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How Shampoos Are Made

In this cosmetic formulation series we will go through the various cosmetic & personal care formula types and describe what they are, what raw materials are in them and how they are manufactured.

Since this is a cosmetic science blog geared to introduce people to the topics of formulating, we thought it would be helpful to have a series introducing the absolute basics of formulating. And since I spent many years as a hair care formulator, the easiest to start off with is Shampoos.

What is a shampoo

Shampoos are cleaning formulations made up primarily of chemicals called surfactants that have the ability to surround oily materials on surfaces and allow them to be rinsed away by water. While there are numerous types of shampoos the majority are low viscosity, solution formulas delivered from a plastic bottle. Often they are marketed towards different hair types or conditions.

Shampoo raw materials

When you begin formulating a shampoo you first figure out what characteristics you want. This would include things like how thick it will be, the color, and fragrance. It also includes performance things like how well it cleans, what the foam looks and feels like and how irritating it will be. Often consumer testing is employed to help with determining these characteristics.

The basic ingredients in a shampoo formulation is as follows.

Water. The primary ingredient in all shampoos, it makes up about 70 to 80% of the entire formula. It helps dilute the detergents, makes the formula easier to spread and reduces irritation. It also keeps the formula inexpensive.

Detergents. The next most abundant ingredients in a shampoo. These surfactants are the primary cleansing ingredients and make up about 10% – 15% of the formula. They are derived from natural fatty acids or petroleum derivatives. Common primary detergents include Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate.

Foam Boosters. Other types of surfactants are added to shampoos to improve the foaming characteristics of the formulation. These compounds usually betaines or alkanolamides, help increase the amount of foam and the size of the bubbles. Like primary detergents, they are also derived from fatty acids and have both water soluble and oil soluble characteristics. Typical materials include Lauramide DEA or Cocamidopropyl Betaine.

Thickeners. To some extent the secondary detergents make shampoo formulations thicker. Simply adding salt can also increase shampoo thickness. However, other materials are also used to increase the viscosity such as Methylcellulose which is a cellulosic polymer or Carbomer.

Conditioning agents. Some materials are added to shampoos to offset the harsh effect of surfactants. Typical conditioning agents include polymers, silicones, and quaternary agents. These ingredients are left on the hair surface after rinsing and modify characteristics such as feel, softness, combability, and static charge. Shampoos that specifically feature conditioning as a benefit are called 2-in-1 shampoos because they clean and condition hair in the same step. Examples of conditioning agents include Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride which is a polymer, Dimethicone which is a silicone, and Quaternium 80, a quaternary agent.

Preservatives. Any formula that contains water holds the potential to be contaminated by bacteria and other microbes. For this reason preservatives are added to prevent such growth. Two of the most common preservatives used in shampoos are DMDM Hydantoin and Methylparaben.

Other ingredients. A variety of other compounds are included in shampoos if desired. Dyes for changing color, fragrances for changing the odor, pH adjustment ingredients, chelating agents, opacifying ingredients, and more. Frequently, story ingredients are included so marketers will have something to talk about. This includes things like vitamins, proteins, and herbal extracts which are not normally expected to have any impact on the final product performance. Dandruff shampoos will include a drug active ingredient like zinc pyrithione.

Shampoo Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process can be broken down into two steps. First a large batch of shampoo is made and then the batch is filled into the packaging.

Compounding. The process of any large scale cosmetic production is called compounding. All the ingredients are mixed together in large, stainless steel tanks (3000 gallons or more) by workers known as compounders. The raw materials, which are typically provided in drums as large as 55 gallons or in 50 lb bags, are poured into the batch tank and thoroughly mixed. The order and temperatures are determined by the formulating chemist. Some ingredients like water or the primary detergents are pumped and metered directly into the batch tank. A computer interface is often used to control mixing speed and temperature. Depending on the size and type of shampoo, making a 3000 gallon batch can take any where from 1 to 4 hours.

Quality Control check. After a batch is approved by the QC department, it is pumped out of the main batch tank into a holding tank where it can be stored until the filling lines are ready. From the holding tank it gets pumped into a filler which is positioned on the filling line..

Filling. The filling line is just a long conveyor belt. At the start of the filling line, empty bottles are put into a hopper. The bottles are physically manipulated by a machine until they are upright and correctly oriented. They move along the conveyor belt to the filling carousel which holds the shampoo.
The filling carousel is made up of a series of piston filling heads that are calibrated to deliver exactly the correct amount of shampoo into the bottles. As the bottles move through this section of the filling line, they are automatically filled with shampoo.

From here the bottles move to capping machine where caps are put on. This can also be done by workers depending on the speed of the filling line. Next, labels are applied, then the bottles are moved to a sorting machine that puts them into boxes.

This video shows an example of a shampoo being filled.

That’s it!

Do you have any questions about shampoo formulas? Leave a comment below.

{ 200 comments… add one }
  • Juanita Agwu 02/03/2016, 11:17 am

    What is meant by shampoo with pH 7?

    • Perry Romanowski 02/03/2016, 11:35 am

      That means if you stuck a pH probe in the shampoo and took a measurement, the pH value would be 7

  • Alpesh m dandur 01/10/2016, 11:48 pm

    Sir i m Alpesh dandur.
    I want to make home made shampoo
    I want to reetha.amla.shikakai add SLES. Preservative PPBNA & MBPNA

    My question is what are the ratio of above contents and which perfume used I can?
    Please guide me please.

