Teaching Tuesday- The Basics of Good Hair Care

Just as there are steps to good skin care, there are also steps to good hair care, but many of us are unaware of this, or simply ignore it. Just as caring for your skin properly affords you great skin, caring for your hair properly will give your hair shine and bounce, and great looking hair always makes you feel good! 

The first step is to condition or moisturize if your hair is normal, or if your hair is damaged, this is the time it is treated. This is considered the "pre-shampoo" stage. After the "pre-shampoo", the next step is the shampoo. As you probably suspect, the shampooing is the cleansing of the hair, the removing of the oil, residue and dirt. The third step is the rinse. The rinse  removes excess shampoo, and replenishes the hair with moisture and nutrients. Then the final step is the conditioning. Conditioning seals the moisture and nutrients into the hair shaft, and protects it from the elements. 

When I first began studying skin care I was not aware of a "pre-shampoo" treatment, or of any special "rinse". When someone spoke about rinsing the hair, I automatically thought of plain old tap water from the shower head. In fact, I was rather amazed to learn about these steps and their importance. If it's new to you as well, I hope that enjoy learning something new. And if it is old news to you, maybe a recipe will be new, or maybe an old recipe will serve to remind you.

Here are some hair care facts and tips. Following the tips are recipes. Enjoy!

-As with every other section of skin health that I have written about, maintaining adequate hydration is important to the health of the hair. Moreover, your general health and nutrition will impact hair health. If you are healthy inside, it will reflect on the outside. So eat well, drink plenty of fluids, and get plenty of exercise and sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and over exposure to the elements.

-Hair grows about 1/2 inch per month, but it tends to grow faster in warm weather than in cold.

-Avoid shampoos with detergent bases, as they tend to dry out and damage the hair.

-Natural ingredients are generally safe and gentle for all types of hair, including color treated hair.

-Hair should be protected from the sun just like the skin. Hats are sunscreen for hair!

-The scalp is more receptive to treatment when the pores are dilated and the skin is relaxed.

-For an all over spa treatment, apply a hair treatment before you get into an essential oil infused bath. That way you can be soaking as your hair is being treated.

-Do not overuse gels, mousses, or hairsprays. They can build up, leave heavy residue and irritate the scalp.

-Use a wide-toothed comb instead of a hairbrush on your hair, as the brushes bristles tend to damage the hair shafts, causing breakage.

-When you rinse your hair, use cool water for the final rinse. This will tighten your scalp pores and leave your hair shinier.


PRE-SHAMPOO SAGE CONDITIONER Recipe - This one is especially good for THINNING and GRAYING hair, as well as SPLIT ENDS. 

Take 8 fresh sage leaves and crush them, then place them in the bottom of small glass bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the sage and leave it sit to steep for 30 minutes, undisturbed. After 30 minutes, strain it and keep the liquid part. Toss the solids, they are not good to reuse. To the sage infusion, add 1 Tablespoon of wheat germ oil, and 1 Tablespoon of grapeseed oil, mix  well and pour into a dark colored bottle. To use, dampen your hair and then massage a small amount of this mixture into your scalp and hair. If you do have split ends, make sure that you rub some of it directly onto the hair ends. Then wrap your hair in a towel or shower cap, and leave it on for 45-60 minutes. When time is up, simply shampoo it out.

This is a mud pack for your hair, without the mud! It is a deep conditioner that is great for all types of hair, but should be used once a month to gain the maximum benefits.

1 Tablespoon of coconut oil
1/8 cup sweet almond oil
1/8 cup aloe vera gel
3 TBS gelatin mix*
2 drops geranium essential oil
3 drops bay or rosemary essential oil

*gelatin mix = take 1 TBS of unflavored gelatin in 2 1/2 Tablespoon of cold water. Stir. Put in microwave to heat water until boiling, then stir again.

Mix all the ingredients together and stir. Put it on towl-dried hair after shampooing. Leave it soak in for 5 to 10 minutes, then wash out. There is no shelf life to this, so mix it just before you want to use it.
This is a deep conditioning and cleansing treatment all in one. The clay will remove residue and dirt, while nourishing the scalp. The coconut oil protects and preserves the hair, as it does the skin, by providing a sealing layer that holds in moisture.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt 1/2 cup jojoba oil with 3 TBS of coconut oil. Remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, put 4 TBS powdered white clay [make sure you use white clay, as red or green will be too harsh to use on the hair]. Slowly stir in up to 1 cup of distilled water, until a paste is made. Blend the melted oils with paste. Mix thoroughly. Apply a palm full of the clay mixture to damp hair (hair should be clean). Massage into your scalp, then cover the hair with plastic wrap, a turban or a shower cap. Leave on for 15 minutes then shampoo out.
This is another once a week treatment. This one is especially good for hair that has been over exposed to wind and sun. The olive oil will improve the hair elasticity, making it stronger and less likely to break. This treatment will leave your hair feeling incredibly soft and smooth. Lavender possesses many healing and nourishing properties, and is known to reduce tension, as well as alleviate headaches. So massaging this into the scalp will have benefits, beyond what it does for your hair!

