How to: Sulphate Free Shampoo Balls with Ayurvedic Herbs

I've been getting to know a few new surfactants this year and this has resulted in a lot of fun products and new discoveries.

Pictured: the result of a bit of playing around with something called 'foam paste' that turned out quite well.

Today, I'm going to share how I made this shampoo ball with you.

Foam Paste

The INCI for this is Disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate (sexy name, isn't it?). This is a super gentle sulphate-free surfactant that is sold in several forms: powder, liquid and as a paste. I was intrigued by the paste form and it has indeed turned out to be quite fun to play with (check the molded 'poo' soap I made with it right here).

Foam Paste is listed as a co-surfactant (that can be used solo for some things). In this formulation, it is being paired up with a couple of hair-loving Ayurvedic herbs that we're going to take a brief look at.

There are links to more info below, so I'm just giving you the headlines here.

Brahmi as a Haircare Ingredient: Mini-Overview 

Botanical name: Bacopa monnieri
Contains: saponins, alkaloids, sterols
Synergies: rhassoul, shikakai
Scent: earthy, a little bitter
  • Helps battle dandruff 
  • Calms and soothes scalp
  • Promotes  shine - good for dull hair 
  • Suitable for all hair types 

Shikakai as a Haircare Ingredient: Mini-Overview

Botanical Name: Acacia concinna
Fruit pods contain: alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, tannins
Synergies: brahmi, amla
Scent: sweetly acidic and slightly floral
  • Naturally low pH 
  • Cleanses without stripping hair 
  • Soothing 
  • Anti-itch

 Let's Get Busy

Now, if you're ready to get making (is that an expression?), here's how I put these shampoo balls together.

This is a try-me amount - just enough to make 2 shampoo balls (a total of 50 grams). The pH of these is 5.0

LisaLise's Sulphate Free Shampoo Balls with Ayurvedic Herbs

Phase Ingredient Grams Ounces
A Disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate (foam paste) 10 0.35
A Sodium Cocoyl Isotheonate (SCI grains) 12 0.42
A Cocoa Butter 1 0.035
A Jojoba 2 0.071
A Vinegar (with 5% acetic acid) 3 0.11
B Brahmi powder 15 0.53
B Shikakai powder 7 0.25


  1. Heat phase A ingredients over a bain marie until melted
  2. Stir
  3. Add phase B ingredients and remove from heat
  4. Stir and work ingredients together with stirrer
  5. Pop on a pair of latex or nitrile gloves on and continue working ingredients together by hand 
  6. Form into balls
  7. Sprinkle with brahmi or rhassoul clay (optional)

Allow to set and dry about 48 hours before using.

Note: These harden up pretty quickly so you’ll need to work pretty fast on step 6.


Preservative-Free and Use By Date

These shampoo balls do not contain any preservative because they are formulated to be preservative free. I have tested them over a period of months and they are stable and have survived sitting out in a humid bathroom throughout this summer without the teensiest sign of going wonky.

That said, it's probably a good idea to allow them to dry between uses and not allow them to sit in a pool of water and get all smooshy. I place mine onto a loofah pot-scrubber thingy (see an example below) between uses.

If, however, you are the type of person who prefers soggy and smooshy shampoo bars, then feel free to add preservative in the appropriate amount.

Pictured below: these loofah sponges are sold in my local supermarket as natural pot scrubbers. I find them quite useful as soap dishes and use them for both soap and shampoo bars.

Do Tell

Have you ever worked with these surfactants and herbs?

Want to Make More?

Click the pic for this e-book with a whole collection of naturally balanced shampoo bars. 

Links to Some of The Stuff I Checked out While Writing this Post

Saponins in brahmi

Constituents in brahmi

Review on brahmi (2010)

No, brahmi can’t cure alzheimers

A couple of studies on brahmi (internal use only)

Foam paste at Aroma Zone

More about Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate

Wikipedia on Shikakai - Acacia concinna

Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research: List of medicinal plants with proven uses as cosmeceuticals

Article on the Preparation and Evaluation Antioxidant Activity of Herbal Hair Oil (that includes these 2 Ayurvedic herbs)


Laurie said…
i love the look of this. Unfortunately can’t get the Disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate in Australia. We seem to be a bit behind on some ingredients. :(
LisaLise said…
HI Laurie - you can order this ingredient from Aroma Zone. I do try and look at availability of ingredients when I share a how-to on the blog because I know how frustrating it can be to try and make something without all the right components. One of the reasons I will happily share a formula using ingredients from Aroma Zone is because I KNOW they will ship any where in the world. The site is ion French but visit through Google translate and you're set. :)
vita said…
i love your formulating journey! speechless.. i always thinking about the preservatives free..always..and im not alone... love you from indonesia
LisaLise said…
Hello Vita - Thank you kindly for your very warm words. Wishing you a wonderful 2020!
Unknown said…
Love your blog. I cannot wait to try this out . Thank you for sharing :)
LisaLise said…
Thank you so much for your kind comment. I hope you enjoy making and using these :)
Laurie said…
Total excitement - since my original post I can now source this! Totally making this on the weekend!
LisaLise said…
Weehoo! Enjoy Laurie! My hair loves these :D
aamira maryam said…
Amazing reading this.
Should we look for organic foam paste and SCI if we are making organic products?
LisaLise said…
Hi Aamira - I used the paste for these. Neither of these are organic ingredients.
Unknown said…
Hi.. I tried incorporating vinegar in my shampoo bars as herbal tinctures at a %:of 5 and some times lower but it leaves an unpleasant feeling on my hair .. squeaky and dty .. I hear that vinegar is beneficial for hair .. is that ok??
LisaLise said…
HI Unknown -- not knowing the rest of the ingredients you used, it's really hard to comment on what might be causing the dry feeling. You might try troubleshooting the problem by making a few small comparative batches where you keep track of which ingredients are in each batch, then test each one and note how your hair feels. Best of luck with it. :)
Tara said…
Hello,I would like to make this. Should we use disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate in foam paste? I can't find in foam paste in India. Please help me out with this. Is there any video to refer to in order to prepare at home. I am new to this and any suggestion would be really helpful. Thankyou.
LisaLise said…
HI Tara - you could make your own version of 'foam paste' using the dry version of the surfactant and mixing with distilled water to make a paste. I am not sure about whether or not there are any videos available, but if you check out Humblebee & Me, you might find something to help as she does both videos and blogs of her formulas.