos. These sulfates tend to work efficiently in cleaning the hair but they clean the hair so much so that they strip off the natural oils of the hair leaving it dry.

You also need to avoid using products containing alcohols such as SD alcohol 40, propanol, isopropyl and propyl alcohol and their derivatives as they tend to dry out the hair. For this reason, it is important to consider using a natural shampoo.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients for this easy natural shampoo recipe.

African black soap

African Black Soap to Make Natural Shampoo for Black HairAfrican black soap is quite popular because of it’s extensive use in skin and hair beauty.  It is generally made from local African plants like plantains, palm tree leaves, Shea tree bark and cocoa pods. It has been touted as the solution for, hyper pigmentation, stretch marks and break outs.

The composition of black soap includes ash from the bark of plants, iron, honey,  vitamin E and A, lime juice, and oils like palm oil, Shea butter, coconut oil. This is the basic composition of African black soap. Yeah, it’s made up of lots of edible stuff. Just make sure you don’t eat it. LOL.

However, it should be noted that depending on the manufacturer and the fact that plants don’t grow the same everywhere, brands and batches may differ. I especially love black soap from Africa because it is really pure while those made in Europe and the USA  sometimes have added artificial ingredients. However, it contains no toxic ingredients you should be worried about.

So then why is this soap useful in this recipe? Black soap has natural antibacterial properties making it a good alternative to chemical laden cleansers. The presence of Shea butter and coconut oil as one of the major ingredients in black soap is a plus. While Shea butter may soothe itches and irritation caused by eczema and other skin allergies, coconut oil adds moisture.

The anti-fungal properties of African black soap have proven in one study to be effective against seven types of fungus including Candida albicans. It also fights skin problems like pimples and acne. This soap is a 100%  natural product. A good quality African black soap does not contain any toxic ingredients.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba Oil for Natural ShampooJojoba oil is an oil extracted from the seeds of the jojoba plant. This plant is quite common in the southwestern part of the United states and grows in the deserts of Arizona and southern California.

Jojoba oil has a lot of uses and it is quite popular in the beauty industry. A patent mentions jojoba oil  as one of the major ingredients in most shampoos and conditioners. So what are the benefits of jojoba oil?

Jojoba oil is naturally rich in vitamins such as vitamin C, B and E as well as minerals like copper and zinc. Due to these vitamins, jojoba oil strengthens hair preventing hair loss. Jojoba oil also has properties similar to sebum secreted by the scalp. As a result, it also works as a natural oil on the scalp and ensures healthy hair growth.

Most people who have oily hair tend to avoid the use of oils on their hair. What they are unaware of is the fact that jojoba oil helps control sebum production.

When there’s an over production of sebum, the excessive build up of sebum clogs the scalp pores and hair follicles. This may lead to hair fall and/or poor hair growth. So then what does jojoba oil do?. Jojoba oil acts as a scalp cleanser by dissolving sebum deposits, unclogging the pores and leaving them free.

On the other hand, when there’s an under production of sebum, the hair becomes dry and brittle leading to split ends and breakage.  Jojoba oil compensates for this by forming a thin film on the hair shaft which protects the hair and helps retain moisture.

Jojoba oil also has anti-inflammatory and mild antiseptic properties thus works in fighting off bacteria and fungal infections that may cause poor hair growth. Unlike most commercial hair care products, jojoba oil doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals, is non-allergenic and non-comedogenic.


Honey to Make Natural ShampooNearly everyone has heard of honey. Many people use it as a sweetener yet most people are unaware of the role it plays in hair care. Honey is a natural humectant which moisturizes the hair leaving your tresses soft and bouncy.

Honey is also an antioxidant and helps keep the hair and scalp healthy. It also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties preventing scalp infections like eczema, psoriasis and dandruff.

Honey strengthens hair follicles and also stimulates hair re-growth from dormant follicles. In addition to the fact that honey strengthens hair follicles, it cleans them as well by getting rid of impurities. The build up of impurities on the hair follicles tends to get them clogged causing hair loss.

Dry lifeless hair can also be brought back to life with the help of honey. Honey is capable of restoring the lost sheen and shine of your hair.

Now let’s get to the fun part, the recipe!!!

Procedure for making shampoo for black hair


5 tablespoons of African black soap (I use Dudu Osun Black Soap. Other brands include Ambi black soap with Shea butter, Shea moisture African black soap etc)

3 teaspoons of jojoba oil

1 tablespoon of honey

1 cup of distilled water

3 drops of essential oil (optional)


Grate the soap in a bowl. Transfer the soap into an applicator bottle. Pour warm water and shake vigorously until the soap is completely dissolved. Add the other ingredients and shake again. There!!. Your shampoo is ready.

Three things to consider when making shampoo for black hair

Making natural shampoo can be fun. However, it’s not just all about mixing stuff to produce a foaming mixture. You need to know what an effective shampoo should be able to do.

