We’ve all had bad hair days. Some of us can’t ever find a hairstyle we like. Even if you’re not particularly fond of your hair you probably keep it, and keep it looking its best. Often that’s easier said than done with neither stylists nor hair products helping that much. In that case you might like to try some remedies for hair growth. It shouldn’t hurt, and it might even help.

In the following excerpt from Secret Food Cures by Lydia and Joan Wilen the sisters share some of their favorite home remedies for hair loss, dandruff, and a wide range of other hair problems.


According to a French proverb, “A fool’s hair never turns white.” The Russians say, “There was never a saint with red hair.” According to the German Pennsylvanians, “Pull out a gray hair, and seven will come to its funeral.”

The biggest hair worries are having too much or too little. Too much hair, especially in the wrong places, can be permanently removed by electrolysis. It’s expensive and painful, but worth every penny and ounce of pain in exchange for a better self-image.

Too little hair, especially in men, is usually hereditary baldness (alopecia). If none of the available hair-restoring treatments, including cosmetic surgery (implants and transplants) and the drugs currently on the market are for you, then you may want to try a natural remedy.

People claim that these remedies have stopped the loss of hair as well as restored hair that’s already been lost. So they may be worth a try. After all, what do you have to lose—that you aren’t already losing?

Stopping Hair Loss/ Promoting Hair Growth

In an average lifetime, the hair on a person’s head grows about 25 feet.

Each of us loses about a hundred hairs a day from our scalp. Mostly, the hairs grow back. When they don’t, the hairstyle changes from “parted” or “unparted” to “departed.”

Ninety percent of baldness cases can be attributed to hereditary factors. Can something be done to prevent it or overcome it? The people who gave us these remedies say, “Yes!”

• An hour before bedtime, slice open a clove of garlic and rub it on the hairless area. An hour later, massage the scalp with olive oil, put on a cap and go to bed. The next morning, shampoo.

Repeat the procedure for a few weeks and, hopefully, hair will have stopped falling out and there will be regrowth showing.

Fingernail Buffer

• Three times a day, five minutes each time, buff your fingernails with your fingernails. Huh? In other words, rub the fingernails of your right hand across the fingernails of your left hand. Not only is it supposed to stop hair loss, it’s also supposed to help encourage hair growth and prevent hair from graying.

Great Hair

Human hair is almost impossible to destroy. Other than its vulnerability to fire, it cannot be destroyed by changes of climate, water or other natural forces. When you think of all the ways some of us abuse our hair—with bleaches, dyes, rubber bands, permanents, mousses, sprays and that greasy kid stuff—you can see how resistant it is to all kinds of corrosive chemicals. No wonder it’s always clogging up sinks and drainpipes.

While hair may not be destroyed by this abuse, it may look lifeless and become un – manageable and unhealthy.

One way to tell whether or not hair is healthy is by its stretchability. A strand of adult hair should be able to stretch to 25% of its length without breaking. If it’s less elastic than that, it’s less than healthy.

• Prepare your own hair-growing elixir by combining 1 ⁄4 cup of onion juice with one tablespoon of honey. Massage the scalp with the mixture every day. We heard about a man who had a bottle of this hair tonic. One day, he took the cork out of the bottle with his teeth. The next day, he had a mustache that needed to be trimmed. But seriously…

Russian Hair Restorer

• We heard a similar remedy from a man who emigrated to the United States from Russia. He told us that many barbers in the former Soviet Union recommend this to their customers.

Combine one tablespoon of honey with one jigger of vodka and the juice from a mediumsize onion. Rub the mixture into the scalp every night, cover, sleep, awaken, shampoo and rinse.

Open Sesame

• An Asian remedy to stop excessive amounts of hair from falling out is sesame oil. Rub it on your scalp every night. Cover your head with a cap or wrap a dish towel around it. In the morning, wash with an herbal shampoo (available at most stores where shampoo is sold). Your final rinse should be with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in one quart of warm water.

• Another version of this nightly/daily treatment calls for equal amounts of olive oil and oil of rosemary. Combine the two in a bottle and shake vigorously. Then massage it into the scalp, cover the head, sleep, awaken, shampoo and rinse.

• Yet another version—garlic oil. Puncture a couple of garlic pearles, squish out all the oil and massage it into your scalp. Then follow the routine of covering the head overnight and, in the morning, be sure to shampoo and rinse.