    • Perry Romanowski 01/18/2016, 8:00 pm

      See the post above for % to use.

  • khushi 01/10/2016, 7:46 am

    Hello sir,

    I am a student of B-tech cosmetics. I am trying to prepare an anti hair greying shampoo. Will you please suggest me a ingredient which will help me to do so?

    • Perry Romanowski 01/18/2016, 8:48 pm

      See the post above for ingredients.

  • Rahul singh 12/27/2015, 9:07 pm

    Hello sir, my name is Rahul singh . I want to start my own business by making car wash sampoo . please give some advice how I can start to making thish sampoo. Because I am new in thish business .

  • Justin Tricoli 12/16/2015, 9:56 am

    Hi, being that I have a professional job, and play hockey a few times a week, I find it extremely difficult to get the awful smell of equipment off of my body and feet. I am looking to develop a shampoo/body-wash that caters specifically to this type of demographic. The problem is, I have no idea where or how to develop a product like this. Is there any advice or steps i can take in doing this
    Thank you for your time!

  • ahmadi 11/14/2015, 2:13 pm

    Hi perry how are you :how I can remove SEDIMENT (CaCO3)from kettle and tap without demolition them.thanks

  • fatim 10/21/2015, 9:16 am

    hi, I want to start my own Business by making my on brand but, I don’t know how to do it as detergent or shampoo and conditioner. i want to make natural detergent (green cleaner), please You to help me with a natural detergent formulationsend me the formula & how much percent of each chemical is to be used to make the product perfectly usable. thank you.

  • Melanie 10/19/2015, 12:19 pm

    Hello I once made liquid soap from Catherine Failor’s book liquid soap and I tried turning it into shampoo and I had quite a difficult time. I found it hard to lower the ph and the soap ended up being very irritating for my hair. I read alot about surfactants and it seems that for shampoo I could get best results that way. Am I right ? Is that how manufacturers for natural shampoo work ? And if I decided to make my shampoo like Catherine Failor and sell it, how do I formulate the ingredient list ?
    Thank you !

    • Perry Romanowski 10/22/2015, 6:49 pm

      I’m not familiar with Catherine Failor’s book. But the surfactants that make good shampoos are not the same ones that make good soaps. Lowering the pH will not matter. Soap is a more irritating surfactant. Companies that make natural shampoos use surfactants like Decyl Polyglucoside

  • M.sarika 10/04/2015, 12:20 pm

    difference between mild shampoos and adult shampoos

  • Juliet 09/21/2015, 3:20 pm

    I want to make herbal shampoo which is anti danduff. I have tried my first mixing but the alkaline was high.please advice.
    I used coconut oil ,castor oil ,caustic potash alcohol (TEA) glycerine, potassium carbonate, water, methylparaben and perfume.
    Am planning to Aloe vera.

  • abimbola adeyanju 09/18/2015, 3:56 pm

    I want to start my own Business by making my on brand but, I don’t know how to do it as shampoo and conditioner

  • Tahir Ahmad 09/18/2015, 9:49 am

    I would like to know the acid used in neutralizing shampoo. This shampoo is likely to be used after hair relaxer.

  • Habibullah 09/07/2015, 5:08 am

    i made herbal shampoo used KOH,with Coconut oil,costeroil, okra juice,aloe vera indian gross juice, but the pH was 15 when i add citric acid for bring the PH to 6 , in result the viscosity and faom become less,what the solution for this problem?
    with best regards
    Habibullah Musharraf

    • Perry Romanowski 10/22/2015, 9:28 pm

      The issue is that soap does not make a good shampoo. You need to use synthetic surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

  • Sherry Reyes Ashe 09/05/2015, 12:01 pm

    hi, im about to hv my own haircare products line. would like u to dev7my line for me, whats ur fees, in helpin me, send me your prices and invoice on all products that u do develop. thnk u so much.

  • ellaisa 08/15/2015, 9:15 am

    sir in making a shampoo it could be possible that all the good effects such as hair reconstruction, shining hair, anti- dandruff, hair fall, fragrance hair, and manage hair can get in only one shampoo? thank you sir

    • Perry Romanowski 08/15/2015, 10:44 am

      If you believe there already is a product like this on the market then yes it can be done.

  • abdullah sheikh 08/15/2015, 4:59 am

    Sir Plz tell how to use citric acid and how ph low .i make a shampoo but not thick .which chemical thickner

  • Abdul Rahim 08/05/2015, 1:01 am

    Dear sir, can we make simple shampoo making machine at home? by taking plastic bucket with lid and low speed stirrer and a small hopper at bucket lid to introduce material.

    • Perry Romanowski 08/11/2015, 10:52 am

      If you don’t have to heat up any of the ingredients then yes you can do that.

  • Vic 07/31/2015, 1:04 am

    Thanks for this information. I will like to make shampoo on a smaller scale at home. Can you advice on how to go about it.

    • Perry Romanowski 08/03/2015, 9:36 am

      Mix the ingredients together and see how it works. Formulating is a lot of experimenting.

  • Ghab 07/15/2015, 8:03 am

    Good evening! :) May I ask if this is a blog or an article? Is the writer here a professional chemist? Thank you. :)

    • Perry Romanowski 07/20/2015, 11:19 am

      The author is a professional chemist.

