Hair Care

Shampoo bar recipe without lye. 2 Surfactants that are best

September 13, 2020
shampoo bar recipe without lye

Activated Charcoal Shampoo Bar Recipe Without Lye

Today we will be making shampoo bar recipe without lye.

There are two kinds of shampoo bars in the market.

Shampoo Bar ( Soap bar made from lye )

Shampoo Bar ( Syndet = synthetic + detergent )

Lets look into how they are different from each other in short

Difference between Soap Shampoo Bar Vs Syndet Shampoo Bar

Shampoo Bar made from Lye

This type of shampoo bar is a soap bar made from oils, butter, and NaOH other hair-friendly additives. It is wonderful on the skin but for hair, this type of soap bar can be a bit harsh. Let me tell you why?

The pH of soap bar made from lye is usually between 8 – 10 which makes it alkaline in nature. The pH of hair is usually between 4 – 6 depending on age and hair type.

This type of shampoo bar can be a bit harsh to the hair and can make it brittle and dry at least for me it did. There are a lot of people for whom it worked out fine. This is the preference that they make.

Shampoo bar made without lye.

This type of bar is called syndet bar (synthetic + detergent). We will be using surfactants that are naturally derived, biodegradable, and easy to use.

The pH of this shampoo bar can be made compatible with your hair and yet it is a solid hard bar that does not need packaging.

Usually the pH range acceptable for a shampoo bar is between 4-7 which is a gentle cleanser without disturbing the natural pH of the scalp.

We will be discussing more about pH in the instruction section of the recipe. So lets go ahead with ingredients first.

Ingredients used in Shampoo Bar Recipe Without Lye

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate ( SCI )

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate or SCI is a gentle surfactant acquired from coconut tree. I am using powdered SCI in this shampoo bar. The pH of SCI is usually around 6 which is super for a hair care and baby care product. We can make a gentle and pH balanced product from this surfactant.

We can make liquid shampoo from SCI but I guess that topic is for some other time. Let me know if you are interested in learning a liquid shampoo kindly comment in the comments section below.

In the instruction section we will take up pH and how to adjust pH in detail

Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSa)

Some people think this as the Sulphate which we strive to avoid but NO this is not that Sulphate or sulfate. The sulphates that we need to avoid is SLS – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is harmful to use.

So now that we cleared that SLSa is not a sulphate let me tell you that SLSa can be used in organic skincare and hair care products too. It is a very much an acceptable surfactant as per Organic standards.

I love to use SLSa in combination with SCI both are anionic gentle surfactants. They give super impressive bubbles in shampoo bar. You can also add them in bathing bars and liquid shampoos.

SLSa has pH between 5-7 which is again compatible to hair.

DUST MASK is the most important equipment or PPE kit you will need while making this shampoo bar recipe without lye. They are highly irritant to the lungs.

Behentrimonium Methosulfate Cetyl Alcohol and Butylene Glycol ( BTMS 50 )

Oh, I love this ingredient so much it is an emulsifier and conditioning agent doing a dual purpose in one. It is a cationic emulsifier where 50 is the active amount of Behentrimonium Methosulfate.

Cetyl Alcohol

Cetyl Alcohol is not the alcohol that you are thinking these are solid pellets or flakes that are used to thicken our formulation.

It gives body to the bar and gives a slip effect in the shower. It allows the bar to maintain its shape and form in the shower.

Hydrolyzed silk protein, benzyl alcohol, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate – ( Silk Protein )

As the name suggest this is a protein extracted from silkworms. It makes our hair silky and shiny full of lusture.

Pro Vitamin B5 ( Panthenol )

I am using D Panthenol for making a shampoo bar. It adds moisture to the hair and reduces static in the hair. It gives gorgeous bouncy feel to the hair

Cetrimonium Chloride

Cetrimonium Chloride is a detangler and anti frizz agent. If you do not suffer from fizz issues you can easily avoid this ingredient.


This is a silicone and you can avoid this if you wish too. A good substitute for dimethicone is Brocolli seed oil.

As per curly girl method people with curly hair should avoid any type of silicone as they can dry out the hair.

Broadspectrum Preservative

I feel that since the shampoo bar sits in my shower 24/7 and we have a lot of people in the house it is constantly in a humid atmosphere and since India is a tropical country the humidity is pretty high here. So I like to use a broadspectrum preservative in my shampoo bars. But then each has their opinion and feel free to make your own decisions.

Activated Charcoal Shampoo Bar Recipe without lye

61% – SCI powder

12% – SLSa powder

5% – Ayurvedic Herbal Hair Oil

7.5% – BTMS 50

3% – Cetyl alcohol

4% – Foaming Silk

1% – D Panthenol

1% – Glycerin

2% – Rose RCO Fragrance

1% – Broad-spectrum Preservative

1% – Activated Charcoal or any other active of your choice.

1% – Dimethicone

0.5% – Vitamin E

Equipment Needed

Dust Mask

A scale that can be 0.01 gram accurate.

