Love it or hate it, every time you turn around, there’s a new hair product begging to be added to your stash. Soap nut shampoo is one of the newest hair care innovations to hit the scene, and it’s got us curious.
How do you make it? Is there a soapnut shampoo recipe? How often should you use it? Does it work the same as regular shampoo? We’ll address these questions and more in this article. Let’s get right into it!
Table of Contents
- 1 What are Soap Nuts?
- 2 How to Use Soap Nuts as Shampoo
- 3 Wash Your Hair with Soap Nut Shampoo
- 4 How Often to Use Soap Nuts as Shampoo
- 5 Is Soap Nut Shampoo Good for Sensitive Scalps?
- 6 Is Soap Nut Shampoo Good for Natural Hair?
- 7 Benefits of Soap Nuts as a Shampoo
- 8 Is Soap Nut Shampoo as Effective as Other Shampoos?
- 9 Can You Reuse Soap Nuts?
- 10 How Long Does Soap Nut Shampoo Last?
- 11 Can You Condition Your Hair After Soap Nut Shampoo?
- 12 How Much Are Soap Nut Shampoo Ingredients?
- 13 How to Store Your Soap Nuts
- 14 Other Things You Can Use Soap Nuts For
What are Soap Nuts?
For those who don’t know, soap nuts are soapberry nut shells. They come from the Sapindus mukorossi tree, which is native to India and Nepal. As you might be thinking, soap nuts aren’t actually nuts at all – they are shells. But they are called nuts because of their nut-like appearance.
The outer portion of the soap nut lathers when it comes in contact with water because it contains a natural soap, called saponin. The nut is biodegradable and natural in every sense of the word. Those who prefer not to use chemical soaps and detergents love that they can use soap nuts instead.
How to Use Soap Nuts as Shampoo
Soap nuts have a ton of different uses. You can use them as a natural laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, fruit wash, and much more. But in this case, we’ll focus on how to use soap nuts as shampoo. To do so, you’ll have to follow a defined set of instructions, and we’ll go over them below:
Note: The first thing you should know about soap nut shampoo is that there are several ways to make it. You’ll find many recipes online, and one may differ largely from the next. The recipe and accompanying process we’ll share with you is widely used and will work for most who try it.
Gather Your Ingredients
You won’t need many ingredients for soap nut shampoo, but ensure that you have the following before you get started:
Make the Soapnut Shampoo Recipe
With your ingredients on hand, you’re ready to make your soap nut shampoo. Here are some step-by-step instructions to help you out!
- Put a medium-sized pot on the stove.
- Pour two cups of water into the pot.
- Set the heat to high.
- Place your 5 soap nuts in a small muslin bag and place them in the water.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Pour one cup of water into the pot and allow the liquid to cool down for about 10 minutes.
- Take the bag out of the pot and squeeze it over the liquid to get any remaining soap residue out of the nuts. Don’t stop squeezing until you can see suds.
- Rinse the bag of nuts and squeeze them over the liquid in the pot once more.
- Transfer the liquid in the pot into a jar or applicator bottle for use as a shampoo.
Note: If you don’t have a muslin bag around, you can boil the soap nuts without it. But you will need to use a colander or strainer to strain the nuts and any residue out of the shampoo.
Wash Your Hair with Soap Nut Shampoo
Washing your hair with soap nut shampoo is really straightforward; you’ll do it just like you would if you were using any other shampoo. You’ll wet your hair down in the shower, dispense some shampoo into your hands, and apply it to your roots.
Work it in and scrub your scalp thoroughly. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to rinse. Don’t leave any shampoo behind. There are people out there who prefer to leave soap nut shampoo in their hair for a few minutes before rinsing.
This is something you can do if you want to get a deeper clean. But it’s not necessary on a regular basis. Apply, lather, rinse, and repeat if necessary – no waiting required.
Does Soap Nut Shampoo Lather?
Since the majority of us are used to using shampoo with a rich, fluffy lather, it makes sense to wonder whether you’ll get that same effect from soap nuts. Soap nut shampoo definitely does lather, and most would consider it to be a rich lather.
But some people will find that their soap nut shampoo doesn’t lather very much.
This is due to the fact that DIY soap nut shampoo has many recipes and may turn out differently for one person than it does for another.
Here’s the thing, though – whether your soap nut shampoo lathers or not, you can be certain that the shampoo is cleaning your hair. So long as you scrub the shampoo into your scalp and roots, you shouldn’t have any issues getting your hair clean.
