Shampoo? What shampoo? Simple herbal hair care.

I’ve been getting hair care questions in the comments to my facial scrub post, so I thought I would write a bit about how I take care of my own (long, unruly) hair.

Careful brushing. Brushing gets a bad rap because it can cause breakage. But if you have a little patience, you can get all the benefits of brushing without the damage. First, detangle. Brush the ends, then a little higher, then a little higher, until you reach the roots. Then brush firmly from the roots to the ends. Remember what grandma said? 100 strokes? Right. That. You want to spread your hair’s natural oils from the roots to the ends and get the blood flowing to your scalp. (I’ve found that a wood-bristle brush works best for this, but your hair might need something different.)

Herbal rinses. Rosemary and sage are my favorites, but chamomile is traditional for blondes, and rose for redheads. Strong herbal tea with a dash of vinegar reinvigorates your scalp and helps the hair cuticle stay smooth, preventing breakage and split ends.

Good food. You won’t grow good hair if you don’t eat good food. Protein. Minerals. Vitamins. All that. Bone broth is the best food I know of for healthy hair — your grandmother didn’t tell you that gelatin is “hair food” for nothing!

That’s it. That’s all I do.

I hear you, I hear you: “You didn’t mention shampoo! What about washing? If I don’t wash my hair, it’ll get all greasy and icky!”

Well, I don’t use shampoo. And no, my hair is not greasy and icky.

If you want to stop using shampoo but you don’t want to end up with icky hair, here’s what to do: Every day, use a little less shampoo. After a while, switch to a soap-based (rather than detergent-based) shampoo. Then use less and less of that soap-based shampoo. Try washing every other day, then every third day. Now switch from your soap-based shampoo to baking soda water (1/2 tsp in a pint of water) and a vinegar rinse (1 tablespoon in a pint of water). If you brush thoroughly, you can probably stop using the baking soda eventually.

The whole process needs to be done carefully, paying attention to how your scalp is adjusting. I’d say it should take 3-6 months for most people. If you go cold turkey on hardcore industrial detergent-based shampoo, well, don’t blame me if your hair gets greasy and icky!

How to make an herbal rinse:

Pick an herb. Any herb. (OK, rosemary and sage are traditional, like I said. Or chamomile. Or rose. Lemon verbena is lovely, and yarrow is nice and stimulating for the scalp. Mint is pleasant. So is thyme. Bee balm is absolutely wonderful. Play with it! Use what you like!)

Pour about a pint of boiling water over a good size handful of your herb. Close it tightly and let it steep until it’s cool.

Strain your tea and add about a tablespoon of vinegar.

Pour it over your head in the bath. Let it stay on your hair and scalp for a couple of minutes if you can.

Your hair will be ridiculously soft.

If you find your hair’s too fluffy, try some flaxseed gel (which doubles as leave-in conditioner).

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