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Those so-called herbal shampoos and conditioners may look natural, but are they really? One way to really put the "natural" in natural hair care is to use essential oils rather than their synthetic counterfeits. Add essential oils to unscented, organic shampoo, or mix them with water or pure vegetable oils. Even if you're not a do-it-yourself kind of girl, learn what to look for in drugstore products. Pick essential oils geared to your specific hair woe, whether it be dry, damaged hair or greasy, stringy locks.
Remember -- natural doesn't always mean gentle! With the possible exceptions of tea tree and lavender oils, few essential oils are mild enough to put on your scalp without dilution. Tame these extremely potent liquids in your favorite shampoo, or use as a hair rinse or hot oil treatment. Drop between 16 to 24 drops of two to three essential oils into an 8 oz. bottle of shampoo or conditioner and use as directed on the product's label. Alternatively, add one or two drops to about 2 oz. warm water and rinse hair with this infused water after shampooing. Essential oils also combine well with hot oil treatments. Gently warm 2 tsp. olive oil or walnut oil on the stove top or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in 12 drops essential oils. Apply it to your hair, paying special attention to split ends. Cover your head with a warm towel, and top this with a shower cap or wool hat. Leave the formula in at least 20 minutes, then rinse.
To "degrease" that scalp and those stringy locks, call on essential oils known for fighting oily hair. Lemongrass is a classic remedy for oily hair, notes author and aromatherapist Jeanne Rose. Other members of the citrus-scented family also work well, including lemon and grapefruit oils. Additionally, try cypress, sage or rose geranium. Because lemon tends to lighten hair slightly while sage darkens, blondes may opt to stick to the former and brunettes to the latter. Focus on your scalp when using essential oils for oily hair, because the glands which release that oil are located at the top of your head.
Dry and Color-Treated Hair
Whether your locks are naturally bone-dry or come from one-too-many trips to the the processing fairy, a few essential oils exist that will tame that mane. Sandalwood, lavender, chamomile and orange peel oil all work well on dry or damaged hair. Hot oil treatments and conditioners infused with essential oils are especially effective on dry hair. Pay special attention to the lower third of your hair as you apply your dry hair treatment, because these are the areas most likely to be split or frizzy. Chamomile makes a better choice for lighter hair. Otherwise, use them as single oils or in combination.
Ditch that itch! Fungal diseases, including dandruff, cause flakes in the hair and itchy scalps. They can also interfere with the rate of hair growth. To combat these infections, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests sage, rosemary or peppermint. For dandruff, shampoo daily with tea tree oil for its anti-fungal and disinfecting properties. Either add tea tree essential oil to your favorite shampoo, or look for a commercial product containing tea tree essential oil.
General Care and Hair Growth
If you have healthy hair and want to keep it that way, or just want it to grow a bit, use lavender, lemon or clary sage in your favorite shampoo. Alternatively, add them to hair rinses and hot oil treatments. Chamomile works well for light hair, and rosemary and sage bring out the highlights and shine of auburn and brunette hair while stimulating the scalp to grow more lovely locks.