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For the past several months now, something that I’ve become a superfan of is herb-infused oil. There are a few reasons why. One, I’ve always enjoyed combining carrier oils and essential oils. Two, in my quest to find the right oils for my hair, I’ve discovered that making my own infused oil is the far better bet. And three, there’s no way around the fact that applying some herb-infused oil to my scalp and hair has taken my hair growth journey to an entire new level.
If you’re curious about what this kind of oil is and how you can make it yourself (which can save you a mini mint), this is the article that can hopefully address all of your concerns so that you’ll feel inspired to make some of your own oil — sooner than later.
What Exactly Is Infused Oil?
OK, so when it comes to using infused oil for beauty purposes, what exactly is it? Probably the best way to explain it is, it’s when you use a carrier oil as a “base” and then add some herbs to it in order to get the optimal level of benefits from it.
How to Make Your Own Infused Oil
Here’s the thing — there are a lot of companies that sell infused oil. My issue is 1) you don’t always know if you’re getting what you think that you are and 2) a lot of them are expensive as all get out. That’s why I prefer to actually purchase fresh dried herbs and a carrier oil on my own and make the oil at home. That way, I can control what goes into it and save a few coins in the process. And just how do I make it all come together?
Step 1. Choose your dried herbs
This can either come from the produce section of your grocery store, a health food store or online. I get a lot of my dried herbs from shops on Etsy. Just go there and put “dried herbs” in the search field to choose the ones you would like (there are a ton!). I'll list my favorites down below.
Step 2. Stop by the arts and crafts store
Once you’ve got your herbs, swing by a Walmart or arts and crafts store to get a few mason (also called canning) jars and some cheesecloth (it helps you to strain your herbs). Oh, also get some plastic bottles that you can put the oil in. I like the kind that have an applicator tip because it’s so much easier to apply that way.
Step 3. Combine your herbs and oil
The next step is to put all of the herbs and oil that you want to use into a mason jar.
Step 4. Decide which method to go with
Once you’ve got everything in your jar, it’s time to decide if you want to use a double boiler, if you want to put the jar directly into a larger pot of hot water or if you want the jar to sit in a dark space for about 30 days, so that the herbs can really penetrate the oil. Personally, I prefer the second method. I will put my mason jar that’s full of herbs and oil into a large pot of water. I’ll bring it to a boil and then let it sit on simmer for most of the day (6-8 hours), although I do have one jar that has been sitting on one of my kitchen cabinets for about 20 days now (I just wanna see how much I like that method too). Anyway, if you’re more of a visual learner, there’s an easy DIY video that you can check out here.
Step 5. Strain the herbs and you’re all set
Once your herbs have either simmered for several hours or sat for about a month, it’s time to strain the herbs out so that you can use the oil on your hair and scalp. After the pot has cooled (so that you don’t burn yourself), get yourself another mason jar, put some cheesecloth over the top of it and slowly pour the infused oil over it so that the cloth catches the herbs. While some people keep the “oily herbs”, I discard them (I prefer to use “fresh” ones every time). Then transfer to a bottle and you’re all set. If you refrigerate your oil, it can easily last for about two months.
5 Carrier Oils to Try
I’ll get into the type of herbs that are great for your hair in a minute. For now, as far as the kind of carrier oils that you should try, there are five that get my top vote.
1. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is awesome because it’s loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, along with biotin and essential fatty acids. If you’re looking for the kind of oil that will help to seal your hair’s cuticles while also not leaving a super greasy feeling behind, this is one that will be super ideal for you.
2. Grapeseed Oil
Personally, I’ve been a fan of grapeseed oil for a hot minute now. It’s also got a ton of antioxidants in it, along with a fatty acid known as linoleic acid which helps to stimulate hair growth and help your hair to retain moisture. Something else that’s great about this oil is it contains properties that effectively fight dandruff while providing your hair with lots of natural sheen.