• Mix one jigger of vodka with 1⁄2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and rub it on the scalp. The blood supply feeds the hair. The vodka and pepper stimulates the blood supply.

• And still another version of these massage scalp remedies…take half of a raw onion and massage the scalp with it. It’s known to be an effective stimulant. Cover the head overnight, then shampoo and rinse in the morning.

If these remedies don’t work, there is a plus side to baldness—it prevents dandruff.

Natural Remedies


• If you are brunette, wash your hair with a combination of one cup of beet juice and two cups of water, plus one teaspoon of salt. This is an Arabian remedy, and most Arabs have dark hair. Since beets contain a dye, this is not recommended for light-haired people who want to stay that way. To be safe, do a test on a patch of hair.

• Squeeze the juice of one large lemon and apply half of it to your hair. Mix the other half with two cups of water. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo, then rinse with water. Rinse again with the lemon and water mixture. Repeat these steps every other day until the dandruff disappears.

• Massage four tablespoons of warm corn oil into your scalp. Wrap a warm, wet towel around your head and leave it there for a halfhour. Shampoo and rinse. Repeat this treatment once a week.

Good Enough to Eat

• Grate a piece of ginger and squeeze it through cheesecloth, collecting the juice. Then mix the ginger juice with an equal amount of sesame oil. Rub the ginger/sesame mixture on the entire scalp, cover the head with a cap or wrap with a dish towel, and sleep with it on.

In the morning, wash with an herbal shampoo (available at most stores where shampoo is sold). The final rinse should be with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in one quart of warm water. Repeat this treatment three or four times a week until the dandruff or other scalp problems vanish.

• Prepare chive tea by adding one tablespoon of fresh chives to one cup of just-boiled water. Cover and let it steep for 20 minutes. Strain and—making sure it’s cool—rinse your hair with it right after you shampoo.

Dry Hair

• Shampoo and towel-dry your hair. Then evenly distribute one tablespoon of mayonnaise through your hair. (Use more if your hair is long.) Leave the mayonnaise on for an hour, wash hair with a mild shampoo and rinse. The theory is that the flow of oil from the sebaceous glands is encouraged as the natural fatty acids of the mayonnaise help nourish the hair.

Dull, Permed Hair

• After shampooing, rinse with a combination of one cup of apple cider vinegar and two cups of water. Your hair will come alive and shine. This treatment is especially effective on permed hair, but can be used on any lifeless-looking hair.

Frizzy, Dry Hair

• After shampooing, rinse with one tablespoon of wheat germ oil, followed by a mixture of 1 ⁄2 cup of apple cider vinegar and two cups of water. It will tame the frizzies.

Remedies for Bad-Hair Days

If your self-esteem is in the cellar and you’re feeling less than confident, capable or sociable, it may be because you’re having a bad hair day. The findings of a study conducted at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, confirmed the negative effect of a crummy coif on the psyche.

Hairy Standing Pose

Do not do this exercise if you have high or low blood pressure! Do not do this exercise without your doctor’s approval if you are significantly beyond young adulthood!

If you know how to do it properly, stand on your head. If not, then get down on all fours, with your hands about two feet away from your knees. Then carefully lift your rear end in the air so that your legs are straight and your head is between your outstretched arms.

Stay in that position for a minute each day and, after a week, gradually work your way up to five minutes each day. The theory behind this is that you will bring oxygen to the hair follicles, which will rejuvenate the scalp and encourage hair to grow.

The fascinating aspect of the study was that men were more likely to feel less smart and less capable than women when their hair stuck out, was badly cut or was otherwise a mess. Here are natural remedies to help you have healthy hair, be the best-tressed person around and boost your self-esteem…

A Rinse for Shinier Dark Hair

• Prepare a rinse in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add three tablespoons of either parsley, rosemary or sage (available at health food stores) to eight cups of just-boiled water. Let it steep until it gets cool. Strain through muslin or a superfine strainer. After shampooing, massage the herb water into your scalp as you rinse with it.

Dry Shampoo

• If your home is having plumbing problems, your city is having a water shortage or you just don’t feel like washing your hair, you can dry-shampoo it using cornmeal or cornstarch. Sprinkle some on your hair. Then put a piece of cheesecloth or pantyhose on the bristles of a hairbrush and brush your hair with it. The cornmeal/cornstarch will pull out the dust from your hair, and the cloth will absorb the grease.

