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Herbal hair rinses

Herbal Hair Rinses

Learn how to make your own herbal hair rinses and which herbs are best for herbal hair rinses.

Following your shampoo with an herbal hair rinse is the perfect way to top off your hair cleansing routine. Herbal hair rinses can cleanse the scalp and remove residue from the hair shaft (from hair care products such as sprays, gels, and conditioners), soften the hair, and add shine and subtle highlights. By choosing which herbs and other ingredients to add to your rinse, you can customize your herbal product to perfectly suit your needs.

Here are two basic methods that you can use to concoct your own herbal hair rinse:

Herbal Infusion
Here's a rinse you can whip up and use in a hurry. Simply make a strong tea of herbs (about 3 to 4 tablespoons of herb per cup of water) and let steep until room temperature. Strain. Combine tea with one cup of water. Pour rinse over hair and scalp after shampooing. Rinse with clear water, if you like (though it's not necessary).

Vinegar Rinse
This rinse takes some planning but little hands-on time. Place 3 to 4 tablespoons of herbs in a jar. Heat a cup of apple cider vinegar (in a non-metal pot) until not quite boiling. Pour over herbs. Cover and let stand in a warm place for a week or so, shaking occasionally. Strain and cap. (Line the cap with plastic to avoid contact with the metal.) When ready to use, dilute about 1/2 cup of the herbal vinegar with about 2 cups of warm water. Pour over hair as a final rinse after shampooing. Rinse again with clear water, if you like.

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Tips for Using Hair Rinses

  • For maximum effectiveness, catch your hair rinse in a bowl as you pour it over your hair. Then repeat the rinse several times.
  • Apple cider vinegar can help rinse out soap residue, add shine, and soften your hair. It can be diluted with water and used as a rinse by itself, or added to the herbal infusion. Add 1 tablespoon to the herbal infusion above, if you like, after straining the tea.
  • Lemon juice is drying and lightening. Add it to any rinse, or dilute with water (2 tablespoons per quart of water) for a stand-alone rinse.
  • Baking soda also helps clean the hair and remove traces of hair products such as sprays, gels and conditioner buildup. Combine 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup of warm water and pour over clean hair. Rinse out with warm water.
  • Some people like to add a couple drops of a favorite essential oil to their hair rinses — both to increase effectiveness and for the aromatherapy benefits.

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Choosing herbs for your hair rinse

You'll want to choose herbs based on how effective each is for your needs, as well as how you enjoy its scent. Here are some very basic categories that might be helpful.

By Hair Type:

Best for All-Purpose Hair Rinses:
basil leaf
fennel seed
nettle leaf
peppermint leaf
rosemary leaf
sage leaf

Light hair:
calendula petals
chamomile flowers
mullein leaf
yarrow herb

Dark hair:
raspberry leaf
rosemary leaf
sage leaf

Auburn and red hair:
calendula flowers
hibiscus flowers

Dry hair:
burdock root
calendula flowers
comfrey root
elder flowers
marshmallow root
nettle leaf
sage leaf

Oily hair:
birch bark
comfrey root
lemon peel
licorice root
orris root
peppermint leaf
rosemary leaf
white willow bark
witch hazel bark
yarrow herb

By Benefit:

Conditioning herbs:
burdock root
catnip leaf
chamomile flowers
henna leaf
horsetail herb
marshmallow root
nettle leaf
rosemary leaf
wild cherry bark

Revitalizing herbs:
Basil leaf
Ginger root
Horsetail herb
Marjoram leaf
Nettle leaf
Peppermint leaf
Rosemary leaf

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You might develop several signature rinses — one all-purpose rinse, one for your dry summer tresses, and one to use monthly to remove product buildup, for example. Herbal hair rinses also make lovely gifts, so while you're at it, bottle up some extra for a friend!

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