I have always been intrigued to explore the world of homemade hair care products. The idea that people managed to have certain health and beauty routines centuries ago which worked, was both fascinating and something I definitely wanted to investigate. In my journey, I uncovered some very interesting historic practices as well as just how vast this sector is. If you think our consumer society has an overabundance of hair care products available on the market, the world of homemade hair care products will seem endless! But from all the information I came across, the most fascinating part was just how easy it is to get started and how much you end up learning about your own hair in the process.
Commercial vs homemade hair care products
It is certainly easier to simply go and buy a commercial product than to spend time researching and testing natural ingredients.
Most homemade hair care products are made from ingredients you will find in your kitchen, which places no extra cost on the final product.
Commercial hair care products are balanced whilst natural ingredients are not. Therefore, you may find yourself adding too much or too little of an ingredient and knock the balance of the entire homemade product.
Natural homemade hair care products are highly independent of one user to another. Unlike commercial products that contain stable ingredients that seem to give a certain effect on a range of different people, homemade recipes are not that easy to make one fit all. Every person is a unique world, and it is greatly felt when creating homemade beauty products.
6 Steps into making homemade hair care products
- Focus on what your hair actually needs. Have a good look at your scalp and hair and write down what is lacking or what you want to maintain. Choose ingredients and appropriate recipes that will help you begin your journey.
- Make sure to choose the right formula for you. The main component should always be safety. Avoid ingredients you have allergies to, and even those that are closely related to those products you have had a reaction to in the past.
- Like with any product, always do a test patch, especially if you are sensitive to new products. Keep in mind that natural products, at times may be more saturated than commercial products, which is great for quality, but may also be too much in some instances.
- Although the first step is to look at the individual ingredients, it is also crucial to look into how they interact with one another. Once you have picked out the ingredients which work for you, experiment with the selection, and see how they work with one another.
- Correct measurements are a crucial part of making your formula work. This can take some trial and error, but once you introduce yourself to the process it becomes second nature.
- For those interested in making hair care products that are not used up after one-time use, it is important to look into the containers they will be kept in, as well as the natural preservation system that will be applied.
Terminology for homemade hair care products
Moisturizer vs Sealant
Something very important to know is the difference between a moisturizer and a sealant. This is particularly important when looking into oils. A moisturizer holds water in the outer layer of the skin (for the scalp) and penetrates the hair shaft. It works with water. A sealant seals the moisturize and remains on top of the skin and hair, adding a shine.
Acidity & pH
When using ingredients that are high in acidity; such as acetic acid (apple cider vinegar) or citric acid (lemon juice), it is important to understand the effects of the acidity on the hair and scalp. Acidic ingredients are mainly used to regulate pH levels. The pH level of hair is between 4.5 and 5.0, in the sebum (oil on the scalp). This natural hair acidity helps protect and prevent fungi and bacteria from growing on the scalp and in the hair.
Excess oil removal
Should you find yourself in a situation where you may have used too much oil and have difficulty taking it off, ingredients high in acidity can help get through oil; lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar.
Common ingredients used in homemade hair care products
The ingredients that can be used to make homemade hair care products are vast. But I will simply list the most common ingredients, along with their characteristics and the common usage. However, each ingredient does have a lot more to it and I suggest researching those ingredients you are interested in more thoroughly.
Feel free to add your favorite ingredients in the comment area, I certainly would love to hear more.
Olive oil is moisturizing, reduces irritation to the scalp, and is used against dandruff. Contains oleic acid, palmitic acid, and squalene which makes it emollient that contributes to softening qualities. Commonly recommended for thick and/or dry hair and treatment for split ends.
Coconut oil is well known to contribute towards hair growth and is used in many forms; conditioner, scalp mask, hair mask, and many treatments. Contains essential fatty acids and vitamins which nourish the scalp and remove sebum build-up from hair follicles.
Avocado oil is known for strengthening hair. Contains oleic acid and monounsaturated fat, allowing penetration, strengthening of the hair shaft, and prevention of breakage. Commonly used against dandruff, detangling of hair, and as a hair protectant.
Helianthus Annuus Hybrid oil (Sunflower)
Sunflower oil is used against hair breakage, split ends, and soften hair as it is both nourishing and soothing for dry hair and scalps. Contains essential fatty acids such as phospholipids and ceramides, as well as antioxidants and vitamin E.
Almond oil is known for its contribution towards softening hair, as emollient and diminishing friction during hair styling. Contains protein, omega-9-fatty acid, vitamin E, oleic acid, and linoleic acid.
Shea butter is recognized for its protective properties against hair breakage. Contains oleic and stearic acids, together with palmitic, linoleic, and arachidic acids. These contribute to the prevention of moisture loss and breakage.
