5 Herbs for Hair Health
I want to be as honest as I can here. I was, until recently, HORRIBLE at maintaining my natural hair. From a young age I became disconnected from my crown because of a scalp disease I had as a little girl. My poor hair fell out in patches, and at 6 years old I went from long, flowing, naturally wavy hair to a teeny-weeny afro. Sitting at the kitchen table I watched through a mirror as my mother peered over my grandmothers’ shoulder, weeping as her little girl was “losing her beauty”. My mother actually had to leave the house while my grandmother snipped snipped snipped my hair. I watched as one inch, two inches, an entire foot of hair floated to the ground. That could be an exaggeration, as all I was doing is looking down, my grey eyes pouring over with salty tears thinking, “I don’t want to be ugly” as the hair fell. And thus, a belief was instilled at such a young age that long hair equates to beauty.
As that little girl got older, she started to disconnect from her crown. Her mother's words, coupled with the disease, although gone physically, left a psychological wound embedded deep within her spirit. As her hair grew (very very slowly) she viewed it as not her own, her beauty was cut off long ago. So in its place the little girl, now woman, straightened, dyed, SHAVED OFF, wore wigs, did everything she could to mask the appearance of her natural hair as something different. And her natural hair suffered. Oh, did it suffer. For months it sat, under wigs, in braids, no moisture, no sun...punished. It’s been relaxed, bleached, REMOVED all in the name of beauty.
As I approach my 40’s I am beginning to embrace my natural hair. I still have a long way to go, I still wear wigs, but mostly keep my hair in box braids for protection. I haven’t relaxed or dyed my hair in years though! Step by step I’m trying to mend and heal that deep psychological wound that was inflicted so long ago. Through research I’ve found that the products we applied to our hair and skin contain toxic ingredients that are so counter-active to a healthy lifestyle it’s no wonder why I was sick for so many years. I could literally blame the ingredients in my relaxer, or in my douche for the reason why I had several fibroids removed. I'm not trying to use scare tactics to pursue you into a more natural lifestyle, I'm just sharing the research I've done and sharing my lifestyle changes.
So I started making my own products. Nothing too crazy just yet, but you would be surprised just how far a personal hair oil can go in ones natural hair journey. Currently I make a hair growth oil with peppermint and nettle that I use once a week during wash days. Speaking of wash days, I included a DIY rice water recipe AND a DIY herbal hair oil recipe in this article that I do on wash days as well! You can also incorporate herbal hair rinses in your natural hair journey. SO MANY WAYS to add many beautiful herbs into your OWN natural hair routine. I'll get you started with these 5, drop me a line below and tell me which herb you like to use in your herbal hair journey!
5 Herbs for Hair Health
1 – Horsetail
Horsetail is a pretty evasive weed. If people have horsetail growing in their garden, it can quickly and easily take over! What’s worse is that if you grab the weed up by the root, it just comes back twice as hard…like a gray hair. If you find this weed in your garden don’t fret! Embrace it! It’s not so bad, horsetail needs a small amount of nutrients to survive, so some people just let it grow, as long as it’s not taking over their garden and taking nutrients from the other plants growing there. Horsetail is fascinating, when dried 25% of its weight is silica. No other plant has that much silica in it! Silica is an important mineral for the hair as it brings nutrients. It adds shine and luster to your hair. Silica is very important as our bodies don’t produce as much of it as we get older. Children however are FULL of silica, that’s why their hair is always so shiny and full. And it’s also probably why old witches liked to consume them in lore.
2 - Peppermint
I LOVE PEPPERMINT! Peppermint is generally researched for its benefits to the gastrointestinal system, but its benefits reach farther than just your tummy and your breath. I use peppermint in a variety of products I make. I use it in my yoni steam because of its anti-spasmodic properties. I use it in my own personalized muscle ache bath salt because it contains menthol, which has a cooling effect on achy muscles. This herb with its versatility, is beneficial to hair health because it stimulates hair follicles and jumpstarts hair growth! It increases blood flow to the scalp making it a good place for encouraging hair growth. Peppermint is also anti-bacterial, so it’s very useful in getting rid of dandruff.
DIY Herbal Hair Oil
2tbsp - Peppermint
2tbsp - Nettle
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1. Melt oils in a double broiler
2. Add dried herbs to a clean sterile mason jar cover with melted oils leaving about 1 inch at the top for herbs to expand. Stir with wooden chopstick.
3. Store jar on sunny windowsill for 1 lunar cycle shaking everyday.
3 – Aloe Vera
Did you know your hair has a pH balance? Yea! PH is the measurement of how acidic or how alkaline a substance is. Measured on a scale of 0-14, 7 being neutral, 0-6.9 is acidic whereas 7.1-14 is alkaline. The pH balance for your scalp is 5.5. The natural acidity of your hair keeps your hair follicles closed, which prevents mold and bacterial buildup on your scalp. Your hair’s pH balance can be thrown off by a number of products that we use and by doing so, can cause unruly frizzy hair. Aloe Vera with its hydrating properties has a pH balance of 4.5 so it helps restore your hair’s natural balance. There is also an enzyme in aloe vera that works double time that both reduce the dead skin cells that build up around the hair follicle and locks in moisture while stimulating the hair follicle! AND it has fatty acids to help cut down on dry flaky hair. Don't be afraid of this prickly alien-like plant!
Nettle leaves are rich in silica AND sulfur, we already learned why silica is important, because it brings shine and luster to the hair, so let’s learn a little about sulfur.
Our hair is rich in a protein called KERATIN and keratin is high in sulfur content. Sulfur is known to lengthen the “growing phase” of your hair, and the longer time your hair has to grow between resting and shedding, the better! (There are 4 stages of hair growth, “growing, transition, resting, shedding”) Sulfur is essential to strengthening hair and influences hair growth. In other words, nettle supports your hair growth. It’s anti-inflammatory too! Inflammation of the scalp is one of the major instigators of hair loss and nettle works by hydrating and soothing dry itchy scalps.
5 – Lavender
Lavender is my number 1 favorite herb of all time. The calming properties alone give me life. Lavender is anti-bacterial and is great for hair loss and shedding! It’s also anti-microbial, so it helps keep bacteria and fungus from growing on your scalp. I actually use a few drops of lavender oil in my DIY rice water hair rinse (below) not only for the calming aromatherapy aspects of it…but also cause it’s great at balancing the natural oil production of the scalp.
DIY Rice Water Hair Rinse
¼ Cup Long Grain Enriched Rice
1 Cup distilled water
Put rice in a clean bowl with a lid.
Pour water into bowl.
Swish water around to rinse rice.
Place lid on bowl and let sit for 24-48 hours in a cool dry place.
After up to 48 hours strain rice from water and add about 8-10 drops of Lavender E.O. to water.
Place water in spray bottle and spray all over clean washed hair. Don’t over-saturate your hair to have it dripping, but make sure all your strands have some rice water on it. Wrap your hair in a turban and go about your business for about 30 min. Rinse and style your hair as usual!
Do you use rice water in your hair? Tell me how you make your rice water and if you use E.O. for added benefits in the comment section below!