Shine your hair with a silk scarf, using it as you would a buffing cloth on shoes. After a few minutes of this, if your hair doesn’t look clean and shiny, tie the scarf around your head and no one will know the difference.

Get the Grease Out

• Coarse or kosher salt is known to be an effective dry shampoo. Put one tablespoon of the salt in aluminum foil and in the oven to warm for five minutes. Using your fingers, work the warm salt into the scalp and throughout the hair.

As soon as you feel that the salt has had a chance to absorb the grease and dislodge the dust, patiently brush it out of your hair. Wash the brush thoroughly, or use a clean brush and brush again to make sure all the salt has been removed.

NOTE: Do not use table salt for a dry shampoo. Not only will you still have dirty hair, but it will look as though you have dandruff, too.

Hair Revitalizers

• This was our mom’s favorite hair treatment. (Actually, it was the only hair treatment she ever used.) Slightly warm ½ cup of olive oil. You may want to add a few drops of an extract like vanilla to make it more fragrant. Mom put it in an eyedropper bottle and let it stand in very hot water for a few minutes. Then, using the eyedropper, she’d put the warm oil on the hair and massage it into the scalp. Once the whole head is oiled, shampoo the oil out.

• According to reflexology expert Mildred Carter, “To energize the hair roots, grab a handful of hair and yank gently. Do this over the whole head. This is also said to help a hangover, indigestion and other complaints.

“To further stimulate these reflexes in the head, lightly close your hands into loose fists. With a loose wrist action, lightly pound the whole head. This will not only stimulate the hair, but also the brain, bladder and other organs.”

An experienced reflexologist, Ms. Carter believes that tapping the reflexes in the head with a wire brush can add even greater electrical stimulation to the hair, as well as other parts of the body.

Green Hair

• Don’t you just hate it when you get out of the pool and your blonde hair has a greenish tinge? Next time, take a clean sponge, dip it in red wine and dab it on your hair. The chemicals in a chlorinated pool will be neutralized by the tannic acid in the wine.

• Keep a bottle of lemon juice and a box of baking soda near the pool. After your swim, and before you hit the shower, mix 1 ⁄2 cup of the baking soda into a cup of lemon juice. Wet your hair, then rinse it with this bubbly mixture to get the green out. (Maybe blondes don’t have more fun.)

• Dissolve six aspirin tablets in a pint of warm water, massage this into your wet hair and the green will never be seen. Rinse thoroughly with clear water

“Natural” Hair Coloring

Herbal or vegetable dyes take time because the color must accumulate. Look at it this way—if you get the gray out gradually, no one will realize you ever had any gray to begin with.

Brunette Beauty

We have two hair-darkening formulas that use dried sage, which helps to add life to hair and prevents dandruff.

• Prepare dark sage tea by adding four tablespoons of dried sage to two cups of just-boiled water and letting it steep for two hours. Strain. This dark tea alone will darken gray hair—but for an even stronger hair color, add two cups of bay rum and two tablespoons of glycerine (available at pharmacies). Bottle this mixture and don’t forget to label it.

Every night, apply the potion to your hair, starting at the roots and working your way to the ends. Stop the applications when your hair is as dark as you want it to be.

• If you’re a teetotaler and don’t want to use the rum remedy, combine two tablespoons of dried sage with two tablespoons of black tea and simmer in one quart of water for 20 minutes. Let it steep for four hours, then strain and bottle. Massage it into your hair daily until your hair is the color you desire. When you need a touch-up, mix a fresh batch of the teas.

• Taking sesame-seed tea internally has been known to darken hair. Crush two teaspoons of sesame seeds and bring them to a boil in one cup of water. Simmer for 20 minutes. As soon as it’s cool enough to drink, drink the potion, seeds and all. Have two to three cups daily, and keep checking the mirror for darkening hair.

• Add a little life to your hair color right after you shampoo by pouring a cool cup of espresso through your hair. Let it stay there for five minutes and rinse.

Blonde Bombshell

Dried chamomile can help add golden highlights to wishy-washy, bland blonde hair. Add four tablespoons of dried chamomile to two cups of just-boiled water and let it steep for two hours. Strain and use it as a rinse. Have a basin set up so you can save the chamomile and use it again for the next two or three shampoos.

