Aromatherapy for the hair and scalp

Aromatherapy for the hair and scalp

Dry hair, greasy hair, itchy scalp – there's every treatment under the sun available, but so many are so full of synthetic, harsh chemicals. As with skincare ranges, more and more of us are becoming allergic or sensitive to these chemicals. The more we can make our own products therefore, the more control we gain over our own health and wellbeing. The other issue is cost. Many hair care products and scalp treatments are fiercely expensive – as well as often being ineffective – so using natural recipes can save you money as well as help protect your long term health!

Remember – as with your skin – the condition of your hair and scalp are very much a reflection of your general wellbeing. Hair growth/loss and condition can be a real barometer to certain nutritional deficiencies – and a real stress indicator.

Holistic advice for hair loss

As far as the reasons behind hair loss are concerned – these can vary between men and women. Gradual receding hair and hair loss on men can be determined by genetic male pattern baldness, although sudden hair loss can still be related to nutritional deficiencies and stress. For women, thinning hair and hair loss can be attributed to a more complicated range of reasons – from hormonal imbalances and menopausal symptoms to protein and amino acid deficiencies, stress, damage from harsh chemical hair treatments and even intestinal parasites. Whatever the cause, a Nutritional Therapist or Naturopath could help you identify the root cause of the problem holistically. There are certain herbs and nutrients that can help treat hair loss – even in relation to male pattern baldness and alopecia. These symptoms often require a multi-factored approach – as they will usually arise from a number of different issues coming together simultaneously. Learning to read and act on these symptoms may also help you prevent more serious long term health problems in the future.

Top tips for natural for hair care

  • Don't wash your hair too often! Washing your hair strips out the natural oils that cover the scalp, and work their way down into the hair shaft. If you wash your hair daily you may find that your hair will become brittle, or your scalp will begin to dry out and flake – especially if you use harsh synthetic shampoos. Try and wash your hair twice a week maximum.
  • Try and let your hair dry naturally at least some of the time! This means your hair will be less likely to dry out and become brittle and damaged by the heat. There is also a body of evidence building to suggest that hair dryers emit a significant amount of EMR (Electro Magnetic Radiation) which may be linked to health problems such as headaches and the growing incidence of brain tumours. (Mobile phones being another possible factor).
  • Use a natural bristle brush and brush your hair regularly. Harsh inflexible plastic brushes often snap the hair off. Natural bristle brushes can help by encouraging the natural oil from the hair follicle to be drawn down the hair shaft which helps to condition and protect. Brushing the hair also encourages the circulation of blood to the hair follicle – where the base of the hair is rooted into the skin. This in turn will also help stimulate new hair growth.
  • Use shampoos that are free of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS free) – a chemical foaming agent that may be linked to allergic reactions and other health problems.
  • Do not brush the hair when wet as it's more elastic and fragile and can snap off more easily.
  • HERBS: Saw Palmetto: Scientific studies show us that Male Pattern Baldness is at least in part caused by DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) which is a by-product of testosterone. This is thought to shrink and kill the hair follicles. The less that reaches them the less damage will occur. The most popular drug “Finasteride” works by inhibiting the production of the enzyme “5 alpha reductase” – which converts testosterone to DHT. The herb Saw Palmetto does almost the same thing. Studies of the herb show that a 160 mg dose taken morning and evening – but only with a high quality herb – can have a powerful effect without the side-effects of certain medication taken for the same issue. Two other helpful herbs to look into include Nettles and Pygeum.
  • NUTRIENTS : Zinc and Essential Fatty Acids are the most important nutrients when it comes to hair loss and poor hair condition, although other nutrient deficiencies can be an issue too. Zinc can also help prevent DHT getting to the hair follicles – a 60 mg dose for 6 months is recommended for men already suffering from male pattern baldness. Essential Fatty Acids, especially rich in GLA, such as Flaxseed, Blackcurrant and Evening Primrose Oil, @ 500 mg morning and evening – will also help improve hair density and condition within 6-8 weeks.
  • GREEN TEA: Again – to help male pattern baldness, as it helps to inhibit the production of 5 alpha reductase, the enzyme that allows the DHT to cause the damage.
  • Ayurvedic Medicine can have a positive effect on hair thinning and loss for women. This type of condition is seen as being caused by a “whole body imbalance”, brought about by too little rest, high stress, smoking and too much alcohol, combined with poor nutrition. Improved nutrition, and the use of herbs such as GOTU KOLA to calm the nervous system and FENUGREEK POWDER, topically combined with unsweetened coconut milk – to encourage new growth, are all advocated - as is massage. Scalp massage (with Sesame Seed Oil) to soothe the scalp and reduce heat, and foot massage and general body massage to increase relaxation and regeneration.