1- Cleanse the hair

A good shampoo should be able to remove product build-up, sweat, and dust from the hair and scalp without leaving the hair dry and brittle. A good shampoo should restore the natural moisture of the hair leaving it soft and manageable.

2-Balance the pH of hair

The pH is a scale used to specify how basic or acidic a water-based solution is. A pH of 7 is neutral, values above 7 is alkaline while anything below 7 is acidic.

The acid mantle on the outermost layer of hair and skin is mildly acidic with a pH between 4.5 – 5.3. The pH of the outermost layer of the hair known as the cuticle needs to be kept at the normal acidic level to ensure that it remains closed.

If the acid mantle is disturbed by alkaline products, the cuticles tend to “open up”  causing the hair to quickly lose moisture making it brittle, rough and dull. A good shampoo should take your hair to a stable balance to ensure the cuticle remains flat.

3-Have slip

Black Hair is known to have lots of tangles. A good shampoo should have lots of slip to help detangle the hair. This could be achieved by adding a light natural oil like avocado oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil or olive oil. These oils help seal in water keeping the hair moisturized for longer periods of time.


My natural shampoo for black hairThis DIY natural shampoo has great slip. It easily detangles my hair, leaving it tangle free. It also cleanses my hair well leaving it soft and moisturized. But what about the pH?

The ingredients used in this recipe have varying pH values. For example, the acidity of honey ranges between 3.4 to 6.1 with an average of 3.9 . This pH value agrees with the pH of the acid mantle of hair and would work well.

Jojoba oil on the other hand has a pH of 4.21 which is also in good agreement with the acid mantle of hair. But what about African black soap ? African black soap has a pH of 10. This pH is normal and considered safe to use (A pH above 10 indicates the soap may have free lye which may be too harsh on the hair and scalp).

I do not exactly know the final pH of this DIY natural shampoo neither do I trust pH testing at home using pH strips as I have experienced a lot of inaccuracies from them. But then, since the pH of black soap doesn’t really agree with the hairs’ pH, to be on the safe side, I had to make sure my cuticles remained closed after using the shampoo.

I achieved this by doing an acidic hair rinse with apple cider vinegar (ACV). Some people prefer adding lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to a solution of African black soap to lower it’s pH to about 6. I’m not comfortable with this because basic chemistry tells us that if a surface is acidic, the most effective way to clean off grease and dirt is by using an alkaline soap (pH between 9 and 10).

Basic chemistry also tells us that when the pH of a soap solution is lowered by acidic contents, the insoluble fatty acids tend to precipitate and form scum so I’d rather go with an apple cider rinse after using the shampoo. You can read more about soaps here.

Apple cider vinegar has a pH between 3.3 – 3.5 and delivers benefits as an acid regulator. It’s mild acidic nature serves to restore the natural pH of the acid mantle and flattens the hair cuticle resulting to shiny moisture locked hair.

An ACV rinse consists of simply mixing 3 – 4 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar with about 16 Oz cool water (Quick tip: Dry hair likes less ACV, oily hair likes more ACV). Pour the mixture to run through your hair and let it sit for about 2 or 3 mins working it into your scalp, then rinse. You can add peppermint oil to mask the vinegar smell. However, the smell tends to disappear as your hair dries. So that’s it!!!

Final words

I use this shampoo recipe once or twice a month but it all depends on your hair care regimen. You can also create your own shampoo recipe with black soap or you can simply modify this recipe depending on what your hair needs. Be creative, catch some fun and let me know how it turns out in the comments section below.

Instructions to Make Shampoo for African Hair

Irene Mukoko

Irene is a natural hair lover, healthy hair advisor and DIY enthusiast of hair/skin beauty and home cleaning products. She helps women grow healthy natural hair and maintain smooth glowing skin. She aspires to continue her PhD studies in Chemistry and establish her own hair care line in the near future. During her free time, she enjoys watching movies and working out at the gym.

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2 Responses

  1. Josephine says:


    Interesting post, thank you!

    Is that your natural hair? How long have you grown it? I can’t seem to grow my hair past shoulder length although I have been following several hair regimens described on YouTube. It seems my hair breaks off easily.

    How do you stop your hair from breaking? Surely, with this length you should have a lot of trouble detangling it, even with the best detangling shampoo.

    I hope you don’t mind my many questions.

    Thank you!

    • Irene Mukoko says:

      Hello Josephine. Thanks for commenting. Yes that’s my natural hair and I’ve been natural for almost 5 yrs now. Your hair is growing but it’s breaking off so you can’t see the length. It’s not just about the regimen you follow. There are several factors that cause breakage like the way you manipulate your hair, moisture imbalance, protein imbalance, split ends etc but I can’t explain everything as it would be too lengthy. So many ladies are facing this same problem so I’m coming up with a book on that. Hope this was helpful. 🙂

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