Whether you choose henna for shine or jojoba for split ends, the centuries-old practice of rinsing your hair with herbal infusions is one of the best things you can do for your tresses.
Herbal rinses may be just what your hair needs, especially if it’s been robbed of its glory through perms, hair-straightening chemicals, or dye, says Dina Falconi, a Stone Ridge, New York, herbalist and the author of Earthly Bodies and Heavenly Hair (Ceres Press, 1998), who has developed a line of body care products made with botanical ingredients. Falconi explains that harsh detergents in shampoo can strip the hair of its natural oils, but most commercial conditioners just coat the hair, making it heavy and lifeless. The solution is to use a mild shampoo followed by an herbal rinse that adds body and sheen without masking the condition of your hair and scalp, she says. It can even remove dulling soap residue.
Falconi’s rinses have either a water or a vinegar base. She notes that dried herbs release their constituents into water more quickly than fresh herbs because their cell walls have broken down during dehydration. Vinegar, however, helps extract constituents from fresh herbs.
Vinegar also softens hair, removes soap residue, reduces oil, untangles knots, and alleviates itchy scalp. “Many commercial shampoos are alkaline; they strip off the acid mantle of the scalp and the protective film of sebum on the hair shafts, leaving the scalp dry and your hair lifeless,” writes Barbara Griggs in The Green Witch Herbal (Healing Arts Press, 1994). Rinsing with vinegar neutralizes the alkalinity.
Laurel Kallenbach is a Boulder, Colorado, writer who specializes in natural health and beauty.
Falconi, Dina. Earthly Bodies and Heavenly Hair. Woodstock, New York: Ceres Press, 1998.
Griggs, Barbara. The Green Witch Herbal. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1994.
Smeh, Nikolaus. Creating Your Own Cosmetics—Naturally. Garrisonville, Virginia: Alliance, 1995.
Spiers, Katie. Recipes for Natural Beauty. New York: Facts on File, 1998.