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Old-Fashioned Herbal Hair Rinse for Shiny Hair

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Old-fashioned cork-topped bottle with rosemary sprigs in background.

If you’ve ever tried to use store bought shine-boosting serums, you’ve probably found that they tend to be on the pricier side and that they can also turn your hair into a sticky, greasy mess if you use too much. That’s why I love using this really simple and natural herbal hair rinse because it gives your hair a nice shine without weighing it down like using too much of a serum can do. 

I also love the fact that this herbal hair rinse recipe can be as simple as just one ingredient (or two or three if you want to add in some optional additional ingredients.) If you look at the ingredients list of any store bought shine serum, you’ll probably see a dozen or more ingredients, many of which are usually hard-to-pronounce chemicals. But this recipe is completely natural and good for your hair too.

And it’s also really, really cheap! With using just a small amount of herbs, an optional splash of apple cider vinegar, and water, you can have a homemade shine-boosting hair rinse for a fraction of the cost of a store bought serum. 

This easy DIY herbal hair rinse recipe is based off of old-fashioned 19th century tips for healthier hair found in advice books and ladies’ magazines of the period. Rosemary was often mentioned as being good for promoting healthy, shiny hair, and vinegar was mentioned frequently too. Both were often used in 19th century hair care and shampoo alternatives.

If you like to play around with herbs, you could also add other herbs to the mix besides just the rosemary. A couple of herbs that are great for promoting healthy hair are nettle, horsetail, lavender, oatstraw, sage,  etc. But if you want to keep things simple then even just using the rosemary by itself will help to give your hair an extra boost of glossy shine.  

Here’s the easy recipe and the process that I use to make this herbal hair rinse:

Easy DIY Herbal Hair Rinse for Shiny Hair

Step 1) Make the Rosemary Tea

Making this herbal hair rinse is really as simple as just brewing a cup of tea! You can either use pre-made rosemary tea bags or if you want an even more frugal option you can buy rosemary in bulk and (or grab some sprigs from your garden if you grow it) and use tea filters to make your own tea bags. 

If I have the time I like to let the rosemary steep for awhile to draw out all of its beneficial properties. So sometimes I’ll prepare the tea when I first wake up and then let it steep until whenever I wash my hair. Or, if you’re planning on taking a shower first thing after waking up, you could also prepare the tea the night before and let it steep overnight. (You don’t have to let it steep for that long, but it would be good to let it steep for at least 20-30 minutes if you have the time.) 

And if you’d like to add in any additional herbs besides just the rosemary you can add them right in and steep them all at the same time.  

Step 2) Add Optional ACV

To boost the shine even more you can add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the cup of rosemary tea. Since the apple cider vinegar can be a bit drying if you overuse it, though, I don’t use it every time I wash my hair. I usually only use it once or twice a week. 

If you want to add some apple cider vinegar to your rosemary hair rinse, you can simply add a Tablespoon of it straight to the rosemary tea.

Step 3) Wash Your Hair as Usual and then Apply the Rinse

It’s best to wash your hair first before you use the herbal hair rinse because otherwise you’ll just end up washing it away when you shampoo your hair. And if you find that the hair rinse is too cold after letting it steep for awhile, you can hold the cup under the hot shower water for a couple of seconds to add a bit more warm water so it’s not freezing cold when you pour it over your hair. (It’s definitely no fun pouring icy cold water on your head and having it run down your neck!) And, if you added any apple cider vinegar to your hair rinse than it’s a good idea to shield your eyes with one hand while you’re pouring the tea on your hair to make sure that it doesn’t get into your eyes. 

Step 5) Rinse Your Hair with Water (Optional)

This step can be optional depending on your hair type and your preference. I find that if I’m using apple cider vinegar that it can make my hair almost a bit too shiny/slippery and it makes it harder for me to do things like braid my hair or pull it back with bobby pins because it keeps wanting to slip out of the pins. So I usually like to give my hair a quick rinse with water to wash away the extra vinegar, and I’ve found that, for me, it works well to rinse it out and I still end up with plenty of shine even with rinsing my hair with water afterwards. 

What I usually do to give the hair rinse more time to stay on my hair is to wash my hair first thing when I get in the shower, then apply the herbal rinse, then wash the rest of my body, shave my legs, and then I rinse my hair as the very last step before getting out. That gives it the maximum amount of time on my hair while still allowing me to rinse with water.

If I’m only using the rosemary, though, I don’t feel like rinsing is necessary. I have found, though, that, even if I do rinse my hair after using the rosemary, that it still makes it look shinier anyways. So whether you decide to rinse or not rinse it really a matter of personal preference and what seems to work the best for your hair. 

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Old-fashioned cork-topped bottle with rosemary sprigs in background.
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

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Carol Dunstan

Thursday 2nd of May 2019

Thanks I have used for years rosemary in vinegar. Then dilute 2 water parts to 1vinegar. It also adds a little colour. I have a herbal book that's lists herbal rinses for hair such as horsetail & rosemary steeped in vinegar to sit on sunny window for 1week. Thank you for your tips as I am always looking to learn new herbal cures.carol

Lori Elliott

Friday 3rd of May 2019

That's really interesting about it adding a little color too. I haven't noticed that yet with my hair, but that could be because mine is brown and not light enough for it to be noticeable. And that's a great tip from your book to steep the herbs for a week in a sunny window. That would draw out the beneficial properties of the herbs even more!

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