  • Rika Rosenbach 07/05/2015, 10:43 pm

    The shampoo I used for years I can no longer use because they changed the formula. I have tried approx. 30 shampoos and none work for me, even the clarifying ones leave residue on my hair. I there some place that could replicated the original formula for me? a lab? I am so frustrated that nothing works and need some help. Thanks. Rika

  • Rajee Gupta 07/04/2015, 1:04 am

    Dear sir,

    i want to make herbal toiler cleaner & dish wash liquid , please let me know both products formulation with process if possible >..

  • alexander 06/16/2015, 2:07 pm


    I wish to formulate a shampoo based on coal tar (0.5%-2%) and urea (5%). What are the things I should look out for?


    • Perry Romanowski 06/17/2015, 10:04 pm

      See the post above.

  • sltan 05/08/2015, 12:45 pm

    hello sir,I am a graduating class student and want to formulate anti-dandruff shampoo from aloe vera leaf at lab ,what other natural ingredients can i use with it in order to formulate best shampoo?

    • Perry Romanowski 05/18/2015, 11:03 am

      Aloe is not an approved anti-dandruff ingredient. I would suggest you see the FDA monograph on anti-dandruff products.

  • nicholas 04/22/2015, 12:33 pm

    thank u for this forum
    I wanted to ask about the conditioning agents
    can u add more than one or two of them as listed above?

    • Perry Romanowski 04/22/2015, 2:30 pm

      Yes. You can add as much as you want. But they typically reduce foam so it is a balance between good foam and conditioning.

  • vibhu 04/22/2015, 8:57 am

    Sir so can i mix all the above ingredients together to make my shampoo…
    or i will need to follow certain procedure of making the shampoo???

  • Godwin 04/21/2015, 6:26 am

    I have a complet training ebook manual on how to make shampoo, neutralizing shapoo, conditioner, pedicure solution, bar soap, liquid soap, hair freshener etc.

    • ama 06/04/2015, 2:59 am

      Hi would you be able to share the e-maual with us? really interested in knowing the manufacturing process as I’m involved in the production of essential oils. thanks :)

    • Patrick Lukyamuzi 06/24/2015, 4:46 pm

      Plz share with us the manual so we can also be in position to learn

  • vibhu 04/17/2015, 11:23 pm

    Sir how can i prepare a shampoo in my school lab for a project.pls give ingredients

    • Perry Romanowski 04/21/2015, 2:37 pm

      The ingredients are listed above. I do not have a source to share with you.

  • posh 04/15/2015, 8:46 am

    I have learnt alot; however i would like to start shampooing business mainly car shampoo kindly give me the formula hoping that they are readily available.

    • Perry Romanowski 04/21/2015, 2:46 pm

      the formula is in the post above.

  • SHALU 04/07/2015, 1:40 am

    hellow sir, i am a cosmetic student… i am working in cosmetic manufacturing company. i am preparing a clear transparent shampoo. i was prepared so many clear transparent shampoo,but not they was good. the problem was arise not proper moisturizing and conditioning,and hair loss problem also.please suggest me any kind of formulation.
    Thanks and Regards,

    • Perry Romanowski 04/07/2015, 10:03 am

      You haven’t given me enough information about your formula to give a good answer. sorry.

  • michael 04/02/2015, 10:27 pm

    pls how can I add oils (coconut oil and neem oil) to my shampoo.

    • Perry Romanowski 04/07/2015, 10:02 am

      Why would you want to? Shampoos are designed to wash oils out of hair. But you could try a solubilizer like Polysorbate 20

  • Tim 03/30/2015, 8:52 pm

    Am I able to use my shampoo, the same as soap? I dont pay alot for my shampoo’s, but besides washing all the hair on my body with it, I’ve used it before on my dirty hands and its worked as good as soap. Please let me know if I am crazy..lol

    • Perry Romanowski 04/02/2015, 7:05 pm

      Yes. Shampoo will work as soap.

  • yuvarani 02/24/2015, 11:24 pm

    dear i would like to herbal body shampoo and how to preprae it

  • Tristine Burnside 02/21/2015, 9:32 am

    I was just wondering if you happen to know where I can advertise to sell my factory equipment that is used to make shampoo and conditioner. I have large 160, 80 and 60 gallon stainless steel steam jacketed kettles with various other equipment included. I thought I might ask you because of all the people interested in making haircare products etc.
    Thank you,
    Tristine Burnside

  • Niamh Deans 01/19/2015, 9:29 am

    Hi there,
    I am openning a kids hair salon & would like to create a kids haircare range to include shampoo/ detangling conditioner, hair wax & body wash & liquid handsoap. I don’t know where to start with ingredients. I want the products to be child friendly with no nasties whatsoever. Any advice? Cheers, Niamh

  • danna 01/05/2015, 10:56 am


    I would love to have a specific shampoo made. I know the ingredients and that’s about it. Would you have any suggestions on how I can go about having this created? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • tejas 12/10/2014, 2:30 pm

    i want to know
    that witch type of chemical are use in car washing shampoo
    i want start manufacturing car shampoo please Gide me.
    and where the chemical available from supplayar.

    • Perry Romanowski 12/22/2014, 5:43 pm

      The same types of ingredients listed here. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is commonly used.

  • M.Sridhar 11/17/2014, 9:01 am

    Very interesting and got it done. Can any one help how to make toilet cleaner and dish washer

  • Lizzynk 11/12/2014, 1:01 am

    Good and interesting one,can I add sodium chloride to make hair feel very soft and smooth?

