Archive for the ‘hair’ Category

I think I need another food snob week

A while ago, I tried an experiment, where I tried to be incredibly discerning in what I ate, not just in searching for objectionable ingredients, but making the entire eating experience engaging to all the senses. It was fun and I had some great meals and developed slightly better habits regarding free snacks at work.

Well, I think it’s time I did that again. Pictures will probably go up on A Little Wild, if I bother to move them from camera to computer. That’s been something I’ve neglected lately. I’ve just been feeling overwhelmed with life, in general. I applied for some jobs, hoping maybe a job offer would help me light a fire to get my degree work done.

Saturday, I’m going to henna my hair. I did a first application a couple weeks ago, kind of a proof-of-concept with the leftover Jamila henna I had in the freezer from when I used to do my toenails. It worked nicely, although it pretty much only shows up on my grey hairs. I bought some organic Rajasthani henna, which is supposed to give burgundy tones, so it might actually change my overall hair color a little.

I’ll post pictures and thoughts when I have some sort of result.

Simple Natural Beauty: Basic Hair Care

This is the big one. I am like Jo March in that my hair is my one vanity. I don’t wear makeup and I’ve never been able to stick to a skin care routine that’s too complicated or reliant on expensive products. But I do love to take care of my hair. In college, I donated my waist-length hair to Wigs for Kids, cutting back to a funky, shoulder-length shag. I also dyed it burgundy. I felt fun and hip again, but I also felt less feminine. Fast-forward to about 3 and a half years ago, when I got all my previously-dyed hair cut off and started growing out my natural hair color. I have a few grey hairs, but I don’t plan to color my hair again.

In 2009, I joined the Long Hair Community and really got serious about growing back my beautiful long hair. I experimented with a lot of different methods of hair care, but I eventually found one that meshes well with my views on natural products, as well.
Washing:
I alternate between washing with diluted baking soda and washing with diluted Dr. Bronner’s soap. My basic baking soda routine is to add a tablespoon of baking soda to a hair dye applicator bottle and then fill the bottle to 4-5oz. with water. I shake it up, apply it to my scalp, and massage it in for a bit before rinsing. To wash with Dr. Bronner’s soap, I put a teaspoon or two of soap in the applicator bottle and dilute it with 2-3 oz. of warm water. This I also squirt onto my scalp, and then lather it up with my hands. Rinse well.
After washing with an alkaline solution, you need to re-balance your hair. I achieve this by putting 2-4 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar in a pint-sized jar and filling it the rest of the way with warm water. This I pour over my head, making sure it gets everywhere. Then I rinse again. This rinse will also remove any mild soap scum that might have resulted from the interaction of your water with the soap.
I do find that if I use soap exclusively, I get tangly buildup on my ends. I have to use baking soda at least once every couple weeks to keep this at bay. The main point is that I only wash my hair 2-3 times a week. I try to schedule washes for days when I go running and my hair will be sweaty, but if I do go running on a non-wash day, I will just rinse my hair with water.
After Washing:
I like to use oil on damp hair in order to condition my hair, provide slip for detangling, and hold in moisture. I have used coconut oil in the past, but I find that in the winter, it is hard to get it to soak in before it solidifies. So I mostly use liquid oils. My favorite right now is grapeseed oil, which is very lightweight and provides excellent slip. I also use sweet almond oil for a richer oil.
I apply about 1/4 tsp. to the ends of my hair with my palms, working my hands up my length. I have hair down to the middle of my back, so someone with shorter hair will need less oil and someone with longer hair will need more. I did not find oiling to be useful until my hair was well past my shoulders, as applying oil too close to the scalp can sometimes leave your hair looking greasy. I apply oil before putting my hair up in a towel turban, but after a light towel-blotting.
Troubleshooting:
I have to stress that this is just my personal hair care routine. I’ve done a lot of experimenting to get to this point, and what works for me will not work for everyone. If you have curly hair, you may find that you need more moisture. One thing you might try is the Oil Shampoo Method, which has been successful for people who need more moisture out of a wash. I use this method once in a while, with Dr. Bronner’s soap as the base, to alleviate scalp itching in the winter, but I cannot use it regularly as my hair does not need this much moisture and it leaves my hair looking greasy.
You can also experiment with different oils, or how much oil you use. If you have coarser hair, you may need more oil; if you have finer hair you may need less. Right now, I find that grapeseed oil is the closest thing to a lightweight silicone serum that I can find using natural products. The almond oil is richer. You can also look at this list to choose a different oil or butter, based on your needs.
Also, if you have harder or softer water, you may need adjust the strength of your diluted vinegar rinse, or use a different acid. If you have blond hair, you may want to use lemon juice or white vinegar, as apple cider vinegar has been known to darken or redden blond hair. If you find that your hair feels waxy after washing with soap, you need to increase the amount of vinegar in your rinse. If your hair feels limp, lank, or greasy, you need to reduce the amount of vinegar in your rinse.
One more caveat: The first time I tried washing with baking soda, as part of the “no ‘poo” method, I found that the baking soda stripped out all the artificial color in my hair, leaving the dyed length of my hair brassy and faded-looking. It was also visibly damaged. It made it easy to show the hair stylist where to cut to get rid of the dyed stuff, but if you want to continue coloring your hair with chemicals, you may want to skip baking soda washing. If you want to try something more natural, consider henna, indigo, or other herbal blends.
I hope this primer on my basic natural hair care has given you some ideas to help make your beauty routines more natural! Next, I’ll share some of my hair styling tips for very long hair.
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

