Shampoo Ingredients – How To Make Shampoo

How to make shampoo? It’s actually one of the easiest hair care products to make – very few shampoo ingredients are required and the mixing is usually a single step, rather than multiple phases.

Click here to discover the secrets and formulations for making shampoo, conditioners and hair care products.

And because most shampoo formulas are up to 80% water, the profit margin can easily reach 1000%. You can discover how to make shampoo for countless markets – including salons, as a private label hair care manufacturer.

What shampoo ingredients do you require? To determine this, you will need to decide the purpose for your products – do you want to know how to make shampoo formulas for babies, how to make shampoo for men, how to make shampoo for women, or how to make shampoo for salons? Or even how make shampoo formulas for pets?

Do you want to discover how to make shampoo for a specific hair type – oily hair, dry hair, dandruff, etc.

While the formulation is basically the same, you can add and vary specific ingredients to cater for specific markets. The AustraLab program contains many shampoos, conditioners, styling aids and finishing product formulas, which you can vary to create endless combinations.

You can start your own high profit business as a private label hair care manufacturer or make conditioner and shampoo for your own salon – click here to read more.

Wondering how much money there is to be made in the hair care products market – I think you’ll find this article interesting.

What are the main ingredients in shampoo?

As you will see, learning how to make shampoo and conditioner is partly an art of illusion – many of the ingredients are not essential for the performance of the product, but they add to the users’ experience, creating an illusion of richness and luxury. The shampoo active ingredients comprise only a very small part of the finished product.

1. Water. This is the main ingredient in all shampoo recipes, comprising about 60-80% of the solution. Aside from being inexpensive, it aids in diluting the cleaning agents, thereby reducing irritation, and makes the shampoo formula easier to spread on the hair and scalp.

2. Surfactants (Surface Active Agents – or cleansing agents). These are the primary cleansing shampoo ingredients, comprising about 10-15% of the formula. Similar to emulsifiers, these are able to mix water and oils. There are two types of surfactants – primary and secondary. Primary surfactants include sulfates and sulfonates (for example, alkyl sulfonate, sodium lauryl sulfate). Their primary purpose is to provide cleaning and foaming. Secondary surfactants, as well as adding cleansing and foaming characteristics to the shampoo formula, aid in reducing irritation and drying. These shampoo ingredients include Betaines and Sulfosuccinates (for example, coco betaine, polyglucose). If you want to make shampoo formula for oily, adult hair you would use a higher concentration of the primary surfactant. If you want to make shampoos for babies, you would use only the mild and low-foaming secondary surfactants. Professional quality shampoos do not use ingredients such as castile soap.

3. Thickeners or Viscosity Builders. What this basically means is – how to make shampoo thick and creamy. While thickeners are not actually necessary for a shampoo to be able to cleanse the hair, customers equate thickness with “richness”. Watery shampoos, though they clean the hair just as well, are understandably not popular with consumers. Also known as viscosity builders, these shampoo ingredients include salts and gums (Guar gum, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose). They usually comprise between 2-5% of the formulation. Gums improve viscosity because of their gel-like properties, however they have the added advantage of being able to act as a foam stabilizer and suspending agent to keep insoluble particles in suspension. Examples include zinc pyrithione, which is one of the most widely used anti-dandruff shampoo ingredients.

4. Conditioning agents. To offset the effects of surfactants, most shampoo recipes include conditioners to help smooth, soften and detangle hair. Comprising about 1% of the formulation, conditioning agents include Quaternary compounds (quats) which have a positive charge to neutralize static in the hair caused by negatively charged damaged hair shafts. Quats also possess fatty agents to improve wet combing and provide sheen. Examples of conditioning agents widely used in shampoo ingredients include: Quaternium 80 and 87, plus the polymer guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, and the silicone knows as Dimethicone. Conditioning agents usually comprise no more than 1% of the shampoo formula. You’ll find these components also on the list when you learn how to make conditioner, detangling and smoothing products.

