Fabulous Shampoo Bar Recipe

If you are a soapmaker looking for a fabulous shampoo bar recipe with lots of lather that will make your hair softer than it’s ever been before, then this recipe is for you! It comes from Lisa G. of Opus Soaps in Petersburg, Texas.

When I first set out to make a great shampoo bar, I did a bit of research on the best ingredients to use and took a shot at it. It worked fine for my first try, and my hair did a slow transition away from the commercial shampoo I’ve been using all my life. It had decent lather, and made my hair feel softer and cleaner than it ever had before. In fact, here’s a photo of it:

My first attempt at a shampoo bar

Then Lisa sent me her recipe, and I whipped up a quick hot-processed batch. Oh my. My first soap never saw this much lather! And my hair! After the first time using it, my hair was noticeably softer and easier to comb through!

Opus Shampoo Bar, hot processed

Oh, but then Lisa sent me an actual bar that she had made using the cold process method, and it was EVEN BETTER. When I first picked it up, I noticed how silky smooth the surface of the soap felt. Then with a bit of water added, the lather began to grow into an lots of large frothy bubbles. After rubbing it around my hair, I noticed that the lather got super dense and creamy. Heavenly! See for yourself:

Opus Shampoo Bar, cold processed

Are you ready to make your own batch now? Here is what you’ll need:

Opus Shampoo Bar – 3 lb. batch, superfatted at 5%

Water – 517 g (Lisa uses half beer, half aloe juice)
Lye – 192 g
Coconut Oil – 382 g
Olive Oil Pomace – 408 g
Castor Oil – 63 g
Lard – 340 g
Shea Butter – 42 g
Cocoa Butter – 25 g
Rice Bran Oil – 123 g

I’ve been using this recipe on my hair for several days and it’s amazing! I’m still using a bit of conditioner on the ends followed by a vinegar rinse (about 1 part apple cider vinegar, 3 parts water) on my scalp, which works down through the hair and makes it easier to de-tangle. After getting my hair shampooed at the salon yesterday, I did have to shampoo my hair twice with the bar soap to get the same lather, and my hair isn’t feeling quite as soft today. I suppose it will have to re-adjust again.

Anyway, give it a shot and let me know how it works for you! And huge thanks to Lisa for sharing her recipe!!

If you haven’t made soap with beer before, you might want to consult this post.

100 thoughts on “Fabulous Shampoo Bar Recipe

  1. Anita says:

    I forgot to mention that I left out the beer and aloe, I only used water. Next time I wil put the aloe in and see what happens ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Gale Aidala says:

    I really like the Opus shampoo bar and am excited about trying the recipe. I have not used lard in cp soap and would like to know what I might use instead? Is Crisco considered lard? Thank you for sharing your recipe and for your help with my question.

  3. says:

    @Gale – Unless you have a real aversion to lard, it really does make fabulous soap! You can buy the Manteca lard at your local grocery store. Crisco is NOT lard. You can use it, but don’t expect the results to be the same! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anything you choose to substitute needs to be run through a lye calculator to be sure you have the correct amount of lye.

  4. Shel says:

    Made lard soap from manteca… lathers like crazy, but anyone else having problem with a slight ‘wet dog’ smell lingering after washing, especially hair?

  5. says:

    @Shel – Lard soap on its own will definitely have a distinctive odor. I highly recommend using some essential oils to help cover the scent!

  6. says:

    Oh so happy i found this recipe Amy, my ingredients (rice bran Is an oil I’ve never used before) are already on their way to me. I don’t have aloe juice either and forgot to order so would you just recommend half beer and half water? And this vinegar rinse you mentioned, do you leave it in the hair or wash out as well? Thanks!
    Autumnยดs last blog post ..

  7. cindi Quay says:

    Could I switch out the olive pomace for organic virgin olive oil and the rice bran oil with either Apricot or Sunflower? Thanks!

  8. says:

    @Autumn (& Cindy) – Feel free to tweak the recipe however you wish! Just be sure to run your changes through a lye calculator before making the soap. The vinegar should be rinsed out.

  9. says:

    This looks like a great recipe! I can’t wait to use it. Do you still allow it to dry and age for several weeks? I’m wondering if there is a natural conditioner recipe as well. Thanks for sharing!