    • Perry Romanowski 11/12/2014, 12:47 pm

      No – it just affects the viscosity

      • Lizzynk 11/23/2014, 3:30 pm

        Thanks,what do I add to make it very soft please I want to improve

  • lucky 10/31/2014, 12:19 pm

    please help me to made a good herbal shampoo for a small business

  • Joe 10/28/2014, 11:57 am

    Where can I find the costs of these materials if I wanted to start manufacturing shampoo?

    • Perry Romanowski 10/29/2014, 8:37 am

      See our post on the cost of starting a cosmetic line.

  • Jesintha 10/28/2014, 10:33 am

    Hi Perry
    I was just reading the numerous comments and admire your patience and kindness in answering all of them. Thank you
    I request you to kindly guide me as how to add Cocamide MEA, or cocamide monoethanolamine,which is a solid, off-white to tan compound, available in flaked form to the Shampoo liquid.How do I melt it and then add to the shampoo base. The melting point of cocamide MEA is 128 Degrees centigrade.
    Thank you

    • Perry Romanowski 10/30/2014, 11:41 am

      You don’t have to melt it. You can just add the solid to a surfactant solution and it will dissolve.

      • Jesintha 12/04/2014, 11:02 am

        Hi Perry
        Thank you for your kindness and help. Can you please advice me. I have made a herbal shampoo- base is hibiscus flowers soaked in cooled boiled water for two days in which I have added – for 500 ml of flower extract , 1000 ml of boiled water + 300 gms CMC(Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) or cellulose gum) and 25ml SLES and a pinch of Sodium benzoate as preservative. But I am not able to preserve it as after two days there is a lot of gas formed in the bottle and the lid literally explodes. Would be very grateful for your expert advice and guidence

  • Vikas basant 10/18/2014, 3:07 am

    hello sir,
    i m a pharma student & want to prepare a herbal shampoo. i want to know its basic ingridents, its manufacturing method in lab, & dispensing method

  • Conchita pleasant 10/04/2014, 7:04 am

    Hi, I have a big dilemma that I need to resolve. I had a private label 2-1 shampoo made by a cosmetic manufacturer. I tested it for months first to make sure it performed well but once the final formula was made it was different. It didn’t soften the hair enough and works more like a clarifying shampoo. I have several hundred pieces of the product in bottles already. The feedback I’m getting is not good because it’s leaving the hair dry. I really need your help. Is there a way to fix this problem by adding a polymer or is this just a major loss for me? Please help, I’ve spent lots of money and time with this project and now I’m at a brick wall and feeling very depressed. Thank you in advanced.

    • Perry Romanowski 10/06/2014, 5:24 pm

      It’s unlikely you can do anything to the formula at the moment. Just adding some polymer to each bottle is not feasible. I would say talk to your contract manufacturer and tell them the samples do not meet the quality you agreed to. Hope that helps.

      • Conchita 10/06/2014, 10:32 pm

        Thank you for your response. You’ve been a great help.

  • prodyut 09/09/2014, 12:54 am

    I am going to start a shampoo plan very soon. Please advice me how to start? And best chemical ratio for best shampoo. I have seen in some shampoo products that after using start Hair fall. And in some shampoo product help to decrease the hair fall. Is it any different between these two product?

    • Perry Romanowski 09/11/2014, 4:02 pm

      See the blog post above. For other questions please post them to our science forum.

  • maryam 09/08/2014, 10:42 pm

    Dear Perry , please let me know how can we measure the viscosity, right the end of process, because sometimes we need to know this value for probably needed improvments.

    • Perry Romanowski 09/11/2014, 4:01 pm

      Use a Brookfield viscometer.

  • chinmay kshirsagar 08/12/2014, 6:08 pm

    will you please tell me other ingredients or alternatives that you have used or enlist for raw materials????

    That will be helpful to know the newest ingredient in market…please

  • Robert Palmer 07/31/2014, 2:37 am

    Hi Perry:

    Great stuff here! I’ve seen some 3-in-1 products (shampoo/conditioner/body soap), e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Suave-Professionals-shampoo-conditioner-citrus/dp/B006N9LWWW

    How is the formulation/ingredients different from a 2-in-1 or just basic shampoo? Thanks!

    • Perry Romanowski 08/10/2014, 10:06 pm

      It’s not really different. It’s just a different way to market the same product. You could use a 2-in-1 shampoo as a body wash too.

  • Feras 07/06/2014, 4:28 am

    I need references for the process .

    • Perry Romanowski 07/07/2014, 6:09 pm

      I don’t know what that means. The process is just how it is written. Mix the ingredients together one at a time.

  • Stephanie 06/18/2014, 1:04 pm

    I would like to use extracts in my shampoo formula and I understand that the water must be heated for 20 minutes to kill the bacteria. Do I heat the surfactants as well? Can you describe the ‘heat and hold’ process enough so I can figure out which ingredients get heated together?

    • Perry Romanowski 06/18/2014, 1:37 pm

      Heating the water should be enough but you should also use a preservative especially if you are going to use natural extracts.

  • Seth 06/07/2014, 6:37 am

    Pls Sir, I wont to know the chemical compound that can be use to combining water and oil

    • Perry Romanowski 06/16/2014, 5:29 pm

      You use an emulsifier.

  • michelle rush 06/04/2014, 7:52 am

    Hi Perry,

    I am new to the formulating side and have a customer that has requested a colour shampoo and conditioner range- (demi permanent range). I am struggling to find any information on this to give me a starting point, I was wondering if possible could you guide me towards a helpful website.