Mixing bowl

Heat safe beakers

pH measuring scale


mold or moon cake press

Instruction to Follow for Shampoo Bar Recipe without lye

Clean and sanitize all the area, containers and spatulas before making any skincare and hair care product. Maintaining good GMP ( Good Manufacturing Practices ) is as important as making an effective product as well.

Wear a Dust Mask.

First weight out SCI powder and SLSa powder and keep it aside.

Now weight out BTMS 50, Cetyl alcohol, Ayurvedic Herbal Hair Oil, Silk Protein, D Panthenol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Dimethicone.

Warm all these in a heat proof container in a microwave with 30 seconds burst or on a double boiler till all the BTMS 50 and Cetyl alcohol is melted.

Do not burn the mixture.

Now mix in all the Dry phase and heated phase together and knead it like a dough.

Once everthing is mixed well let the mixture cool down below 40 degrees celcius.

Add this stage check your pH with either a litmus strip or a pH meter with 10% solution.

If the shampoo bar pH is below 7 we are good to go.

If the pH is above 7 add a acid like a 50% solution of citric acid drop by drop and adjust the pH .

Now add Preservative, Shahi Gulab Fragrance Oil and a pinch of Mica.

Ideally I would check pH after this step as well since there are some preservative which will reduce the pH of a product in case it the pH goes below 4.5 I would like to add some NaOH 50% solution drop by drop till I reach a required pH. Please make sure you note this down the first time you conduct the trials so next time you can add it directly to the recipe while making it. I hope I am clear about this. If not please write it in comments section I would be happy to answer.

Knead it well.

I am using a moon cake press for molding but feel free to use anything mold.

I have also added some glitter but that is completely optional.

Ideally I would allow it to dry for 3 days having said that since this is a syndet bar we would not need to cure it. 3 days is just the drying period to make the bar much stronger and harder so it is easier to handle.

Feel Free to scale the recipe up or down as per your needs.

Do let me know how it worked out for you.

Looking forward to have a communication feedback with you about this recipe.

If you wish to watch me make this please do check out the video format.

Activated Charcoal Shampoo bar recipe without lye

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Please make sure you keep this shampoo bar in dry ventilated area in between the use.

Usually I have no issues of getting a soggy bar with the recipe but if you do have any issues like this comment it the box below I would be happy to answer.

Make sure your shampoo bar is pH range of hair which is usually between 4.5 ā€“ 5.5

Even if the pH of shampoo bar is 7 it is a good pH do not go over 7 for any haircare product.

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  • Reply
    October 17, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Hello. I see that there’s no CAPB in your shampoo bar recipe with activated charcoal. Is that correct? Can we add it together with Vitamin E? What’s the percentage / grams?

    • Reply
      October 17, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      Oops sorry.. Disregard the Vitamin E.. I see it’s in the recipe. šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Angela Rodriguez
    November 2, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    Hi, your syndet shampoo bar with charcoal mentioned CAPB as one of the ingredients but I don’t see it listed on the recipe nor in the video version. Can you please let me know the amount?

    • Reply
      November 6, 2020 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks so much for pointing that out. This recipe has only 2 surfactants and no CAPB as one of the subscribers has requested. I am extremely sorry for your confusion. My Bad!!. I hope it resolves the issues I have made necessary changes to the post. I wish to do one video for you let me know what I can make for you to make up for this mistake

  • Reply
    November 25, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Hi, thank you so much for sharing this! what would be the alternative for foaming silk? will CAPB work instead or is there a supplier in India you can suggest? Thank you in advance.

    • Reply
      November 29, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      i guess CAPB has different function then foaming silk. If you wish you can skip this ingredient and increase the panthenol or any other humectant.

  • Reply
    February 5, 2021 at 12:26 am

    Most people in my area are oblivious to the fact that scalp therapy shampoos for fast hair growth (of course without any sulfates, parabens or DEA) even exist. Hair styling enthusiasts are now able to possess longer hair and have more alternatives. Undoubtedly worth considering.

    Whether you’re studying hair loss, hair damage, preventing hair disorders, hair growth, hair care more often than not, almost the same rules apply.

    Generally, you have to avoid hair products and treatments that contain chemicals like parabens, DEA or sulfates.

    What is good for your hair is healthy for your skin also.

    For obvious reasons the content above is spot on for many reasons. It stays away from the usual pitfalls and mistakes most fall into- purchasing horrible alternatives. Keep it up!

  • Reply
    February 6, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Looking for some guidance. I have recently made some conditioner bars using BTMS-50 as the base. There is a lingering scent of the BTMS in both recipes I have used. Any idea how to get a bar without the lingering chemical scent?

    • Reply
      February 8, 2021 at 2:00 pm

      I agree some btms 50 smells like fish but we cannot substitute it. Its irritating I understand. You can use a strong smelling fragrance to cover up the smell. Secondly try and get BTMS 50 from a good supplier which has less smell

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