Today’s formulation is for an all-natural liquid shampoo featuring peppermint essential oil for a fresh, minty kick and pea extract—an active said to have hair thickening and growth-boosting benefits!
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I did the bulk of the development work on this formulation back in the spring of 2019 as part of my Diploma in Organic Haircare Formulation coursework. I loved it, but ended up shelving the formulation because one of the key ingredients (Lamesoft® PO 65, INCI: coco-glucoside (and) glyceryl oleate) wasn’t available in Canada at the time (I brought mine home from Germany/Skin Chakra via a 2018 trip to the UK), but hooray, Voyageur Soap and Candle Co. sells it now and I’ve found it in lots of other places, too (linked in the encyclopedia entry)—happy dance! This ingredient is a sort of magic trick that helps shampoos clean without making your hair feel horrendously over-clean, skiddy, and icky. Highly recommended.
Our surfactant blend is an old favourite of mine that I used a lot in my Formula Botanica coursework; Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside and Cocamidopropyl Betaine. The 2019 version of this formulation used Sodium Cocoamphoacetate instead of Cocamidopropyl Betaine, but I decided to re-work it for publishing as Cocamidopropyl Betaine is so much more readily available than Sodium Cocoamphoacetate.
I’ve gravitated towards Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside a lot in the last five or so years for two reasons: it’s a great solubilizer, and unlike the other glucosides, it’s naturally acidic with a pH of 5.5–6. Though… is it? Always? I’ve heard from some readers recently that their Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside (from other suppliers) is basic, with a pH closer to that of the other glucosides. So, if you’re working with Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, please check your supplier data to see what the pH of your product is. If it’s basic, you’ll definitely need to test and adjust the pH of the final formulation to ensure it sits where we want it to.
Anywho—Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside + Cocamidopropyl Betaine = lovely, rich, luscious, plentiful lather and fabulous cleansing. Excellent! Paired with coco-glucoside (and) glyceryl oleate we get great cleansing that doesn’t leave your hair feeling stripped. *Chef’s kiss*
As I was considering and researching different ways to give this shampoo a bit of something special, I noticed Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract in several commercially available shampoos and hair products that boast hair thickening and growth-boosting benefits. That’s the same INCI as the Natra Pep Pea I have from Voyageur Soap and Candle Co., so of course I had to try it out. I can’t say if it has boosted my hair growth at this point, but in comparing the shampoo with and without this ingredient, I think my hair feels a bit more moisturized. If you don’t have it I would use a hydrolyzed protein that you love instead. If you’re interested in hair thickening/growth boosting you may want to see if you can find Pisum Sativum (Pea) Sprout Extract vs. Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract; it sounds like the sprout extract is richer in phytonutrients/possibly more concentrated than the non-sprout variety. The two extracts are made from the same plant, the sprout is just younger.
2019’s version used Siligel for thickening, but I’m out of that now, and I also had a packet of Solagum AX begging to be used. Solagum AX is a blend of sturdy + thickening (yet somewhat snotty) xanthan gum and nicer-feeling, stabilizing acacia gum. It’s much nicer than straight xanthan gum, and according to the manufacturer it can also be used to stabilize oils to create gel creams—1% can stabilize up to 15% oil, which is really neat! I haven’t played with this capability yet myself, but I’m keeping it in mind as a possible natural alternative to Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN).
I experimented with two ways to get some minty goodness into this formulation—peppermint hydrosol and peppermint essential oil. The essential oil approach was a lot minty-er. I find the scent of the surfactants in this shampoo need more, err, smothering, than I was able to get from a hydrosol, even replacing all the water with hydrosol. I used the 70–75% menthol content Japanese peppermint essential oil from New Directions Aromatics and it’s very fresh. If you prefer something less minty you can use less essential oil or use peppermint hydrosol instead. In addition to the scent being milder, I found the hydrosol version was a bit thicker and more prone to suspended bubbles.
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Relevant links & further reading
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Lamesoft® PO 65 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Geogard Ultra in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Panthenol (Vitamin B5) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Distilled water in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- pH meter in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Can I use a different preservative than the one you’ve used?
- Can I use a different essential oil (or essential oil blend) than what is called for in a recipe?
- Can I use soap instead of foaming surfactants?
- How can I substitute one surfactant for another?