NOTE: As with most herbal rinses, you mustn’t expect dramatic results overnight—if ever. Chamomile tea, no matter how strong you make it, will not cover dark roots. That reminds us of something we’ve wondered about for a while. In Sweden, are there brunettes with blonde roots?

• Squeeze the juice out of two lemons, strain and dilute with one cup of warm water. Comb the juice through your hair. Be very careful not to get any of it on your skin. Why? Because you should sit in the sun for 15 minutes in order to give your hair the glow of a summer day. If your skin has lemon juice on it, it can cause a burn and give your skin mottled stains.

After the sunbath, rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water or, better yet, with chamomile tea.

NOTE: Be sure your skin is properly protected in the sun with sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (higher is better).

Ravishing Red

• Add radiance to your red hair right after you shampoo by pouring a cup of strong Red Zinger tea (available at health food stores and many supermarkets) through your hair. Let it remain there for five minutes and rinse.

• Juice a raw beet (in a juice extractor) and add three times the amount of water as there is juice. Use this as a rinse after shampooing.

NOTE: Since there are many shades of red, we suggest you do a test patch with the beet juice to see how it reacts on your specific color.

Gray, Gray—Go Away!

• Many vitamin therapists have seen proof positive that taking a good B-complex vitamin daily can help change hair back to its original color over a period of two months or more.

• In a glass of water, mix two tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar, raw unheated honey and blackstrap molasses. Drink this mixture first thing in the morning. Not only should it help you get rid of gray hair, but it should also give you a lot more energy than people who haven’t gone gray yet.

WARNING: Do not give honey to someone who is diabetic or allergic to honey

• According to the Chinese, a combination of fresh gingerroot juice and ground cloves should be massaged into the scalp to prevent gray hair.

Setting Lotions

If you want your hair to hold its curls, sometimes it’s best to use a setting lotion before making waves…

• Don’t throw away beer that’s gone flat. Instead, dip your comb in it, comb it through your hair and you have a wonderful setting lotion. Incidentally, the smell of beer seems to disappear quickly.

• A friend of ours is a professional fashion model and she knows many tricks of the trade. Her favorite hair-setting lotion is fresh lemon juice. The hair takes longer to dry with the juice on it, but the setting stays in a lot longer. When she runs out of lemons, she uses bottled lemon juice from her fridge and that works well, too.

• If beer or lemon isn’t your cup of tea, try milk. Dissolve four tablespoons of skim-milk powder in one cup of tepid water. Use it as you would any commercial hairsetting lotion. But, unlike most commercial products, the milk helps nourish the scalp and hair.

Helpful Hair Hints

Prevent Gray from Yellowing

• By adding a couple of teaspoons of laundry bluing to a quart of warm water and using it as your final rinse after shampooing, you can prevent gray hair from turning that yucky yellow.

No-No #1—Rubber Bands

• We’ve always been told not to wear rubber bands in our hair. We just found an explanation for this—the rubber insulates the hair and stops the normal flow of static electricity, so hair elasticity is reduced and the hair breaks more easily.

No-No #2—Combing Wet Hair

• Combing wet hair stretches it out, causing it to be less elastic and break more easily.

Gum Remover

• To remove gum from hair, take a glob of peanut butter, put it on the gummed area, then rub the gum and peanut butter between your fingers until the gum is on its way out. Use a comb to finish the job, then get that careless kid (is it you?) under the faucet for a good shampooing.

A Permanent’s Pungent Odor Remover

• The distinctive smell of a permanent has a habit of lingering. Tomato juice to the rescue! Saturate your dry hair with tomato juice. Cover your hair and scalp with a plastic bag and stay that way for 10 minutes. Rinse hair thoroughly, then shampoo and rinse again.

Hair Spray Remover

• When you are in the middle of shampooing, massage one tablespoon of baking soda into your soaped-up hair. Then rinse thoroughly. The baking soda should remove all the nasty hair spray buildup.

Improvised Setting Rollers

• If you have long hair and want to experiment setting it with big rollers, try used frozenjuice cans, opened at both ends. Be careful not to cut yourself with the open edges.

Grounding Your Hair

• When static electricity makes your hair temporarily unmanageable, you might want to zap it with static spray used on records (that is, if you still have any records!).

Or, rub a sheet of fabric softener on your hair as well as on your brush or comb.

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