A Castile Soap Shampoo Recipe Might Ruin Your Hair! – Try This Alternative

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Welcome to the world of DIY hair care, where the right ingredients can transform your hair care routine. Many of us are drawn to the allure of natural ingredients, like liquid castile soap base. Its purity and versatility are appealing, but is it the best choice for your hair?

In this post, I dive into why it is not the ideal candidate for your shampoo, especially if you’re aiming to maintain healthy, vibrant hair. And I’ll give you a more suitable alternative that can significantly improve the health and appearance of your hair.

soap base shampoo


We’ll compare castile soap shampoo with a more suitable alternative – shampoo base – and explore how this choice can make a significant difference in the health and appearance of your hair. 

Plus, we’ll guide you through crafting your own nourishing shampoo using a blend of Argan oil and Bergamot, perfect for those seeking to indulge in effective, natural hair care. Let’s embark on this journey to discover the ideal base for your shampoo creations.

What Is Castile Soap Base? 

Liquid castile soap base is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a liquid form of olive oil soap that can be used to make a variety of different products intended to cleanse skin.

Liquid castile soap is made in a process that’s a little different from cold process soap making. Most notably, it uses a different kind of lye – potassium hydroxide (KOH), instead of sodium hydroxide (NaOH). This is vital for the production of a liquid rather than a solid bar of soap. 

There are many other differences, and it’s a fascinating DIY that you can do at home. Take a look at my all natural liquid castile soap recipe for more insights on this. 

washing hands
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Why People Make Castile Soap Shampoo Recipes

Because castile soap is so versatile, readily available and cheap to buy, it’s likely that you might have a bottle of this at home already. After all, it’s great for making lots of different kinds of liquid soaps, why not try it as a castile soap shampoo? 

This is a mistake that many people seem to be making on the web. I’ve seen shampoo recipes on many blogs that include this ingredient so many times, and it’s absolutely crazy to me.

So I had to share my opinions on this controversial practice!

Castile Soap Is Terrible For Your Hair

You can be forgiven for thinking castile soap would be good for hair. After all, olive oil, which is the core ingredient in castile soap making, is fantastic for the hair and scalp. It has a high vitamin e content, making it ideal for strengthening the hair and protecting it from oxidative damage. It’s also deeply hydrating and softening too. 

However, while many of these properties are not necessarily lost in the process of soap making, they are however massively undermined. This is because saponification, the chemical reaction that converts oil into anionic surfactant, results in a very high pH in the end product. 

The hair and scalp possess a delicate acidic pH of around 4.5-5.5, and it’s important not to disrupt this too much. Using products with a pH higher than 7 can cause significant impact, leading to problems like cuticle damage, as well as porous and frizzy hair. As time goes by, the hair will become very fragile, leading to split ends much more quickly. 

Given that castile soap has a pH of anywhere from 8-10, it’s entirely unsuitable as a shampoo. In fact, being so high in pH, castile soap can also lead to stripping the hair of natural oils, which can lead to an unnecessarily dry, tight and irritated scalp.  

Better Uses For Your Castile Soap Base

DIY Liquid Castile Soap

So, as you can see, you’re going to want to skip putting this stuff on your hair. But by all means, it’s still a fantastic ingredient with many different potential uses. I don’t want to give castile soap a bad rep, I just want people to realize that castile soap shampoo recipes are a terrible choice for your hair. 

Castile soap would be fantastic as a DIY bubble bath base. Add some essential oil and you have an aromatic spa treatment in your home! 

You can also make use of it in your homemade body washes and hand soaps too. Essential oils can be used in higher concentrations for wash-off products, so use around 2-4% depending on the essential oil.

However, because castile soap base is a strong surfactant, it’s easy to solubilize more than just your essential oils. 

You can add a tablespoon of just about any carrier oil to 50-100g (1.8-3.5oz) of your soap base. For every 50g beyond this, add another tablespoon. Go for something you know your skin loves. Jojoba oil, sweet almond or argan are great choices. 

By adding carrier oils to our soap base, we make the product more nourishing and hydrating. True soaps like castile can be a little drying for the skin, although it’s nowhere near as bad as it is for our hair. So some oil can help offset that.    

Shampoo Base Is The Best Alternative For Your Shampoo Recipes

soap base shampoo

But there’s a very similar ingredient to liquid castile soap, but a lot better for your hair. Shampoo base, and it is formulated to be kind to your hair, with a similar price tag as Castile soap base. 

While you could still try to use castile soap base, you’d want to experiment with using different acidic hair rinses to keep it healthy. Yet I still would not recommend it, as the margins for error are wide. 

Furthermore, castile soap base doesn’t react well to most common pH modifiers/adjusters. My experiments have led to either radical changes in viscosity or the formation of white lumps in my finished product. 

Benefits of Shampoo Base Over Liquid Castile Soap Base

If you really want to make your own shampoo without any of the fuss, do your hair a favor and opt for using a liquid shampoo base instead. In terms of ease of use and ability to customize to your liking, it’s virtually the same!

In fact, In my experience, it’s just better all around. Shampoo bases have a pH that is closer to the natural pH of hair. It’s a careful combination of the right surfactants to cleanse the hair, and expertly balanced to ensure the hair remains healthy.

Furthermore, they’re formulated to ensure they don’t strip the hair and scalp of its natural oils, as they often contain conditioning agents that liquid castile soap bases lack. I’ve also found the lather is much silkier, and far closer to the feeling of professionally formulated shampoo.

Now, let’s put this theory into action and show you how easy it is to use a shampoo base. 

