Keratin hair treatments can smooth and straighten even the wildest hair, but they take a toll on your wallet and the heath of your tresses. Herbal alternatives deliver similar results as Keratin treatments by moisturizing the hair while mending and preventing breakage. There is not a single herb or essential oil that specifically straightens hair, but many promote healthy hair, which naturally appears smooth and shiny.
Herbs and essential oils improve the health of hair in two ways: they provide moisture, which smooths and protects the surfaces of hair strands; and they stimulate scalp circulation for faster and healthier growth. Some home remedies call for the use of medicinal plants in their leaf (herbal) form, but most natural hair-care products use the essential-oil form. According to Anthony C. Dweck's article "Unusual Plants for Hair Care," many of these same plants are also useful in treating dandruff.
Herbs are plants used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The term most commonly refers to the leaves of the plant but can also include the root, flower, berry, or bark. According to the Mother Nature and Daily Glow websites, herbs that promote healthy and moisturized hair are chamomile, lavender, basil, thyme, sage, calendula, rosemary and burdock.
Essential oils are concentrated botanical oils extracted for medicinal and aromatic properties. Since they are so astringent on their own, essential oils are usually diluted with milder oils to avoid irritating the skin and scalp. Essential oils that smooth and tame hair include rose, sandalwood, rose geranium, burdock, lavender, rosemary and cedar.
Natural Hair Care Products
Many hair care products tackle frizzy and unruly hair naturally using essential oils. Carol's Daughter, Aveda, Just Natural, Nature's Paradise, Giovanni Natural Hair Care and Burt's Bees sell daily-hair-care products and repair treatments containing essential oils and herbal extracts.
For herbal leave-in conditioner, boil 5 tablespoons of any of the abovementioned herbs with 2 to 3 cups of water for 30 minutes, then add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and pour over hair after shampooing and rinsing.
For an intense moisture treatment combine 2 ounces of coconut or castor oil, 2 ounces of aloe vera, and 6 drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice. Warm the moisture then massage into hair and leave in for two hours, then shampoo normally.