Having strong, beautiful hair doesn't require exotic hair treatments, or cost a fortune. Simple, homemade products can keep your hair healthy, bouncy and full of shine - and they're easier to make than a pot of soup.
Great-looking hair is something everyone desires, and it is not difficult to achieve. If you eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest, your skin and hair will show it. Although proper hair care and conditioning are vital, the most important thing you can do for your hair is to keep it clean and well nourished.
Hair-care products, such as shampoos, conditioners and rinses, all perform specific functions that keep your hair looking and feeling its best. Shampoo cleans the scalp first and hair second by loosening dirt and oils. Conditioners protect the hair from drying out and becoming too brittle, which can result in breakage. Rinses clean the hair thoroughly and help to remove any hair-product traces.
Make sure to keep homemade hair products in clean containers in a cool, dry place. Avoid germ contamination by washing hands before making and using hair-care products. If the products separate, simply stir the mixture thoroughly. If one of your homemade products smells very bad, it probably is. Throw it out.
- Shampoo is liquid soap for washing your hair - a combination of water, detergent and some type of fat or oil. How often you wash your hair is a matter of personal choice, but keeping it clean is important. Here are a few guidelines I use when washing my hair:
- Use a small amount of shampoo (the size of a quarter); it is better to repeat the amount than waste too much the first time.
- Pour the shampoo into the palm of your hand, never directly onto your head. Rub your palms together gently to create a lather before applying the shampoo to your hair.
- Remember to massage the shampoo into your scalp to get it really clean. A clean scalp is important for healthy hair.
- Rinse well for at least two full minutes and use the coolest water you can stand. My mother always told me that the colder the water, the greater the shine!
- Dry your hair gently; blot rather than rub dry with a towel. I like to make a turban-style hat out of my bath towel and wear it on my head for 10 to 20 minutes. This helps absorb the water.
- Always use a wide-toothed comb on wet hair, never a brush.
- Most people prefer their shampoo in liquid or cream form. Extra ingredients often are added to shampoos for desired treatments or benefits, such as more body or shine. The following recipe is for a basic shampoo. It will seem thinner in consistency than most commercial shampoos. I assure you that the results are equivalent.
Yield: 4 ounces
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup liquid soap, such as castile
1/2 teaspoon light vegetable oil (omit if you have very oily hair.)
Mix together all ingredients. Pour the shampoo into a clean squeeze bottle or empty shampoo bottle. Shampoo as you normally would and rinse well with cool water.
Yield: 8 ounces
Certain herbs added to your favorite shampoo can bring out your hair's natural highlights. Chamomile makes a mild shampoo that is perfect for fine, light-colored hair; the flowers have a mild bleaching effect. If you have dark hair, use rosemary or lavender to enhance your own natural color.
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons dried or 1/3 cup fresh chamomile, lavender or rosemary
1/2 cup Basic Shampoo (see Page 48) or mild commercial shampoo
2 tablespoons glycerin
Mix together the water and herbs and heat gently to make a strong tea. Let the mixture steep for at least 20 minutes. Add shampoo and glycerin to the herbal water mixture and stir well.
Pour shampoo into a clean squeeze bottle or empty shampoo bottle. Let the mixture sit overnight to thicken.
Shampoo and rinse well.
Yield: 10 ounces
Beer is one of my favorite beauty treatments for hair - nothing else gives my hair such body, bounce and shine. This shampoo is a cinch to make and it really works. After you've tried it, you'll never throw out flat or stale beer.
1 cup beer (any inexpensive beer will do - fresh or flat)
1 cup Basic Shampoo (see Page 48) or inexpensive commercial shampoo
Heat beer in a small saucepan over medium heat and boil until beer is reduced to 1/4 cup. Add reduced beer to shampoo and stir well.
Pour shampoo into a clean squeeze bottle or empty shampoo bottle. (You do not need to refrigerate this product.) Shampoo and rinse well.
I once visited a new hair salon in Portland, Oregon. The stylist was amazed at how healthy my hair was - she could not believe that I used electric rollers and a blow-dryer on my hair every day. I told her that I used a weekly mayonnaise hair pack. Another client asked if it was one of the latest cholesterol treatments being sold at the salon. "No," I replied, "just normal mayonnaise from the grocery store." That night, I am sure the stylist and several other customers were wearing mayonnaise hair packs on their heads.
Conditioning hair packs are rich in natural creams and oils. They are massaged into clean hair and left on to allow the rich ingredients to penetrate. They are especially effective for dry hair and hair damaged by too much sun or blow-drying. A weekly hair pack will return moisture and life to your hair.
To make your own natural hair packs, choose one or a combination of the products from the following list - for example, avocado and mayonnaise. Mash or stir the products together to yield approximately 1/4 cup, less or more depending on your hair length. Apply the mixture to clean, damp hair. Wrap your hair with a large piece of plastic wrap or use a plastic shower cap to hold in heat and open up the hair follicles for deep conditioning.
Wait 15 minutes and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Depending on your hair type and the ingredients you use, you probably will want to follow with a shampoo.
For dry hair: Coconut oil, banana, avocado, mayonnaise
For normal hair: Mayonnaise, egg, olive oil, unflavored yogurt
For oily hair: Add a little lemon juice (1 to 2 teaspoons) to the products for normal hair
The following is a list of products to try as a final rinse after you shampoo. Remember always to rinse your hair with the coolest water you can stand for at least one full minute after using these rinses. Each recipe makes enough for one application.
Lemon juice: The juice of 1 lemon mixed with 1 cup water brings back life and shine to dull hair.
Baking soda: 1 tablespoon baking soda mixed with 1 cup water removes hair spray and gel residue.
Apple cider vinegar: 1/2 cup vinegar mixed with 2 cups water gives your hair shine and bounce.
Tomato juice: 1 cup of tomato juice will remove strong odors, such as smoke, from your hair.
There also are many natural rinses you can use to color or highlight your hair. These rinses create gradual changes in your hair when used over a period of time; the longer you use them, the more dramatic the results. After shampooing, try one of the following:
Chamomile: This will lighten fair hair. To make a rinse, pour 2 cups boiling water over 1/4 cup chamomile flowers. Cool; strain before using.
Rhubarb: This also will lighten hair. Use 1/4 cup chopped, fresh rhubarb to 2 cups boiling water. Cool; strain before using.
Sage, lavender and cinnamon: These will darken hair. Use 1/4 cup sage or lavender (or 3 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces) to 2 cups boiling water. Cool; strain before using.
Hibiscus flowers: These will give red highlights to light or dark hair. Use dry flowers or herbal tea containing hibiscus flowers. Steep the flowers in boiling water to the shade you desire. Cool; strain before using. Remember you can always go darker, so start out with a weak mixture.
Article reprinted with permission from The Herb Companion magazine, a division of
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Article written by Janice Cox
Janice Cox is the author of Natural Beauty at Home and Natural Beauty from the Garden (Henry Holt & Company, New York).
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