    Thanks :)

    • Perry Romanowski 06/16/2014, 5:39 pm

      What do you want the shampoo / conditioner to do?

  • saeed 04/07/2014, 5:44 am

    Dear Friend
    Please send me the ingredients( % of use) and formulation for making neutralizing shampoo
    Best Regards

    • Perry Romanowski 04/08/2014, 12:35 pm

      Ask our forum members for this kind of advice.

  • Mary Gomez 03/24/2014, 9:36 am

    Is there really any difference between shampoos for curly hair, straight hair, etc.?

    • Perry Romanowski 03/25/2014, 11:25 am

      No, not really. It’s mostly a marketing thing. There are some minor differences but I wouldn’t expect the formulas to work differently.

  • Suresh 03/03/2014, 11:18 pm

    Hi boss, i am suresh. Can i get formulations for the following products. I searched in lot of places. But i couldn’t get any results. So pls help me. I hope i can get these formulations.

    hand soap liquid
    multipurpose cleaner
    dish wash liquid
    rust and stain remover
    floor shampoo
    car shampoo
    tyre shine
    engine degresel
    multi degresel
    glass cleaner

    • Perry Romanowski 03/04/2014, 6:47 pm

      See our page of free cosmetic formulas.

    • Anosh 05/17/2014, 2:22 pm

      very much helpful..thankyou

  • aya 02/19/2014, 6:20 am

    what people are involved in the making of shampoos

    • Perry Romanowski 02/20/2014, 11:18 am

      cosmetic formulators.

  • Teddy 01/30/2014, 1:54 pm

    Is there any specialized equipment for minimizing foam in the production of sulfate free shampoos using SAOS? Everything I’ve tried generates too much foam, making it hard to determine the final viscosity, and often causes a physical separation during stability testing.

    • Perry Romanowski 01/30/2014, 2:09 pm

      No special mixing is needed. You just need to have the mixing blade properly submerged.

  • ziad 01/29/2014, 4:38 pm

    How can i find the primary materials ?
    Can you help me in that please .

    • Gideon Simeon 09/26/2015, 12:57 pm

      I must say that am Happy knowing about this site. Please I need u to help me with the formula and the procedures for the prediction of anti dandruff shampoo with proportion to Which the ingredients are to be added.thanks

  • alison gilroy 01/10/2014, 12:02 pm

    I like to use 2-1, color protecting shampoo. However it has recently become increasingly more difficult, if not impossible, to find in stores. So I’m wondering if I can just mix it myself. If so what ratio would be correct? 3-1? Shampoo to conditioner. And after reading your blog I’m wondering about just making my own to begin with, but maybe mixing would be the way to go since I have my hair professionally colored. I need the color guard, or do I? I would greatly appreciate any/all advice you can offer! Thank you!

    • Perry Romanowski 01/10/2014, 12:15 pm

      Actually, it’s pretty easy to find 2-in-1 shampoos. Just look for ones that contain “Dimethicone” and “Polyquaternium-10”. They might not advertise themselves as 2-in-1 but they are.

      • alison gilroy 01/10/2014, 11:08 pm

        Is it critical to use color protector if you have dyed hair? And thank you, for the previous answer Perry :-)

        • Perry Romanowski 01/12/2014, 8:35 pm

          It’s ok to use a color protector but it won’t help that much. Better is to reduce the frequency of hair washing. Water is what damages hair color the most.

    • alison gilroy 01/10/2014, 11:02 pm

      What does waiting for moderation mean?

  • Aminu 01/02/2014, 8:56 am

    i will like to have the step by step mixing formulation for the shampoo. thats the procedure for producing the shampoo. Thanks.

  • Laura 11/02/2013, 7:39 am

    Hi, first I want to say thank you for posting this. I’m working on a marketing assignment as part of one of my distance learning modules while I’m on my placement year as part of my MChem course and this has really helped me. I’ve chosen to market a herbal based shampoo and wondered, do you happen to know where a lot of herbal ingredients for shampoos are sourced from, as well as the standard shampoo ingredients? I’m in the UK so would prefer a UK based business but that isn’t the most important thing. Also, if any of my ingredients are regulated by the FDA I have to conduct clinicial trials before my mock marketing but how do I know which ingredients are FDA regulated? Would these be my active herbal ingredients or the standard shampoo ingredients? I’d be really grateful if you could help but no worries if you can’t/I’m not making sense.

    • Perry Romanowski 11/04/2013, 7:31 pm

      The only cosmetic ingredients regulated by the FDA are colorants. So you don’t really have to do any clinical trials unless you are going to do an OTC or need it for claims support. Herbal ingredients can be found through suppliers like Carrubba. Herbal ingredients don’t really do anything in a shampoo.

  • arron 10/30/2013, 2:21 pm

    hi, i am designing a shampoo dispenser and was wondering if it is possible to have a concentrate shampoo and add the water separately? in a shop enviroment or at home, as the main ingredient is water essentially. Thanks

    • Perry Romanowski 10/31/2013, 7:09 am

      Yes, you could do this

  • bonie 10/23/2013, 12:57 pm

    im doing a reasearch paper just wondering when this paper was published thanksss

  • Elaine 10/20/2013, 2:21 am

    I’m 62 years of age. My long hair tends to be fizzy and somewhat dry. Pantene smooth and sleek 2 in 1 gave much pleasure.
    However it is no longer available….nor do I see many 2 in 1 shampoo in shops.