5. Foam Boosters. For most consumers, a shampoo formula that does not foam, does not clean the hair. Technically speaking, this is quite untrue, but this is the perception, which is why you will always find foam boosters on the list of shampoo ingredients. As with viscosity builders, foam boosters give a product the impression of richness and luxury. These are also a form of surfactant, usually containing betaines or alkanolamides, which aid in increasing the volume of foam and size of the bubbles. Foam booster may comprise 1-2% of the formula, and include Sarcosinate, lactylates, Lauramide DEA, Cocomidopropyl Betaine.

6. Opacifiers. Also known as opalescent or pearlescent compounds, these shampoo ingredients add to the customer experience by (again) making the shampoo appear “richer”. Usually comprising 1-2% of the formulation, they include glycol stearate and glycol distearate.

7. Preservatives. Any cosmetic or shampoo formula containing water has the potential to be contaminated by pathogens. For this reason it is essential to include preservatives among shampoo ingredients, to prevent the growth of molds. Common preservatives include methylparaben and DMDM Hydantoin. Preservatives usually comprise only 0.1 – 0.5% of the formulation. To make hair shampoo without some form of preservative would render the product unsuitable for retail sale. Shampoos are usually stored in damp surroundings (such as shower recesses), the lids are often left open, and many consumers add tap water to the bottle – all these factors could easily lead to contamination and the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. The use of a broad spectrum preservative will prevent the growth of pathogens and kill any bacteria that enter the formulation during use. If you are interested to discover how to make natural shampoo or how to make organic shampoo, you will still need to preserve your products adequately to make sure they are safe for consumers.

8. Active Ingredients. These may include vitamins, essential oils, plant extracts, fruit extracts, botanicals etc. Their concentration in the formulation depends on the actual ingredients. These ingredients may not always have beneficial effects, but are used by many major manufacturers as a marketing angle. Natural additives in hair care and skin care products often follow food or health trends – for instance, many hair shampoos and conditioners have recently been formulated with acai berry and goji berry as additives, to name but two such substances.

9. Fragrance and Color. While not necessary for the actual function of the product, shampoos include perfumes and pigments to add to the customer experience. Most are highly concentrated and used sparingly. Again, these ingredients often derive their inspiration from food and fashion trends.

To discover how to make shampoo and conditioner like the major manufacturing companies, see the AustraLab website.

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10 thoughts on “Shampoo Ingredients – How To Make Shampoo

    1. Hi Emma,
      The AustraLab program provides all the formulations and manufacturing procedures to enable you to make shampoo, conditioners and hair styling products.

  1. Great work Sam. I am interested in making shampoos and conditioners back home. Now, many ladies in my country try to stay away from shampoos that have a high concentration of the primary surfactants. Relaxed African hair needs a lot of moisture, is it possible to make a shampoo for adults that contains only secondary surfactants, will this be effective on relaxed hair? Once successful with shampoos and conditioners for relaxed hair, I would also want to expand into manufucturing relaxers, does your product cater for this?

    1. Hi,
      As an AustraLab license, I will be happy to provide you with some additional formulations for ethnic hair, including relaxers, shampoos, conditioners and treatments.

    1. Hi Mary,
      If you operate your own salon, you really should be making your own shampoo, conditioners, treatments and styling products.
      When you use professional formulations, hair care products are among the easiest and most profitable products to make.
      But the advantage of making your own shampoos is not just the profits – you’ll be promoting loyalty to your own brand – there’s only one salon where customers can find YOUR hair care products – and that’s at your salon, not hundreds of other salons, drugstores and online cosmetics stores.
      You might like this article about private label cosmetics – click here to take a look and private label hair care.

  2. Thanks so much for the information on the importance of some shampoo ingredients. I love this. I’ll like to know how to make shampoo

    1. Hi Ope,
      Glad I was able to provide you with some useful information. Hope it has given you the inspiration you need to start your own hair products business.

    1. Hi Domenico,
      The AustraLab program provides you with the formulations and manufacturing procedures for you to be able to manufacture your own shampoo, conditioner and hair care products – making your own is where the real profit is to be found.

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