Despite the fact that we have been taught that oils in our hair are bad (unsightly, gross, unclean, etc.) and that we should wash them out on a daily basis, the oils in our hair are, in fact, a good thing. Our bodies know how to take care of themselves without chemical intervention. The oils in our hair protect and condition. You may be surprised to hear this, but you don’t need to use conditioner on your hair to keep it healthy.
Conditioners contain a plethora of unpleasant ingredients – they make the hair look great but at what price? Fragrance and (usually synthetic) preservatives can be found in almost all conditioners. Then you have polymers, silicones, and surfactants, all of which bind to the surface of your hair for the purposes of repelling moisture, smoothing the hair follicle, detangling, and creating shine. Did you catch the phrase “BIND to the surface of your hair”? In other words – they don’t rinse out. So you are walking around with a head full of chemicals all day long.
As far as I’m concerned, nothing is more effective than a good, old-fashioned vinegar rinse. According to Rosemary Gladstar:
Vinegar is especially suited for oily hair, though it can be used effectively for dry hair as well. Apple cider vinegar is usually the best vinegar for the hair, but wine vinegar is milder and more appropriate for dry hair. Vinegar rinses are also good for itchy scalp, dandruff, and dull hair, and they help restore the natural acid of the scalp.
For the rinse, you will mix apple cider vinegar with water – a 1:4 part ratio for oily hair, and a 1:6 part ratio for dry hair. You can do this in a cup, or simply pre-mix the two ingredients in a large spray bottle or squeeze bottles. I prefer to either mix it in the shower with the warm water, or use a spray bottle, as pouring the rinse over the head all at once can be surprisingly cold – even in the summer.
Soak the hair with this mix after shampooing (or no-pooing) and rinsing out the sham/no-poo. In other words, this isn’t meant to rinse out your shampoo – and definitely NOT to rinse out your baking soda wash! (Vinegar and baking soda mixed in the hair would not be good.) Work it into the scalp, then rinse out. If you can stand to alternate hot and cold water, this is supposed to give the hair a nice shine.
Vinegar rinses make the hair so smooth and soft – you will be surprised if you’ve never tried it before.
Now, if you are worried that you will smell like a salad after using this – try it, first. For the majority of people, the vinegar smell disappears as soon as the hair is dry. You have to be willing to experiment. You may want to try diluting the vinegar with more water if you find the smell too strong. I typically use 2-4 tablespoons in three cups of water, but sometimes I use the regular 1:4 dilution ratio. If you have any problems, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Google vinegar rinses – there are millions of tips on the internet.
You can also add a few drops of essential oils to your rinse. I use rosemary, which is great for oily hair, or lavender, which helps with itchy scalps. Basil and peppermint are said to promote hair growth, patchouli and ylang ylang can help counter dandruff, and chamomile and lemon are great for enhancing the golden highlights in blond hair.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with this one – vinegar rinses are so good for the hair. Give it a try.