    In what ratio will I have to mix the shampoo with the separate conditioner to get the same results?

    Many thanks

    Elaine van Aarde
    Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    • Perry Romanowski 10/20/2013, 3:56 pm

      Most of the Pantene formulas are the same. Look for one that contains Dimethicone. If it does, it is a 2-in-1 shampoo

  • Sona 10/07/2013, 2:40 pm

    what do you think this has to do with chemestry

  • Myrna 10/07/2013, 3:27 am

    First of all, I want to say that you are very patient and knowledgeable. thank you for sharing with us. I am really grateful. I have been studying the net for the perfect totally chemical free foamy, non greasy, thick shampoo. I have used a variety of formulas, but preserving and sometimes greasiness has become a problem. There is so much out there that is exhausting and overwhelming sometimes. Do you now about such miracolous non chem ingredients? Would you please let me know? I certainly appreciate your help.

    Kindest regards


    • Perry Romanowski 10/07/2013, 5:40 am

      There is no such thing as a “chemical free” ingredient. Everything is a chemical, even water. So, I have no idea what you are referring to when you say you want “chemical free”. What do you mean?

    • jade brierley 10/07/2013, 4:15 pm

      Have you tried to use grapefruit,lemon,mint,and sea salt in your ingredients it should help with the greasiness and also add high shine hope i could help

  • Sona 10/06/2013, 9:51 am

    I have some questions for my chemistry project. 1. what are usually the chemestry makeup of a shampoo.
    2.what do they add to make dandruff shampoo or shampoo for fine hair,whats the diffrence.
    3.how do they make it so thick
    4.what is the relationship between the scalp/hair and the shampoo,how does it work?
    5.how do they add their fragrance, is it better for the hair if they add the fragrance or leave it out?

    • Perry Romanowski 10/06/2013, 6:13 pm

      Here are some answers.

      1. Surfactants are the compounds that make shampoos clean. We wrote about them above.
      2. Anti-dandruff shampoos have Zinc Pyrithione or another anti-dandruff active added. Fine hair shampoos do not have this ingredient.
      3. Shampoos are made thick either with the addition of salt or with a thickening agent like Cellulose
      4. Shampoos clean the scalp by helping to remove the natural oil that is present there.
      5. Fragrance has no real effect on the shampoo but some people can find it irritating to skin. But people like fragrances so that is why shampoo makers add it.

      Hope that helps.

  • Swapnil 10/06/2013, 3:44 am

    Dear Sir
    From last week i try to prepare transferant shampoo in my formulatiom i used CAPB, SLES 28%, Glycerol,PG,Vit E, VitB5, Triethanolamine, Dimethicone, Preservative, Aloe vera & Carbopol 940 but i dont get clear shampoo at the end of trial batch, I also find maximum bubble formation during trial. so pl guide me . Regards

  • becca 09/19/2013, 8:58 pm

    where are the most common ingredients in shampoo originally found?

    • Perry Romanowski 10/02/2013, 10:24 pm

      Coconut oil, palm oil or petroleum products.

  • aishwarya mercy 08/31/2013, 4:00 am

    how to prepare eggless shampoo?

    • Perry Romanowski 09/03/2013, 6:27 am

      Eggs are not required to make shampoo.

  • Jane 08/26/2013, 1:16 pm

    Hello, I’m trying to find a US company that will formulate a shampoo based on a list of ingredients and also produce the shampoo for me. I can find companies that provide the ingredients but I’m having trouble finding a company that custom formulates. Are you able to suggest one or tell me what search term to use to find one please? Thanks

  • Ayushi Das 08/23/2013, 6:03 am

    How to make shampoo in my school chemistry lab using chemicals?
    What is the minimum time required for it’s lab preparation ?

    • Perry Romanowski 08/23/2013, 6:45 am

      You need to have the right chemicals. If you have that it takes approximately 1 hour.

      • Ayushi Das 08/24/2013, 3:39 am

        If it is in 1 hr then I’ll be able to carry out the project ….
        Please, can you help me with the process of it’s prep in the school chem lab ?

  • Muntkhab Alam 08/22/2013, 11:35 am

    Hi Perry,
    Please tell me the exact proportion by % of ‘Sodium polynaphthalene sulfonate’ in an anti-dandfruff shampoo.


  • Michael S.Negash 07/14/2013, 3:33 pm

    We are in the hotel amenity supply business and wish to start a small plant where we can produce some of our supplies by ourselves under our own facility. We understand that it would be cheeper to buy the active ingredients of cosmetic products and produce the finished products with a simple process. Therefor, we like to know address of the active ingredient suppliers of shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and body lotion with a very good quality which we then like to finish up and pack for sell.


    • Perry Romanowski 07/15/2013, 1:11 pm

      You can find this information in a cosmetic industry Buyer’s Guide. See happi.com

  • Lynda 06/20/2013, 8:02 am


    I would like to know where can we buy all the ingrédients that we need to make shampoo without having to pay money to get all the secrets of making shampoo and having to buy the book that some companies sell. I saw a few on internet and it’s a gimick to get us to give them our money. I want a place where i can buy the ingrédients with no strings attached. I pay for what I buy only.

    Thanks Lynda

  • R M Hegde 05/04/2013, 2:17 am

    We have already prepared 500 kgs of transparent shampoo. We like to improve with conditioner, but when we add Quaterium, shampoo getting thin .How to make it thick, which ingredient is suitable

    • Perry Romanowski 05/08/2013, 10:21 am

      Doing a salt curve analysis could help. Or changing the type of quat you use. But your system just might not be compatible with the ingredients that you are trying.

