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DIY Itchy Scalp Shampoo with Honey & Tea Tree Oil

DIY itchy scalp shampoo - Dr. Axe

Itchy scalp is annoying and embarrassing! But what causes it? There are a number of things that cause a dry, itchy scalp, such as fungal infections like eczema or psoriasis, dandruff, unclean hair, your diet and even your shampoo. While typically there is no need for major concern, you should keep an eye on it if the problem seems to worsen. Regardless, using the right ingredients on your hair can make a big difference.

Have you heard of a honey wash? That is where this amazing DIY Itchy Scalp Shampoo comes to the rescue! This shampoo not only provides relief from that annoying itchy scalp, but it offers soft, silky, shiny and frizz-free locks, too — making it the best shampoo for dry scalp and also for dandruff. (You can also dry this homemade anti-dandruff shampoo. Experiment to find out what itchy scalp treatment works best for you.

Homemade Itchy Scalp Shampoo

Let’s make this DIY itchy scalp shampoo. In a bowl, combine the honey and apple cider vinegar. If you are using raw honey, it may need to be heated to help it dissolve. (Gentle heating will help the coconut oil — added later — blend well, too.) Place both, the honey and apple cider vinegar, in a small pan and heat on low while stirring.

Honey has natural antibacterial properties and can moisturize your scalp and hair at the same time. Honey contains plenty of vitamins, minerals and acts as a humectant, which means it attracts moisture. This, in addition to the natural healing properties it provides, makes it the perfect ingredient.

You also can’t go wrong with apple cider vinegar. It’s jam-packed with powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help to prevent and kill any fungal virus that may be causing itchy scalp. Additionally, apple cider vinegar helps balance pH levels of the scalp, which will not only help eliminate dry itchy scalp, but can eliminate oily hair, too! Keep in mind that it may take a few washes to reach that “balance,” especially when trying new ingredients, so be patient. It’s a process since everyone’s hair is different.

Now add the apple cider vinegar and aloe vera gel. The aloe vera plant is a great ingredient for this shampoo because it contains anti-inflammatory properties while providing moisturizing. Of course, we know coconut oil is great for the hair, but what does it do for an itchy scalp? Coconut oil also helps moisturize while providing amazing antibacterial agents that will have stave off fungal growth that can develop with an itchy scalp. While you only want to use a little bit in your DIY itchy scalp shampoo to avoid an oily appearance, it’s the perfect ingredient to help combat that itchy scalp and even dandruff. Once all of these ingredients are dissolved, transfer to a bowl.

Next up is the castile soap and water. Castile soap is a great way to add a little suds without the harshness found in most off-the-shelf shampoos. The ingredients are pure and gentle, so it’s safe for kids, too. It is important to use purified or distilled water because it can cause mold growth otherwise. I even suggest keeping the shampoo in the fridge, if possible, to help prevent bacterial growth since we do not add any preservatives. 

Ok, now add your essential oils and blend well. I absolutely love tea tree oil because it’s so versatile. It comes with its very own natural antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, all of which help treat an itchy scalp. Fortunately, it’s also gentle enough to use every day too.

Did you know that rosemary oil can help thicken your hair and even prevent baldness? So in addition to increasing blood flow of the scalp to promote healing, you can get the benefits of thicker, fuller locks! 

Now that you have combined all ingredients, pour it into your bottle and screw on the cap. Give it a good shake and you are ready to use your new DIY Itchy Scalp Shampoo!

Apply just as you would regular shampoo, keeping in mind that you will not have a sudsy result that you are used to having. Please know that is a good thing, since those suds strip your hair of its oils and natural pH balance. Wash your hair and then rinse well. For many, due to the amazing ingredients, you will not need conditioner. However, for those that do, try my homemade conditioner or my homemade hair detangler.

