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During my journey towards a #FromScratch lifestyle, I once found myself drawn towards trying the ‘No Poo’ movement (learn more about No Poo here). After I started making my own deodorant and body scrubs, going natural with my hair care seemed like the next big step. So off I went, making a DIY shampoo with castile soap in it, and following with a DIY conditioner.
Tragically, my hair did not like the ‘No Poo’ method. Believe me, I tried to make it work. I’ve read before that the ‘No Poo’ method for your hair might take some time to work because you have to wait for the gunk from years of normal shampoo/conditioner to wash out. Thank goodness I work at home, because for 3 months my hair looked greasy, stringy, and unattractive. It never smelled bad and it was super soft, but it never stopped being greasy.
I did not want to go back to conventional shampoo/conditioner, but I certainly was not happy with the ‘No Poo’ method.
I have recently started reading more about the ‘No Poo’ techniques, so I might try again later in life with different ingredients because of my hair type (I will wait to try when I know we are not going on vacations or seeing too many people!). For now, though, I’m making a compromise with my haircare: I use a sulfate-free shampoo/conditioner, and 1-2 times a week, I try to do an herbal hair rinse.
An herbal hair rinse is an inexpensive way to treat and strengthen your hair and your scalp.
DIY Herbal hair rinses can help with:
- Hair growth
- Itchy scalps
- Circulation in the scalp
- Soften your hair
- Remove residue from the hair shaft (from your hair care products)
- Add shine
- Add highlights or natural color tints
- And many other great things for your hair
One of the funnest parts is that you can choose which herbs, teas, and other ingredients to add to your hair rinse to customize it for your specific needs.
Let’s take a closer look at the basics of natural hair rinses:
There are many different ways to use herbs in a hair rinse. They can be used to enrich and brighten the colors of your hair; they can be used to add minerals and nutrients to your hair; and they can be used to boost the health of your hair. Common herbs in hair rinses include: calendula flowers, chamomile flowers, sage, rosemary, comfrey (both root and leaves), burdock root, and nettle. Here’s a basic list of ways to use herbs in your hair rinse. There are many other herbs you could add, but I tried to keep the list simple so you (and I) do not get overwhelmed:
- For light colored hair: Chamomile flowers, Calendula petals, Yarrow
- For dark colored hair: Rosemary, Sage, Raspberry leaf
- For red/auburn hair: Calendula petals, Hibiscus flowers, Red clover
- For additional minerals and nutrients: Nettle, Rosemary, Sage
- For dry or oily hair issues, add one or more of the following to encourage hair balance: Burdock root, Calendula, Chamomile, Nettle, Comfrey root
- For dandruff/itchy scalp: Burdock root, Calendula, Chamomile, Comfrey leaves, Rosemary, Sage, Nettle
- For hair loss issues, add one or more of the following: Nettle, Rosemary, Sage
The caffeine and vitamins/nutrients in tea can be good for hair growth and can also reduce shedding as well as overall hair and scalp health. The teas most often used for hair rinses include black tea, green tea, and rooibus tea.
- Black tea is especially good at restoring shine and color (often a dark highlight) to your hair.
- Green tea, already popular in homemade toners for skin health, can also strengthen hair and stimulate hair growth.
- Rooibus tea can encourage hair growth and is great for giving a natural color boost for light brown hair and red/auburn hair.
- Lemon juice can be added to your hair rinse if you want to lighten your hair color.
- Baking soda can be added to your hair rinse to help remove hair product buildup from your hair.
- Black walnut hulls are commonly added to dark hair rinses.
- You can add essential oils for an increase in effectiveness as well, though I personally prefer the old-world charm of a completely-herbal hair rinse.
- Apple Cider Vinegar is a common ingredient to add to herbal hair rinses; it can help balance the pH of the scalp and hair, soften your hair, and add shine.
How to Make an Herbal Hair Rinse
Now that we know the common ingredients for a hair rinse, it’s time to learn how to make one.
There are two basic ways to make a hair rinse: an herbal rinse and a vinegar rinse.
Herbal hair rinse:
This is the hair rinse you should make if you want to use a hair rinse right away. All you need to do is brew a strong tea with 2 ounces of your chosen herbs/supplies and let it steep. After this strong tea is approx. room temperature, strain it, and add more water to the hair rinse to make 1 quart of liquid. After normal shampooing and rinsing of your hair, slowly pour the mixture through your hair and massage your scalp. It is not necessary to rinse with water.
This herbal hair rinse would make a lovely spa night for spouses or good friends. Lean over a tub or large bowl and have someone pour the herbal hair rinse on your hair and massage your scalp. Scoop the rinse up in a bowl and pour over your hair a few more times (with more scalp massage!). Return the favor to your spa helper so you both have a splendid evening. 🙂
Vinegar hair rinse:
Since apple cider vinegar is good for your hair and your scalp, this rinse gives you a great extra boost of love. This rinse takes some time to make, but it will keep for at least a year, so you can make a huge batch at one time if you so desire (simply double or triple these directions!).
Add 3-4 tbsp. of your desired herbs in a glass jar. Pour 1 cup of apple cider vinegar over the herbs. Close the lid tightly and place the jar in a warm place for 3-5 weeks. Shake the jar daily. When ready to use, strain your mixture with a fine mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth (and keep the liquid! Newbie confession: my first time, I strained the mixture over a kitchen sink and kept the herbs and lost the liquid! Oops!).
At this point, keep your vinegar hair rinse in the fridge, where it will keep for at least a year. When needed, pour ½ cup of the herbal vinegar with 2 cups of warm water in a small bowl. After shampooing and rinsing your hair, slowly pour this diluted vinegar hair rinse through your hair and massage your scalp. Rinse with warm water, and then if you can handle it, finished with a blast of cold water (to stimulate your scalp and lock in a glossy sheen in your hair).
Herbal Hair Rinse Recipes
You can have tons of fun deciding the specific ingredients to put in your hair rinse, but here are some classic recipes, in case you needed some inspiration:
Herbal Hair Rinse for Dark hair:
- 1 part black walnut hulls, chopped or in powder form
- 1 part sage
- 1 part rosemary
- 1 part red raspberry leaf
- 1 part black tea
Herbal Hair Rinse for Blond Hair:
Herbal Hair Rinse for Red Hair:
Herbal Hair Rinse for Dry, Brittle hair:
Herbal Hair Rinse for Oily Hair:
**Do not expect these herbal hair rinses to give you a dramatic, bold color change for your hair, but rather they enhance the subtle natural highlights you already have.
What combination will you try? Feel free to add your combination recipe in the comments to inspire others!