  • Binal Dadhaniya 05/01/2013, 7:39 am

    I am trying to make coal tar shampoo. The ingredients I want to use are basic ingredients like non-ionic surfactant, anionic surfactant, preservatives, foaming agents, chelating agent, fragrance, other ingredients to adjust the pH around 6.5 to 7.0 neutral pH. Can you please provide any basic shampoo formulation with the listed percentage for all ingredients. You can give me any shampoo formulation along with the known amount of ingredients.

    • Perry Romanowski 05/01/2013, 10:01 am

      See our formulations page for formulas. Also, I would encourage you to post your question to our cosmetic science forum

  • Perry Romanowski 04/30/2013, 7:44 am

    Both can work. Cellulose is more typically used.

  • VIJAY SHARMA 02/13/2013, 9:13 pm


    what could the total cost of starting a manufacturing unit for shampoo.


  • nikki 02/10/2013, 9:17 am

    A shampoo formulation contains Sodium lauryl sulfate (30% active) 40% W/W, polyquaternium-7 (8% active) 1.0 %W/W,polydimethylsiloxane (100%) 1.0% W/W and ammonium chloride (100%)

    The formulation tends to separate at different temperatures. Could it be because of the amount of conditioning agents?

    • Perry 02/13/2013, 9:36 am

      Yes, the silicone you have in there is likely the thing that is separating.

  • Bill Tsai 01/06/2013, 5:55 am

    Where can I buy those machines for making soap and shampoo? Thank you.

    • Perry 01/06/2013, 9:04 pm

      What size batches are you looking to make? For lab batches you can just get mixers and beakers. Check on eBay.

  • Taiwo 11/05/2012, 4:01 am

    This is great and i give kudos to u perry. Please i want to produce anti dandruf shampoo and conditioning shampoo 2 in 1. Please i need a comprehence formular for this. I am so passionate about this shampoo production and to teach others too in my neighborhood.

  • Renato 09/14/2012, 2:12 pm

    Hello Perry’m trying to make shampoo but I have many doubts in the first place and see many formulations do not quite understand why most formulations contain about 40% to 60% surfactants but everyone says that the shampoo is for cosntituido 80% to 90% water, this would not be logical.
    I’ve been looking at your site and saw about Pantene and took a look at the patent that was listed, but an enormous concentration of dimethicone and a very large concentration of surfactants after all how we can make this a orma correct?
    I think if the shampoo was 80% to 90% water it could not be thick because water is a solvent that he would eventually diluting ratio.
    And I would help if I could.

    • Perry 09/17/2012, 7:59 pm

      The problem you are having is that the 40% number is “as the raw material is supplied”. So a surfactant is sold as a 25% solution. When you put in 40% of this 25% solution, you are actually only putting in 10% of the surfactant. Hope that makes sense.

      • Renato 09/18/2012, 7:52 am

        This has helped me a lot, as the surfactant is then diluted requires a much higher concentration.
        But for example the formula most copied of all time is in this book that Clarence R. Robbins that is the same as Pantene shampoo and many others.
        There are listed as follows:
        Amonium Laryl Sulfate
        Sodum Laureth2 Sulfate
        Xylene Sulfonate Amonium
        Dimethicone etc. ..
        The concentration of surfactants was the same as said one would have to use 40% to 25% of surfactant to achieve 10% request in the formula?
        Is there any ingredient that can replace Xylene Sulfonate what would be?
        And this would Dimethicone copolyol?

        Only great teachers great as you can clarify doubts.
        Thank Prerry.

        • Perry 09/18/2012, 2:32 pm

          The Xylene Sulfonate can be replaced with just more Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. I think they use it to help solubilize the Dimethicone in their formula. You can find more about P&G shampoo formulations by looking at their patents. http://bit.ly/UhRJ4L Dimethicone Copolyol is not a replacement for Xylene Sulfonate

          • Renato 09/18/2012, 6:32 pm

            Perry did not quite understand patents but thank you for providing the link.
            Today I tried to make a formulation, and had a little trouble pulling sensation, not the slippery sufciente.
            Perhaps the addition of a cationic polymer (poliquartenium 7) can solve the problem?

  • Evaristus 09/06/2012, 3:47 pm

    I thank you for shearing your knowledge with us. I want to ask, what kind of advice can you give to someone who is planing to start shampoo production? I want you to send me the suitable ingredients and example of secondary detergent used as a thickner and the most suitable machine. Also, can one actually start shampoo production without a machine. What is your advice for someone who cannot afford to buy machine but has a zeal to start? I will be so gratefull if my questions are carefully treated. Thanks

    • Perry 09/07/2012, 2:52 am

      It costs money to start a cosmetic business so until you have at least some money to invest, I would suggest you do not start. It’s very important that you only sell products that are appropriately safety tested and follow the proper regulations for production. This costs money. In the meantime, I would suggest you practice making products and work on your business plan so you can raise funds.

  • Kacey 09/04/2012, 9:00 pm

    Thank you sooo much for putting up this information for everyyone. It is helping me a whole lot for my current science fair project! Kudos to you!!

  • Salim Hirji 07/15/2012, 6:00 pm

    Hi Perry,
    I want to manufacture a good quality shampoo, 2 in 1, ie with conditioner. Can you help me with the formula with the percentages of all chemicals and the process. At what temperature should they be mixed?
    Thanks in advance.


