As part of our herbal workshop series we recently had a class on herbal hair care - making herbal shampoos, rinses, and conditioning oils using simple herbs like peppermint, sage, lavender, chamomile, calendula, nettle, thyme, yarrow, rosemary, rose petals and evening primrose, harvested from the garden at Little City Farm.
We started the class by talking about what to avoid in any commercial cosmetics (organic/natural or not) such as phthalates, formeldahyde, parabens, SLS, fragrances and more. The Environmental Working Group offers loads of useful information on their SkinDeep Database, and David Suzuki Foundation offers information about DIY projects to make at home (see Queen of Green).
Here is the shampoo we made:
Simple Herbal Shampoo
4 cups water
1 cup dried herbs (e.g. sage-nettle for dark hair, calendula-chamomile for light hair)
2 tsp sea salt
1 cup castille soap (unscented)
4 Tbsp witch hazel
20-40 drops pure essential oil (e.g. lavender, ylang, rose, peppermint combo)
1) Bring water to a boil in a small pot. Take off the heat and add herbs and sea salt.
2) Stir to combine and dissolve salt. Let herbs steep until water has cooled (or overnight for stronger infusion).
3) When tea has cooled, strain out the herbs.
4) Add 1 cup castille soap and 4 Tbsp witch hazel and stir gently to combine.
5) Now add choice of pure essential oils (be aware some essential oils should be used with caution if you are pregnant or have other medical conditions).
6) Store your finished shampoo in a reused plastic bottle, or mason jar. Label with ingredients and date. Keeps for about 1 year.
7) To use: put small amount of shampoo on your hand, then lather over hair and rinse off. Follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse (optional) once a month or as needed.
Herbal Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
This simple hair rinse is very effective at rinsing off any build-up and residue on hair. Use about once a month or it can be drying on hair. Only use apple cider vinegar, not other types of vinegar.
1) Fill mason jar about 1/3-1/2 full with dried herbs (your choice for your hair - e.g. nettle, mint, sage, thyme, lavender, calendula).
2) Fill mason jar with apple cider vinegar, covering herbs completely and leaving about 1/2 inch headspace at top of your jar. Cap jar tightly.
3) Set jar on a plate, and let jar steep in a sunny window for about 2-4 weeks (or longer) to infuse the vinegar with the herbs. Shake jar every few days to fully combine the herbs and avoid them from clumping together.
4) When done steeping, strain the vinegar and compost herbs. Pour vinegar back into the jar, and store either in fridge (for longer storage) or bathroom cupboard. Label and date the jar.
5) To use: this rinse can be used after shampooing hair, as a conditioner. It should only be used about once a month. Fill a cup 3/4 full with warm water, and add 1/4 apple cider vinegar rinse. Pour slowly over hair. Rinse out after 10 minutes, or leave on hair without rinsing (if you don't mind the apple cider vinegar smell).