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Homemade Organic Shampoos – Going Brown !!

I am on a hunt for natural – chemical free products. Thanks to Suganya of Tasty Palettes, I switched to Seventh Generation products a few months ago. I have been researching on organic shampoos without much success. Manufacturers are trying all gimmicks to cheat customers with words like “all-natural”, “botanical extracts”, “pure plant extracts”. They even dare to put the organic label on the bottles and then disclaimer that no human eyes can read – Certification from Belgium, European standards etc etc

Aritha – Soap nut and the seed inside. The nuts are size of marbles

Shikakai – Acacia Concinna
Image source
Wiki :

Dried Shikakai pods have been used for centuries as a hair cleanser. It is a mild cleanser relatively low in pH and does not strip the hair of natural oils. So it was obviously the choice for cleansing hair in olden times. Washing hair is a elaborate routine back home. Shampoos were strict no-nos at home. I hated shikakai – hair was not like those models on TV, the silky wavy hairs I longed for !! With shikakai it was nowhere close to those shimmering shampooed hair.

I would run around dodging my mother because shikakai also causes irritation when it gets into eyes and my mother got them in my eyes everrry singglle time and I would be crying and yelling at her.

I longed for the shampoos because the model on the TV advertisement was always smiling when washing her hair – shampoo never irriate your eyes. So I thought !!! Finally my mother gave up and I remember using Egg shampoo ( I think it was Pond’s) the first time. I loved the squishy yellow fragrant precious liquid and when my mom started scrubbing my hair I was all smiling with my eyes widee open ! And before I knew it got in my eyes and there I was crying and wailing – only this time my mother was yelling at me !!!

This time around when I went to India I got shikakai powder – homemade. PRECIOUS !

The shikakai pods are similar to tamarind pods. A fine powder of around half kilo of these pods along with a tablespoon each of rice, fenugreek, a handful of dried hibiscus flowers and a few sun-dried lemon peel – Makes one heck of a hair shampoo/tonic.

Aritha is also a natural hair cleanser. It is called soapnut in english, soapukai in tamil – so you get the idea. They are dried berries enclosing a seed inside. They lather with water and can be safely used on hair. Since soapnut strips hair of oils it should be used in lesser amounts and works fantastically with shikakai powder. Gently crush the the nuts to break them open and remove the seeds. Grind them in a clean dry coffee grinder and store air tight.

Aritha/soapnut berries are found here in US in the indian groceries. Alternatively you also get Hesh Aritha powder. Mix with 3 tablespoons shikakai powder to 1 tablespoon soapnut powder in little water and work up a chemical free lather.

If you have strained water from rice ( starchy water drained after cooking rice ), then use it as a conditioner – This water contains nutrients and is considered an excellent conditioner for hair.

Shikakai & Aritha powder paste – Herbal shampoo – Closest to getting organic

Aritha powder – Coffee grinder does the job.


December 27, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Awesome post!!! his is sucha healthy alternative! I have this HUGE problem of hairfall only after I came to the USA) .. will try this , hoping that it will prove beneficial!

    Comment by Manasi | December 28, 2007 | Reply

  2. Your post sure touched a chord…’s so true that the things which you once thought were old fashioned and useless are the very ones you got back to as you get older.

    Comment by Jayashree | December 28, 2007 | Reply

  3. You have taken me to my school days…yep i remember using kanji thanni as conditioner….

    Really it is all golden things we miss.After using this chemicals shampoos….our hairfall rate has increased alot…?Thanks Revathi…

    Comment by USHA | December 29, 2007 | Reply

  4. You should try this site for shampoos. They are really good and they come in bar form

    Comment by Shoba | December 30, 2007 | Reply

  5. Oh amn, I used to wash my hair with this twice a week, and now after coming to US, my hair is so thin and listless I hate it:(

    Comment by Mansi Desai | December 30, 2007 | Reply

  6. Wow..I used sembarthi ellai as conditioner.
    Happy New Year Revathi! BTW, I just did a review of a restaurant in Bay Area..take a look when u get the chance.

    Comment by Shankari | December 30, 2007 | Reply

  7. ME too Me too, Revathi. How I longed for shampoo those days. Now any friend flying to/from India has to carry a pack of home-made shikaki for me. My mom makes it with shikaki, poongagaai (soapnut, you have mentioned), fenugreek, henna, etc etc. Its the best shampoo ever. If only you are ready to clean the bath tub every time you take oil bath :D.

    I have found few other bio-degradable brands. Bio-kleen makes excellent carpet cleaner. E-cover tablets for the dishwasher, Dishtree detergent from costco, Method all-surface cleaner and hand soap are very good. You can give these a try too.

    Comment by Suganya | January 8, 2008 | Reply

  8. I was using home made shika powder when I was in India. Here I couldn’t. I also remember using something green called arappu. I mix a tablespoon of arappu with shika.

    Comment by Mythreyee | January 27, 2008 | Reply

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