    • Perry 07/16/2012, 1:22 pm

      Hello Salim,

      I’d suggest you post this question in the forums so you get different responses from other cosmetic chemists. You should first look at our post on finding free cosmetic formulations.

  • Jack Baretti 07/06/2012, 5:22 am

    can I have names of some suppliers of raw materials for shampoo. We used to buy from Cyclo Chemicals in the UK and another firm whose name I have fotrgotten. do not know if they exist any more

    • Perry 07/06/2012, 6:07 am

      I would suggest you look at a cosmetic chemical buyer’s guide. Happi.com has one.

  • Reem 06/25/2012, 7:18 am

    Dear Perry
    nice from you answer about our questions ..
    i want the all the raw materials for shampoo and the machine and the stages of the process ..

    Many Thanks & Best Regards

    Reem Alsaqqaf

  • Seenivasanchemical 06/14/2012, 8:08 am

    Why cant we all have technical meet to improve and standardize formulation.

    • Perry 06/14/2012, 4:40 pm

      I’m not sure I understand what you are asking.

  • Kc wealth 06/08/2012, 1:32 am

    Please send me the simplest equipments needed to start my shampoo production. Thanks

  • Ebenezer 06/07/2012, 5:34 am

    I saw that someone called you “my hero”. I say also you are my hero. Thank you for your information. If possible you can help me to get simple shampoo processing machine and the ingredients with its formulation. Some people want you rescue from hell; but some are pushing and let you stay in there. As a reason rescued are prisimg the one who rescued. Please I am beging you rescue me. I am living in life which I hate for survival. If you give me full information, not me, God will pay you for me. I may also have a time to prize you.

    Please I want to start my own small business. I say also to every one who want to help me , please give me information which I ask on the above through my e mail abenezermeshesha1@gmail.com . Thank you so much. God may richlly bless you all.

  • sachin girme 02/20/2012, 11:06 pm

    i want a shampoo manufacturing process

  • Dandollars2 01/23/2012, 11:51 am

    Thanks perry.
    You are really my Hero.
    I have been producing my shampoo manually and very soon my product wil be fully registered and my customers says that they love every thin about my shampoo. Please Advice me on how I can Expand my production line, the machines needed including their position from one another. Any Vidoe showing the set Up wil be very helpful.
    Thanks once more. Keep it up with the good work.
    God will reward you.

  • Kc wealth 11/19/2011, 11:11 am

    please I want You to help me with a standard shampoo formulation. Also the formulation for a sunscreen cream using nano titanium dioxide and nano zinc dioxide as d active ingredients. Thanks

  • alirabei 11/09/2011, 1:08 am

    I am very interested a bout your advice , if it possible Please send me the ingredients and formulation for making the best shampoo by the percent of each ingredients .
    a gain thanks a lot .
    i am waiting for hearing from you as soon as possible

  • Jenifer Wilson 10/18/2011, 1:31 pm

    Please send me the ingredients and formulation for making neutralizing shampoo

  • richard 09/21/2011, 7:46 am

    very interested in knowing more about formulations.what are the cost?

  • Ernesto Leon 08/03/2011, 8:06 am

    Remember many aspect to refresh
    Ernesto Leon

  • Pradeep Sadh 07/21/2011, 3:50 am

    Hello sir
    I had made a small batch of shampoo (100ml) for just experiment. i had added pearl agent so is it necessary to add any colouring agent. and after the complision of shampoo der is lot of foam in the preparation so guide me what i have to do.. what i made is wrong or what?
    Plz help me.

  • tejal 06/15/2011, 1:08 am

    i want to make shampoo and detergent ,send me the formula & how much percent of each chemical is to be used to make the product perfectly usable.

    • R.THILAGESVARAN 02/10/2012, 6:10 am

      I want Ketaconazole+Coal Tar shampoo formulation formula. Coal tar is basically black colour but I want yellow colour any colour masking agent available.

  • ravi kumar 04/12/2011, 9:21 am

    what is ph for shampoo and we use primary surfuctant in shampoo is SLES28% active matter. is it ok or not and our shampoo is very stick with hands and its not remove easly from the hands. pls. send me a suitable idea.

    • Perry 04/13/2011, 1:49 am

      Hello Ramjeetsaini – I don’t know specifically what your pH is but the target range for a standard shampoo should be from pH 5.0 – 7.0

  • Jenna 04/12/2011, 12:50 am

    is there a difference between sulfate free shampoo and sodium chloride free? If so what is the difference?

    Thank You

    • Perry 04/13/2011, 1:54 am

      “Sulfate free” and “Sodium Chloride free” are not related terms. Sulfate free refers to the type of surfactant or detergent that is used as the basis for the shampoo. Usually Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is used but it doesn’t have to be. Sodium Chloride is salt and is often added to shampoos to modify the thickness. You could make shampoo with or without either.

  • aleks 01/09/2011, 2:20 pm

    Hello! I am trying to formulate ” green” shampoo using biobehenic acid as natural conditioning agent, APG and lauryl glutamate as primary surfactants and xanthan gum as thickener.
    In theory it should work but in reality formula is very sensitive to technological procedure.
    This is my first experience with adding emollient oil in shampoo, so I would like to ask about any hints how to get oil into surfactant formulation. Thank you.

  • NANA TSEASEWAA 12/25/2010, 1:15 pm

    My shampoo seperates why

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