Simple Homemade Balm


This is a quick remedy that I made a while ago, but recently found pictures and realized I’d never posted it. I love lip balms. Growing up, my dad always had a Chapstick with him, and made sure, as we got older, that his kids did, too. My mom would put Chapsticks in our Christmas stockings. And, yes, I did put a few of them through the wash. That’s a nasty surprise.

But as I’ve moved to more natural products, I no longer use petrolatum-based lip balms. I also find that vegan lip balms don’t have the same benefits as a good beeswax balm. I like Burt’s Bees, but it’s expensive. Plus, beeswax balm isn’t just good on lips.
I make my balm with about 1/2 oz. of beeswax and an ounce of liquid oil. The balm pictured is beeswax and sweet almond oil. I grate the wax and melt it into the oil over low heat, then pour it into a pot and stir it with a toothpick occasionally until it sets up. It’s nice and soft and melts on my fingers. It also makes a nice treatment for the ends of my hair.
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.
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In Honor of my Newest Follower

My journey to herbal medicine is a winding, circuitous one. It somewhat starts with my husband, who drinks Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care tea when he’s sick rather than running straight for the Sudafed. From there, I met his mother and grandmother, who raised him with natural remedies. My mother-in-law was always my go-to resource when I had a problem that conventional medicine couldn’t solve.

But the other thing that brought me to herbal medicine and homemade remedies was being a member of the Long Hair Community. This vibrant, eclectic community of men and women brought together by a love of growing long, healthy hair loves to share recipes for hair treatments, many of which are mixed up in the kitchen, rather than the lab of some cosmetic company. Well, today I noticed that I have a new follower, one of my hair idols from this community. So as a shoutout to her, I’m going to share a proto-type herbal hair vinegar I made for re-acidifying my hair after washing my hair with homemade (by someone else) cold-process soap.
Herbal Hair Vinegar
I made this on a whim, and would much prefer to use fresh herbs. The rosebuds didn’t seem to do much scent-wise, so I would probably stick to sage and nettle alone. It has a lovely, herb-y scent, and I swear it makes my hair shinier. Be careful with this if you’re blonde, as I’ve heard sage can darken hair.
In a 500-ml jar, put:
0.30 oz. dried red roses
0.25 oz. dried nettle leaves
0.30 oz. dried sage leaves
Fill jar with pasteurized apple cider vinegar, cover (use a jar with a plastic lid or put a piece of waxed paper between the vinegar and the lid if you want to prevent rust from forming) and let steep for at least 6 weeks. Strain and use for hair rinses. I use about 2-4 Tbsp. diluted in a 23-oz. jar filled the rest of the way with water. I pour this mixture through my hair immediately after washing with soap, and then rinse it with warm and then cool water.