Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Herbal Vinegar Hair Rinse

While going through The Bountiful Container cover-to-cover (this books is awesome, thanks Fern!) I came across their instruction for making herbal vinegars. To sum up it involves soaking herbs in vinegar to extract culinary or medicinal properties into the vinegar, herbs are strained out at the end. I don't cook much with vinegar (yet) but I was entrigued by the recommendation of using it for a natural hair rinse. Further online and book research says:
  • Hair and skin naturally are slightly acidic
  • Most hair and skin products are alkaline
  • The regular use of hair and skin products upsets the natural pH balance of hair and skin
  • Using vinegar as a rinse for hair and skin can correct the pH balance
Well, I'm up for using my green children in new and fun ways, so I decided to try it out. The most common recipe I found is to soak 1/4 Cup herbs to 2 Cups of apple cider vinegar (reportedly the best because it is closest to natural hair acidity, but any type would work) for 2 weeks.

Chop up 1/4 Cup of herbs, get your vinegar and your measuring cup. I used parsley (reported to intensify dark hair and make hair shiny) in this batch.

I used an empty wine bottle since glass won't affect the vinegar. The funnel held the herbs while I used a wood paint brush handle to push them down the bottle neck. This was little time consuming and can be frustrating. On another batch I used a jam jar which didn't give me any trouble. I also did a batch in a Pacifico beer bottle which has a standard opening but a very wide neck which I was able to stuff herbs into easily by funneling them with my hand and pushing them in with a finger.

After the herbs are in add the 2 Cups vinegar, then toped it with a bottle stopper. The mixture should be left to soak in a dark location for 2 weeks, and shaken once a day. I keep mine in the closet, when I dress in the morning I see them and remember to shake the mixture up.

When the 2 weeks are up strain out the herbs, most instructions recommend a brown coffee filter but a fine mesh strainer worked just as well. These last two photos are a different batch than above, made with lavender (reported to cleans out oil, encourage hair growth, and sooth the scalp).

It would be a good idea to label your herbal vinegar if you're making several. Also mark the date, a couple of resources mentioned herbal vinegars should be used within 6 to 12 months, although I am not entirely sure that is the case.

To use: wash hair with shampoo as usual. Mix 1 Tbsp of herbal vinegar with 1 Cup warm water and pour over hair, massage into scalp. The vinegar scent will evaporate as hair dries but the herbal scent will stay. You do not need to rinse out the vinegar, but if you really dislike the smell you may. I have found it easiest to pour the vinegar into a mug and take that into the shower with me, when I'm ready to use it I hold the cup up to add the water from the shower.

So far I have been using a herbal vinegar I made with lavender, rosemary (reported to encourage growth, make hair shiny, intensify dark hair, condition hair and reduce dandruff) and parsley for 2 weeks and I love it! I have been using the herbal vinegar instead of conditioner and I think it's a lot better in many ways. My hair feel softer and cleaner, it gets less oily between washes (I wash it every it every 2 days), I need less mousse to control the frizz (which is now not even very noticable if I forget to mousse), and according to friends it smells nice. I have to rely on my friends reports for the scent, my hair is too short to pull up to my nose for a sniff :\

A few days ago I had to use a regular conditioner instead of my vinegar and afterwards noticed right away that my air was not doing as well. It felt heavy and oily. I am now going to be sticking the herbal vinegars!

The experiment continues, I have made a few comparisson batches using lavender and parsley with white vinegar and with apple cider to see how much difference there is between them. If it's not noticable I'll be using white vinegar in the future since it's much cheaper! I need to collect more of my herbs to try out the different uses and properties. I have collected several glass wine and beer bottles to store them in and looking for more small sized ones to makes gifts in the future.

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