I can’t wait to share this recipe with you today! I’m so in love with these little shampoo bars.
Not only do they leave my hair soft and shiny, but they work perfectly for hands and body too.
(Bonus: they’re also working great for bathing my dogs!)
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For this recipe, I started with my usual base of Olive Oil (a basic soap making oil with emollient properties) and Coconut Oil (adds lather and hardness). If you’re allergic to coconut oil, try using babassu oil instead.
I then added some Rice Bran Oil (vitamin E rich, adds a nice, silky lather and is a good stand-in for some of the olive), Shea Butter (moisturizes and contributes to a harder soap), Avocado Butter (nourishes and conditions skin and hair) and Castor Oil (contributes to the lather factor.)
I used Bramble Berry’s Lye Calculator (HERE) to create the recipe and superfatted the soap at 5%.
I used this 12 Cavity Rectangle Silicone Mold, though it only filled nine of the cavities, and then sliced each bar in half, to make mini-bars that are easier for me to use and hold.
Avocado Shampoo Bars
- 10 oz (283 g) water
- 4.25 oz (120 g) sodium hydroxide (lye)
- 8 oz (227 g) Coconut Oil
- 3 oz (85 g) Avocado Butter
- 3 oz (85 g) Shea Butter
- 4 oz (113 g) Castor Oil
- 8 oz (227 g) Olive Oil
- 5 oz (142 g) Rice Bran Oil
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) Lemongrass Essential Oil, optional
Yields around 9 shampoo bars, or 18 mini shampoo bars. All measurements are by weight. Directions are given for both hot process and cold process soap below.
Step 1 – Weigh and Mix the Lye Solution
Put on your safety gear of gloves, goggles and long sleeves. I like to also cover my work area with a few sheets of wax paper and have some paper towels handy to contain any stray spills.
Weigh the water into a stainless steel or heavy duty plastic pitcher. I use an old Tupperware or Pampered Chef pitcher. Next, weigh the lye into a small cup or container.
Sprinkle the lye into the water (not the other way around or you might get a lye volcano) and gently stir with a heavy duty plastic or silicone spatula or spoon until the lye is completely dissolved. The temperature will get really hot. Avoid breathing in the resulting strong fumes that linger for a few moments.
Set the lye solution aside in a safe place where it won’t get disturbed. If you’re making hot process soap in your crock pot, then it will only need to be set aside for about ten minutes while you work with the oils. If making cold process, let the lye cool down around 30 to 40 minutes before mixing with the oils.
Step 2 – Weigh and Heat the Oils & Butters
Weigh out the solid ingredients – coconut oil, shea butter and avocado butter – and melt them in a double boiler or over low heat until melted. While those melt, weigh out the other liquid oils and place them in your crock pot (for hot process) or soap making pot/container (for cold process). Pour the hot melted butters and coconut oil into the other oils. That should bring the temperature up to somewhere around 90 to 100°F (32 to 38° C).
Step 3 – Combine and Mix to Trace
Pour the lye solution into the warm oils. Using a stick or immersion blender (looks like THIS and is not a handheld mixer) stir the solution with the motor off for around 30 seconds. Turn the motor on and blend for a minute or so. Stir for another 30 or so seconds with the motor off, then again with the motor on and so forth. (We don’t run the stick blender continuously so we don’t risk burning out the motor. It also cuts down on air bubbles in your finished soap.)
Alternate with this method until trace is reached. “Trace” is when your soap batter gets thick enough to leave an imprint or tracing, when you drizzle some of it across the surface. Below is a picture of my soap at trace, but it’s a lot thicker than it needs to be. (My fault for only half paying attention to the task at hand!) Your soap batter will probably be thinner.
Step 4 – Choose Cold Process or Hot Process
Up until this point, you make cold process and hot process pretty much the same. Weigh, melt/heat and stir to trace. Now though, you have to decide if you’re going to cook your soap (hot process) or pour it straight into a mold (cold process).
With cold process, you just stir to trace, add essential oil and any other extras, pour the soap batter into the mold, let it sit for 24 to 48 hours, remove from the mold and cure the bars in the open air for 4 to 6 weeks before using. It’s one step shorter than hot process and your bars will usually end up looking nicer and smoother. However, there’s that 4 to 6 week wait time for the bar to cure.
With hot process, you stir to trace, cook your soap for around an hour, add essential oil and any other extras, then scoop it into a mold, let it sit for 24 hours, remove it from the mold and you can use it right away. Though, hot process still does even better if you let it cure a few weeks too.
The choice is completely personal. No one way is better than the other, so choose as you wish!
Step 5A – Cold Process Instructions
Once trace is reached, you can stir in any extras. In this case, I just have lemongrass essential oil. Stir that into the soap batter and pour into your mold. Cover with a sheet of wax paper and then a piece of cardboard. Lay a towel or quilt over the mold to keep the heat contained. Let it sit for 24 to 48 hours and then remove from the mold.
Let the bars cure on sheets of wax paper or coated cooling racks for around 4 weeks before using.
Step 5B – Hot Process Instructions
Once trace is reached, turn your crock pot on low. (If you have a really old crock pot that heats slowly, you might need to preheat it sooner.)
Cook the soap batter for 1 hour, checking every 15 minutes and stirring if needed. Here’s what mine looked like at
45 minutes (I stirred after 30 minutes or it would look differently):
60 minutes (I stirred again after 45 minutes or it might look differently):
After the soap has finished cooking, stir in any extras that you want to add. In this case, I only added lemongrass essential oil.
Spoon the hot soap into your molds and smooth the tops as best as you can. You don’t have to cover or insulate hot process soap. Let the soap sit in the molds overnight then remove the next day. Cut the bars in half, if you’d like mini shampoo bars as shown. You can use this soap right away, though the bars benefit from curing a few weeks too. And that’s it – you’re done!
Using Shampoo Bars
When using a shampoo bar, you often need to followup with a vinegar hair rinse to help restore pH and remove any soap residue. This is especially true if you have hard water, like we do here. I haven’t found the need to use it as much with this recipe, but here are a few pretty infused vinegars you might want to consider for your hair:
I usually dilute with equal parts water and rinse OR for more convenience and less waste, just keep a spray bottle of vinegar in your shower and spritz it over your scalp and hair after shampooing. Rinse with water and you’re done!
Shampoo Bar Notes
Not everyone’s hair type does well with shampoo bars, so if you find that you don’t care for how they work on your hair, you can still use them as a hand and body soap.
If you’d like a truly natural alternative to commercial shampoos and conditioners, I highly recommend Morrocco Method haircare products.
They’re color safe, paleo friendly, vegan, and gluten free – made in small batches with 100% pure ingredients like apple cider vinegar, aloe, essential oils and other healthy plant extracts.
I’ve especially fallen in love with their Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Floating Lotus Conditioner – they leave my hair so clean and soft, even with our hard well water!
You can learn more about their products HERE or click on the banner below.
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