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: The Full Facial Treatment

This is one of my absolute favorite ways to treat myself!  When I first started working for LUSH, I probably used a face mask every single day, and my skin loved me for it!  Well, I cant exactly afford that anymore, but I’ve learned how to get the same results at home, and ever kick it up a notch.  Give yourself 45 minutes tonight and indulge in this at-home mini facial!

 

PART ONE: DIY MICRODERMABRASION

This is as simple as getting out your box of baking soda.  Microdermabrasion is one of the most expensive (and, admittedly, effective) spa treatments out there.  It involves slowly exfoliating the skin with a diamond-tipped rotary device that sort of feels like sandpaper, but makes your skin glow afterwards for the low low price of $150+ per session (6 sessions usually recommended).  I had microderm three or four times when I worked for a spa, and it really is nice.  But baking soda is just as effected and a billion times cheaper.  See for yourself!

Take a tablespoon of baking soda and splash in just enough warm water to make into a paste.  Smooth it over your skin and gently exfoliate in circular motions, focusing in areas that are problematic, dry, or scarred.  Take your time, enjoy it!  Your skin will thank you.  Massage your face and rinse with warm water.  Admire.  You can stop here and apply a moisturizer and be done.  OR…

 

PART TWO: DIY HERBAL STEAM

This is the fun part because you get to just relax!  Boil some water, and while you’re waiting, fill the bottom of a glass bowl or a stopped sink with any of the following:

Lavender buds

Strips of basil

Rose petals

Chamomile buds

Rosemary needles

Green Tea

Any combination is fine, too!  Whatever you have on hand.  Pour in the boiled water (allow to slightly cool) and then add any of the following:

 Tea tree oil

Lavender oil

Eucalyptus oil

Chamomile oil

Again, whatever you have on hand!  Now, throw a towel over your head, drape it over the bowl or sink, and make yourself a little tent.  Seal the edges. Breath.  Enjoy that lovely herbal steam soaking into your pores!  Continue until your mixture ceases to steam.  Now, you can finish with a moisturizer and be done.  OR…

 

PART THREE: DIY FACE MASK

Here’s the really fun part.  What do you have in your kitchen?  Honey? Bananas? Yogurt? Avocado?  I’m sure you have something.  Finish with one of these on your face!

Banana (great for sensitive skin)

Oatmeal (raw oats mixed with some milk, gently heated)

Honey (mix with cinnamon and nutmeg for acne scarring!)

Yogurt (great for brightening skin)

Crushed aspirin and lemon (again, brightening, good for problem skin/swelling)

Avocado (moisturizing)

Slather on, relax for 20-30 minutes, and rinse with warm water.  NOW you can finish with a moisturizer or, like I do, a little bit of coconut oil!  Be sure to moisturize lightly around your eyes to prevent aging lines 🙂 Enjoy your fresh holiday face!

The ‘Bunny Spice’ Smoothie

Are you in the full-on winter blues yet? I am. One of the really cool things I’ve learned about creation and food is how the Lord really has equipped us to take care of ourselves by eating seasonal foods. It’s no coincidence that things like citrus, pumpkins, and carrots all come into season in late fall, and are full of the Vitamin C and Beta Carotene we need to support our immune systems through the winter!

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This smoothie is one that I adapted from a great book, Raw Food Real World- though they use fresh almond milk instead of yogurt. Either way, it’s a great one for the fall and winter, when we should be consuming as many ‘orange’ foods as possible- boosting our immune systems and restoring the vitamins that we often lose without the abundance of fresh produce that summer provides. Play around with this recipe until you find what suits your tastes- some people prefer to highlight the sweetness of the carrot, others the spice of the ginger. Make it yours!

1 cup fresh carrot juice (or from a health food brand, like Knudsen’s)

Fresh juice from a 1-inch ginger knob, or 2 teaspoons powdered ginger

1 banana

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg

1 6-oz container vanilla yogurt

OPTIONAL: ice

Combine everything in a blender and serve! Some people prefer this one thickened up with some ice- I can take it or leave it. I like to sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice on top as a finishing touch. Using fresh juices in this one really makes a difference, so pull out that juicer if you have it- but store-bought juices are a fine substitution as well. Enjoy, little bunnies!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

This smoothie is absolutely delicious, and really, really good for you.  Raw, canned pumpkin is hard to come by for the socially responsible shopper (the most commonly carried brand is Libby’s, which is owned by Kraft Foods, one of the biggest companies to avoid) but many stores now carry a beautiful brand of organic pumpkin sure to delight both your taste buds and your morals!  Just be sure to look in the Natural Foods section of the grocery store- it should be there.

Pumpkin is high in fiber and beta carotene, and the spices add a nice digestive and circulatory kick.  Coconut milk gives you a dose of important healthy fats, and yogurt adds protein and probiotics.

 1 can organic pumpkin

1 6-oz container organic vanilla yogurt (regular, or Greek for double protein)

¼ cup coconut milk (adjust this according to thicken the smoothie to your liking- and             according to what type of yogurt you use)

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg, or to taste

OPTIONAL: amber agave syrup or brown sugar, to sweeten to taste

Blend everything up in a blender and serve!  You can add ice if you like, but it will water down the flavors.  I drink mine from a chilled glass and it’s the perfect way to start a holiday morning!