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DIY Itchy Scalp Shampoo with Honey & Tea Tree Oil

Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: About 6 ounces


  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 ounces aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Castile soap
  • 3 tablespoons filtered or purified water
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • BPA-free plastic dispenser bottle


  1. Start by combining the honey, apple cider vinegar. If your honey is firm, you may need to heat it on the stove until melted.
  2. Add the aloe vera and coconut oil. Blend well.
  3. Once dissolved, transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the castile soap and water. Blend again.
  5. Now add the essential oils. Blend well.
  6. Pour into your BPA-free bottle, place the cap on tightly and give it a good shake.
  7. Apply onto wet hair and gently massage into the scalp.
  8. Rinse well.

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  1. Jang Gumilang on

    Hi Dr Axe , thank you for sharing all the usage of YL EO . It is so educational .thank you once again for sharing

  2. Jackie on

    I just had a question. I was reading somewhere else that mixing apple cider vinegar and castile oil soap to make a shampoo disrupts the ph balance of the scalp?

  3. Susan on

    Needed this recipe! The only thing is, coconut oil makes my scalp itch, in fact any thing made with coconut makes my scalp itch. Can I substitute grapeseed or jojoba oil in this recipe?

  4. Joan on

    Humm, was going to ask a question myself but after seeing all the unanswered questions above, think this may be a pitch for the book not so much for info ………

    • Jennifer on

      I realize this is a bit late for Katlynn, but in case other readers have the same question, the lumps might be from the coconut oil that cooled and hardened — that happened with mine. I put it in the microwave for 5 seconds, and it melted again (You don’t want to heat it too much or it will kill some of the beneficial components of the other ingredients). Or lumps could be from the aloevera gel, which needs to be mixed in really well. The less liquid you add it to, the easier it is to get it to mix in smoothly.

  5. Hilda on

    I made this recipe today and used the shampoo. I rinsed and rinsed my hair, but it never had that squeaky clean feel that I normally feel after shampooing my hair even though I rinsed it much longer than I normally do. As I dried my hair, it became obvious that my hair was coated, oily and unclean looking and feeling. My hair looked and felt much cleaner before I used the shampoo. I checked carefully to make sure I followed the recipe exactly, and I did. Is it possibly that it is the coconut oil that wouldn’t wash out and left my hair oily and dirty?

  6. Hilda on

    I made this recipe today and used the shampoo. I rinsed and rinsed my hair, but it never had that squeaky clean feel that I normally feel after shampooing my hair even though I rinsed it much longer than I normally do. As I dried my hair, it became obvious that my hair was coated, oily and unclean looking and feeling. My hair looked and felt much cleaner before I used the shampoo. I checked carefully to make sure I followed the recipe exactly, and I did. Is it possibly that it is the coconut oil that wouldn’t wash out and left my hair oily and dirty?

  7. Marilyn on

    I am allergic to vinegar. It causes me to itch and I break out in little hives. What can I use instead of vinegar? Can you please help me?

    • Maggie Whalen on

      Hi! You could try an egg or some raw kefir or yogurt. Your hair loves the protein and the good bacteria help balance and nourish the scalp

  8. Dorothy on

    Did anyone use and like this? Please comment to help as none of the questions were ever answered. Before I try this on my teenager I’d like to know positive or negative(I saw some neg.)results from users THANKS

    • Jennifer on

      I tried this and did not like it — I think it has too much coconut oil in it. Actually, I think it would probably be best with no oil at all. The other ingredients are sufficiently nourishing and adequately address the scalp issues. I’ve seen natural shampoo recipes for dandruff that are as simple as honey and water. The big thing to consider is the ph balance (so it doesn’t damage the hair). Also consider (especially for your teenager) that if you haven’t ever used a natural shampoo before, your scalp will be used to having the oil stripped from it every time you shampoo, so it will probably take a few weeks for the oil-production to slow down and level out. This usually results in a couple of weeks of less-than-stellar hair, but afterwards, your hair should look and feel much better and healthier. It requires some commitment to see the best results.