How Often to Use Soap Nuts as Shampoo
Soap nut shampoo can be used to replace your normal shampoo. So, you can use it on a regular basis whenever your hair gets dirty. Though we don’t recommend using soap nut shampoo every day (daily shampooing can dry your hair out), you shouldn’t have any issues using it every 2 or 3 days or even up to a week.
When it comes to setting your soap nut shampooing frequency, it’s essential to pay attention to how your hair feels after using it. If using the shampoo every couple of days makes your hair feel dry, try using it every three days or even less often. Tailor your shampooing routing to your unique hair.
Is Soap Nut Shampoo Good for Sensitive Scalps?
It’s important to know that everyone’s scalp is different, so there’s no way to guarantee whether soap nut shampoo will mesh well with your scalp chemistry. But the consensus is that soap nut shampoo is a much gentler shampoo option than some commercial shampoos. But you should definitely decide for yourself whether it’s a good option for you if you have a sensitive or problematic scalp.
Is Soap Nut Shampoo Good for Natural Hair?
Soap nut shampoo is known to be a very mild shampoo that won’t strip your hair’s natural oils. In addition to that, it’s natural and free of synthetic chemicals and ingredients that could harm your health (if you make it at home with natural soap nuts).
For these reasons, DIY soap nut shampoo is a good pick for those with natural hair. If you decide to go for store-bought soap nut shampoo, you’ll need to be a little more cautious. Not every soap nut shampoo is natural and wholesome.
These shampoos may contain any number of ingredients and chemicals.
Sometimes, they contain additives and chemicals to prolong the product’s shelf life and other ingredients you may not want in your hair. So, for anyone who wants to use natural soap nut shampoo, it’s essential to read the label on the product and look up any unfamiliar ingredients.
Benefits of Soap Nuts as a Shampoo
We’ve gone over how to use soap nuts for hair, but we haven’t exactly nailed down whether you should even use them on your hair at all. Soap nuts have an impressive number of benefits for the hair, and we’ll cover them in this section:
Easy to Make
If you’ve ever dabbled in making hair products from scratch, then you know that making soap nut shampoo is on the easier side. There are very few ingredients and no complicated steps to follow.
You basically boil the nuts, strain any soap from the nuts, and transfer the liquid into a bottle for use as a shampoo. For this reason, soap nut shampoo is a good DIY concoction for people who want to get their feet wet.
Commercial shampoos are often formulated with surfactants that cleanse the hair too well. Though the dangers and drawbacks of sulfates are widely known, manufacturers still use them in their shampoo formulas.
Soap nut shampoo is one of the gentlest shampoos you’ll come across. It won’t strip your hair or make it feel brittle and dry. And those with damaged or chronically dry hair will appreciate that.
Antibacterial and Antimicrobial Properties
Soap nuts’ antibacterial and antimicrobial properties can work to remedy scalp issues like dandruff and folliculitis. If your scalp is already healthy, this benefit may not seem too interesting, but it surely doesn’t hurt. It can also help to reduce your chance of developing conditions like these.
Hair Healthy Vitamins
Soap nuts are not only great at cleansing the hair, but they also boast some important vitamins for healthy hair growth. These vitamins include:
- Vitamin A – An essential vitamin for scalp cell growth and turnover.
- Vitamin E – Helps with scalp blood circulation, which aids in hair follicle nourishment.
- Vitamin D – Stimulates growth within the hair follicles when there’s a deficiency.
- Vitamin K – Prevents scalp calcification (which could cause hair loss) and promotes hair growth.
Is Soap Nut Shampoo as Effective as Other Shampoos?
When we think about mild shampoos like soap nut shampoo, it’s natural to wonder whether it’s as effective as other shampoos. Soap nut shampoo is more like a low-poo than a typical shampoo.
It will remove excess oils, but it will still leave some of them behind. If you’re looking for a shampoo that will remove all traces of oil from your hair, you should go with another shampoo entirely.
Otherwise, soap nut shampoo is a good option for you.
What many people do to ensure their hair’s health and keep their oily scalp in check is to alternate shampoos. Some days, they’ll use their traditional shampoo, and on other days, they’ll use their soap nut shampoo.
The shampoo you’ll use on a given day will depend on how your hair looks and feels.
If it’s super oily, soap nut shampoo might not be the best choice for that day – use your regular shampoo. On days where oiliness is mild or moderate, soap nut shampoo can handle the job.
Can You Reuse Soap Nuts?
