We just released our new Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Recipe and formulation guide, so I wanted to take a moment to highlight natural ingredients that could enhance and benefit hair. Now some of these ingredients are better when used topically, while others might benefit you more if they become part of your daily supplement routine, but either way, they can be beneficial!

I will also be taking the time to show you different ways you can incorporate these items into your handmade cosmetics. There are so many easy ways to do this! Some are fast, some are slow, some require a lot of planning, some only take 5 minutes! Over the next few weeks I’ll be highlighting each of the following methods: hot oil infusions, cold oil infusions, glycerites, tinctures/extracts, double extractions, and decoctions. 

I will be focusing on how these ingredients can be incorporated into hair care, however many of them could also be incorporated into skin care by using them in lip balms, lotions, lotion bars, body butters, salves, bath bombs, bath melts and more! 

The ingredients I list for the following sections are simply a sampling! We have compiled a long list (which continues to grow!) for our Patreon donors. It is also available in our BFF Shampoo Bar Makers Facebook support group. When you buy our shampoo bar recipe you will be given instructions on how to join that group as part of the continuing support we provide for our customers. So let’s break into this and look at some of these natural ingredients!

Strength Builders: Star Anise, Ylang Ylang, Wheat, Maca

These ingredients help to strengthen hair! Some, like Star Anise, have keratinocyte growth factors, while others boost collagen production which can lead to thicker, stronger strands! 

Strength can also be imparted from proteins, vitamins, and essential amino acids. Sometimes it comes from fortifying the hair, thickening individual strands, increasing keratin and collagen, or increasing elasticity! 

Sleek & Shine: Sweetgrass, Juniper, Nettle, Marshmallow Root, Carob, Jasmine

All of these ingredients can add slip and shine to hair as they help smooth the cuticle and create a gorgeous glossy appearance. It’s important to remember that highly clarified, squeaky clean hair can look shiny but still feel dry. These ingredients create shine without sacrificing hydration.

Volume: Yarrow, Saw Palmetto, Sage, Horsetail

Looking to boost volume? Give these ingredients a try! Saw Palmetto, for example, can help make hair more dense, while Horsetail can boost collagen production and encourage growth.

Many of the ingredients that build strength can also increase volume, and sometimes stronger hair will appear more volumized (even if it technically isn’t) as the individual strands can look thicker. Growth can also contribute to volume, so check that list as you build a volumizing shampoo!

Hydrate: Evening Primrose Oil, Rice, Quinoa, Clove

If you’re looking to quench those dry, thirsty tresses, these ingredients might have what you’re looking for! Rice, in particular, has many applications from rice bran oil to hydrolyzed rice protein!i

Ingredients that repair can also provide hydration, since most damage done to hair is from heat, and lack of moisture. The great thing about these hydrating ingredients (and the ones listed under the Repair bullet), is that they won’t add weight, or make hair look oily.

Clarifying: Juniper, Papaya, Grapefruit, Strawberry, Tea Tree, Charcoal, Clays

Need to get that scalp squeaky clean? Some of these ingredients, like the delicious Strawberry, are high in vitamin C which helps remove excess oil, while others like clays and charcoal help to draw oils away from the body!

When choosing clarifying ingredients make sure to balance them with ingredients that can restore moisture, or protect hair from further damage. You could also look for ingredients that help balance sebum production! With regular washing, the natural oils that our hair produces won’t create buildup and instead nourish hair!

Growth: Nettle, Horsetail, Yarrow, Chamomile, Yarrow, Saw Palmetto, Star Anise, Rosemary

Honestly, there are so many ingredients that are touted as having the ability to improve growth, that this list could have gone on and on. I picked some of the more well known ingredients, as well as some that I’ve seen mentioned in scientific journals!

Growth can be attributed to many factors including ingredients that stimulate the follicle, balance hormones, prevent fall out, repair damage, protect from free radicals, etc etc etc. There are SO MANY ways you can target growth, and all of these ingredients will probably have other beneficial properties for hair, so I encourage you to dive into researching them!

Repair: Rice, Hibiscus, Flax, Clove

Breakage and damage to hair can be one of the hardest issues to address because damage leads to more damage! Pair these great ingredients with those in the Sleek & Shine list and you’ll be well on your way to healthy hair.

Hair repair should also involve taking the time to prevent damage! This can be as simple as choosing the correct brush and comb or using a diffuser when applying heat. That way the cycle of damage doesn’t continue!

Soothes & Softens: Lavender, Calendula, Silicones, Oils

While similar to the Sleek & Shine category, these ingredients in particular can help to soothe the scalp and make hair feel softer!

This list doesn’t cover specific oils, although there are many like Argan and Jojoba which are well known as being beneficial to hair. Oil choice can be fairly personal–we like what we like–but there will also be the issue of regionally available oils. I always encourage people to use oils that are local, affordable and sustainable. Avocado oil is fairly cheap for me, but if it costs you $50 a liter, then it’s silly to insist on using it when sesame, olive, flaxseed, or any number of other oils will do! 

Protect: Butterfly Pea Flower, Acai, Red Raspberry, Carrot Seed oil

These ingredients are high in antioxidants and might be able to protect hair from UV damage, especially when stacked and used together!

Another way to protect hair is to use ingredients that create soft, silky hair. Proteins and botanicals that add slip and shine will protect the stands from physical damage. Combine that with protection from UV and free radicals, and you’ll be untouchable!

Silicone Alternatives: Horsetail, Nettle, Daikon Seed Extract, Marshmallow 

Now I’m not gonna lie. At Bath Fizz and Foam, we love silicones! Dimethicone and cyclomethicone in particular are safe, don’t create buildup, and make hair look gorgeous. At the same time we know that some people avoid silicones at all costs, so here are some nice silicone substitutes you could try!

Now that you’ve got your brain swirling with natural ingredients and their potential, you can start thinking about your hair care goals and develop a plan! The next few blog posts will show you how to use what’s called “The Folk Method,” which basically means that you won’t need a distiller, or any fancy equipment. With just some mason jars, a scale, cheesecloth, and maybe a hotplate (although that’s optional!) you’ll be able to start creating your own amazing infusions!