Herbal Hair Restorative
A warm oil pack can impart moisture and life to a crowning glory that’s been exposed to too much sun and sea or chlorine. Add a tablespoon of honey or an egg yolk for
Choose an herb or two according to your needs: chamomile flowers to soften, spearmint leaf to condition, licorice root to slow oil production, rosemary leaf to revitalize and condition the scalp. Make an infusion of the herbs and combine with enough carrier oil to cover your hair and scalp. (Use about 1 tablespoon of infusion per cup of oil.) Good carrier oils include olive, sesame, almond, coconut and avocado. Cover dry hair and scalp with the oil combination, wrap your hair in a towel, and sit in a warm place for half an hour or longer. Shampoo as usual.
Ask the Experts
Can I add the sunscreen ingredient PABA to my homemade herbal lotions, for sun protection?
Yes. PABA, or para-aminobenzoic acid, is a non-protein amino acid found in nature. While it’s not a vitamin or nutrient, it’s also sometimes called vitamin Bx. There’s a bit of controversy surrounding PABA; in fact, PABA-free commercial products have cropped up in response to the belief that many people are sensitive to it. Others believe that only synthetic PABA, or other products that are used in conjunction with PABA, are problematic. Anyway, you can add natural PABA to your homemade products to help protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. The results won’t be as dramatic as buying a commercial sunblock or sunscreen, and you won’t be able to say that you’ve created a product with a SPF of 15—or any particular number, for that matter. But if you’re making your own lotions and creams and want to boost their protective quality, just add a teaspoon or so of powdered, food-grade PABA to each cup of lotion or cream.
An herbal compress or bath can bring quick relief to skin that’s had a few too many rays.
Make an infusion of soothing herbs like comfrey root, marshmallow root, chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, hyssop, hops, rosemary leaf, or black tea. Cool until tepid. (Add about 1 tablespoon witch hazel per cup of infusion, if you like.) Dip large pieces of cheesecloth in the infusion then lay them over your sunburned skin. Follow with a cooling lotion. You can also add the infusion to your bathwater, along with some cornstarch, baking soda, milk powder, or buttermilk powder.
PABA is water-soluble, so depending upon the other ingredients in your formula, you may need to shake your product well before each use to disperse the PABA. You can also add it to homemade lip balms, at the end of the heating process.
Are there certain herbal products I shouldn’t put on my skin before going out in the sun?
Yes, the sun’s rays can interact with certain cosmetics, herbs, drugs, and foods to cause photosensitivity in some people. The result is a skin irritation that may be itchy or burning, pink or red, blotchy, scaly, or blistery. Angelica, rue, and Saint John’s wort are examples of herbs that can cause photosensitivity. (Some essential oils—especially citrus oils like orange and lemon—can also cause the reaction.) You may want to avoid using these herbs in products you’ll be wearing outdoors, especially in the summer months.
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