3. Pumpkin Seed Oil
Goodness, talk about an oil that is literally like a multivitamin for your hair and scalp. Vitamins E and K, zinc, omega-3 and phytosterol (which helps to produce collagen so that your hair has more elasticity) are all in this oil. And since it’s got a reputation for nourishes hair follicles while strengthening hair, of course, it had to make the list.
4. Sweet Almond Oil
I also like sweet almond oil a lot. Next to rosemary oil (which is also a pretty good carrier oil; although I’ll be shouting it out in a different way in a second), it’s my skin go-to. Anyway, sweet almond makes the list because it’s rich in biotin, has properties that can protect your hair from sun damage and, its antibacterial and fungicidal properties can make it a soothing and healing treatment if you happen to have scalp issues like dandruff or eczema.
5. Olive Oil
Another oil that a lot of infused oil experts are fond of is olive oil. Its antioxidant levels are totally off the charts; plus, thanks to all of the fatty acids that are in it, it’s able to deeply penetrate the shaft of your hair in a way a lot of oils cannot. Another cool thing about olive oil is it can block the production of dihydrotestosterone (DTH) which is attributed to hair loss. Yeah, olive oil is wonderful on a few levels. My only hesitation is it’s a got a slight smell to it (like olives), although, based on the herbs that you choose, that could cease to be as much of an issue.
By the way, if some of y’all are huge coconut oil fans and you’re wondering why I didn’t add it here, it’s because coconut oil usually solidifies at some point and while you can just put the container of your oil into a bowl of hot water to liquify the oil again, the extra step can sometimes be annoying. So, I just go with another kind of oil to avoid the hassle. And now, for the herbs to add to your carrier oil base.
Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash
7 Great Herbs for Your Hair
Off the top, did you know that if you massage rosemary into your scalp on a regular basis, it can increase your hair growth when massaged into the scalp? Since it also contains anti-inflammatory properties and it can increase blood flow to your scalp, that’s why it tops the list of herbs that are great for infused oil.
Lavender can thicken your hair. It’s got antimicrobial properties that can fight dandruff and other forms of fungus and bacteria too. Also, it triggers the growth of hair cells and the scent? There aren’t too many other herbs that are more soft and feminine.
3. Burdock Root
Burdock Root is a great herb because it helps to strengthen the structure of keratin which is the protein that your hair is made of. As if that isn’t awesome enough, it also contains anti-inflammatory properties, is rich in phytosterols, polyphenols and antioxidants and is quite beneficial when it comes to stimulating hair growth.
Polyphenols are compounds and calendula is an herb that is full of them. This is good to know because, not only can they help to prevent hair fall but they are also great at helping new hair to form where hair fall once occurred. Also, if your hair and scalp happen to be on the drier side, calendula is good for offering up extra moisture, so that your hair is far less dry and brittle.
You know how mint gives you that tingling feeling when you brush your teeth with it or apply it to your skin? That’s thanks to the menthol that’s in it and when you apply something like peppermint to your scalp, that sensation gets more blood flowing to your hair follicles which is always a good thing. Word on the street is peppermint can even increase the amount of hair follicles that you have; so, if you’re looking for an herb that can make your hair thicker, this would be the one.
Two of the main nutrients that healthy hair need are iron and protein — fenugreek has plenty of both. It also contains plant compounds like flavonoids and saponins which help to increase hair growth. And, since it also contains vitamins A, K & C, folic acid, calcium and potassium, putting some of this into your infused oil is literally like giving your hair the ultimate multivitamin.
7. Dandelion Root
Speaking of multivitamins for your hair, this herb has vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, choline, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium — and that’s just for starters! As a bonus, if your scalp is sensitive, it contains properties that soothe it. Plus, this herb is really good at helping your scalp to regenerate cells while strengthening the hair that you’ve already got in the process.
So, there’s a mini-tutorial on how to make your own herb-infused oil and now you know how the blend of certain oils and herbs can help your hair. I’d be shocked if after your first bath, you don’t start making it for your hair and skin on a regular basis. It’s one of the best DIY beauty hacks I know and my hair has been looking and feeling amazing because of it!
©Shellie R. Warren/2021