How to - Conditioning Shampoo Bars

From looking at that picture I'd be tempted to think we were making cookies today, but we're not. These little cuties are solid shampoo bars.

With summer and vacation time quickly approaching, you might want to consider popping one of these travel-friendly shampoo bars into your bag.

And guess what, they're super simple to make.

The dry surfactants in these are coconut-based, and there are a couple of hair conditioning goodies added so you won't need any additional products to cleanse and condition your hair while traveling.

OK I have a confession to make.

You don't need to have a vacation planned to make and use these bars - they're great to use at home as well.

Are you ready to get busy making shampoo bars?

LisaLise's Conditioning Shampoo Bars

This amount will make 4 guest sized soap bars - just enough for you and a friend.

Phase A Ingredients
  • Mango butter: 9 gr / 0.32 oz
Phase B Ingredients
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI): 33.5 gr / 1.18 oz
  • Sodium Coco Sulfate: 30 gr / 1.06 oz
  • Demineralised Water: 19.5 gr / 0.69 oz
Phase C Ingredients
  • Panthenol: 2 gr / 0.07 oz
  • Guar gum: 4 gr / 0.14 oz
  • Shikake Powder: 2 gr / 0.07 oz


1. Melt butter slowly over low heat
2. Remove from heat
3. Add Phase B ingredients and mix well

4. Add Phase C ingredients and mix well. The mixture will become a dough-like mass that is easy to handle.

5. Press into molds and chill for approximately half an hour 
6. Unmold and let dry at room temperature until hardened. Depending on the climate you are in, this can take from 2 to 7 days.

That's it!

See how easy that was?

How To Use a Shampoo Bar

Using a shampoo bar is just like using a bar of soap: wet and rub the bar between hands to work up a lather. Apply the lather to hair. Rinse. Rejoice!

More Shampoo Bar Fun

I was inspired to make these after trying (and loving) the Rosemary Shampoo Block from this tutorial by Botanical Formulations. Click the link for even more shampoo bar fun!

Do Tell

Have you ever made a shampoo bar? Please share your favorite shampoo bar ingredients in a comment.


I make shampoo bars many years now, I love how easy they are to use. You can add many lovely powders directly, conditioning factors, they are so fun to make
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Olympia! Absolutely agree! Shampoo bars are fun and so easy to customize!
Ilhem said…
Hi Lisa! I tried shampoo bars when I started DIY my cosmetics a few years ago but they made my hair heavy and I gave up. I'll try your formula! Is shikake the same as shikakai?
Nic said…
This is really exciting! I've been wanting to try a shampoo bar for a while but have been put off by overly complicated recipes and undesirable ingredients. Yours looks great :) Couple of questions- I've seen other recipes using preservatives, are they not necessary or is it because these are small 'one-use' type bars? I don't have shikake powder, would clay work as a substitute or will it be problematic to preserve? Thank you for such a brilliant blog, it's always my go to website for any new project!
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Ilhem — yes it is : acacia concinna is the INCI
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Nic — Thanks for your kind words! You can leave out the shikake if you want - just use more guar. There is no preservative because the water evaporates as the bar hardens and - much like a bar of soap - no preservative is necessary. Have fun!
Aromahair Etc. said…
Do you know the final PH of these shampoo bars?
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Aromahair - yes. The pH is 6.5 😁
Tachan said…
Is there a butter I can sub for mango? I'm would like to streamline all my ingredients that I use to make soap and lotion bars with already. Mainly cocoa and Shea. Thank you for sharing.
Aish said…
Hi Lise,

What could be used in place of panthenol? and can xanthan gum be used in place of guar? Thank you.
Lise M Andersen said…
HI Tachan - You should be able to substitute the mango butter with a 50/50 mix of cocoa and shea - give it a go and see what you think!
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Aish - You could try and up the guar amount to replace panthenol - or maybe add some silk protein. I wouldn't replace the guar with xanthan as the guar is part of what's giving you the conditioning action.
Unknown said…
Great recipe! I’ve been dying to try shampoo bars for awhile now, could I sub the SCS for Coco b? Since that’s what I have on hand with the SCI...I am assuming I would have to up the amount of SCI to compensate for the extra liquid…love your blog!!
Lise M Andersen said…
Hey there unknown - Thanks for your kind words! If you are replacing a dry surfactant with a liquid one, you're going to have to do a bit of experimenting, but I imagine this could work. Now of course I want to hear about it! I hope you will come back and let me know :)
presh said…
hi lise, fab article as usual. can i ask where you sourced the scs from and also how possible it is to create a shampoo bar without sulfates? thank you.
Anonymous said…
Hello! Can't wait to try and make these. I am wondering how you know what level of heat to melt over? And the best tools needed to melt (do I need to buy a hot plate? Should it only reach a certain temperature when melting?
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Anon - Always melt butters slowly over very low heat and babysit them until melted. Then remove from heat immediately. Some people prefer using a water-bath (bain marie) as this gives good control. Have fun!
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Presh - Thanks for your comment. SCS is available from most cosmetics ingredients suppliers. You didn't mention which part of the world you are in so my best recommendation is to check with your local supplier of ingredients or order from a company that ships worldwide. As for sulphate free bars, you are talking about a cold-processed soap-type of shampoo bar for this kind of solution.
Sophie said…
Hi Lise, thanks for this. Is it possible to use jojoba or argan oil instead of the mango butter? Thanks
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Sophie - I think you might get a somewhat longer drying time and may even risk the bar not hardening up completely. Try a small batch at see if it works.. and expect a longer drying time. I'd love to hear how it turns out for you.
Unknown said…
Hello Lise,

I made this shampoo bar..It was lovely to use, but the problem I faced was that when I tried to make it, I think the water wasn't enough as it clumped up when I heated it.So the bar didn't come out smooth...Since some of the water evaporates when we do I compensate for that water loss? The only change I made was that I substituted shikakai powder for guar gum like you mentioned in the comments. And if I add some citric acid solution to this mixture can I lower the ph from 6.5? If so,can you please let me know a starting point?

