Easy DIY Hair Treatments

Several years ago, I was part of a management team for a lovely natural cosmetics line. The products basically sold themselves, what with their colorful packaging, intoxicating smells, and fun names. One of the perks of working there was that I got to take home “samples” of anything I wanted, as I needed to be able to speak for the products from personal experience. I, of course, took full advantage.

One of the things that blew me away about this product line was their innovative use of everyday, household materials: honey, baking soda, Castile soap, herbs, oils. This further propelled my growing desire to know all things health and natural beauty: if these products could be so effective, and yet use such common ingredients, why didn’t I just make them myself?

This question has lead me to where I am today: self-professed “witch doctor” of alternative medicine and natural beauty. Today, I’d like to share some at-home fixes for one of our most worrisome features: hair! You need look no further than your kitchen to find the remedy you’ve likely contemplated pawning your iPhone for.

Lack of shine? Try some lemon juice!
Lemon juice is one of those miracle products that can do just about anything: clean your sink, polish your furniture, marinate your fish, brighten up your skin….and shine your hair! Try squeezing out FRESH JUICE from two or three lemons and using it as a rinse for your hair. Just be careful not to let it sit, as it can have a lightening effect, particularly if you sit out in the sun!

Heat damage? Hit up the honey!
Honey is another miracle product. Chock full of vitamins and minerals, it makes better practically everything it touches, from toast to your t-zone (honey is a natural antibacterial, and also has a lightening effect on the skin, which is perfect for hyper pigmentation or general uneven skin tone). To help heal your poor, damaged mane, work one through the ends of your hair and use as a “pack” of sorts: let it sit for about 20 minutes before you shampoo and condition as normal. Honey is a humectant, meaning that it traps moisture and helps seal it in- which is exactly what your tresses need! If you find the honey hard to maneuver, try working in a bit of olive oil to make it more manageable.

Got product buildup? Break it down with baking soda!
I wash my hair exclusively with baking soda and an ACV rinse. Known for its scouring power in the kitchen, a smooth paste of baking soda and water worked in like a shampoo will gut through any amount of grease, silicone, or other excess product in your hair and strip it off, leaving your hair soft and natural! While you’re at it, us it as a gentle body and face scrub. And toothpaste. Again, miracle product.

Got grease? Detox with apple cider vinegar!
This is another cult product that many people use on their hair exclusively. Apple cider vinegar not only helps normalize oil production in the scalp, but because it is a “fermented” product, it will help combat any kind of scalp abnormality or even fungal issues. I know, it’s not pretty, but it happens! Apple cider vinegar is also an extremely good thing to ingest daily: I take a few teaspoons and mix it with water in the morning for a detoxifying, energizing tonic when I’m feeling sluggish.

Frizz and breakage? Call up the avocado!
Tis one can be hard to swallow unless you have an avocado tree at your disposal, being that they re definitely on the pricey side. If you can manage, take an entire avocado and mash it up guacamole style- but before you dig in with your Scoops, work it all through your hair instead. This will coat your hair with those lovely healthy fats that we all eat everyday (right?) and tame those pesky flyaways. In addition, this treatment strengthens the hair and protects against future damage!

Need some body? Grab a Guinness.
I know this one sounds totally bizarre,but at the uppity store I used to work for, we actually sold beer shampoo, marketed to those wanting to improve the volume of their hair. I absolutely love to have as much volume as possible in my hair, and this stuff made me look like an 80’s rocker gone awesome! It was my favorite. I soon realized that I could just grab a bottle of any old stout and work this magic myself-at a much lower cost. So, channel your inner sorority girl, grab a dark beer (the darker, the better) and head to the shower. Work the whole bottle into your hair and let it soak for just a few minutes, then rinse as normal. Try it if you don’t believe me! Plus or minus (depending on how hard you had to work to channel the sorority girl) is that your hair will smell slightly beer-like. You be the judge 🙂

Color need a lift? Brew up some tea!
This is a pretty commonly used trick, but I thought I would touch on it anyway. Different teas (for different hair shades) will boost color in very gentle but beautiful ways. If you are a blonde, try chamomile tea. Brunette, try any normal black tea- or a red tea if you like warm undertones. Redheads can have a bit of fun with this, too- red tea (like rooibos) works great, but if you can get your hands on some hibiscus flowers (called ‘karkade’ in Mediterranean markets, where they are easily found in bulk) you can see some really nice color deepening. While the results of this are never dramatic, it is always a good idea, no matter what your hair color, to do a test patch first, to make sure that you don’t end up looking silly!

No time to shower? Grab some cornstarch!
This is so easy, a baby could do it. No, really- if you are looking for an easy and affordable dry shampoo option, skip the aerosol and silicone loaded types in the hair section and find yourself a bottle of cornstarch-only baby powder. The shake lid makes it easy to sprinkle a bit on your scalp, comb it through, and give your hair new life and body by absorbing oils and giving hair a bit of texture. The lighter your hair, the better these things work- and that goes for commercial brands as well! If your hair is dark, make sure that you experiment with this on a day when you aren’t walking a runway just in case it makes you look likes colonist in a powdered wig. However, even now that my hair is dark, I still find this to be extremely helpful with careful application.

