Herbal Hair Care
Herbal remedies are not only good for our bodies, they are good for our hair. A great way to enjoy natural hair care is to make your own DIY herbal hair rinse. The herbs in this homemade hair rinse are nourishing for the hair and scalp and work well for all hair types. Easy to make and easy to use!
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Have you seen how expensive the “natural” hair care products are?! A little crazy, isn’t it? We can easily make our own, and the herbs I recommend you can grow yourself, forage (plantain is easy to find everywhere), or buy at the grocery store.
Before I share the herbal hair rinse with you, let’s talk about something first.
Itchy. Annoying. Embarrassing. Have you ever had dandruff?
I began suffering about ten years ago. It was more or less a chronic problem, although I did have periods of remission.
Over the years I have tried over-the-counter medicated shampoos with varying success, but I hated using them. Why? Because they contain petrochemical products that are harmful, and these substances are absorbed into the skin each time I shampoo.
Besides, the dandruff shampoos made my dry hair worse, and I hated the constant tangles, split ends, and worst of all, the frizzies.
Of course I tried many of the natural shampoos, most of them with tea tree oil, but they didn’t work for me. Not at all. And they dried my hair too.
After awhile, I began adding honey and aloe vera to my vinegar rinse, and finally enjoyed healthy, dandruff-free hair (see post with recipe here.) But then we moved, I went to work full-time, and my routine got interrupted. The dandruff came back with a vengeance.
In desperation, I decided to experiment with some of the herbs I am growing, and applying their healing properties to my scalp. But before I share the recipe, let’s talk about something else frustrating…
Causes of Dandruff
For such a common problem, it seems amazing to me how little we understand dandruff. Researching the cause of dandruff will lead you to a long list of reasons for this uncomfortable condition, and many of them are contradictory:
- dry skin
- oily skin
- too much hair washing
- too little hair washing
- fungal infection with malassezia globosa or pityriasis capitis
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- food allergy or intolerance
- omega 3 fatty acid imbalance
We can build rocket ships and smart phones, but we can’t figure out common dandruff? Or even agree on what causes it?
Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter does it? All that matters is that we find relief. Here’s what is working for me.
Herbal Hair Rinse
We are going to make a better vinegar rinse. One that both treats many of the (suspected) causes of dandruff, soothes our irritated skin, and is nourishing to our hair. Making our own rinse might be a pain at first, because any change in routine is always a struggle, but once we get started, it will be easy to maintain. (I promise.)
Natural Hair Care – Herbs for Dandruff
Some great herbs for our hair and scalp also happen to be common culinary herbs. Plantain is a common weed found in most lawns (if you harvest, make sure it hasn’t been sprayed!) Calendula is a super-easy flower to grow, it’s sold in many health foods stores, or you can order online. A little goes a long way.
This DIY herbal hair rinse is made with fresh or dried herbs (not the essential oils).
- Rosemary – Rosemary’s volatile oils have strong antimicrobial functions, especially against fungal infections. Rosemary stimulates blood flow to the scalp, and adds shine to your hair.
- Thyme – Thyme’s volatile oil constituents, especially thymol, are antimicrobial and thyme has been used by herbalists as a wound wash or poultice for preventing infections. Works against fungal infections as well as bacterial.
- Plantain – Plantain is our family favorite plant for all kinds of “owies” including bee and insect stings, splinters, and cuts. Plantain has both antimicrobial as well as healing and soothing properties. Plantain soothes the scalp, relieves itching, and moisturizes the hair. We always seem to find it when we need it. If you have some growing near you, you can easily dry the leaves and store in a jar for year-round use.
- Calendula is a common medicinal herb and ornamental garden plant, and has been used medicinally for centuries, both internally and topically. Calendula flowers have constituents that improve healing and are anti-inflammatory. For our hair rinse, the calendula treats both the scalp and moisturizes the hair. I thought my idea using it as part of a vinegar hair rinse was unique, but then I read that Nicholas Culpeper, a 17th century botanist and herbalist mentioned using calendula juice mixed with vinegar as a rinse for the skin and scalp. (Darn, he beat me to it.)The bright yellow flowers may add some color to your hair, so I recommend starting with a small amount. Of course, if you want the color, you can add as much calendula as you like.
Natural Hair Care – Keeping it Simple
You can use all the herbs, or only some of them, depending on your preference and what you have access to – experiment as you like. A touch of lavender essential oil would be nice too.
Recipes – Single Application or Large Batch
Single Application – Ingredients
This is for making one application of an herb-infused vinegar rinse.
- Apple cider vinegar – 2-4 tablespoons (I don’t use expensive raw vinegar for my hair rinse, but you can if you want to.)
- Rosemary – fresh or dried. If using fresh, a sprig about 4-6 inches. If using dried, 1 tablespoon.
- Thyme – fresh or dried. If using fresh, about the width of two fingers. If using dried, 1 tablespoon.
- Plantain – 2-3 fresh or dried leaves
- Calendula Flowers – 3-4 fresh flowers or 1 tablespoon dried petals. (Or more as you like!)
- 2 cups boiling water
- Boil water and add herbs. Remove from heat.
- Cover and allow to steep for at least 15 to 30 minutes. It’s important to keep covered to prevent the volatile oils from escaping with the steam.
- Once cooled, strain out the herbs and add the 2-4 tablespoons vinegar.
Directions for Using
Pour the rinse onto your hair and massage it into your scalp. (Watch out for your eyes, the vinegar stings!)
You can either leave the vinegar rinse in your hair, or rinse with fresh water. (The vinegar smell fades as your hair dries.)
DIY Herbal Hair Rinse – Recipe for Larger Batch
This time we will be making a vinegar infusion – adding the plants to the vinegar and allowing it to sit for a week or two. Vinegar is a good medium for pulling the medicinal qualities out of the plants. This method takes more patience, but saves time because you are making a large batch. Because of the antimicrobial volatile oils, the vinegar should keep without spoiling. I store mine in the bathroom for adding to my dispenser at shower time.
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup of herbs
- Add the herbs to a glass jar and cover with the vinegar.
- With the lid on, store for at least one week.
- Strain the vinegar into a clean jar.
- When ready to use, dilute 4 tablespoons of the vinegar into 16-ounces of water.
My Natural Hair Care Routine
I don’t use this rinse everyday. Since I don’t use shampoo everyday, I often simply rinse with water. When my hair needs some conditioning, or my scalp starts to get itchy, I use the herbal vinegar rinse. Sometimes I use all the herbs, sometimes only one or two. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
If you try this, I would love to know how it works for you.
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