Thank you so much for the lovely recipe, I bought your book..Can't wait to try the lovely recipes :)
Lise M Andersen said…
Hey there Unknown - It sounds to me like you heated the water? Do I understand correctly? It isn't necessary to heat the water - only the butter just enough to melt it. The mixture needs to be worked together as soon as all the ingredients are in the bowl. Wearing latex gloves will allow you to work everything together by hand. You can lower the pH by adding a few drops of citric acid solution to the water before adding it to the mix, then test the mixture.
Anonymous said…
Whoops!...Thank you Lise...:) Tried them!..Came out better than before but yet to get a smooth texture and finish like yours..:)
Tracy said…
Hi Lise,

Thank you for sharing. After reading this, I could not help buying the ebook and starting to make my own bars. When I am looking to buy guar gum, I find two types of guar gum from two suppliers. Their INCI names are :

Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (Guar) gum

Can you confirm with type should I buy to make shampoo bars ?

Many thanks,
Lise M Andersen said…
HI Tracy - Great question! I've worked with both (and you could in all likelihood do the same) but I just checked my notes and the ones in the book were made with Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (Guar) gum. :) Now of course I must make a batch using guar from another supplier to test this in shampoo bars!
Anonymous said…
Where do you get demineralised water? Can I sub in distilled or bottled water?
Lise M Andersen said…
Hey there Anon - Distilled water and demineralised water are one and the same. :)
Bethany said…
Hi! I tried this recipe using SCI that is more like pellets than a powder (this was all I found to order). It didn’t dissolve very well - is that because it didn’t work it in fast enough? Any other suggestions? Thanks!
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Bethany - It should work with pellets as well. The surfactants do not have to dissolve completely before forming the bars. It is easier to work with in powder or granular form, but you should even be able to use needles in one of the surfactants and get a good result. :)
Raquel said…
Hi Lise, found your blog today and I'm loving it. I ordered today the supplies to try this solid shampoo. I may have more doubts later but right now I'd like to know why you don't melt the surfactants, I've been searching the web for recipes and they all melt the surfactants. Thanks, I'll let you know how the bars turn out ☺
Raque said…
Oh, and can I lower the ph with lactic acid?
Lise Andersen said…
Hi Raquel - Thanks for your kind words! As for your surfactants question: some folks semi-dissolve solid surfactants for shampoo bars to create a paste-like texture that allows the bars to be molded. As soon as the water disappears, the bar solidifies. The semi-dissolving allows the surfactant itself to act as the binder. :)
Thank you for sharing exciting and helpfult articles. Due to my dry hair, can i put some olive oil in the ingredients?
LisaLise said…
Hi Tap chi toc dep - the mango butter in this formula is great for dry hair, but you could probably replace with olive oil. Mind you, this will affect the end texture so you may have to play around with the proportions of the other ingredients. :)
Can I reconstitute the proportions to make it a little thinner?
LisaLise said…
HI there món ngon mỗi ngày - I'm not quite sure I know what you mean about reconstituting the proportions? If you want the entire mixture a bit thinner you could add more liquid but you might see a longer drying time. Best of luck with it!
Nika said…
Hi Lise,
I must confess, your blog is my new favorite evening read :-) I have a (silly) question. I made a couple of shampoo bars following your awesome recipe, and would like to customize (add a few other botanicals). Is there a way to melt the bars or do I have to start all over. I know it's best to start over, but just didn't want to waste. Thank you!
LisaLise said…
HI Nika - Thank you kindly for your comment. As for adding your own botanicals -- this is absolutely do-able but you may need to plan on doing a bit of experimenting. I have never tried to remelt or refashion shampoo bars and to be honest have never heard of anyone else doing this either. This doesn't necessarily mean it can't be down though. If I were going to give this a try I would probably crush the bar as finely as possible without adding any liquids, then work from there. I'd love to hear if it turns out for you if you decide to try, so please feel free to post another comment and let me know how it goes!
Nika said…
Thank you for your advice. I haven’t heard of such practice either and I thought if there was anyone who might have done it, it would have been Lisa 😊 I followed your suggestion and crushed the bar. It was quite a workout to get it even remotely as fine as it originally was, but I did my best. I then added my herbs and powders and added water not in the same amount as originally but just in order to achieve the same consistency as before before curing. 2 days later, it is perfectly dry and smooth 😊 I tried it out and it’s excellent.
LisaLise said…
Nika - ohmygosh that's fabulous! If you are willing, I'd love to hear more and wonder if you would mind contacting me via my website -- just pop the name NIKA and 'crushed shampoo bars' and I'll get right back to you. :)