Jojoba oil is known to strengthen and nourish hair; used against hair loss and for the promotion of hair thickness. Contains a rich selection of vitamins and minerals, including; vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin E, copper, and zinc.
Grapeseed oil is used against scalp irritation and against UV damage due to its hair protective characteristics. Contains a range of antioxidants; tocopherol, linolenic acid, resveratrol, quercetin, procyanidins, and phytosterols, as well as vitamin E.
Moisturizing & Sealing oil:
Argan oil is both a moisturizer and sealant, prevents dryness, boosts shine, and reduces fizziness. Contains oleic acid and linoleic acid, contributing to the moisturizing property, and is also rich in vitamin E, providing a fatty layer resulting in a sealant property.
Apple cider vinegar
Undiluted apple cider vinegar has a pH level between 4 and 5. From all acidic ingredients, it is the closest to the pH level of our hair, however, it should also never be used without being diluted at first. It is commonly used as a hair rinse to smoothen hair cuticles and add shine.
Undiluted lemon juice has a pH level between 3.3 and 5. Although close to the pH level of our hair, it should also always be diluted prior to being used on hair. It is commonly used as a hair rinse and to lighten blonde and grey hair colour.
Coconut milk has all the benefits of coconut oil and more. Whilst coconut oil is the product from the extraction of the coconut flesh, coconut milk is the mixture of the ripe coconut flesh and the water. Coconut milk is known to contain lauric acid, high in protein, high in vitamins C, E, B-1, B-3, B-5 and B-6. Coconut milk is mainly used as a moisturizer for scalp and hair, treatment against hair loss, breakage and to remove toxins from the scalp. It is also used to replace coconut oil in homemade hair care products as it is lighter in texture.
Yoghurt is the result of bacterial fermentation of milk. It is considered to be a natural conditioner which is rich in nourishment, helps stabilize the pH levels, and promotes healthy hair growth. Yoghurt contains zinc, vitamin E, protein and lactic acid. Lactic acid contributes to the cleansing effect of the scalp and the clearing of dead skin cells.
Curd is the result of the combination of curdled milk and plant acids. This results in a more acidic milk product than yoghurt. Curd contains calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium and vitamin A. Curd is commonly used for the treatment of scalp conditions, such as; dandruff, as well as to help strengthen and soften the hair cuticle.
Honey acts both as an emollient and carries humectant properties; allowing the bonding with water molecules and acts as a hair moisturizer. Contains a range of vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidant properties. It is used as a detox, for various scalp treatments, to promote hair growth, increase shine, against hair damage and hair loss.
Brown sugar is recognized to be both an exfoliant for the scalp and a moisturizer for the hair. Contains a range of vitamins and minerals. Commonly used to remove any residue and dead skin cells, leading to the prevention of oily roots and the promotion of healthier hair.
Eggs have a very broad range of benefits from maintaining the state of a healthy scalp and hair, to addressing dry hair and oily hair individually. The use of the egg yolk helps nourish and repair damaged and dry strands of hair. The use of egg whites helps strip away excess oils from oily hair. For those with normal hair, both the egg yolk and white are used.
Aloe vera is well known for its healing and regenerative properties and is used for the promotion of hair growth, treatment against irritation to the scalp and an overall moisturizing effect. Contains a range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients; vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B-12, copper, zinc, folic acid and choline; a nutrient that supports cellular growth.
Banana is rich in nutrition, commonly used for the treatment of the scalp, helps reduce frizz and helps promote hair growth. Contains silica, a mineral element that helps the body to synthesize collagen, promotion of stronger and thicker hair.
Rice water is known to contribute towards a balanced environment for the scalp and hair. Contains carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins that result in a healthier scalp and hair follicles. It is also used for detangling hair, increases shine, smoothness, promoting hair growth and strengthen hair.
Keratin is a very popular term used in the hair care world. It is a component that smoothens and seals the hair cuticle with a protein coating, which in turn eliminates frizz and adds softness and shine. Keratin can be introduced to your system and hair not only through the external application of a treatment. Certain foods contribute to the production of keratin from within;
- Sweet potatoes
- Sunflower seeds
- Beef liver
Many homemade hair care products have the option of adding essential oils to the recipe. When adding essential oils, be sure not to add too much as essential oils are concentrated and can result in a reaction.
Once you have found the perfect formula for your hair, over time it is possible that you may wish to make adjustments. Depending on the season or even what lifestyle you currently have, you may resort to switching your formula. This is normal as the state of your hair reflects what your entire body is going through or the environment it finds itself in.
Keep in mind that with natural ingredients, sometimes a little can take you a long way. In my experience, a few drops of argan oil did the trick to help smooth and style my entire hair. It may seem like homemade hair care products are an entirely alien world, but once you begin to experiment you also get to know so much about your hair, whilst widen your choice of products to use.
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