The making of a new product - Natural shampoo

For about year now we’ve been researching for a new product - a natural shampoo for men. It is now finished and waiting for CPSR inspection. It's been fun and definitely challenging, but we are now super happy with the results. So this blog post will be about creating a new product, what needs to be taken in consideration when making a natural shampoo. But before that, let’s discuss how to create scents. If you are DIY-type of guy this might be helpful to you as well. 


So every now and then we bring new seasonal edition that would complement our collection of beard oil scent group. We want to have challenging recipes that works well together with our brand. But how does one create a new scent? Can you just add whatever you think smells good? Maybe, but let's first see the theory behind it all. 

You see, all the natural essential oils we use to create the unique scent can be divided in to different categories. One way to represent these scents is fragrance wheel.  There are several different versions of this and categories and sub-categories how to divide the scents. We have our own as well, that seems to work best for us. It’s just mix of some of the wheels out there. 

Perfume notes

The other way to categorize the scents is something called the perfume note. British analytical chemist and perfumer G.W. Septimus Piesse (1820–1882) devised a method for classifying scents according to musical scales. This however was bit complex as it relied on the theory that brain links scents and musical notes together. Piesse’s system was complex, and the concept was not widely used until William Arthur Poucher (1891–1988) simplified it into three notes.

If you’ve seen the movie perfume, it is somewhat explained there. Basically all the scents can be divided in to the 3 major groups: top, middle and base notes. To be more exact there are more (like bottom to top note) and other sub notes between but to keep things simple we can just use the three of them. Rate of evaporation and their dominant characteristics of the essential oils divides them in to these categories. Best example would be to try any citrus essential oils, they are very easy to recognize and the scent comes out quickly. That’s because citrus scents are usually considered top notes (you smell them first). They also evaporate the quickest (also the reason why perfumes don’t last forever in your bathroom cupboard). 


The top note leads the way, but then gives way for the other scents to take over. The middle note is also called the heart or modifier. The middle note is usually detectable 10 to 45 minutes after the perfume is applied and can last several hours to several days. The base note is also called the fixative, or body, note. Its purpose is to slow the rate of evaporation of the top note and to act as an anchor to hold the fragrance together. A base-note scent can last several days to over a week. Working together, the top note introduces the scent, and the middle and base notes create the core of a blend. Mixing an oil from each of the three categories creates a well-rounded blend that unfolds over time.


When we are making a new fragrance for the seasonal edition, we start with these perfume notes. Usually we have an idea or specific scent that we want work with. Lately we’ve been deliberately taking challenging ideas like cardamom or peppermint to form a manly beard oil scent. Hence the to latest scents, Falun Red and Baltic Blue. Floral scents are very complex to work with and we might try them in the future but so far every combination reminds a bit of bathroom air freshener. 


The project to create a new scent is a long one, taking normally several months. One reason for this is that the mixture must ”sit” for few days to show it’s true colors. Then we iterate the best one creating several versions of it. This goes on and on until we are all happy about it and let our focus group test it out. 

Back to the shampoo

Now we can go back to the matter of the shampoo. The fragrance of the shampoo is just one part of developing it. As our shampoo is made without using sodium laureate sulphate or parabens, it was challenging to get the same results as you would from regular shampoo. After we had worked with the recipe to make it actually working shampoo, we had to focus on the texture and special attributes. Baobab seed oil was the winner here and smoothened out the product texture and gives some shine to the hair as well. After that came the scent and the color. The first scent that we added to the shampoo was Baltic Blue, it works really well with the base and it has tea tree oil in it as well, which works nicely in shampoo. 

Does pH matter?

Last thing we fixed was the pH issue. This subject could have a blog post of it’s own but let’s discuss it very briefly. The hair ph is around 3,6 and the the scalp 5,5. The studies have shown that the usage of shampoo with a pH higher than 5.5 may increase friction and cause frizz, hair breakage and enhance hair tangling.

After using a shampoo of pH higher than 5.5, conditioner of low-pH should be applied so that besides lubricating, the electrostatic forces can be neutralized, the frizz effect eliminated and cuticle scales may be sealed. If the conditioner is not recommended by a dermatologist, it is necessary to choose a shampoo with pH lower than 5.5.  

What was that part about cuticle scales? Well if you think your hair as a dragon that has scales.

Alkaline pH opens the scales (like warm shower water). The shampoo washes away the dirt inside the scales and closes them up again, but only if the pH of the shampoo is 5,5 or lower.

And let’s be honest, not all guys use conditioner. So when we wanted to create natural shampoo for men that also works without conditioner. We will bring conditioner later as well, but this stand alone shampoo will work fine for hair and beard likewise. 


Special instructions how to use this shampoo: Rinse your hair with warm water first. This open the hair cuticles. Divide the amount you would use normally in to two settings. Wash your hair twice. 


Risu SLS-free shampoo coming later this summer.

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