Our hair takes a battering every day of our lives. Indoors it’s the central heating that dries it out; in the fresh air, our hair is assaulted by the strong rays of the sun, and in towns and cities the very air that we breathe is laden with chemicals of all sorts. No wonder we resort to buying expensive shampoos and conditioners, rinses and colourants to try and improve the condition and appearance of our hair.
But what are we actually buying in our celebrity-recommended products? What are we putting on our poor damaged hair?
If you look at the list of ingredients – on a bottle of conditioner for example – you may well find ceteraryl alcohol, cyclopentasiloxane, strearamidopropyl and the rest. Somewhere well down the list there may be, if you’re lucky, some almond oil or a little sunflower extract.
Is this really how you want to treat your hair?
It’s easy to make herbal shampoos and conditioners at home. Not only do you know exactly what’s going on your hair but you can experiment and develop the perfect shampoo and conditioner that are just right for your hair.
Most recipes use liquid castile soap, which is a very mild and simple soap. You should be able to find this in good chemists or health stores and certainly on the Internet. Dr Bronner’s is a recommended brand.
Keep refrigerated after making and use within one week.
We’ve used cups for measuring out ingredients. The measurements don’t have to very accurate and we suggest you use a medium-sized mug. For information, a cup is 8 fl oz, which is slightly smaller than most mugs, which are 10 fl oz (half-pint).
- ¼ cup of castile liquid soap
- ½ cup herbal infusion (see below)
- ½ teaspoon almond oil
- 1 drop essential oil (choose to complement the herbs)
Pour all the ingredients into a well-washed old shampoo bottle. Shake well. Use as required.
Place ¼ cup fresh herbs or 2 tablespoons dried herbs in a small pan and cover with a cup of spring water. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, cover and leave for 30 minutes. Strain and discard the herbs. Use the infusion as required.
For normal hair: parsley, nettle, rosemary, dandelion
For dry hair: chamomile, red clover, elder flowers
For oily hair: thyme, lemongrass, watercress
For dandruff: nettle, comfrey, peppermint
For blonde hair: chamomile (tea bags are fine)
For brunettes: rosemary or sage
- 1 cup rose water
- 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
- 10 drops vitamin E
Place all the ingredients in a well-washed shampoo bottle and shake vigorously until combined.
To use apply to wet hair. Massage in thoroughly, leaving it for a few minutes for best effect. Rinse thoroughly before shampooing lightly and rinsing again.
Add 3 drops rosemary essential oil to 1 teaspoon slightly warmed olive oil in a small screw-topped jar. Shake vigorously and apply to wet hair. Massage in thoroughly. Wrap a warm damp towel round your head and go and relax for an hour while the oils do their work. (Soak the towel in hot water and wring out. You may need to warm it occasionally.) Rinse well.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 litre water
Mix together the cider vinegar and water and use it as a final rinse for your hair. If you rinse your hair over a bowl you can rinse it several times using the cider vinegar water. It leaves hair soft and shiny as it restores the hair’s natural pH balance.
Herbal Vinegar Rinse
- 1 cup mixed herbs – lavender, sage, rosemary, chamomile or to taste – crushed a little
- Apple cider vinegar
Place the herbs in a large screw-topped bottle – you need to half-fill whatever size jar you have. Fill to the top with the vinegar and leave to mature for 2 to 3 weeks, shaking each day. Strain and use 1 tablespoon at a time in your final rinse water.