Make Your Own Shampoo and Conditioner!

Sustainable living advocate Rebecca Sullivan has made an art form of natural living, with books on everything from edible flowers to using herbs for health and wellbeing, as well as running a ‘Granny Skills’ program that brings communities of women together to preserve the culture, skills, knowledge and traditions of our elders. Here, just in time for the final days of Plastic-Free July, she shares her simple, all-natural recipes to keep your locks looking lovely. 

The hair-care aisles are piled high with plastic bottles – from shampoo and conditioners to hair masks and dry shampoo, aiming for plastic-free makes luscious locks a little hard to do, unless you’re lucky enough to have a shampoo-stocking bulk shop nearby. Happily, though, I know a few tricks for making your own products in an afternoon – and they can be stored in any clean container you like. My biggest tip when making any beauty product yourself is to make small batches frequently – enjoy the process!





















Coconut and Orange Shampoo for normal hair

Coconut is the perfect moisturiser and will leave your hair silky smooth, while the orange essential oil makes you smell good enough to eat – who doesn’t want that? 

Ingredients (makes about 120ml – enough for about 4 washes, depending on the length of your hair)

60ml coconut milk

60ml liquid Castile soap 

20 drops orange essential oil

½ teaspoon olive or nut oil (optional, for dry hair)


Combine all the ingredients in a recycled shampoo bottle, airtight container or screwtop jar, and shake well to mix. You’re done! This one’s fine to store in your shower for up to a month – just remember to shake well before every use.

Coconut Conditioner

This gorgeous two-step conditioner will leave your hair double-smooth. You first use pure coconut oil to moisturise and condition, then follow that with a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water as a rinse – this really cleans your hair and helps with scalp problems such as dandruff, and the acid removes any excess oil and increases shine. Try using it once a week or so. 

Ingredients (makes one application)

1–2 teaspoons coconut oil

60ml raw apple cider vinegar

60ml water

10 drops essential oil: sage (for normal hair), tea tree (for oily hair), or lavender (for dandruff)


Make sure the coconut oil is liquid – place it in a warm place to melt if need be. Put the vinegar, water and essential oil in an airtight container or screw top jar, then shake well to mix. You can make a larger quantity of the vinegar rinse and keep it in your shower for up to a month – just remember to shake well before every use. 

Start by rubbing the coconut oil into the ends of your hair and leave for a minute. Rinse thoroughly in warm water, then pour the vinegar mix through your hair and rinse thoroughly.