Shampoo was usually homemade in the Victorian and Edwardian era. So there are many different shampoo recipes. Some use soap as basis, some use natural cleansers, such as egg or salt, and some use saponin-containing plants, such as quillaia bark. I’ve tried some of the shampoo recipes (you’ll find a link at the bottom of the recipes). If you try one of these historical shampoo recipes, I’d love to hear your experiences. 😀
‘Perhaps the simplest and certainly one of the most successful ways of shampooing the hair is to let it all down first and give the head a gentle fresh air massage. […] rub the head and scalp gently but firmly and in a way that makes the blood circulate through the entire surface of the head. A loose scalp is a sign of healthy hair, a tight one means that a good deal of massage and special treatment is required to get it into good condition and eventually improve the hair. After massaging rub in a tonic thoroughly. This will soothe the scalp and make it more receptive to the shampooing.’ (San Francisco Call, 1907)
Victorian & Edwardian Shampoo Recipes
Glycerin-Lime Juice-Shampoo (Manual Of Useful Information, 1893)
‘Occasionally the hair may be cleaned with a mixture of glycerine and lime juice. Pomades and oil should be carefully avoided.’
Liquid Shampoo With Soap (Henley’s Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes And Processes, 1916)
- 24 parts soft soap
- 5 parts potassium carbonate
- 48 parts alcohol
- 323 parts water
Shampoo Paste (Henley’s Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes And Processes, 1916)
- 2 oz white Castile soap in shavings
- 2 fl oz ammonium hydroxide
- 1 fl oz bay rum, or cologne water
- 1 fl oz glycerin
- 12 fl oz water
‘Dissolve the soap in the water by means of heat; when nearly cold stir in the other ingredients.’
Shampoo With Soap (Henley’s Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes And Processes, 1916)
- 4 oz white Castile soap shavings
- 1 oz potassium carbonate
- 6 fl oz water
- 2 fl oz glycerin
- 5 drops lavender oil
- 10 drops bergamot oil
Mix soap, potassium carbonate, and water. Heat until the soap is dissolved, then add the oils.
Soda Hair Cleanser (The Woman’s Own Book of Toilet Secrets, ca. 1896)
‘The hair may be washed in warm water in which has been dissolved one teaspoonful of common cooking soda’.
Soap-Alcohol-Shampoo (The Woman’s Own Book of Toilet Secrets, ca. 1896)
- Castile soap
- 1 quart warm water
- 1 oz alcohol
Dissolve soap in warm water, and add alcohol.
Hair Wash For Thick, Soft And Glossy Hair (The Woman’s Own Book of Toilet Secrets, ca. 1896)
- large handful of bran
- 1 quart soft water
- a little white soap
- 1 egg yolk
Boil bran in water for half an hour or more. ‘Strain it into a basin and let it cool till it is merely tepid or milk warm. Rub into it a little white soap, then dip in the corner of a soft linen towel and wash your head with it thoroughly, dividing or parting aside the hair all over so as to reach the roots. Next take the yolk of an egg (slightly beaten in a saucer) and with your fingers rub it well into the roots of the hair. Let it rest a few minutes and then wash it off entirely with a cloth dipped in pure water and rinse your hair well’.
The Soap Shampoo (San Francisco Call, 1907)
- castile soap
- warm water
- optional: borax or soda
‘One great trouble with a soap shampoo is that the hair is seldom properly rinsed afterward. Every particle of soap should be removed, otherwise the hair will be sticky, and it will lack the smooth, glossy look it should have. Warm water is best to start with. This should be well soaped with pure castile, so that it will not be necessary to rub any soap on the hair itself.
Sometimes soap will change the color of the hair, especially if the soap is not of the best. The first rubbing should be very thorough and long, so that every bit of the scalp is cleansed and all the hair from the roots to the ends should be well shampooed. To rinse the hair one of the rubber tubed sprays sold in any of the drug or department stores will be found to give the best service and to save time as well.
A little borax or a tiny bit of soda will make the shampooing easier if these are agreeable to the hair. The cleansing and rinsing should be repeated three or four times, and in the last cleansing water a little borax should be used, for which the hair should be thoroughly rinsed with water that changes gradually from warm to as cold as one can stand it.
The first drying should be done gently with a towel. Then the hair should be rubbed with the warm palms of the hands until it is nearly dry, after which it should be brushed vigorously with a perfectly clean brush until it is perfectly dry.
Just before the brushing is ended a bit of toilet water or perfume that has no harmful chemicals in it may be dropped on the brush to give the hair a pleasing odor and take away the soapy smell that will cling to it for a little while, even if the best of soap is used and the hair most carefully rinsed. Neither the soapy nor the perfume odor will remain long. The fastidious woman never indulges in perfumes that are pronounced. If she uses any they are delicate and fleeting.’
