DIY Indian Herbal Shampoo: Wash Hair Without Shampoo Gently and Effectively

diy indian herbal shampoo

I’m loving Indian herbs at the moment, so I thought I’d share a wonderful new way to wash your hair using a gentle and totally natural herbal DIY shampoo.

My first ever blog post and video were about the no-poo method using baking soda. Some people have complained about it drying out their hair or upsetting their scalp. If you do a little search on Google, you’ll find lots of articles talking about baking soda being too alkaline for the hair or scalp. I can see why they say that (from the chemical point of view), but I still like baking soda. Mostly as a wonderful clarifying wash. Maybe not as much as something I would go for every single time because I do find that it makes my hair a little brittle and dry if I use it alone (I prefer to alternate it with a natural shampoo or this DIY shampoo with Indian herbs). I’ve only understood it very recently, and that’s why I really wanted to come up with a DIY shampoo that would be pH friendly.

Indian Herbs Are Great For So Many Reasons

This DIY Indian Herbal shampoo is pH balanced, which makes it much safer to use, especially for all of us lucky people with sensitive scalps and very dry hair. These Indian herbs will also look after the health of your scalp and will help if you suffer from dandruff or hair loss. They will also help your hair grow faster (because that’s what happens when your roots get proper nourishment from a healthy scalp).

This DIY Indian herbal shampoo is so much better than soapnuts alone

DIY Indian Herbal Shampoo

A while ago, I also showed you how you can wash your hair using soapnuts alone, but it’s also something that can be potentially drying for some hair types, especially curly people like me whose hair tends to be on the drier side. It seems to work really well for males, but it’s a bit more problematic for ladies with long hair. In order to make it work well, you’d need to do extensive oiling, and that’s pretty difficult to get out using a DIY shampoo.

So it’s not really that realistic if you’re looking for something that you could use every single time you wash your hair, and especially if you lead a busy lifestyle. If you have a toddler or two running around you, I’m sure you won’t have time to waste. The same applies if you work crazy hours.

This DIY shampoo is really easy to make and quick, especially if you brew your “tea” the night before washing your hair. Then, all you need is just hop in the shower and wash.

These Indian herbs are also really affordable. Each bag of the herbs costs just a few dollars and will last you for many, many washes.

The three herbal super heroes

This herbal shampoo combines soapnuts, shikakai, and amla, which all work in synergy. Soapnuts and shikakai provide cleansing power – soapnuts are a bit more powerful, while shikakai are more gentle. Shikakai is also known to increase curls in those with curly or wavy hair! I love that, and I can definitely say that this claim is true. Whenever I use it, I have the world’s craziest curls.

You can either use the apple cider vinegar rinse at the end (by mixing 3T of vinegar with 2 cups of water and a few drops of your favourite essential oil) or condition with your regular natural conditioner if you find that vinegar alone isn’t conditioning enough.

You might also want to oil your hair ends a little before the wash and after, but it all depends on your hair (you might not need any oil). If you do, don’t overdo. Remember, less sometimes is more, and it definitely IS in this case.

You can also omit the soapnuts at all and simply replace them with equal amounts of shikakai and amla. It would be an even gentler version of this shampoo. Experiment until you find the right routine for your individual hair.

If you have really light blonde hair, test this shampoo on a hair strand first. I have quite dark blonde hair ,and it definitely doesn’t do anything to my hair colour. It shouldn’t really darken your hair colour even if you’re light (theoretically) because you’re only keeping it on the hair for a very short time. But it’s always best to test than be sorry later.

So for this DIY Indian herbal shampoo you’ll need:

  • 1T soapnuts or reetha (whole or ground – the ground ones are also called aritha)
  • 1T amla powder
  • 1T shikakai powder
  • 2 cups of boiling water

If you’re going to use whole soapnuts, you’ll need to grind them in a coffee mill or a food processor with a grinding option.

DIY Indian herbal shampoo

They don’t have to be totally ground, it’s OK if there are some pieces.

DIY Indian herbal shampoo

You can grind a larger quantity, so you’ll have enough for a few washes. If you get hold of soapnut powder, it will be even easier – you won’t have to do anything.

Combine soapnuts, amla, and shikakai in a container or bowl, add 2 cups of boiling water, and leave it there to seep for at least 30 minutes or until it’s comfortably warm, but not hot. As I said earlier, you can also prepare it in advance the night before.

You’ll see lots of foaming action going on at this point. That’s what’s going to cleanse your hair!

DIY Indian herbal shampoo

Strain the liquid and pour it into the container or bottle that you’re going to use to apply this DIY shampoo to your hair.

Next, it’s time to head over to the bathroom! Pour the herbal “tea” all over your hair in sections and massage your scalp while you’re doing it. No need to pour it over the ends because the “tea” running off the roots will be enough to cleanse them. Once you finish the shampoo mixture, massage your scalp for a couple more minutes and rinse. You can follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse or a regular natural conditioner.

I hope you’ll enjoy this DIY Indian herbal shampoo,  and let me know how you like it if you try it!

By the way, please forgive me for being a little absent from my blog and YouTube channel lately. Our Internet connection is awful and I’m really struggling with the most basic tasks. The connection is slower than 99% of the world’s connections! And no, I’m not kidding! Opening my Google mail or answering to your comments is mission impossible on most days. Uploading my video took me 7 days! Hopefully, it’s going to be fixed by mid December, but until then please bear with me!

What’s your favorite DIY shampoo? Have you got any recipe passed down by your grandma or something like that? I’m fascinated by things like that!

Simply yours,

Vita xx

Never miss a post!
Join the others who've found my articles helpful! Get DIY beauty, delicious recipes, motivation and so much more straight in your inbox.


  1. Do you think it would change my silver hair color? I also have a question concerning health and hair color. I am only 45, do you think there are certain vitamin deficiencies which may contribute to one’s hair turning silver early? People keep telling me I need to take B12, but I am skeptical.

    • I’m not really sure about that, Debs. It might also be stress (and you’ve had lots of it). Sometimes even the best nutrition in the world can’t help if you’re going through a rough patch in your life. It might also be genetic. xx

  2. Hi Vita, I would love to try the recipe but read somewhere that ayurveda herbs could colour your hair. Since I have highlights in my hair I’m wondering if this recipe could alter the colour of my hair? Do you have any insights on that? Thanks for sharing with us all your learnings. Your blog is amazing!

    • How light are your highlights? I think the herbs would only change the colour if the highlights are really light, like Scandinavian blonde. Otherwise, they should be fine. You can always strand test to see how your hair reacts. I’m over the moon that you like my blog! Thank you! xx

  3. Do you have to use a conditioner or vinegar rinse with this recipe? Is it okay to use a powder form for the soapnuts? Thank you

  4. Hi
    Thanks for that. I’ve been using the powder but not with boiling water maybe that’s why it hasn’t been cleaning well. How long can the solution stay after I added boiling water and strained it?

Speak Your Mind