Modern day hair care is convenient. It gives you a fast way to get your hair looking the way you want it to, but it doesn't necessarily nourish your hair or scalp and keep them healthy long-term.
And, of course, there's all those hidden chemicals in most hair care products that may be harming your health while you use them.
Using herbs and other natural ingredients for hair care is a great alternative. You can switch over completely to a natural, DIY hair regimen, or you can use them alongside your normal products.
Herbs offer some of everything. You can find ones for normal hair, dry hair, oily hair, scalp issues, and so on.
It's mainly a matter of giving your hair time to adjust to truly natural care and finding a few staple herbs that you hair will love. To help you with that, here's a look at the top herbs for hair care.
Best Herbs for Natural Hair Care
Rosemary is one of the best overall herbs for your hair and works well with most hair types. It encourages hair growth and strong, healthy strands. Many people have found that rosemary helps with scalp issues (like dandruff). It also gives hair a nice shine and may have a slightly darkening effect on hair over time.
Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
Amla is a much-used herb in Ayurvedic medicine and excels as a nourishing herb for your hair. It's rich in vitamin C and several minerals and is often used in hair products. Amla may help prevent hair loss and contributes to stronger hair and a healthier scalp. You can use the dried fruit, extract, or oil (for dry hair).
Chamomile has so many amazing uses and is another great all-around herb for almost any hair type. It's especially soothing for the scalp and gently conditions hair. Chamomile can add faint highlights to hair and is especially good as a rinse if you have blonde hair.
Peppermint is another herb with many uses. It has natural antimicrobial properties that aid scalp conditions and an invigorating nature that stimulates blood flow to your scalp. Interestingly, peppermint has a history of being used for both oily and dry hair types and may help with hair growth as well.
Stinging nettle is a highly nutritious herb that "feeds" your hair and scalp. It's excellent for all hair types and works to condition hair, give it a glossy shine, and even soften hair. Because of these properties, nettle may help to prevent hair loss and is especially helpful for damaged or "depleted" hair.
Horsetail (also known as shavegrass) is very nourishing for hair, particularly because it has a high silica content that can help to strengthen hair. This is an herb that has been used for centuries for hair care and will add shine and luster to your hair, plus support hair growth. You can also take horsetail as a supplement for luminous hair, skin, and nails.
Lavender is another beneficial herb for all hair types. Its name comes from the Latin word meaning "to wash," which refers to its cleansing properties for body and hair. Lavender can help with scalp conditions, itchiness, and hair loss. It also helps balance oil production, making it helpful for oily or dry hair.
You might think of using basil for pizza, but it's also great for your scalp. It increases circulation to your scalp, which helps promote hair growth and strength. Basil is particularly good for oily hair types and also helps restore dull hair to its original luster.
Burdock root is one of the best herbs for problem skin, and it also shines for your scalp. It helps both dry and oily hair types and is very soothing for an irritated scalp. Burdock has a history of use for hair growth, dandruff, and hair repair. It even helps to detangle hair after you use it.
Calendula is a soothing herb for sensitive skin and scalps. It works for all hair types: dry, oily, and everything in between. Calendula helps add shine back to hair and conditions it. You can even get some faint highlights from using calendula regularly, especially when it's combined with chamomile.
Sage is similar to rosemary as an all-around tonic for your hair. It also has strong antimicrobial properties that help with scalp conditions. Using sage regularly can make your hair darker and may even help to darken/cover up gray strands of hair. As a bonus, it helps to soften and add shine to your hair.
Lemongrass has astringent and antifungal properties, which means it may help with scalp conditions like dandruff. In general, though it can help balance oil production and benefit all hair types, it's usually better for oily hair because of its astringency. You can also expect a slight citrusy scent!
Marshmallow root is one of the best herbs for dry hair types. It has a high mucilage content, which is what makes it moisturizing and nourishing for hair and scalp. Marshmallow also has a slipperiness to it that helps detangle hair. To get the most hydrating effect out of it, use dried marshmallow root to make a cold infusion.
It would be hard to talk about herbs for hair care without mentioning henna. Not only is henna a truly natural hair dye, it also conditions hair, can increase shine, and softens hair. Henna makes a great hair mask (while also tinting your hair red) and is generally good for all hair types, although using it too often can dry out your hair and scalp.
Other Natural Hair Care Ingredients
Raw honey has both moisturizing and cleansing properties that make it great when used as a hair mask or "shampoo." It softens hair, adds shine, and promotes scalp health. Working honey all the way through your hair can be a challenge if you have a lot of it, but the good news is it will rinse out clean- no stickiness.
Aloe is another natural moisturizer for hair that conditions and restores luster as well as soothes the scalp. It can even make your hair more manageable and easier to comb through. In addition, the vitamins in aloe promote hair growth and strand strength.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps to restore the natural pH of your hair and scalp and is a natural hair conditioner. Vinegar is most beneficial for oily hair and can help with itchiness, dandruff, and other scalp issues. It also adds shine to hair and can be combined with any of the herbs listed in this post.
Essential oils can be a great part of any natural hair care routine if you use them the right way. Usually, you'll want to dilute them in a homemade product: DIY shampoo, hair rinse, hair mask, etc. In general, the herbs listed here can also be used in essential oil form (plus a few others). Here are some ideas:
- Tea tree
- Clary sage
If you have dry or very dry hair, you may want to consider using natural oils to condition it. You can apply an oil to your hair and scalp, let it sit at least 30 minutes, and then wash it out in the shower. Or you can apply a tiny, tiny bit of oil to wet hair after showering. Jojoba, olive, coconut, grapeseed, and almond oil are all good choices.
Using Herbs for Hair Care
One of the best ways to start using herbs for your hair is as an herbal rinse. All you need to do is make a strong herbal infusion using the herbs of your choice. Then, pour it through your hair after shampooing and massage it in. Leave it for a few minutes before rinsing, or don't rinse it out at all.
You can add other ingredients- like apple cider vinegar or essential oils- to your hair rinse to really make it your own.
After that, you might want to move on to looking for herbal shampoo recipes or coming up with a hair mask that nourishes your hair.
Tip: If you rinse your hair after using herbs, they usually won't stain, but it's a good idea to use an old towel for your hair the first few times to make sure.
Using the listed herbs for hair care is perfectly safe in general, but always remember that you may have an individualized reaction to a certain herb. If any of them make your scalp feel worse, stop using and try a different option.
All Natural Hair Care
If you start using herbs regularly for your hair, you'll probably notice that it gets more nourished and shiny over time. Of course, it may take you a few tries to discover which herbs work best, but your hair will appreciate all your efforts!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and should not be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider, herbalist, midwife, or naturopathic physician before taking herbs, supplements, etc. Here's the link to our full disclaimer.