By Cipriana Quann
For years I used products containing mineral oil to coat my strands. Many manufacturers use mineral oil in a majority of products that contain synthetic ingredients because of its behavior as a preservative. Mineral oil is the result of the distillation of petroleum which acts as a saran wrap against your scalp, slowing down one of the skin’s main job which is to eliminate toxins. On the other hand natural oils are easily absorbed by the skin.
When I used products that consisted mostly of synthetic materials such as Blue Magic I’m not going to lie my hair did grow, but it was not until I switched to all natural products that I began to see the true potential of my growth capability. Before the change in my regimen I experienced a GREAT deal of shedding and dandruff. Now those days are far behind. I’m still fascinated by how are body responds to topical products. Not only is it important to watch what we put into our bodies but what we put on it as well.
My boyfriend’s grandfather is full Cherokee Indian and when we met three years ago he always talked about the importance of what you put on your body, coming from a background of ancestors rich in a holistic lifestyle. But I could not and would not give up my trusty Coconut Blue Magic until just about a year ago. When I finally gave in to the natural “stuff” I was determined that this was just a trial period and I would be back on my good old Blue Magic in no time. Well it’s been a year later and I am still using the natural “stuff”. For years I had been so accustomed to my hair feeling greasy from the mineral oil based products that it took me a while to really understand what my hair felt like with natural oils.
Again I am not here to force you into switching into an all-natural regimen, do what works best for you, but I did come across two interesting articles from ehow.com about the usage of certain natural oils by Native Americans and the distinct benefits the hair reaps from each of these natural oils.
1. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is an extract of the Jojoba plant found in California, Arizona and parts of Mexico. Jojoba oil has been used for hundreds of years by American Indians to moisturize and grow hair. The molecular makeup of jojoba has similar characteristics to the natural oil the glands of the scalp produce. Jojoba oil can be purchased at herb shops and can be applied directly to your hair or you can add a few drops to your favorite conditioner to promote hair growth. Jojoba is hypoallergenic and will not harm your hair or scalp. Aloe vera is another product used by Native American Indians to promote hair growth and is also an excellent moisturizer for your hair.
Mix 1/4 cup of wheat germ, 1/4 cup of aloe vera and 1/4 cup of coconut milk and use this product as a natural shampoo. Aloe vera can be purchased at drugstores and herb shops and can also be applied directly to the scalp as it will open pores on the scalp that may have previously been blocked and will allow the hair follicles to grow. The American Indians also used and continue to use several kinds of oils to promote hair growth such as emu oil, rosemary oil, and mustard oil.
A few drops of any of these products can be massaged directly into the scalp to stimulate the hair follicles and promote hair growth. Peppermint oil is also a good scalp stimulator but must be diluted before application. Mix 3 drops of peppermint oil with 3 teaspoons of water and massage into the scalp. These oils can be purchased at herb shops and all are hypoallergenic and not harmful to the hair or scalp.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula officinalis), native to the Mediterranean, is now grown in temperate climates worldwide. For centuries, lavender has been used by herbal practitioners to prevent baldness and to encourage new hair growth. Lavender contains potent anti-bacterial agents that soothe and heal scalp infections. It is useful in treating dandruff and adds volume to the hair shaft. Place a few sprigs of lavender in a glass container and cover with extra-virgin olive oil and cover tightly. Place in a cool, dark spot and allow to age for 3 to 4 weeks. Use the lavender infused oil as a daily scalp massage. Apply and leave on overnight. In the morning, wash hair with a gentle organic shampoo and style as usual.
A daily rinse of lavender water (bring water to a boil, add a few sprigs of lavender, reduce to simmer for 20 minutes, then cool) will impart a delightful fragrance and shine to hair. Apply lavender as a daily rinse after shampooing.
Burdock (Arctium Lappa) root oil, also known as Bur oil is one of the most important herbs used to restore hair. Burdock promotes healthy hair by relieving scalp irritations and improving blood circulation to the hair follicle. Burdock root oil supplies natural phytosterols and important essential fatty acids to hair roots, and has been traditionally used to reduce and reverse hair thinning. It is a key ingredient in many hair restoration treatments.
6. Saw Palmetto
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) has been used for centuries as both a food staple and as a healing medicinal herb. The herb produces a dark red berry which is dried and then pulverized into a fine powder. Saw palmetto is available in several forms including ointments, capsules, tinctures and teas. Recent scientific studies have shown that Saw Palmetto may have beneficial effects for those suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); male pattern baldness and other conditions associated with excess DHT (male hormone) production.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica Diocia), found growing naturalized across America, blocks the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Excessive DHT contributes to hair loss in both men and women. Stinging nettle can be purchased in either pill or capsule form and is said to be more effective when used in combination with saw palmetto. Nettle can be harvested in the wild (use gloves as the leaves are covered with tiny hairs that cause a stinging sensation upon contact with human skin). The fresh leaves can be submersed in olive oil in a glass jar. Seal and place in a cool, dark spot for 2 to 3 weeks. Apply the oil in an invigorating scalp massage. Stinging nettle essential oil is frequently an ingredient in organic shampoos and conditioners.
Used for centuries in cultures worldwide to promote hair growth and delay the onset of gray hair, Rosemary oil stimulates blood circulation of the scalp. A refreshing daily rinse of rosemary leaves simmered in water retains hair color. The rinse is most effective on dark hair. A few drops of rosemary oil can be added to olive oil and used as a scalp massage oil.