      • Aimee on

        I also was left with oily hair. I wore a cap in the sun for a few hours
        to let the formal penetrate the hair and scalp and then rewashed my hair using a very mild regular shampoo. Tried not to disturb the homemade formula left right near the scalp. Not easy, but it is the scalp that we are hoping to benefit. My hair looked fantastic after this, nourished and shiny. It is too early to tell if the formula will work on my scalp but this might be a fix for some of you.

  9. Louise Ingebrethsen on

    Dr Axe, why haven’t you answered any of the questions here ??? I want to try this remedy, but so far no-one has posted any good results.

  10. Sarah Woolley on

    Is this recipe suposed to smell terrible? It takes your breath away! Vinigar….rosemary …teatree…it’s like pouring custard on top of you roast beef!
    Also…i’ve followed the recipe to the last detail…why is it so runny? ?

    • Jennifer on

      I have found that with natural shampoos, it is important to change one’s expectations. Because they do not have all of the chemically-derived ingredients and perfumes found in commercial shampoo, they have a very different texture and smell (depending upon the ingredients). If you want a thicker shampoo, you would have to add the oil last, very slowly drizzling it in and whisking vigorously (or use an immersion blender or small food processor) to emulsify the mixture, like when making mayonnaise. As far as the smell goes, it’s hard to mask vinegar! But you could certainly add different essential oils! Or some of your own perfume.

    • Angel on

      It can take weeks for your scalp to adjust or just use less oil, or no no oil. But with any switch, patience is a virtue.

  11. sukhjeet on

    hi Dr. Axe i made this shampoo following the same ingredients and the quantity except the rosemary oil…..i washed my hair and there is no itching after that….but the big issue is it looks as if i have applied so much of oil in my hair …my hair are thin and wavy….what should be done to make hair look little less oily.


  12. Sandra on

    I’ve tried different recipes for shampoos using castile soap in them. My hair comes out feeling dirtier than before I washed it. Also dries out my ends.

    • Sandra G on

      You should try to change to one teaspoon of coconut oil instead of 1 tablespoon, 3 tablespoon of Aloe Vera instead of 4 and add 1 extra tablespoon of distilled water. And see what happens.

  13. Christine B on

    I purchased all the ingredients for this, mixed it and used it for the first time and I definitely spent longer than usual rinsing my hair. My hair looks like I haven’t washed it in weeks. It is so oily. So disappointed. Also, my head is still itchy. I am only posting this because this is expensive to make and I wanted others to consider this outcome. I was so hopeful, but now looking back at the recipe I should have known that coconut oil, honey and aloe vera gel would equal an oily looking outcome. Back to the drawing board.

  14. Terri on

    I actually made this shamooo before reading the comments. I haven’t used it yet and actually scared to. I also do not understand why Dr Axe has not responded to any of these comments. Has anybody had a good experience with it? Leaves ,
    Me not wanting to use anything he recommends if he will not answer questions.

    • Gayle Miller on

      I have had a great experience with it, minus the aloe vera and rosemary as I didn’t have any handy. (See my post below.)

  15. Charlotte on

    Wow what an oily mess! Had to wash my hair twice with just the liquid soap to get the oil out. I don’t get how it can be one teaspoon of soap to so much oil. I increased the amount of Castile soap until the solution could actually produce a foam and it seems to work fine after that.

  16. Gayle Miller on

    I have fine but quite thick curly hair. I have just started using your itchy scalp shampoo recipe minus the aloe vera and rosemary as I didn’t have any handy. Even without these two ingredients, it is wonderful! I make half the recipe for one wash (using filtered water). It is the best thing I have ever used on my hair. Every commercial shampoo I have ever used has left my hair dry and usually frizzy – so I have had to buy an expensive ‘foaming pommade’ to use after every wash. Using your shampoo recipe, I no longer need it. Your shampoo leaves my hair soft and shiny with some colour enhancement and my scalp free of any itching. Love it! Thank you!


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