1 teaspoon cider vinegar (pref. organic)
herbs of choice (see below)
up to 10 drops essential oil of choice (optional but useful)
300ml boiling water or enough to cover herbs in jug
Not only is this rinse much cheaper than the chemical gunk you can buy commercially, but it is easy, effective, far better for your hair, and smells wonderful - there is nothing like using fresh rosemary to give you a lift!
You can use either fresh or dried herbs for this. If you have a rosemary bush handy, use a sprig or two (say 10cm long): rosemary is one of the best herbs for hair. Fresh lavender is also nice to use; most of the herbs you can grow in your garden will probably be useful in some way or other. Fresh herbs are wonderful to use, but do remember to rinse them if they have been sprayed with anything, whether rose feed, pesticide, or contributions from a passing dog.
If using dried herbs, you can use them either loose or in teabags if they are available as such, e.g. one chamomile teabag. Loose herbs, provided you have access to these (my local herbalist has a large selection), give you more choice; howe'ver, they can be messy to use. Use either an infuser ball (I find a few bits always escape, though) or tie a few teaspoonfuls of herb up in a bit of muslin or similar fabric. You don't want to have bits of herb caught in your hair afterwards!
1) Put the herbs into a jug and add the vinegar and your essential oil.
2) Add the boiling water and stir to disperse the essential oils. Set to one side while you wash your hair: this gives it time to steep, and also for the water to cool a little. If you want a stronger herbal infusion, you can boil up herbs in a pan on the stove for ten minutes.
3) When you have finishe'd washing and rinsing your hair, add enough cool water to fill the jug nearly to the top and also to make it a bearable temperature. If you're feeling brave, go for cold water as it will give your hair added shine.
4) If you have very long hair, as I do, you can dip your hair into the jug before pouring its contents over your head, rubbing into the scalp and catching any stray bits of herb before they get caught in your hair. Avoid getting the rinse in your eyes, particularly if you have used essential oils.
5) Make sure you rinse out the shower afterwards, as some herbs can leave it looking slightly stained; similarly, watch out for your towels. The staining is only temporary and washes off/out very easily; it is more likely to occur with extra strong infusions.
Rosemary - excellent for all hair types and problems. Sage - traditionally used to restore colour to greying hair. Chamomile - another very useful herb for hair, traditionally used for lighter colour hair. Thyme - good for oily hair and dandruff.
Useful essential oils:
Rosemary and chamomile: see above. I would not advise thyme oil, since it is very strong and a potential skin irritant. Sage oil should not be used (unless by professionals, but I don't think they use it on hair); clary sage is a good substitute.
Cedarwood: very traditional oil for all hair types and conditions.
Lavender and geranium: useful for all hair types.
Lemon, patchouli, tea tree, ylang-ylang: useful for greasy hair and dandruff.
You can use any essential oil you fancy, provided it is not a skin irritant (I would never suggest using clove oil, for example). If I am in meditative mood I sometimes use frankincense, for example, or sandalwood (good for dry hair) if I want the lingering smell of sandalwood that day.
In general, this rinse keeps your hair in good condition and adds considerable shine, as well as seeming to make it tangle less. It is also a useful way of treating hair that is not looking its best, for example if it is dry, greasy or prone to dandruff. I have hair I can sit on, and people are always telling me how beautiful it looks and smells.
If you like doing facial saunas or face masks, before you wash your hair is a good time to do so. Here is what I usually do:
1) Put the herbs into the jug together with the boiling water, but do not add the vinegar yet. Put in only 2 drops of essential oil after the water has been added.
2) Put a towel over your head, tying long hair back, lean over the jug, and inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to scald yourself: if the steam is too hot, let it cool for half a minute or so.
3) Use a little of the infused water to mix up a face mask with clay and anything else you may use.
4) While the mask is drying on your skin, add the cider vinegar and the rest of the essential oils to the jug.
5) Wash the face mask off (I find it is easiest to do so in the shower) and proceed as above with the hair rinse.