There's no shortage of supplements, treatments, tools, and creams that promise to give you a head full of amazing hair, but if you're on a quest for a covetable mane, look no farther than your pantry for all the ammo you need to truly transform your tresses. Turns out everything from apple cider vinegar to molasses can be used to make your hair look positively stunning, and at a fraction of the cost of some of those pricy treatments.
We caught up with Kyle White, the supremely talented lead colorist at the Oscar Blandi salon in NYC. He's apparently a DIY beauty whiz kid, too — he knows the foods you need to eat to make your hair look awesome, plus what to slather on your strands to add softness, shine, and even make your color more vibrant.
"My grandmother was an Italian immigrant who grew up during the Great Depression," he says. "She believed that homemade was always better than store-bought. While I may not completely agree with her on that, I definitely believe that there is great benefit in having this knowledge for holistic treatments. Incorporating these at-home treatments into your existing regimen of high-end beauty products allows for a more complete and balanced beauty regimen."
The best part about making your own hair masks (besides the price, of course): "These are very effective because you are using beneficial ingredients directly from the source, as opposed to from a laboratory," says White. "You know that the ingredients are fresh, and you can also customize them to fit your specific needs and preferences."
Read on for White's recipes for making your hair silky-soft, healthy, and all-around awesome with nothing more than a few ingredients from your local grocery store. Then get in the kitchen and start playing Betty Crocker — your hair will thank you.
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Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse
We already know many of you are big fans of this one
, but for the uninitiated, White says apple cider vinegar is an inexpensive way to boost shine and remove product build-up.
"Many women struggle with dull, lifeless hair," says White. "Shampoos, conditioners and styling products high in alkaline can build up on hair over time, coating strands and preventing shine. An apple cider vinegar rinse removes residue and restores hair's pH balance back to its natural acidic state. It also closes the hair's cuticle so that hair lies flat, making it glossy, healthy and more manageable." And if all that wasn't enough, he also says it's a great way to add subtle highlights to brunette hair, and remove excess sebum from the scalp.
Photos: MCV Photo, Via Bragg
"Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, which is extremely good for the scalp and is often added to a lot of products," says White. It also is a great moisturizer for dry, damaged strands, plus it's rich in potassium, a nutrient that is useful in promoting hair growth.
For this treatment, White says to combine two cups chopped, cooked pumpkin with a tablespoon of yogurt and puree in a blender. Add a tablespoon of honey and one of coconut oil, then mix to ensure it's smooth and well blended. Apply the mixture to damp hair, then cover hair with a plastic shower cap and wait 15 minutes. Rinse it out and style as usual.
Photos: MCV Photo, Via Cooking Without Borders; Savannah Bee Company; Fresh Direct
In addition to making your hair soft and healthy, you can also use some of these kitchen fixes to boost your color. "When using organic, natural ingredients you have less burning, itching, or other scalp irritation of chemical coloring," says White. "Without the strong chemicals that are in synthetic dyes, there is less risk of drying out the hair or causing irreparable damage. Other than the most obvious mistakes — say, a red cranberry rinse on a blonde highlights — natural at-home treatments are far less damaging or risky, and much more easily reversed than strong professional dyes could ever be."
One DIY color treatment that White loves is using cranberry to add subtle, temporary auburn tones to your hair. Start by washing and drying your hair to remove oil and build-up on the strands, then thoroughly dry your hair and brush out any knots. Tilt your head upside down over the sink and carefully pour 1/2 cup of all-natural cranberry juice — not the "cocktail" stuff — onto your locks. Work the juice in using your fingers, twist all of your hair up on top of your head, and secure it in place using a hair clip. Blow-dry your hair on the lowest heat setting until all of the cranberry juice is dry and then rinse the cranberry juice out of your hair using warm water. White advises repeating this process on a daily basis to maintain the tint for as long as you would like.
Photos: MCV Photo, Via Fresh Direct; John Frieda, Folica
Champagne Body Boost
Have a few bottles of leftover NYE champagne you don't know what to do with? Well, yeah, us neither, but if you managed not to drink yourself stupid last week and still have a few bottles of bubbly lying around, then you're in luck (and infinitely more restrained than we are). White says you can enhance golden tones, add volume, and amp up shine by pouring a glass of champagne in your damp hair and working it through your strands with a comb. Cheers!
Photos: MCV Photo, Via Veuve Clicquot
Carrot Top Color Enhancer
Beta-carotene, which is responsible for giving carrots their gorgeous orange hue, can also bring out golden tones in redheads, according to White. "To make carrots really work as a hair color rinse, you have to apply a mixture of pureed carrots with a tablespoon of lemon juice to the hair," he advises. "The lemon juice adds an acidic penetration enhancer, which is why it’s important for this rinse."
Photos: MCV Photo, Via Santa Cruz Organic; The Daily Green
Caramel Hair Relaxer
For curly-haired girls looking for a natural way to relax their coils, White recommends this sounds-good-enough-to-eat caramel hair mask. Combine 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of blackstrap molasses, 1/4 cup of olive oil, a splash of apple cider vinegar, and one container of banana baby food together in a bowl.
Divide hair into four sections so it's easier to work with. Secure each section with large hair clips to keep sections separate as you saturate each part with the mixture. Keep the hair near the nape of your neck unpinned, as this is the area you'll start with. Brush on the caramel hair treatment using an application brush or a small paint brush, starting at the roots near the nape of your neck. Apply the treatment to the remaining length of hair in that section, then continue the process on each section, until your hair is covered with the treatment. Cover your hair with a shower cap, and let it set for one hour, then rinse out the caramel treatment, wash your hair, apply a conditioner, and finish with a cold water rinse for added shine.
"A caramel hair treatment softens and hydrates the texture of hair, which promotes easier manageability for those who would like to naturally relax hair slightly," says White. "This offers women the ability to extend the time between salon visits if they frequent for a relaxer treatment. It can also reduce the amount of time a woman styles her hair with a hot straightening iron." White says this homemade caramel treatment can leave hair soft and easier to manage for up to four weeks.
Photos: MCV Photo, Via Fresh Direct
Sweet Potato Hair-Loss Remedy
And, for a kitchen remedy you can actually sink your teeth into, White suggests loading your plate with beta-carotene-rich foods like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and pumpkin.
"Beta-carotene in foods is converted to vitamin A in the body, and vitamin A is necessary for all cell growth, including hair growth" says White. "A deficiency can lead to dry, dull, lifeless hair and dry skin, which can flake off into dandruff." So fill your plate with yams as many times a week as you can in order to keep your tresses long, strong, and lush.
Photos: MCV Photo, Via Whole Foods