How To Wash The Hair With Soap (1908)
‘Dark hair is more difficult to wash and a great deal more difficult to dry than light hair. Dark hair should be washed with soap jelly […] and dried in the shade. Soap should never be rubbed directly on the hair, as it is almost impossible to get it out of the hair, and it suffocates the tiny strands to which it adheres.
The way to wash dark hair is to first wet the hair with a spray of warm water. Then the soap jelly is rubbed in. It is thoroughly massaged into the hair and scalp. The whole hair is piled in a mass on top of the head and pinned there for five minutes with the soap jelly in it. This gives it a chance to soak in.
Now the hairpins are taken out and the hair is loosened. It is tossed forward into a basin of water and a heavy spray of warm water is played upon it. Dark hair should be dried in the dark, for the reason that light fades it. The lemon and the salts of tartar recommended for light hair must not be used, for the same reason. Dark hair should be shaken perfectly dry. Every night dark hair should be tossed and shaken again, for this is the only way to keep it from becoming soggy.’
Prepared Bran For The Hair (Encyclopedia Of Practical Receipts And Processes, 1872)
- 1 pound powdered wheat bran
- 2 oz powdered orris
Egg Shampoo (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)
Stong soap and cheap shampoo are harmful, and make the hair greasy after about four days. To cleanse the hair: Beat one or two egg yokes with ‘a little hot water and a few drops of liquid ammonia’. Rub the shampoo into the wet hair and rinse the hair thoroughly, preferably with rain or distilled water. If absolutely necessary, rinse the water with 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda ‘to a basinful of water’, but this dries the hair (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910). After washing the hair, let it dry outside on a warm day, then brush it for ten minutes. If necessary, rub some hair-oil into the scalp.
Egg Shampoo (Beauty Culture, 1911)
- 1 egg (well beaten)
- 1/2 pt. warm soft water
- 1/2 oz. spirits of rosemary
‘Beat well together and rub thoroughly into the scalp. Rinse off carefully in two or three waters. Always be careful not to rub the long hair in such a way as to tangle it. This can be done by holding the long hair up and away from the scalp with one hand, while rubbing in the shampoo with the other. Some shampooers favor using only the yolks, and others only the white of eggs for egg shampoo. No sufficient reason appears for the latter variant, the oil and sulphur of the yolk being of distinct value. The reason for omitting the white or albuminous part appears to be grounded on its stickiness, but a thorough beating overcomes any objection on that score.’
Egg Lemon Shampoo (The Progress Meatless Cook Book, 1911)
‘Beat two eggs, add the juice of a lemon, rub thoroughly through the hair, and rinse in several warm waters. Dry in sun and air.’
Liquid Shampoo (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)
- 3/4 fl oz glycerin
- 1 1/4 fl oz eau de cologne
- 1 1/4 fl oz liquid quillaia extract
- 2 1/2 fl oz rectified spirit of wine
- 4 fl oz rosewater
Let the solution stand for 24 hours, then filter.
Lanolin Shampoo (Henley’s Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes And Processes, 1916)
- 4 parts quillaia bark
- 36 parts water
- 4 parts alcohol
Mix quillaia bark and water, let the solution stand for several days, add alcohol, and filter the quillaia extract.
- 40 parts of quillaia extract
- 12 parts anhydrous lanolin
- 248 parts 15% solution of water and spirit of wine
Shake the shampoo well before use.
Mild Hair Cleanser (Household Companion: Book Of Etiquette, 1909).
For washing the hair, use a beaten egg yolk or egg white, a brew of rosemary leaves, a mixture of honey and flour, or a soap bark extract.
English Hair Wash (Household Companion: Book Of Etiquette, 1909)
- 1 teacup salt
- 1 quart rain water
Let the brine stand for 12 hours.
- 1 cup brine
- 1 cup hot rain water
Castile Soap Shampoo (The Delineator, 1894)
Shave the white Castile soap finely, add enough warm water to make a thick lather, and pour it into a bottle. Use this shampoo once a month. Rub a liberal quantity into the scalp, and rinse the hair thoroughly with warm water. Rub the hair dry with a towel, and dry it outside in summer, and before a fire or stove in winter.
Good Shampoo (The Progress Meatless Cook Book, 1911)
‘Lay a cake of Ivory soap in a pitcher, pour over it a pint of boiling water, and stir till there’s a good lather. Add one teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda, wash the hair and scalp thoroughly and rinse in several warm waters.’
