Invigorating Shampoo Bars

I made a double batch of  Shampoo Bars just before the holidays.


Sweet Meyer Lemon and Peppermint-Eucalyptus shampoo bars.

Why Shampoo bars? The lather is incredible, the bar is long lasting, I have shinier, fuller hair, and it’s all natural & chemical-free.

My recipe contains a lot of castor oil, which creates a rich and foamy lather. Coconut oil and palm oil also provide cleansing and a fluffy lather, plus adds to the hardness of the bar. I also have included a mixture of several hair nourishing oils, which leaves  hair feeling nice and refreshed.

The Nettle helps oily hair & dandruff and prevents frizz. Pro-Vitamin B5 creates extra sheen and shine (it’s also known to help improve hair structure). It builds a thin moisture film on the surface of hair (film former) and makes it shine without oil or greasiness. In addition, it can penetrate the cuticle of hair and brings moisture to the cortex.

Here is my tried & true recipe (tweaked over the years from the original one I found on the Soap Queen blog):

Shampoo Bar Recipe: 100 oz oils, 144 oz soap/ 9 lbs
5%        Apricot Kernel Oil          5 oz        142 grams
10%      Avocado Oil                  10 oz        284 grams
20%      Castor Oil                      20 oz        567 grams
5%        Cocoa Butter                   5 oz        142 grams
20%      Coconut Oil                   20 oz        567 grams
5%        Hazelnut Oil                    5 oz        142 grams
10%      Olive Oil                         10 oz        284 grams
20%      Palm Oil                         20 oz        567 grams
5%        Palm Kernel Flakes        5 oz        142 grams
4%        NaOH/Lye                 14.15 oz         401 grams
3 oz disc – Distilled Water        30 oz        850 grams
Nettle Extract                               3 oz           85 grams (add to oils – can add at trace)
DL-Panthenol                               3 oz           85 grams (add to water)
Sodium Lactate                            1 oz           28  grams (add Lye water at <130 degrees)

(Check out new & improved recipes in the Updates section at the bottom of the blog, including a link to a fabulous new recipe – SMB Oils #2.)

I divided my oils & lye in half and made each batch separately. This batter sets up really fast, due to the high content of Castor oil, so I only stick blend to emulsification.


First Batch – Peppermint Eucalyptus:


The first batch was scented with 1.6 oz of Peppermint eo and 1.6 oz of Eucalyptus eo. I mixed the scents together and split the 4.5 lbs of batter into 3 containers, coloring them with BB Ultramarine Blue, several leftover purples and a leftover green. The colors came out really dark, but they have lightened quite a bit in just a couple weeks of curing.

I put my negative impression mat on the bottom of a 9-bar mold (see Dec 18, 2015 Blog on impression mats). I then distributed the scent evenly among the 3 containers and poured lines of alternating colors into the mold, swirling it all with a chopstick.


Top or bottom?


Bottom or top?

I started with a very dark purple, but it seems to be morphing into pink.

The leftover batter went into 4 individual oval molds, with loosely layered colors. This batch was a dream to work with and turned out nicely.


Second Batch – Sweet Meyer Lemon:


I mixed up the second half of lye & distilled water.

I scented this next batch using 2.5 oz of  BB Sweet Meyer Lemon & 1.5 oz of BB Earl Grey Lemon Tea.

The hitch with SM Lemon, is that it discolors to a dark tan. In the past I’ve tried to use TD & lots of yellow, but the tan over-powered both. Adding the Earl Grey Lemon Tea helps lighted it up – but the Earl Grey causes some acceleration. (Trading one devil for another!)

Still worried about discolor, I put TD in the oils before adding the lye – this made it difficult to see emulsification when stick blending the lye water & oils, which potentially added to the stiffening of the batter. I colored half the soap with TKB Lemon Pop & CC Oil Locking Yellow and the other half with a combo of leftover reds & oranges – which it turned into a muted burgundy/mauve….I should have skipped the TD, as it didn’t help my cause, but probably added to my problems.


The trace accelerated to a point where after pouring 8 bars, I had to scoop the rest into the molds.


I used this FO blend successfully a couple months ago in Salt bars. But I did not realize how bad it would get with a trifecta of acceleration from the TD, FO, and the high content of Castor oil. My small water discount did not help either. I wasn’t totally on my game and just didn’t think it completely though.

I had put diagonal dividers in my individual rectangular molds. The first three soaps poured are beautifully smooth, however I did not take out the dividers until I had poured 8 bars – by then the soaps had set up so much that no amount of pounding the mold would close the gap left from the dividers. I was afraid I would end up with tiny triangle soaps, but fortunately, as it gelled, the two sides came together (all but at the very top on a few).


The rest of the batch had to be layered into the rectangular molds, with leftovers in two oval molds. I was very frustrated at the end of this, as it was a gloppy mess and they look much more rustic than I had wanted. (But hey, since when does soap batter do what you want?)

At least the first batch worked out. The second batch just isn’t that pretty! And I probably should have made the SM Lemon in the 9-bar mold with the impression mat, as the citrus shampoo is more appealing women, while men seem to enjoy the Mint more.

Every soaping adventure is always a learning experience – that’s what makes it so interesting (and sometimes exasperating).


For more recent batches, click on the links below:
Peppermint Eucalyptus with silk using impression mats and embeds (MY BEST BATCH!)
Eucalyptus Mint Tree & Unscented with silk using impression mats and embeds
Citrus Surprise with embeds and impression mats
POG in Yin-Yang design & POGY in Pipe Divider swirl
Eucalyptus Mint Tree with silk in simple swirl
Sweet Meyer Lemon & Apple Sage with impression mats
Eucalyptus Mint in Pipe Divider Swirl
Rimmed Shampoo Bars with Peacock swirl and Spin Swirl

For Additional Recipes, click on the links below:
Shampoo Master Batch Oils #1
Shampoo Master Batch Oils #2 – new and improved!


2 comments on “Invigorating Shampoo Bars

  1. I had a whole thing written up that I THOUGHT I posted to your blog but I realized today it isn’t there! Anyways! I had wanted to use up a large amount of dead sea salt, but I’m glad I read that it won’t work before I tried. I’m thinking of just getting more pink Himalayan sea salt and trying a shampoo bar with it. I’m really after the perfect liquid shampoo, but I don’t know how I’d incorporate that much salt into a liquid soap. Thank you for pointing my towards your blog!


  2. soapsbysly says:

    It’s so frustrating when the internet eats your mail…and you spent so much time writing it too. Sorry that happened.

    I still have mixed feelings on a salt shampoo bar, as I’m not sure how that will affect your hair. I would suggest a regular shampoo bar with some extracts that may help your scalp issues. (Aloe, Buckthorn, Calendula, Mallow, or Nettle?)

    I wonder if you couldn’t just do a PH salt scrub on your scalp for skin problems? (I know when I had hives on my face, it only took one washing with a PH salt bar to get rid of it for good…)

    Have you ever used shampoo bars?


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