Feeling in a bit of a lavish mood after a particularly hot, dusty and sweaty day in the fields here at Notch Hill Organics weeding beets (knife in hand!) only to wipe my pearl-dampened brow with the back of a hand coated in fine soil particles (nature’s best natural sunscreen, I’m convinced,) I began to devise a plan to treat my oh-so-feminine-farmer-lass-self. Herbal Hair Treatment! Like, totally!
A few days ago I had harvested some wild horsetail growing in the fields and after small bunching them in rubber bands and hanging them from a coat hanger, I left them to dry hung up on the upstairs banister. Horsetail (Equisetum spp) is technically a fern-allie, and contains a generous amount of silica in its stem and tiny leaf whorls. Silica is a very important component in hair, skin and nails and is often in supplements for them. (Interestingly, the silica-content also makes the raw, dried plants very abrasive; so much so that Native Peoples and pioneers in North America used them as a scouring pad for pots and pans.) Nonetheless, horsetail is a great hair strengthener, scalp treatment and general lock-tonic.
The same day I had also harvested some chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) from the herb garden, snipped the flower heads off the stems and laid them on a baking sheet to dry on the counter. Chamomile is often found in hair care products on the store shelves and is a great rinse for blond hair as well just a nourishing hair tonic in general. I’ve even heard from a few sources that it can act as a lightener; this doesn’t make sense to me being the beauty school graduate that I am, but I’m all to happy to let nature and experiments prove what they will.
And so, with both of these herbs fairly well dried, I broke them up and covered them in apple cider vinegar (they didn’t have to be totally dried since vinegar, like alcohol, extracts both water- and oil-soluble properties in herbs) and put them in a pot on the stove until it just barely reached a boil. Vinegar is the menstruum of choice since it extracts all properties of the herbs and clarifies and softens your hair due mainly to its acidity. I turned the gas off quickly and towel-wrapped the pot before setting it in the fridge to chill off a bit.
Meanwhile, I decided to give my hair an interim oil treatment and dolloped a bit of coconut oil on and combed it through before braiding and wrapping my hair up. After half and hour or so, when the herbal vinegar had cooled enough, I sieved out the solid particles and bottled the rinse in a squirt bottle that promptly accompanied me to the shower.
Rinse. Shampoo. Repeat. Forego the conditioner – it’ll just block herbal properties from being able to penetrate the hair, and the vinegar will just rinse it away anyhow. Squirt on the rinse, let it sit for a moment, then rinse with cool or cold water. And, you’re done! Turn off the shower and slip in to a fresh-out-of-the-dryer towel (woah, now epicurean, let’s not get too carried away,) wring your hair out a few times, and wide-tooth comb it to tangle-free, soft and sassy tresses.
This is a great treat to indulge in every couple of weeks if you’d like, but any more than that and you risk over-stripping your hair and actually drying it out; especially if – like every other Epicurean Farmer – your locks are out in the sun’s rays everyday.