Soap Shampoo (San Francisco Call, 1907)
‘Perhaps the simplest and certainly one of the most successful ways of shampooing the hair is to let it all down first and give the head a gentle fresh air massage. […] After massaging rub in a tonic thoroughly. This will soothe the scalp and make it more receptive to the shampooing. […] Warm water is best to start with. This should be well soaped with pure castile soap that it will not be necessary to rub any soap on the hair itself. […] The first rubbing should be very thorough and long, so that every bit of the scalp is cleansed and all the hair from the roots to the ends should be well shampooed. To rinse the hair one of the rubber tubed sprays sold in any of the drug or department stores will be found to give the best service and to save time as well. A little borax or a tiny bit of soda will make the shampooing easier if these are agreeable to the hair. […] the hair should be thoroughly rinsed with water that changes gradually from warm to as cold as one can stand it.’
Tar Soap Shampoo (Beauty Culture, 1911)
‘To tone the scalp it is well to wash the hair once in a month with pure castile soap or tar soap of the best quality. The latter is easily made thus:’
- 4 oz. birchwood or beechwood tar
- 6 oz. castille soap
‘In washing the hair with soaps of any kind, warm water should be used, followed by massage or rubbing, and then colder water to stimulate or cause a reaction of the circulation in the scalp. A spray tube, connected with the hot and cold water faucets of the basin, is most serviceable for this purpose. Do not use the water so cold as to shock the scalp, but just cold enough to be pleasant to the patron’s head.
Use a tar soap only on dark hair, white soap on blond or gray hair. If the hair is inclined to be oily, a little borax, about half a teaspoonful to a basin of cold water, may be used for the last rinsing, but repeated only once in the month , as it has a tendency to make the hair brittle. Its use makes the hair fluffy and lighter in color. Liquid ammonia, a tablespoonful to a gallon of water, is used in the same manner; but the same precautions must be taken.’
Soap-Egg-Shampoo (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910)
Scrape a cake of Castile soap in a saucepan, and add a pint of boiling water. Keep it warm till the soap is dissolved, then pour it ‘into a wide-mouthed jar. It is jelly when cold.’
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon jelly
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda to each tablespoon (!) of jelly (this may dry out the hair)
Dry Shampoo (The Progress Meatless Cook Book, 1911)
‘Sift yellow corn meal till fine, and rub into the hair, brush thoroughly, and repeat.’
Salt Dry Shampoo (The Progress Meatless Cook Book, 1911)
‘Rub dry salt into the hair at night, wear a night cap, and brush out all the salt in the morning, to make the hair lustrous.’
Orris Root Dry Shampoo (San Francisco Call, 1906)
‘If oily and matted, and it is not yet time for the egg shampoo, sprinkle the hair with powdered orris root, allow it to remain on for an hour, or more, then brush it out lightly. This is the best of all dry shampoos. For blonde hair, add some powdered saffron to the orris root.’
Shampoo for Brunettes (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910)
- 2 beaten egg yolkes
- 1/2 pint claret
- 1/4 pint water
Shampoo for Auburn Hair (The Progress Meatless Cook Book, 1911)
‘Put five cents worth of Salts of Tartar in a pint of warm water, rub into the hair, making a fine lather. Leave it a short time, and rinse in several warm waters.’
Shampoo for Blondes (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910)
- 1 part dried rhubarb
- 1 part strained honey
- 3 parts white wine
Let it stand for 24 hours, then strain it. Rub the solution into the hair, let it in the hair for at least 30 minutes until dry. Wash it off and rinse with a bicarbonate of soda solution.
Tea Rinse (The Ideal Cook Book, 1902)
Wash your hair every day with cold tea for ‘glossy, luxuriant hair. Black tea is the best.
Cassia Flower Dry Shampoo (Beauty Culture, 1911)
‘A dry shampoo will be found useful, when patrons are in a hurry to have their hair dressed. So-called dry shampoos are made of powder that is dusted into the hair, massaging the scalp thoroughly at the same time. The powder should be brushed out at once. This leaves the hair clean and dry and fluffy, the accumulation of oil and dust having been taken up by the powder. The use of dry shampoos is to cleanse and perfume the hair, at the same time getting the benefit of the exercising of the scalp through the necessary massage.’
- 8 oz. orris root powder
- 3 dr. cassia flowers (ground coarse)
‘Mix well together and rub through a fine hair sieve. Use not oftener than once a week.’
Orris Root Dry Shampoo (Beauty Culture, 1911)
- 1/2 oz. orris root (powdered)
- 8 oz. cornstarch
- 10 drops oil of violets
‘Mix as the above and rub through a fine sieve or bolting cloth. Use in the same manner.’
Dry Shampoo For Blond Or Gray Hair (Beauty Culture, 1911)
- 2 oz. fine cornmeal
- 1 oz. orris root (powdered)
‘Shake well together, then shake or sift into the hair, Rub in somewhat vigorously and brush out ten minutes later. Or cornmeal alone may be used. It is well to get it very finely ground and dry it out by placing in the oven a little while.’
Here you’ll find my Conversion Table for US, UK, and metric system units of measurement.