Handmade Hair Care — It Can Be Done!

In your quest for homemade alternatives to your favorite hair products, look no further than your pantry. That’s right, I said it — and I’m a professional hairstylist. I’ve been experimenting with at-home hair remedies for years, and I’m here to represent for the DIY enthusiasts in the house.

With a few ingredients you probably already have — or can easily get online or at your local Whole Foods — you can create your own arsenal of effective hair-care products that rival the ones you spend big bucks on at the salon. Make some room in your bathroom cabinets, babes, because this is an addictive hobby that’ll save you money and give you some new beautifying tricks.

Bonus: "Kitchen Hair Alchemy" is a perfect theme for a winter craft night, isn’t it? Mix up these easy recipes with a bunch of friends while you sip mulled wine, and leave with bottles full of pampering goodness that anyone will be stoked to unwrap. My own healthy obsession started with a ladies’ craft night a few years back, and I loved it so much that I founded my own company, making and selling these goods online and in the salon.

Ahead, I’m excited to share my six favorite hair-product recipes, from dry shampoo to curl crème. Gather your friends for some stirring, pouring, and styling fun! 

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Hair Serum

Who doesn't love the silky-smooth shine and luscious scent of Moroccanoil, which magically fills in gaps of damage in your strands? I used to constantly have this stuff around in the salon. The fine silicone worked wonders in my clients’ hair as a quick-fix for blowouts. I became determined to find a natural, silicone-free option.

I was thrilled to discover fractionated coconut oil, a.k.a. the lightest, most easily absorbable oil there is. It’s so penetrating that it fills in gaps in the strands where damage has happened, but so light that it won’t weigh down your hair and make you feel like a grease ball. It will, however, give you serious shine, softness, moisture, and heat protection. This serum is stupidly easy to make, and it works like a charm.

You’ll need:

4-oz glass dropper bottle, or an oil-dispensing bottle of any kind
4 oz fractionated coconut oil (buy it here, or find it at your local apothecary)
5 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent (optional) 


Fill your bottle almost to the top with fractionated coconut oil, leaving room for 5 drops of essential oil. Shake well. Use several drops of your serum at a time, as needed. Think of it as your blowdry BFF, heat protector, and frizz serum without the funky silicone build-up. It'll keep on your shelf for years, unrefrigerated.     

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Dry Shampoo

It took me years to realize that everyday washing was very harsh on my hair, and discovering dry shampoo for in-between washes has really helped me extend my second-day hair and cut down on styling time. After a lot of experimenting with different hair powders, I finally discovered dry-shampoo perfection: a lightweight blend of powders that freshens and cleanses by soaking up oil from your scalp, and creating a nice amount of texture and thickness without the dusty buildup.

You’ll need:

1 4-oz spice jar with shaker top
1 oz kaolin clay (buy it online here, or at your local health-food shop or apothecary)
2 oz arrowroot flour (buy here or at your local grocery store; if your hair is very dark, substitute same amount of fine, unsweetened cocoa powder)
1/2 oz baking soda
3 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent (optional; I like peppermint for this recipe)

Add 3 drops of essential oil to the bottom of your shaker. Pour the rest of your ingredients into a blender or bowl, and stir with a whisk thoroughly to mix powders. Pour through a funnel into your shaker, and shake well to diffuse the scent into the powder.

Use your powder anytime your hair needs freshening up. You can sprinkle it lightly into your roots and work it in with your fingers, or sprinkle it onto a hair brush and brush it through to revive and clean. I love it for fixing up limp bangs!      

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Wave Spray

Everyone loves a good sea-salt spray. After all, beach hair reminds us that quitting our jobs and buying surfboards could be considered a practical life choice (maybe). Whether your hair is straight and fine or thick and curly, sea-salt sprays can give you an added boost of texture and interior structure that will last for days, not to mention encourage waves and thicken your hair.

The great news is that even if you’ve talked yourself out of living the beach-bum life, getting beach-bum hair is within your grasp because this spray is super-simple to make at home. I've tested many recipes, on a quest for the perfect balance of texture, hold, and grip without the dryness. Short of bottling actual sea water (which you can also do, in a pinch), here is my favorite wave-spray recipe.      

You’ll need:
1 4-oz spray bottle
1 tbsp sea salt (I use Dead Sea salt, because it has a very high sodium content)
1 oz aloe-vera gel, which you can buy online here or find at any health-food store
3 green-tea bags
4 drops of your favorite essential oil or floral water for scent (optional; I like to use green-tea floral water for this recipe) 

Steep your green-tea bags in 8 ounces of boiling water. Let the whole thing cool overnight. Remove the tea bags, squeezing out all the excess tea. Pour 4 ounces of the tea into a pan, and bring it to a simmer. Add sea salt into your boiling tea. Turn stove off, and stir until all the salt has been mixed in. Let it cool. Stir the aloe vera and essential oil drops into the salt-and-tea mixture. Let it cool, stirring occasionally. Pour your mixture into your spray bottle.

