Hair is a great indicator of general health. Other indicators are: the complexion, clearness of the eyes and color and quality of the fingernails. Hair health is one of the doctor’s instant symptomatic indicators of good or poor health.

Like the skin on our body and our fingernails, hair is a form of outer covering/protection  –  containing a protein known as keratin. It gets its nourishment from the food we eat, and quickly indicates either the lack of nutrients or, often, the lack of absorption of specific foods.

If your parents had strong hair, most likely you will too. The other factors that affect healthy hair, besides genes, are stress, sleep and adequate protein. Your hair also needs an internal source of oil and moisture.

Here are some of your hair’s worst enemies:

  • Overindulgence in carbohydrates such as overly processed cereals, cake, soda and sugar.
  • Too much sun.
  • Nylon brushes; they split hair ends and damage it over time. Always use natural bristle brushes.
  • Chemicals such as rinses, tints and bleaches.
  • Shampoos that are too harsh and not gentle on the hair.

When you do not feel well, even if you have only a cold, it helps to shampoo and massage your scalp. This touching of energy points acts to start an internal healing process.

The dual importance of shampooing

Shampooing is very important not only in maintaining the appearance of your hair, but also its health. Always treat your hair gently and look for shampoos and conditioners based on herbal and other natural ingredients.

You can make an herbal shampoo by adding a strong infusion (a teaspoon of blossoms or flowers boiled in water for three to five minutes) of herbs to your favorite coconut, castile or avocado shampoo.

Also you can add these herbs to a plant substance containing nature’s soaping ingredient  –  saponin.

For light-colored hair shampoo, make a strong chamomile infusion and add to the shampoo. Besides being a hair lightener, chamomile is a softening agent. Other suggestions: add an infusion of mullein flowers or nettle, or a decoction of white bark root.

Those with normal or oily light hair can add a beaten egg white; those with dry, light hair should add a beaten egg yolk.

For a dark-hair shampoo, add either rosemary or sage infusion or rosemary oil. These herbs are best known to revitalize hair.

Consider dry shampoos traditionally used in the Far East

In many parts of the world, especially the Far East, where the women and men pride themselves on their long, lustrous and healthy hair, few of them ever wash their hair. Instead, they brush through it some form of absorbent meal or powder, depending on available resources.

The advantage of these dry shampoos is the sparkling look they give to the hair once it is properly brushed out as well as the boost the hair gets when its necessary 2 percent acid mantle level is not constantly washed out. Orrisroot, from pulverized Florentine iris root, has been used for dry shampoos for many centuries. Fuller’s earth can also be used. Part the hair in sections and sprinkle in the absorbent substance until the whole head has been covered at the scalp. Brush vigorously five minutes later. If you have dry hair, do not shampoo too often. In summer, once a week is best. First shampoo your hair with a restorative herbal shampoo.

If your hair is really limp, add a whole beaten egg, or preferably two egg yolks and one-half packet of unflavored gelatin dissolved in one-fourth cup of boiling water. Then condition your hair and rinse out.

Hair Shine Restorative

  • 2 Tbsp rosemary
  • 1 pint boiling water
  • 3 oz oil of sweet almonds
  • 10 drops lavender essence

Mix together one ounce of an infusion of rosemary, almond oil and lavender to create a scented luster restorer for dark hair. Parsley can also be used. Boil it in water for 20 minutes. Use cool water as a final rinse to add shine to the hair.

Here are some beneficial ingredients you should look for in shampoos and conditioners:

* Vinegar. To overcome most dandruff and scalp itch, massage diluted or undiluted apple cider vinegar into the scalp. To create an aromatic vinegar, add lavender water to the apple cider vinegar.

* Oil. This is an excellent hair aid. Castor oil strengthens the hair. Use it in a hot pack. Other oils which make effective hot oil packs are hot olive oil and hot flaxseed oil. These packs, which are especially soothing for dry hair, can be used twice weekly.

After massaging the oil into the hair, cover your hair with a plastic cap to keep the heat in and allow the oil to penetrate into the hair for a half hour. Shampoo with a nondetergent-based shampoo, preferably one with an olive oil, coconut or avocado base.

* Nettle. This is highly regarded for hair restoration and in controlling dandruff. You can make an instant infusion with two tablespoons of the natural juice plus a pint of boiling water, or use four tablespoons of dried nettle leaves and a pint of boiling water; steep for an hour. Strain. To this mixture, add one-fourth cup apple cider vinegar. Massage this preparation onto the scalp each night.

Everyone should treat their hair to a conditioner, at least every other wash, to keep it looking great. Be sure to allow time for the conditioner to set in before rinsing out.

Here are some great conditioning ideas:

* For a heavy-duty conditioning routine with the oils previously mentioned, try this  –  heat the oil and saturate the hair. Cover the hair with a layer of wax paper or plastic wrap. Cover hair again with a heavy-duty plastic cap. Add heat with a towel-wrap. You can leave this on overnight. When you wash the oil out, your hair will glisten.

* Eggs contain excellent hair-helping proteins and lecithin, which restores the hair’s texture and luster. Try this protein cure: one or two eggs, one tablespoon castor oil, one tablespoon glycerine, one teaspoon cider vinegar. Beat together all ingredients. Apply after initial shampoo. Leave on for at least 15 minutes to one-half hour. Rinse.

Cocoa Butter Conditioner

  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa butter
  • 1 Tbsp anhydrous lanolin

In the top of a double boiler, melt together the oil, the cocoa butter and the lanolin until they are completely dissolved and blended together. Beat with electric mixer. Take three tablespoons of this mixture and add one tablespoon water. Mix again. Use on hair if it is very dry. This is not for oily hair!

For those who do not have time for a do-it-yourself hair make-over, your health food store has many natural shampoos and conditioners to choose from. These are cruelty-free and are designed to keep your hair looking its best.