  10. dina says:

    this looks like a great recipe that I have been looking for, can you tell me if I can change the rice bran oil for something else or leave it out altogether. would it make lot of difference? is just that I would like to have a go and I don’t have that one. I have castor or sunflower oil, my hair normal but a little on the fine side. A couple of recipes I have tried liquid have left my hair feeling very hard and tangely

  11. says:

    @Dina – You can make substitutions, but you must run the recipe through a lye calculator to make sure you get the correct amount!! Handmade shampoos will make your hair feel hard & tangled for the first 14 days at least. There is a transition period where it has to break down the coating on your hair from commercial shampoos. If you have especially hard water, it can be very difficult to make that transition at all.

  12. Cassandra says:

    Hi, are you still using the same recipe? With the same results? I am very interested in making shampoo bars, and have decided to try my hand at it this winter. In the meantime, I have purchased several shampoo bars from different vendors, all natural of course. All that I purchased I figured would work for my hair type. So far I have been very pleased with the results, except for 1 type which is a conditioning bar. It leaves my hair lightly oily, buy tangle free. (Maybe to conditioning?) Every once in a while, I wash with a diluted baking soda wash, and rinse with a vinegar solution. I sometimes substitute lemon juice or white vinegar. I rinse with one of these solutions every time after the shampoo bar, also. Sometimes I mix a tsp. of honey or molasses or 1/2 tsp glycerin in the rinse, also.
    Generally, I wash my hair every 4-5 days. Used to be I HAD to wash at least twice a week or my hair would get ugly. Of course that was before I took charge of my own hair care 8 months ago. I used to also have little pimples develope on my scalp, and while my hair got greasy, I had very dry split end hairs. No more!!!
    My 3 daughters ( oldest is 13, youngest is 7) all have been blessed with long thick hair, and no split ends!!!!
    It may be challenging sometimes to find the right balance, it’s fun and its great!! No more junk!

  13. Cassandra says:

    Oh, and several years ago, I made a hard soap bar. I had instructions on how to grate some and mix with water and pectin for a shampoo. My husband loved it, though it didn’t lather much, but I didn’t. It left my hair stringy feeling, even though i tried it for a couple weeks. I now realized I should have had an acidic rinse, and then I would have probably loved it.

  14. says:

    @Cassandra – I’ve tweaked my shampoo bar recipe a bit since this post, but it’s still a great shampoo bar! I have lots of people who love it more than any other shampoo bar they’ve ever tried. Best wishes to you!

  15. Kristina says:

    How often do you find you need to wash with this bar and a vinegar rinse? I’m looking to make the switch from commercial products and I understand the transition phase. Once through the transition phase how many days before you need to wash again and between wash days do you get your hair wet in the shower or pull it up and keep it dry? Thanks!

  16. Sybil says:

    FYI…the Maneteca lard highly processed and is not a high quality pure lard, likely the cause of the slight scent…”.Lard & Hydrogenated Lard, BHA, Propyl Gallate & Citric Acid Added to Protect Flavor” Pure leaf lard is not shelf stable..must be refrigerated. I buy an unscented lard soap made by a local woman from pure leaf lard that has no off odor.

  17. says:

    @Sybil – I thought you were pulling my leg…until I googled “pure leaf lard” – and yes, it actually exists! Not sure why it’s called “leaf lard” but it sounds like a high quality product!

  18. Janie says:

    By the way, Amy, thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m going to try it using tallow instead of lard, since I have that on hand. (Will recalculate the lye amount, of course.) Tallow makes a very hard bar and that seems to be the main reason for using lard. I bought the beer and aloe today. Someone was planning to buy “aloe juice”. Many aloe supplements are flavored with lemon juice and it’s important to get 100% aloe.

  19. says:

    @Angelica – You can certainly try it! (Recalculate the lye amount, of course.) I’ve heard some people say that palm doesn’t work well in shampoo bars and others who like to use it. I believe it comes down to personal choice. Everyone’s hair is different, so it may work for you!

  20. Mally says:

    Soapmaking 101 says not to use beer in a shampoo bar. Im guessing the alchohol is drying. Are we talking about a fermented beer?

