I’m a great fan of herbal hair rinses. I first learned about them in the 1980s have been using them occasionally ever since, but they have recently become big news in the blogosphere. If you wait long enough, the world eventually catches up with you!
WHY USE A HAIR RINSE?
Just as herbs can be beneficial for your health, they can have great benefits for your hair too. Choose the right ones and they can nourish the hair and scalp, boost circulation in your scalp, treat dandruff, cleanse, smooth the hair shaft, add shine, moisturise, reduce excess oil, restore the PH balance, remove odours and promote hair growth. Some herbs will even bring out natural colours and highlights.
Your hair goes through a lot on a daily basis. It is exposed to pollution, heat and the chemicals from shampoos, conditioners, dyes and other treatments. While you trust these chemicals to make your hair glossy and beautiful, they also strip its natural oils, damage your hair in the long run, and have been linked to many chronic health conditions. A herbal hair rinse can be used to remove this chemical build up, and leave your hair naturally clean, soft and silky.
MAKING A HAIR RINSE
Hair rinses are really easy to make and use. If you can make a cup of tea, you can make a hair rinse. In fact, you can use herbal tea bags from the supermarket, dried herbs from your kitchen cupboard, or pick fresh herbs and flowers from your garden.
Simply bring a cup of water to boil in a saucepan, add a tablespoon of herb(s) and turn off the heat. Allow this to cool down at room temperature and infuse overnight (or for several hours at least). Strain, discarding the herbs and retaining the liquid.
USING A HAIR RINSE
Wash your hair as usual and rinse well with warm water. Have your hair rinse ready in a jug or better still, a spray bottle. Spritz it on your hair, and massage it gently through your hair and into your scalp. Leave it on for at least five minutes.
If you have only used herbs, you don’t need to rinse this out again and you can go on to style your hair as usual, but if you have added cider vinegar or lemon juice (see below), you will need to rinse again with warm water.
USEFUL HAIR HERBS
Basil Ocimum basilicum
Basil stimulates hair follicles, increases blood circulation in the scalp and promotes hair growth, as well as adding shine to dull hair. The magnesium in basil helps protect hair from breakage, the antioxidant properties protect the hair from environmental damage, and its antiseptic and antifungal properties treat dandruff and an itchy scalp.
Calendula Calendula officianalis
Calendula (marigold) petals are rich in minerals and antioxidants. A calendula rinse is soothing for flaky and irritated scalps, and used regularly will lighten blond hair.
Chamomile Matricaria recutita
Antiseptic chamomile helps treat dandruff, soothes an irritated scalp, promotes hair growth and reduces greasiness. Chamomile is deeply nourishing and helps your hair shine. This is a great rinse for blond hair, adding golden highlights.
Comfrey Symphytum officinale
Healing comfrey is full of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, as well gamma linoleic acid which stimulates hair growth, and mucilage to soften, detangle, and add shine. It has anti-fungal, anti-viral, and antibacterial properties which can help treat dandruff and an irritated scalp.
Fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum
Rich in proteins, mucilage, vitamins and minerals, fenugreek nourishes your hair and makes it sleek. It strengthens hair from the roots, helping prevent hair loss. It is also said to help hair retain its natural pigments and prevent premature greyness. Grind the seeds into a fine powder and soak in water overnight.
Hibiscus Hibiscus sabdariffa
This is one of my favourite rinses, adding very subtle red shades to the hair, as well as smoothing the hair shaft and helping it detangle owing to the high mucilage content of the flowers. Hibiscus also help soothe scalp irritation.
Horsetail Equisetum arvensa
Rich in minerals, in particular silica, horsetail helps keep hair strong and glossy, encouraging growth. It is great for removing product build up and excessive oiliness.
Lavender Lavandula spp.
Lavender has a balancing effect on the production of sebum, which makes it beneficial whether you have dry or greasy hair. It has antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions which make it valuable in treating scalp problems and dandruff. It stimulates circulation in the scalp, promoting new hair growth.
Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus
If you have greasy hair, lemongrass is a wonderful rinse that will reduce oiliness, moisturise and strengthen your locks.
Liquorice Root Glycyrrhiza glabra
If you suffer from scalp problems, liquorice root might be the hair rinse for you. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that sooth irritation.
The high mucilage content of marshmallow root make it perfect for conditioning the hair, as well as making it easier to detangle. It soothes irritation if you suffer from a dry scalp, eczema or psoriasis.
Mint Mentha spp.
Any of the mint family makes a refreshing and invigorating hair rinse, which will increase blood supply to the scalp and stimulate the hair follicles. Mints have anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties which are soothing to irritated scalps. A mint rinse will reduce greasiness and help to heal environmental damage.
Nettle Urtica dioica
Nettle is packed full of vitamins and minerals and provides a nourishing treatment for all types of hair, but it especially reduces the production of excess oil in greasy hair. It combats hair loss and promotes stronger growth.
Rosemary Rosemarinus officianalis
Perhaps the most popular herb in natural hair care, rosemary is full of vitamins, and has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It is used to increase shine, prevent hair loss, boost circulation to the scalp and stimulate hair growth, reduce oiliness and darken the colour of hair to disguise the greys.
Sage Salvia officianalis
Sage promotes both the growth and strength of hair. It is oil balancing, so can be used whether you have dry or greasy hair.
Tea Camellia sinensis
Make a strong cup of black tea using one or two teabags. Because tea contains caffeine, it will stimulate hair growth. Using a black tea rinse will slightly darken your hair, so if you don’t want this colouring effect, substitute green tea, famous for its antioxidant activity, or use rooibos tea to add reddish highlights in red and brown hair.
Thyme Thymus vulgaris
Thyme has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that treat dandruff and other scalp conditions, as well as nourishing vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and selenium that keep hair lustrous and promote stronger hair growth.
ADDITIONS TO HERBAL HAIR RINSES
Cider vinegar is marvellous for removing product build up from hair. Just add a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar to a pint of water and use this as a rinse, or add a tablespoon of cider vinegar to your prepared herbal hair rinse. It’s great for removing excess oil from greasy hair too, and will leave it shiny, soft and silky.
Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of water or add it to your prepared herbal hair rinse to treat greasy hair and stimulate hair growth. Over time, this will lighten your hair colour.
STORING HAIR RINSES
Once you have prepared your herbal hair rinse, it will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days.