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. 😀
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’.
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.
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.
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.’
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)
Shampoo for Brunettes (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910)
- 2 beaten egg yolkes
- 1/2 pint claret
- 1/4 pint water
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.
Here you’ll find my Conversion Table for US, UK, and metric system units of measurement.