  21. says:

    @Mally – I hadn’t heard that before…yes, we are talking about fermented beer. I usually cook the alcohol off before adding the lye solution. The beer adds a ton of lather, and I’ve heard it’s supposed to be conditioning as well. I love having beer in my shampoo bars!

  22. wanda says:

    Hi I am curious about shampoo bars. I made one once and went through the transition period and everything but my hair did the opposite of what everyone else says! Mine got all waxy feeling and no matter what I did I could not get rid of it. Do you have any idea what could have caused that? I would love to find a great bar for my lifeless and limp hair lol

  23. James says:

    I realize this post started back in 2013 and I saw that you said that you have tweeked your recipie since you first posted ths. I have 3 daughters with long thick hair (I am mostly bald ๐Ÿ™‚ and we want to get off the grid as far as shampoo and conditioners etc…. Wondering first : I bought a bunch of jello and tart tins molds made out of metal
    . I got the Idea from a book The Complete Soapmaker: Tips, Techniques & Recipes for Luxurious Handmade Soaps . She has soaps made in tins like these but what I am wondering is could you get these out with a heat gun? or how would you do it ? Second is there adjustments to the originl recipie that you could share with us .? Or are there other recipies that you might have under your belt now that you could share ? I have access to an abundance of suet and I have heard that it can go ransid fairly quickly does anyone know what could added to the bars to be a natural preservative that they have had experience with like Benzoin , ascorbate etc…. I have not made my first batch yet but I am hoping to gain the wisdom of other soapers first Thanks in advance James

  24. Christi says:

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for sharing. There are a lot of shampoo bar recipes on the web but your write-up along with the photos have convinced me to give it a try. Before I get going, I have a couple of questions.

    1) In regards tot he beer, should I let it go flat first? Also, you mention in the comment section that you “cook the alcohol off before adding the lye solution”. Does this mean you boil it in a pan first? If so, how long should it boil?

    2) Are there any tweaks you’ve made that you can share?

    I appreciate the info you’ve already listed. Thanks again.

  25. says:

    @Christi – I usually just cook the beer until it starts boiling, then measure out the amount I need into my lye pitcher and put it in the fridge overnight. It’s nice and cold, alcohol cooked off and pretty much flat in the morning. I’ve certainly made some tweaks, but I think this is a great starting point and you’ll probably want to make your own tweaks. ๐Ÿ™‚ Best wishes!

  26. Robin says:

    Hello! I had a question about curing time…about how many weeks will it take? I had seen 8 weeks before on a different recipe and was wondering if that was standard for shampoo bars.

    Thank you so much!

  27. says:

    @Robin – Cure time is a matter of evaporation, so it depends how much liquid you add up front as to how long a soap or shampoo bar needs to cure. Every handmade soap gets better the longer it cures, but you can weigh your soap once a week or so and when it stops losing weight, you’ll know that it is fully cured. It could be anywhere from 4-8 weeks or more, depending on the recipe, humidity, heat and air circulation. ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Cindi says:

    I would like your opinion on what to add or eliminate from this recipe for color treated hair, as far as helping keep color in. Thank you

  29. says:

    @Cindi – From what I’ve learned recently, it’s the ph of the soap that raises the cuticle. There’s really nothing that can change the ph of cold process soap. I’ve seen the science on that. So the only thing that can change is the quality of the hair color. The hair color you get from a box has larger molecules and will strip out faster than professional hair color which has smaller molecules. That’s all I know!

  30. Patti Meador says:

    I just used this recipe as a base (with a few tweaks) using hair friendly herb infused OO and added some clays for color (and slip). Now for the torturous cure! Thanks so much for sharing.

  31. Jana says:

    Hi for hard water area try use soapnuts liquid instead of water or beer in the recipe (UK, London area has very hard water) I will make it 50% soapnuts liquid and 50% beer…

  32. Darlene Elder says:

    I made this shampoo bar looking for something natural to use instead of all those chemicals. I did tweak it just a bit. I’ve been using this product for 2 weeks now. I am in love! My hair didn’t go through much of a transition period, I was one of the lucky ones. What a difference! My hair is soft and full. No “frizzies” sticking out when dry.Combing it out after washing is a breeze! (My hair is almost to my butt) My hairdresser ued it to wash my hair out after she colored it and is so impressed she wants to carry it in her salon! Thank you soooo much for sharing!

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