Step 1: Pick a handful of Rosemary.
Step 2 (optional): Pick a couple of stems of Sage and a few extra leaves.
Step 3: Bash fresh herbs with the business end of a rolling pin (because it’s fun but also because people say it helps to liberate the various essences) and place in a pan of cold water corresponding to the size of bottle you’d like to fill, plus a little extra to make up for evaporation loss.
Step 4: Bring to boil, cover to stop the volatile (Latin: volare “to fly”) oils escaping, simmer for 1/4 of an hour then take off heat and allow to cool. Strain & bottle.
There, wasn’t that simple?
I’ve had satisfactory results over the last 3-4 months just washing my hair with warm water, pouring a capful of this stuff on, massaging it all in and toweling dry without re-rinsing. I like the smell, it leaves my (nearing neck-length) hair feeling grease-free & healthy, plus I know what went into it and didn’t give my money to any nasty pharmaceutical company*.
I got the recipe from Pamela Michael’s Edible Wild Plants & Herbs. The first time I just used Rosemary, but she repeats the instructions in the entry for Sage, so I’m experimenting with a mixture of the two†. Michael notes that ‘All sorts of commercial preparations for the hair are made with rosemary, and its good effects are well known [...] A little rubbed into the scalp daily gives the hair a nice sheen and wholesome fragrance’. She says that ‘it will not keep for more than a week or ten days once opened’ but my last bottle lasted about 2 months, just getting a little darker in colour and stronger-smelling. Perhaps the plant’s strong antiseptic properties help with this. Anyway, they say fermented plant-feed gets more effective with age…
In case you were worrying that this concoction would only suit an aspiring Cro-Magnon such as myself, here’s a decent page of Rosemary info for you, written by a woman who has had ‘many long haired beauties [recommend] rosemary herbal hair teas, oil and rinses’ over the years ‘to stimulate my follicles and grow my hair longer and stronger’. More relevant bits:
Rosemary For Hair
This magnificent herb is widely respected for its value as a hair and beauty aide. Rosemary can also be used in the bath, on the face and as a body or scalp massage.
Believed to stimulate hair follicles and hair growth, rosemary is generally believed to slow down or even permanently hold off premature hair loss and gray hair.
Rosemary oils and concoctions will soothe and condition dry, flaky scalps. When applied in a concentrated form to the roots and scalp, rosemary is helpful in clearing many cases of dandruff. Rosemary also mixes well with tea tree and basil for stubborn scalp problems.
Rosemary Hair Oils
Rosemary is known to help darken gray hair over time (although not obvious for a long time) and it is considered to be a stimulant for the roots and the scalp. Many people trying to help stimulate their hair to grow longer or healthier swear by various rosemary infused recipes.
If you have long hair with some hints of gray, you may want to avoid using commercial dyes or colors to protect the health of your hair. Over an extended period of time rosemary rinses and oils are rumored to gently and softly darken gray hair. Rosemary will also eliminate dryness and act as an excellent conditioner.
Besides being rumored to help grow hair faster & prevent pre-mature baldness (no scientific evidence to that at this point) it is also good for knocking out dandruff.
If you have blonde or light colored hair you may NOT want to try this recipe as it may darken your hair.
Apparently a rinse made with Chamomile flowers is good for blondes, but they haven’t come out yet (the flowers, not the blondes). Other good ones include Stinging Nettle, Yarrow and Burdock. While you’re at it you can use the same plants to make yourself a nice cup of tea!
* – I recommend Pat Thomas’ snappily-titled Cleaning Yourself To Death for a forensic investigation of all the toxic (including carcinogenic) ingredients and industrial waste-products that corporations have dumped on us in the form of cosmetics and cleaning products. She explains how unnecessary most of these are (of course – that’s why they have to spend so much money on advertising) and provides alternative options including simple recipes you can make in your own kitchen.
† – Try it yourself, but I think I’ll just be sticking to Rosemary in the future. After a week of daily use my hair feels maybe a bit cleaner and ‘fluffier’, but it’s also curling all over the place and getting rather unmanageable. Well, it’s probably time to cut it too…