In a small saucepan, over low heat, heat 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil until it is warm. Once warm, remove from heat and add 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Mix well, then massage into the scalp of damp hair. Cover the hair with a turban, plastic wrap, or shower cap. Leave on for 20 before shampooing out.
To accommodate every hair type in your family, you can take liquid Castile liquid soap (this is very mild, olive oil soap which is low sudsing) and then add various herbal and/or botanical essential oils to make it appropriate for the different types of hair. Actually, if you cannot find Castile, or if you prefer more a more sudsy shampoo, you can use an uncolored, unscented baby shampoo as the base for the following shampoo recipes. For each one you will use an amount about the size of a quarter. Simply place into the palm of your hand, combine with water to lather, then apply to the hair. Work through your hair, lathering, then rinse and repeat if needed.

The following recipes, using the Castile soap as a base, should last from three to six months. Store them in a plastic bottle after they are mixed.

This recipe gently cleanses without stripping the hair. The herbs in this recipe will clarify the scalp and hair, and help to add shine. This recipe contains glycerin and white vinegar which will help it to rinse clean, leaving no residue in your hair.

Mix together
1 cup of liquid Castile soap (or your plain baby shampoo)
1 teaspoon glycerin
3 drops rosemary essential oil
3 drops sage essential oil

1 teaspoon white vinegar
This recipe has several enriching herb and oils that are soothing as well as conditioning. This formula will put that silky feeling back into your hair.

Mix together;
1 cup of liquid Castile soap (or the baby shampoo previously described)
1 tsp glycerin
1 tsp aloe vera
1tsp jojoba oil (may substitute apricot kernal oil)
3 drops chamomile essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil
1 vitamin E capsule (take a 400 unit or more capsule and pirce it with a pin, then place the liquid in the mix)
The trick for treating oily hair is to not strip the scalp so much that it signals for more oil to be produced. You want to brace the scalp and slow the oil production without being overly harsh or drying. This recipe should be just what you need!

Mix together-
1 cup liquid Castile (or the baby shampoo previously described)
1 tsp glycerin
1/2 tsp tea tree extract or oil
1/2 tsp nettle extract or oil
1/2 tsp witch hazel
3 drops each of your choice of TWO of the following essential oils; orange, frankincese, grapefruit, lemon, juniper, cypress, borage or lavender
This shampoo is mild enough for daily use, and is especially formulated for light hair.
Take 1/2 cup fresh (or 1/4 cup dried) chamomile* and crush them in a small glass bowl. Pour 1 1/2 cups of boiling water over the chamomile, cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Once time is up, strain and throw away the solids, while reserving the liquid. Stir 3 TBS liquid Castile soap and 1 tsp jojoba oil (may substitute sesame oil if desired) into the chamomile infusion. Stir well, then add 3 drops of patchouli or ylang-ylang essential oil and mix again. Place into a plastic bottle with a pour-top spout.

*you may substitute calendula or lemon peel for the chamomile if desired.
This shampoo is mild enough for daily use and is especially formulated for dark colored hair.
Take 1/2 cup fresh (or 1/4 cup dried) rosemary* and crush them in a small glass bowl. Pour 1 1/2 cups of boiling water over the rosemary, cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Once time is up, strain and throw away the solids, while reserving the liquid. Stir 3 TBS liquid Castile soap and 1 tsp jojoba oil (may substitute sesame oil if desired) into the chamomile infusion. Stir well, then add 3 drops of patchouli or ylang-ylang essential oil and mix again. Place into a plastic bottle with a pour-top spout.
*you may substitute sage or cloves for the rosemary if you so choose.
Tea Tree oil has many healing and soothing properties. It is used to treat everything from viruses to rashes, even burns. On the scalp it works well to sooth dry, flaky skin. Simply mix 2 TBS of the SHAMPOO for LIGHT or DARK hair with 3 drops of tea tree essential oil, instead of the essential oil additive at the end of the recipe(s).

RINSES. Remember that after shampoo rinses remove all of the soap and residue from the hair, while leaving it extra shiny, and [preparing for the conditioner.


Chop two sprigs of fresh rosemary and place it a jar. Fill the jar with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and cover. Store jar in cool, dark place for 1 week, shaking jar vigorously once each day. After one week, strain, retain the liquid and throw out the plant material. Return the liquid to the jar. When you are ready to use, dilute 1/3 cup of the liquid in 3 cups of warm water. Rub into freshly washed, damp hair and scalp. Rinse thoroughly and dry as usual. *Avoid getting this mixture into your eyes!*

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
1 cup thyme infusion [infusion is made by steeping 1 tsp of fresh thyme in hot water for 5 min., covered]

Mix all together and use about half, depending upon the length of your hair, as a rinse after shampooing. Store in a dark glass bottle in a cool, dark place. This will remain good for about one week only.

In this recipe the vinegar works as a mild astringent, and the thyme as a toner. Dandruff is a common scalp condition that occurs when the dead skin is shed. It is often referred to as seborrhea, which is an inflammatory skin disease caused by a problem with the sebaceous (oil secreting) glands. It is often recommended that you increase your B complex vitamins, along with trying a topical treatment such as this rinse.
To add shine and moisture to your hair, Take 1/2 cup of honey, molasses or maple syrup and massage it into your damp hair and scalp. Then cover with a turban, shower cap or plastic wrap. Leave in for 30 minutes, then rinse with warm water and shampoo out.

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