Just want some all-over oomph? Spoon in some yogurt.
Shine and strength are yogurts two big selling points. While the lactic acid in the yogurt will strip away product and grease that leaves hair looking dull and lifeless, milk fat will moisturizer and strengthen. Just be sure not to get a flavored kind, which will leave you quite sticky and smelling like a jelly jar- look for all-natural, flavorless yogurt if you can find it.

Got any more at-home hair tricks? Let me know!

BEAUTY WEEK: Healing Scalp Treatment

20121218-211514.jpg

You guys, truth be told, I have had some serious scalp issues already this winter. I’m thankfully not someone who suffers regularly from dandruff, but from time to time my scalp will dry and get itchy, which results in me wearing my hair back for days. Anyone who has seen me recently probably hasn’t seen me without a topknot. Thank God it’s fashionable right now!

Usually I just tough it out until it gets better on its own, or begrudgingly use some terrible dandruff shampoo to clear it up. However, I started researching and I found out that these shampoos are full of nasty chemicals (of course) and that scalp treatments are a really easy and enjoyable way to treat acute cases of dry scalp at home!

Even if you don’t suffer from the dreaded flakes like I do sometimes, a scalp treatment feels great and boosts your hair growth and body. It’s just really fun.

20121218-211608.jpg

You’ll need:

A cheap toothbrush (you could use a used one but it skeeved me out)

Coconut oil

Rosemary oil

Tea tree oil

20121218-211839.jpg

Melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil until liquid, and mix in 4-5 drops each of tea tree and rosemary oil (these are soothing and cleansing oils that work to heal the scalp). Part hair, dip toothbrush in oil, and scrub the scalp with mixture. Repeat all over your head, exfoliating as much of the scalp as you can! Then, let the mixture sit on your scalp for 15-20 minutes. Yes, your hair will get oily, and will be full of skin flakes. Yes, it is kind of gross. It’s better than a constantly flaky scalp so deal with it for a few, nobody’s gonna see you!

20121218-211940.jpg
yes, your scalp may look like this. But it won’t soon!

When time is up, rinse and SHAMPOO OUT in the shower. Rinse well! Note: if you made the shampoo from yesterday’s post, this is not the time to use it. Way too much oil in your hair! I did that the first time by mistake and my hair was oily for four days. Use whatever other natural shampoo you have.

20121218-212106.jpg
much better!

Enjoy your flake-free head! Whenever problems start to creep up again, repeat as necessary. I actually scrub my scalp with just the toothbrush before every shower and it seems to keep the flakes at bay!

BEAUTY WEEK: DIY Shampoo!

Hello again, friends!  I am really enjoying this beauty week experiment- I really hope you are, too!  If you have any beauty product you’d like to see me try to DIY, let me know- I’d love to do a Beauty Week Pt. 2!

Today’s beauty item is a little more mainstream- I mean, not everyone is a scrub-a-holic like me and exfoliates in every shower, but pretty much any person reading this blog uses shampoo in some form.  For the past four or so years, I have refused to use anything but natural products on my hair- and I must say, my hair has never been better.  However, those products have come with a price tag- sometimes as much as $30 a bottle for shampoo.  I found myself thinking- if all this stuff is really natural, can’t I just make it myself with a little effort?

Now, I have done most of the popular shampoo experiments- no-poo (where you literally rinse your hair daily with water, and that’s it), baking soda only, apple cider vinegar.  No-poo was great after I shaved my head, but after a while I really noticed the grease, and I know that others could, too.  I’m not the type of person who religiously showers daily- maybe if I was, then no-poo would’ve worked.  But only using water on my hair every other day at best just didn’t look great on me.  Baking soda actually worked really well for a long time, but it was difficult to get out of my hair, which has a lot of texture, and only got worse as my hair grew longer.  Apple cider vinegar, using the raw kind that you really are supposed to use, was just too expensive for my budget- though I do know people who use regular ACV from the store and enjoy the effects.  All this to say, I tried all these things, and they weren’t for me.

I have previously extolled the virtues of the LUSH Shampoo Bar ($10 for about 4 months of use) but even they have drawbacks.  Really, I’m just a curious person.  I wanted to see if I could make my own shampoo.  I scoured my natural health and beauty books, various magazines, and Pinterest pages, and this is the simplest, easiest recipe I’ve found:

You’ll need:

1/4 cup Coconut Milk

1/3 cup Castile Soap (we use Dr. Bronner’s in peppermint)

10-20 drops Essential Oil

Other Oils (optional- start at just 1 teaspoon)

Simply mix together and use!  Make sure you shake before each use, too, as sometimes the coconut milk will separate.

Just the basic ingredients of Coconut Milk and Castile Soap are really what forms your shampoo.  My husband actually uses castile soap exclusively on his hair, but I find it a bit too drying and don’t care for the texture in my hair.  The coconut milk smoothes and moisturizes the hair, while castile soap cleans and shines!

You can add other oils in to suit your hair needs- olive oil or coconut oil to moisturize, or certain essential oils, like rosemary for scalp issues. My final product- coconut milk, castile soap, a tiny bit of olive oil and rosemary oil, felt like washing my hair with fresh snow- it smelled so wintery and clean!