- The Tale of the Curdling Body Wash
- Surfactants table
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life?
- How to adjust the pH of your cosmetic products from Skin Chakra
- More shampoo formulations:
All-Natural Perky Peppermint Shampoo
2.3g | 2.3% Solagum AX (USA / Canada / EU / Aus)
5g | 5% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% Coco Glucoside (and) Glyceryl Oleate (Lamesoft® PO 65) (Canada / USA / NZ / EU / UK)
5g | 5% Natra Pep Pea (pea extract) (Canada / USA / UK)
1g | 1% peppermint essential oil
1.5g | 1.5% Geogard Ultra™ (USA / Canada / UK / NZ / Aus / South Africa)
1g | 1% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
24g | 24% Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside (USA / Canada)
15g | 15% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (USA / Canada)
40.2g | 40.2% distilled water
Weigh the Solagum AX, glycerin, Lamesoft PO 65, pea extract, peppermint essential oil, Geogard Ultra, and panthenol (Vitamin B5) into a beaker and whisk/stir thoroughly to combine. Be sure the Solagum AX is very thoroughly distributed.
Add the Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside and Cocamidopropyl Betaine. Stir slowly to combine.
Gently add the water, pouring it over your stirring implement to break its fall. Gently stir the shampoo every 3–5 minutes for about 15 minutes. This helps the Solagum AX hydrate evenly rather than settling to the bottom and fusing into a solid lump that has to be aggressively stirred later on to incorporate.
Cover the shampoo, leaving the Solagum AX to fully hydrate + the Geogard Ultra to dissolve for a couple hours.
Once everything has hydrated and dissolved, give the shampoo and stir and test the pH.
To test and adjust the pH: create a 10% dilution by weighing 2g product and 18g distilled water into a small bowl or beaker and whisk to combine (wondering why?). Check the pH with your pH meter (I have this one [USA / Canada]). Depending on the shape of your bowl/beaker you may need to tilt it in order to fully submerge the sensor on your pH meter. The pH should fall around 4.5 if your ingredients are similar to mine. Aim for a range of 4–6 for hair health and preservative efficacy. Please read this article to learn more about pH adjusting.
When you’ve confirmed the pH is suitable, bottle it up! I used a soft squeeze tube; the small one in the photos is a Premium Frosted Soft Tube from YellowBee (gifted) and the large one in the video is a Malibu tottle from Voyageur Soap and Candle Co. (purchased).
Use as you’d use any liquid shampoo. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this shampoo contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this formulation in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 100g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could try a different gum if you don’t have Solagum AX, though I’d recommend a gum blend for the stability. I think Siligel could work well. If you go with straight xanthan you won’t need nearly as much; you’ll have to experiment and see what works for you.
- If you’d like to learn more about the surfactants used and compare them to ones you might already have so you can make substitutions, check out this page and read this FAQ.
- I’d stick to a different liquid glucoside; Coco Glucoside or Decyl Glucoside would be good options, but you will definitely need to test and adjust the pH if you make this swap as they are more basic than Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside.
- Sodium Cocoamphoacetate will work instead of Cocamidopropyl Betaine, but you will definitely need to test and adjust the pH if you make this swap as it is more basic than Cocamidopropyl Betaine.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart. Liquid Germall™ Plus would be a really easy swap, though you’ll need less. You will also need to check and likely adjust the pH as Liquid Germall™ Plus doesn’t impact pH the same way Geogard Ultra does.
- If you’d like to incorporate a different essential oil, please read this.
- Different essential oils can interact differently with blends of gums and surfactants (thinning and splitting can happen), so if you decide to use a different essential oil I recommend testing in small batches before committing to a big one.
- You can replace the pea extract with a different extract you think your hair will love.
- You can use a hydrosol instead of the distilled water and essential oil for a milder scent and a slightly thicker end product.
The translucent soft squeeze tube, glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, and panthenol (Vitamin B5) were gifted by YellowBee.
The Solagum AX was gifted by Skin Chakra.
The Lamesoft PO 65 was gifted by Voyageur Soap & Candle.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.
Hi Marie, I made a test batch of the shampoo. I found it to be a bit drying on my hair – my hair is thick, coarse and bleached and it craves moisture. Is there another ingredient I can add or is it simply a percentage adjustment? Also wondering if you are formulating a matching conditioner. Thanks.
