I have made a valiant effort over the past two years to repair my damaged, brittle hair, a result of the perfect storm of hypothyroidism and chemical highlighting damage (you can read all about it and see the pics here). When I say I tried everything, I’m really not kidding. I tried “noo poo,” low poo, water only washes, honey, countless masks, serums and treatments, and finally cutting it all off. I’m happy to say my hair is on the mend and that I’ve finally settled on a good routine that works for me: mostly low poo, using low- or no-chemical products. I now shampoo only once or twice weekly using the Shea Moisture line, and I do water only washes with chamomile tea or apple cider vinegar rinses in between. Along the way, I picked up some other great tips and additions to my arsenal, including this homemade strengthening hair mist.
I tried the Morocco Method line, and their cleansers and conditioners did not work at ALL for my hair, but I really liked their moisturizing crystal mist. It lightly hydrated my dry hair without coating it. I have low porosity hair which means the cuticle is jammed shut and not overly accepting of hydration, explaining why so many oils and elixirs I’d apply would just coat my hair and sit on the strands rather than hydrate and moisturize it. Low porosity hair repels water but desperately needs the moisture, so the trick it to apply agents that attract water to the hair and keep it on the hair to moisturize. Enter aloe.
Aloe vera contains enzymes that promote hair growth, and it seals in moisture and tames frizz. Its humectant properties moisturize low porosity hair without making it crunchy or stiff.
I’m always looking for ways to encourage growth and repair, and I wanted a light, leave-in mist to add moisture to my hair throughout the days when it starts to look frizzy and dry. I came up with this conditioning spray made with nourishing and moisturizing herbs and essential oils. This will work wonders on dry, damaged hair and nourish the scalp to promote new growth. Plus, it smells amazing thanks to the ylang ylang essential oil. BONUS: chamomile is a natural hair lightener, so you can spray it on before you go out in the sun to get some sunkissed highlights. You’ll save $250 (what it used to cost to highlight my hair) and spare your hair all the toxic chemicals that cause damage longterm.
Here is my simple strengthening and moisturizing mist recipe to condition and lighten up your locks while helping with hair growth. Use it on dry hair that needs a little moisture throughout the day, or when hair is air-drying after a shower. You can also use it post blow dry so hair doesn’t dry out. I spritz it on after I apply leave-in conditioner, or if my hair is looking frizzy and needs a drink.
Homemade Strengthening, Smoothing, and Highlighting Hair Mist
A look at the ingredients
Aloe decreases frizz and moisturizes the hair shaft. It attracts and seals in moisture and contains minerals and fatty acids to strengthen hair.
Nettle is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals (especially iron!) that make the hair stronger and shinier, and it promotes growth. Drinking nettle tea can help nourish hair from the inside out, too.
Chamomile is a soothing and healing herb. It lightens hair naturally, fights dandruff, soothes an irritated scalp, adds shine and makes my hair smooth and soft.
Ylang Ylang essential oil has a delightfully jasmine-like fragrance, and it’s excellent for both skin and hair. It’s said to stimulate growth and is a natural conditioner. I love the way it smells, and it’s smoothing to unruly strands. I’ll occasionally mix a drop or 2 in with leave-on conditioners or coconut oil as a natural serum.
- 250 ml spray bottle (use glass for best results.)
- 1 cup brewed nettle tea
- 1 cup strongly brewed chamomile tea
- 2 tbsp blended aloe vera or gel
- 5 drops ylang ylang
- Bring the water to boil.
- Add the dried or fresh herbs, lower the heat and simmer covered for 5 mins. Turn off the heat and let the herbs cool. Strain. You can also use bagged tea (I double bag for extra strength).
- Combine the strained & cool herbal mixture with the essential oils & aloe vera in the spray bottle, and shake thoroughly to combine.
- NOTE: if using fresh aloe, you'll need to combine in a blender or mini food processor and blend til smooth so it won't have chunks. I snip aloe leaves from my plant.
- I store this in the refrigerator.
Tips & Modifications
- If your hair is dark and you’d like to deepen the shade rather than lighten it, replace the chamomile with sage or black tea.
- Green tea may also stop hair loss, and the caffeine can stimulate growth. You can replace the nettle with green tea.
- I’ve also made this with 2 cups of chamomile tea instead of 1 cup chamomile and 1 cup nettle. This is better if you want to lighten your hair in the summer.
- You can use 5 drops peppermint instead of ylang ylang to stimulate hair growth, but this will only work on the scalp, not the strands, so make sure to coat your scalp if you use peppermint essential oil.
- As mentioned above, I use fresh aloe from the plant in my yard. I scrape the gel out of the leaves and blend everything together in a mini food processor, because it can be chunky. You can also just use plain aloe vera gel.
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Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.