Aromatherapy hair care recipes

Alopecia / Hair loss Treatment Oil

USA Aromatherapist Melanie von Zabuesnig suffered from Alopecia Areta (patches of hair loss) from the age of 7. By the age of 32 she had alopecia universalis – total loss of hair. During her training, she discovered that certain oils were advocated for use in scalp massage to encourage circulatory stimulation to the hair follicles. For three months she used the following formula – massaging it into her scalp each night for 3 months, and washing it out every morning. Within 3 months her entire scalp was covered in a thick, total covering of growth!

Combine 1 tablespoon Jojoba Oil, 3 drops Lavender essential oil, 3 drops Rosemary, 1 drop Melissa and 1 drop of Cedarwood.

Thickening/Conditioning Shampoo and Conditioner

Take a normal measure of our SLS Free Shampoo and add 3 drops of Rosemary, Palmarosa and 2 drops of Roman Chamomile. You could also add a couple of drops of Jojoba Oil to further boost the condition of the scalp. Massage into the hair and scalp and rinse thoroughly before applying the following conditioner.

Use a normal measure of our fragrance free Hair Conditioner and add 4 drops each of Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Jojoba Oil and Evening Primrose Oil then 3 drops of Rosemary and Clary Sage, and 2 of Lemon. Mix well and massage into the hair and scalp. Leave on for 5 minutes before rinsing.

Very Dry Hair Conditioner

Take 2 tsp of melted Extra Virgin Coconut Butter and 1 tsp Sesame Seed Oil. Add 3 drops Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang and Geranium. Stir well and apply to hair. Massage into the scalp and right down to the ends of the hair. Leave on and wear a shower cap or wrap a towel around your head to keep the warmth in. Leave on for at least 30 minutes. Rinse out and wash your hair as normal with SLS free shampoo (see recipe below).

Moisture Boosting Shampoo

Mix 15ml SLS Free Shampoo with 1 tsp Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel then add 2 drops of Geranium and Lavender essential oils. Ideal for summer to combat all that sun, sea and chlorine!

Conditioning Oil for Dry Frizzy Hair

Pop a few drops of Argan Oil onto your palms, rub hands together then smooth on to dry, frizzy hair for a silky smooth finish. If you have more time mix 20ml Argan Oil with 6 drops of Ylang Ylang, 4 drops each of Geranium and Sandalwood, and 2 drops Jasmine. Massage in to the hair and scalp, leave for several hours before washing as normal.

Hair Mask for an Itchy, Dry Scalp

Mash 1/2 a nutrient rich avocado and mix in 1 egg yolk, 1 tbsp of melted Extra Virgin Coconut Butter, 1 tbsp of Jojoba Oil and 4 drops each of Geranium, Lavender and Sandalwood. Whip into a mousse like consistency and massage deep into the scalp. Leave on for 30 mins to allow the oils to penetrate. Rinse off and finish with a gentle SLS free shampoo and conditioner (see recipes below).

Hair Mask for Dandruff

Whip up 1 egg until light and fluffy in consistency then add 1 tsp of Neem Oil, 1 tbsp of Jojoba Oil and 4 drops each of Tea Tree and Lavender essential oil. Apply to dry or dampened hair – being careful to massage the mix right into the scalp. Leave on for at least 20 minutes or for a few hours if time allows. Wash off and shampoo and condition as normal (see recipes below).

Itchy, Flaky Scalp / Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner

Oily Hair: 100ml of SLS free Shampoo / Conditioner, 10 drops Lavender and 5 drops each of Tea Tree, Cypress and Cedarwood.

Normal/Dry Hair: 100ml of SLS free Shampoo / Conditioner, 15 drops Lavender, 10 Geranium, 3 German Chamomile (if scalp is sore and inflamed) or 3 drops Roman Chamomile (if it's just flaky and dry).

Shampoo & Conditioner for Greasy Hair

100ml SLS free Shampoo, 10 drops Rosemary, 8 Cedarwood and 4 drops each of Lemon, Cypress and Grapefruit.

100ml Conditioner, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 10 drops Cedarwood, 5 drops each of Lemon, Cypress and Grapefruit. Massage deep into scalp before washing out.

Remember not to use water that is too hot – warm water is preferable as hot water can stimulate excess oil (sebum) production.

Treatment for Head Lice / Nits

Read our previous blog on preventing and treating nits.

Don't forget all of the above mentioned essential oils and other ingredients are available to purchase via our website.


Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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