Hi Jayne! I would try reducing the overall surfactant content to make the product gentler. You can also increase the % of Lamesoft 🙂 I have no plans for a matching natural conditioner as I have yet to find a natural conditioning emulsifier that is worth spending money on, but I might make a non-natural partner conditioner. Happy making!
What about Varisoft EQ 65 for a conditioner?
That falls into the category of “not worth spending money on”. You can learn more about it in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) 🙂
I am thrilled about this formulation! Thank you for all the hard work. I made a riff on this succesfully with a couple of changes. I followed your instructions and it came together quickly. I used plain xanthan for thickening but would love to try solagum ax next. Emollient you mentioned has helped me to formulate liquid shampoos that don’t leave my hair dry. Your clarifying shampoo formulation before this was the game changer – and candlelight creamy hand wash as well. I look forward for trying this one.
❤️ Thanks for DIYing with me + for so generously sharing your insights and experience!
Hi Marie! Was wondering about general rules of formulating body wash and shampoo products – could you possibly make a post about it?
I’ll keep it in mind—thanks for the suggestion!
Hi Marie, thank you so much for your amazing formulations and your recipes. I was wondering if I could try this recipe with HE instead of gums. Would it work?
The only way to know is to try and find out 🙂 Happy making!
Hi! It looks like Coco Glucoside (and) Glyceryl Oleate (Lamesoft® PO 65) is very popular, I can’t find it available any where. any new suggestions where i can get it? Best, Venus
I’ve linked to all the places I know of in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) entry. If you can get the component ingredients you could also make your own—I’ve got details on that in the encyclopedia as well. Happy making!
I have a question in regards of Methyl Ester Sulphonates (or MES).
(Google) MES is prepared by neutralization of fatty acid methyl ester sulfonic acid (MESA) with NaOH, producing two kinds of active matters of RCH(CO2Me)SO3Na (α-MES) and RCH(CO2Na)SO3Na (disalt) in the MES product.
We have abundant MES supply in my country (and its the cheapest), but I could not find any reference using MES for soap or shampoo. It is mainly used for liquid dish soap and laundry detergent.
Can I use it as primary surfactant for my shampoo / body wash?
Hi Marie, I also found this shampoo a bit drying so I went back and checked the surfactant active matter which is on the high side. Normally a range of 10-15% is used. This could be it. I will try again and reduce if for me.
Thank you for your lovely website.
Forgot to say it’s 18% AM.
Hello, Marie. I just want to ask if I can use lauryl glucoside instead of capryl glucoside. The problem is to find capryl in my country. Your website is excellent. Thank you very much.
Hi Marie, Thank you for this recipe which I thought that I would give a try. So a couple of things I needed to swap out were I used Siligel rather than Solargum AX which is not available in the UK but it worked great. I could not get any Lamesoft so used Cetrimonium Chloride instead, added in extra water as I dont have the Pea Extract. I like the shampoo but as others have said the active matter is very high and I think it is somewhat drying, also I did not get luscious lather, I got lather yes but on using my usual quantity about two pumps it is a thin lather and I would need to use quite a bit more to achieve a great lather. My hair is very short as I am male, it is fine textured also. but thank you so much for all of the information.
Hi Ramon! You removed the re-fatting ingredient (Lamesoft) and didn’t adequately replace its re-fatting properties, so that is almost certainly why you found it drying 🙂
Thanks Marie for your awesome recipes! Your website has been a treasure. I’ve been struggling to find a residue free clarifying shampoo for my hair, so I figured I could try to make one. I’m very new to formulation and I’d just like to know if this will be residue free or if any of these ingredients will leave a residue.
In the beginning of the article you state “The 2019 version of this formulation used Sodium Cocoamphoacetate instead of Cocamidopropyl Betaine” Would this be a formulation you would be willing to share? Or rather, if you were to work Sodium Cocoamphoacetate instead of Cocamidopropyl Betaine into this formulation, what would that look like?
Would the Sodium Cocoamphoacetate be a direct substitution? I would suspect not as the ph and levels are a bit different.
Hey! Ever tried Solagum with Btms 50 ? Do you think they’ll separate or combine at some negotiable percentage ? Any experience or thoughts 🙂