When I was a teenager I learned a couple of beauty secrets that have helped me manage my hair. The first was to always brush my hair before taking a shower. My hair is very fine and I like to keep it long, so if I forget this step I am left combing out tangles for much too long.
The second secret is not to use conditioner. Besides being very fine, my hair is really dry, so I always thought I needed to use a heavy conditioner to help with split ends. What I learned was that the conditioner that made it easier to comb my hair out at first was actually wearing my hair down and making it break at the ends more. It was also stripping my hair of any kind of body I could hope to have, making it look like I had hardly any hair at all.
It wasn't until my 20's that I learned the third beauty secret for my hair - vinegar hair rinses! Now that I am a mama, I rarely take the time to take this extra step, but every time I do I am so glad I did. After a rinse, my hair is shinier, less prone to tangles, and has noticeably more body. Vinegar is really beneficial for both the hair and the scalp, and it relieves an itchy scalp, dandruff, and restores the natural pH of the scalp.
My hair is fine and dry, but vinegar hair rinses are actually wonderful for all hair types, you just have to make a few alterations depending on the type of hair you have.
For dry hair, use demulcent, moisturizing herbs such as mallow and comfrey, as well as nourishing herbs such as nettle, chickweed and horsetail. If your hair is dry, you will also be using more water and less vinegar in your final recipe.
For oily hair, use astringent herbs such as yarrow, sage and rosemary instead of the mallow and comfrey, along with the nettle, horsetail or chickweed.
Since there are so many beautiful spring greens around right now, I am making my hair rinse out of chickweed and mallow. If my hair were oily, I would replace the mallow with some sprigs of rosemary from our garden. To make this hair rinse, fill a jar halfway with fresh herbs, or one quarter of the way with dried herbs. Fill the jar the rest of the way up with apple cider vinegar. If you do not have a plastic lid for your jar, put a piece of waxed paper on top before screwing on the metal lid. Give your mixture a shake, and set on the counter for 2 to 4 weeks, shaking every once in a while to make sure the herbs stay below the surface of the vinegar.
After 2 to 4 weeks, you can strain out the herbs. Mix your vinegar solution with water. If your hair is dry, dilute one part vinegar with six parts water, and if you'd like, add a few drops of peppermint essential oil. If your hair is oily, you will want to use 3 to 4 parts water per one part vinegar, and optionally add a few drops of rosemary essential oil. You can store your hair rinse in a plastic bottle near the shower, and it will keep for years. To use, first shampoo your hair and rinse out the suds. Next, pour some of your hair rinse over your head, massaging your scalp as you go. Give a final rinse with clear water, and you're all set.
Enjoy this opportunity for some well-deserved self care!
Photos by Lauren Ross