Customizing Shampoo Base To Create Interesting Formulations

Just like with castile soap base, you can safely add a variety of different nourishing ingredients to your shampoo base. In fact, shampoo bases are specially formulated with this in mind, and it’s easy to add essential oils and carrier oils without fear of separation. 

You can safely add a maximum of 3% essential oil and/or carrier oil to your shampoo base. Any more than this and you risk separation. I would split this as 1% essential oil and 2% carrier oil. However, every shampoo base will be different, be sure to check with the manufacturer to see if more carrier oil can be added. 

Bergamot, Lavender, Grapefruit and Rosemary are fantastic examples of essential oils that I like to make use of, but you can use whatever you like. Avoid essential oils that are phototoxic (lemon, lime, and many other citrus EOs) unless they are distilled. 

As with essential oils, you can add carrier oils to your shampoo base too. For hair, I would opt for argan, rosehip, avocado or sweet almond for this purpose. But if there’s a carrier oil you like to use in your hair, then go for it! 

How To Use Shampoo Base

With this Argan & Bergamot shampoo, I wanted to show you how easy it was to add other ingredients to your shampoo base. So, I’ve formulated a shampoo for dry hair with a shampoo base in my recipe card below. 

I’ve selected Bergamot essential oil for this. Not only does it have a beautiful and complex citrus aroma, it’s also fantastically hydrating. It helps to protect the hair and scalp, is rich in antioxidants, and provides a wonderful shine. 

I’ve paired this with Argan oil, which is well known for its power to hydrate and soften hair, as well as improve shine. But it also helps to fight dandruff and frizz, as well as shield the hair from oxidative stress. 

argon and bergamot shampoo

Argan & Bergamot Homemade Shampoo For Dry Hair

I wanted to show you how easy it was to add other ingredients to your shampoo base. So, I've formulated a shampoo for dry hair with a shampoo base. 
5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 100 grams
Author: Angela Wills

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you buy via the links here I may earn a small affiliate commission at no cost to you.




  • Place the shampoo base into a glass beaker.
    100 g Shampoo Base
    Place the shampoo base into a glass beaker
  • Add the Argon oil and Bergamot essential oil and optional coloring.
    2 g Argan Oil, 1 g Bergamot Essential Oil, 1 drop Food Coloring
    Add the Argon oil and Bergamot essential oil
  • Stir well and transfer to a flip-top bottle ready for use.
    1 4 oz PET Plastic Bottle
    transfer to a flip-top bottle

How To Use This Shampoo

washing hair

This is an easy one because you use it just like you would any other shampoo!

  1. Simply dispense a small amount of the product onto your fingers and massage it into damp hair. 
  2. Be sure to spend extra time scrubbing the scalp, using circular motions. This will ensure the scalp and roots are fully cleansed of excess oil and any leftover styling product. 

While every shampoo base is different, most come self-preserved and have a shelf life of anywhere from 1-3 years. For more specific advice about the shelf life of a particular shampoo base, it’s best to contact the manufacturer. Most will tell you on their website.  

More Inspiration For Customizing Shampoo Base

While doing the prep for this post, I came up with more than just the recipe above. I experimented with a few different ideas. Here were some of my favorites:

Citrus Burst Shampoo (All Hair Types)

citrus burst shampoo
A mineral-rich shampoo for all hair types


  • 100g Shampoo Base
  • 2g Seaweed Extract (Algae extract)
  • 0.5g Distilled Lime Essential Oil 
  • 0.5g Distilled Lemon Essential Oil
  • 1 Drop Natural Green Food Coloring/Liquid Soap Dye


  1. Place the shampoo base into a glass beaker.
  2. Add the seaweed extract and essential oils.
  3. Stir well and transfer to a flip-top bottle ready for use. 

Charcoal Cleanse Shampoo (Oily Hair)

charcoal cleanse shampoo
A detoxifying and deeply cleansing shampoo for oily hair
  • 100g Shampoo Base
  • 0.3g Activated Charcoal Powder
  • 1g Distilled Lemon Essential Oil 
  • 0.5g Rosemary Essential Oil
  1. Mix the soap base with the Activated Charcoal Powder in a glass beaker
  2. Add the Lemon and Rosemary Essential Oil
  3. Stir well and transfer to a flip-top bottle ready for use 

Final Thoughts

Our exploration into homemade shampoo formulations brings us to a clear conclusion: while castile soap has its merits, a castile soap shampoo recipe is not the ideal choice for hair care. 

The high pH level can disrupt the hair’s natural balance, potentially leading to dryness and damage. Instead, a shampoo base emerges as the superior option. Specially formulated for hair, it respects the scalp’s pH and maintains essential moisture.

The Argan & Bergamot Nourishing Shampoo recipe exemplifies the benefits of using a shampoo base. It not only ensures a gentle cleanse but also infuses dry hair with nourishing oils and a refreshing scent. 

I hope this shows how easy it is to use a shampoo base. I know it seems so much easier to grab that bottle of castile soap base from the cupboard and use it like L’oreal. But honestly, it could ruin your hair!  

Here’s An All Natural Shampoo For Frequent Use

Enter the world of frequent use natural shampoos – specifically formulated to provide gentle cleansing without the harsh effects.

Author: Angela Wills

Title: Founder and Author - Savvy Homemade

Expertise: Beauty Recipes, Skincare Formulation, Soapmaking, DIY Crafts, Parenting

Angela Wills is an author, founder, and the driving force behind Savvy Homemade. With over fifteen years of experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication to every post she writes. She is fearlessly dedicated to creating tried and tested beauty recipes, skincare formulations, soap recipes, and many other DIY crafts that will work for everyone. Angela has a Diploma in Skincare Formulation, is a proud member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, and infuses each DIY product with her passion and expertise.

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