Use your wave spray anytime you want beach hair! Flip your head upside-down and lightly mist it in everywhere, scrunching your strands to activate those waves. It will help soak up oil, keeping your hair from getting greasy, while adding messy perfection. I also love to spray it in my damp hair at night and sleep in braids to get mermaid waves for days. Spray it in for days in a row, layering it until you have achieved beach-bum hair nirvana. It will keep well on the shelf or in your purse, and it’s a great fix to keep on hand when your hair needs a little va-va-vooming.      

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Hair Rinse

There is no other way to say this: Apple-cider vinegar is magic for hair. Not only does ACV balance the scalp, it seals the cuticle into shiny, silky perfection. When mixed with water, ACV is a mildly acidic tonic which acts as a gentle cleanser and conditioner, without leaving gunky buildup behind. If you want to go suds-free, ACV rinsing is the BEST way to rebalance the scalp and keep your hair healthy and beautiful, while allowing your natural oils to regenerate slowly — without the oil factory that happens when your scalp overproduces to make up for shampoo’s stripping effects. So, mix up this rinse and use it weekly in lieu of shampoo.

When I make my hair rinse, I like to infuse the ACV with hibiscus to soften the hair and add body while stimulating growth, and horsetail for the strengthening power of its silica content. Think biotin on steroids! Infusing is easy: Steep your tea in your ACV for a week — just let it sit on your counter.

You’ll need:

16 oz apple-cider vinegar (buy it here or at any grocery store)
4 bags hibiscus tea
4 bags horsetail tea
5 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent (buy here, or at your local natural-food store or apothecary)

Measure 16 ounces of ACV, and pour it into a large Mason jar. Submerge your tea bags in the ACV. Add essential oils. Put on the lid, and set on a counter or window sill; preferably where there’s some sun. Give it a gentle shake every day, and let it sit for a week, minimum. 

To use, mix 1 tablespoon of your rinse with 4 ounces of water in a squirt bottle or cup, and apply to wet hair. Comb it through, and let it sit for two minutes. Rinse well. The ACV scent will disappear as your hair dries, leaving you with healthy, happy hair and a balanced scalp. Keep your mixture in a cool, dry place.      

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Hair Mask

This mask is here to save your hair from the ravages of winter! The forced-air heat, freezing temperatures, and winds are enough to fray those ends to the point of major breakage. This is a great time to work a weekly deep conditioner into your routine. A mask can work wonders by adding moisture back into parched hair, which can help protect your locks from future damage. I love to use this mask in my ends before I do my weekly ACV rinse.

You’ll need:
4-oz glass jar
2 oz (4 tbsp) raw honey (buy it here or at any grocery store)
2 oz (4 tbsp) coconut oil (buy it here or at any grocery store) 

In a small sauce pan, melt the coconut oil and honey slowly, on low. Pour carefully into your jar. It will separate, but don’t worry! Let it cool for half an hour. Once the liquid looks opaque, give it a good stir. Mix it well; until it looks thoroughly whipped. Let it cool fully; until it’s solid.

Use this mask weekly. I recommend using it mostly on your ends, which are often driest, avoiding the roots and scalp. I like to take a nice scoop of it and work it into my ends before I jump into the shower. Then, rinse it out well with warm water, and use your hair rinse. You can also apply your mask to wet hair after you shampoo, using it as your deep conditioner. Let it sit for 20 minutes, and rinse with warm water. Store your mask in a cool, dry place.      

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Curl Crème

If you are curly, you understand. We need a little something extra when it comes to a styling crème. Those slippery silicone serums and leave-in conditioners are not quite enough for the wonderful, unruly wildness of our curls. We need something a little heavier, a little stickier (but not too sticky!), and with a little more muscle. Happy curls depend on truly moisturizing ingredients that are lightweight enough to penetrate the strands, but heavy enough to smooth, define, and protect from damage. And, as any curly girl knows, the perfect crème is hard to find! Well, I present to you your new BFF: a customizable crème to help you keep your curls healthy, bouncy, and alive.

You’ll need:
4-oz glass jar
1 oz coconut oil (buy here or at your local grocery store)
1 oz shea butter (buy here, or at your local natural-food store or apothecary)
1/2 oz beeswax (buy here or at your local apothecary)
1/2 oz castor oil (buy here, or at your local natural-food store or apothecary)
5 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent (optional; buy here, or at your local natural-food store or apothecary) 

*For finer curls, use less beeswax and more coconut oil. For coarser curls, up the beeswax and use slightly less coconut oil. 

In a small saucepan, measure and add ingredients. Melt together slowly on low heat. Once melted, add your essential oil. Stir well, and pour into your jar. Let your curl crème cool.

Use your crème to help set your hair in perfectly formed curls by applying to very wet strands. Rub a pea-sized amount between your hands, and gently scrunch it into your hair. Try not to rake your fingers through your hair; this will upset the curl pattern. Try to let your mane dry without touching it at all. Or, you can apply your crème to dry hair as needed to help define your curls and smooth frizz. Store in a cool, dry place.      

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Photographed by Davide Luciano.

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