Yes, you can reuse soap nuts several times before you’ll have to throw them away. After you’re done boiling your nuts, allow them to dry in the open air and then put them away for later. Once the nuts begin to soften and take on a grey color, they should be thrown away.
How Long Does Soap Nut Shampoo Last?
If you purchase your soap nut shampoo from a health food store or online shop, you can expect it to last as long as stated on the packaging. If there’s no expiration date, you can usually assume that it will last you about 12 to 24 months.
These shampoos have preservatives in them to maximize their shelf life.
For DIY soap nut shampoo, things are a little more complicated and dependent on storage. If you leave your shampoo out at room temperature, it will only last about seven days. After that point, it will begin to show signs of spoilage.
Storing the shampoo in the refrigerator is an option you can take to lengthen the shampoo’s shelf life. It’ll last a couple of weeks in there.
To preserve your soap nut shampoo for even longer, you can freeze it in cubes and only take out one or two cubes every wash day. That way, the nuts will last for months or even a year or more.
In case you didn’t know, there are natural preservatives you can use to extend the shelf life of your soap nut shampoo, and one of the most popular is rosemary oil.
To use it, you’ll simply add a few drops to the water mixture before transferring it to your squeeze bottle. For the most reliable preservation, ensure that rosemary oil accounts for about 5% of the mixture.
Can You Condition Your Hair After Soap Nut Shampoo?
Just because you use a gentle shampoo on your hair doesn’t mean that you can’t use a conditioner as well. If you feel like you need to condition your hair after washing it with soap nut shampoo, go ahead. Conditioner not only adds moisture to your hair, but it contains a lot of other goodies that can help your hair look and feel better.
To decide whether you need to use conditioner after soap nut shampoo, you can test things out. Wash your hair with soap nut shampoo and skip the conditioner. Continue with your hair routine as usual and see how your hair does.
If it seems like your hair is lacking in moisture, shine, or manageability, you need a conditioning session after using soap nut shampoo. If not, you don’t need to use conditioner on days when you use soap nut shampoo.
How Much Are Soap Nut Shampoo Ingredients?
Many people like to think that they’re saving money by DIYing their hair products. But is this the case with soap nut shampoo? Let’s look at this a little further. Here are the ingredients necessary for the shampoo (we’ve included them again here for your convenience).
- Water (3 cups)
- Soap nuts (5 nuts)
- Muslin bag
The muslin bag will run you anywhere from a couple of dollars for 1 bag to $15-$20 for ten or more bags. A pound of soap nuts may cost anywhere from $15 to $20. And the rosemary essential oil may cost you as little as $10.
These prices vary depending on where you shop. You won’t need to pay anything for the water- you can use tap water for the recipe in this article.
Altogether, you can expect to pay around $35 to $50 for the upfront materials for your shampoo (including the optional essential oil). This may seem like a lot for a single product in your hair care stash.
However, considering that (1) you’ll only use five soap nuts for every shampoo batch, (2) you can reuse the muslin bags, and (3) you’ll use very little essential oil each time, you won’t have to go shopping for more materials for a very long time. It’s a win!
How to Store Your Soap Nuts
Soap nuts react to the surrounding environment and can go bad prematurely if they’re not properly stored. To ensure that your soap nuts are effective for a long time, store them in an air-tight container and then place them away from any direct sunlight. It’s also important to know that soap nuts shouldn’t be stored near food – accidentally consuming them can make your stomach upset.
Other Things You Can Use Soap Nuts For
Soap nuts have a wide variety of uses. If you’re going to have them sitting around in your house, you might as well get full use out of them. Here are some other things you can use soap nuts for:
- Shampooing your dog or cat.
- Cleaning porous and non-porous surfaces around the house.
- Washing your dishes.
- Washing your car.
- Cleansing your skin (spot test to ensure it won’t break you out or irritate your skin).
So, there you have it – how to use soap nuts as shampoo and everything else you need to know. We hope you found all the information you needed in this article, and we wish you the best with your DIY shampoo-making endeavors!
Kenneth Byrd, with a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has over 15 years of experience and is a recognized authority in hair care. Co-founder of Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box, Kenneth has dedicated himself to promoting ethical and scientifically-backed hair care practices. Rigorous editorial guidelines, industry recognitions, and features in numerous media outlets evidence his expertise. Kenneth’s commitment to transparency, quality, and empowerment has positioned him as a trusted voice in the field, empowering readers to confidently embrace their natural beauty.