Spring is in the hair

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” from the poet K. Gibran reminds us of the simple pleasures of spring. It took a long time to arrive, but finally some welcomed warm weather has brought out sure signs of spring including the happy sounds of peepers, honeybees venturing from their hives, and changing wardrobes as seen in last week’s column, “Spring and summer fashion trends for 2013.” Highlighting the looks of this season, it showed versatile and wearable options to look and feel good. Of course, a look into history shows that this is not the first time the “Todays” styles have been in vogue and that in “Yesterdays” times women have always sought out ways to enhance their looks in clothing styles as well as their hair.

Hair “long, beautiful, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen; there ain’t no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my hair” are the words from the musical “Hair” which opened on Broadway in April of 1968. Controversial and counter-culture at the time in politics and crossing other cultural boundaries, it nonetheless used hair, long hair, as part of its message because like clothes, hair is part of fashion and often expresses part of one’s identity. All kinds of care and styles have come and gone from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome with various wigs, dyes, braids, chignons, and adornments and continuing down through history to today. With that in mind, spring might just be the time to consider a refreshed look in style or hair care as part of a fashion statement.

Like the use of henna used for centuries to dye hair, more and more people today are rediscovering many old and natural alternatives as part of their health regimen. Honey is good for allergies, energy and skin care. Essential oils from various parts of plants have limitless therapeutic value. Herbs are used for medicinal value. People are realizing that nature is often better than synthetic, man-made concoctions that our bodies are unable to process with too many adverse side effects. So it is with hair. The lists of ingredients with names that are difficult to pronounce are not the best for hair, along with other mixes of alcohol, sulfates, and paraben. Definitely more in demand by discriminating consumers, some shampoos and other hair care products advertise on their bottles that they are free of these ingredients.

So what does nature have to offer for silky tresses? Remedies from Grandma and prior generations are worth a try. A honey rinse will help make hair shiny. After shampooing and conditioning, simply rinse your hair with a solution of about four cups of warm water with about two teaspoons of honey. Because it is the rinse, it should not be washed away with more shower water. An additional benefit is softer hair with a subtle, yet sweet aroma. Another suggestion is to add a squeeze of lemon juice for blondes or a bit of vinegar for darker hair which will add additional shimmer. A variety of essential oils (certified therapeutic blends) also offer health benefits and solutions from dry or oily hair, dandruff, and hair loss to simply more healthy hair. Alone or in combination, typical oils used are lavender, lemon, rosemary, lime, wild orange, ylang ylang, geranium, thyme, sandalwood, clary sage, cypress, and basil. Various recipes can be found online by starting with a base-type shampoo and adding the needed oils. One simple trick is to add a few drops of peppermint to a higher quality store bought shampoo and conditioner for a stimulating hair and scalp massage. Rubbing a drop or two of lavender between the palms of your hands and then running through clean, damp hair also helps moisturize and restore it.

“Without beautiful well-kept hair you can never be really attractive,” was the advertisement in McCall’s Magazine ninety-two years ago in March 1921. Our great-grandmothers and grandmothers had the same goal of beautiful hair. Mulsified Cocoanut Oil Shampoo was the rage to bring out the “real life and lustre, natural wave and color to make your hair soft, fresh and luxuriant.” Directions were given for proper shampooing to avoid dry, dull, heavy, lifeless, stiff and gummy hair with the strands clinging together making it feel harsh and “disagreeable to the touch.”

Proper rinsing was emphasized with at least two changes of clear, fresh warm water followed by cold water. A time when bathing was maybe once a week and without shower-heads, this was most certainly a chore. Perhaps rain water was used and considered a beauty secret as this columnist recollects her grandmother, always with a beautiful complexion even at age 100 in 1991, as having shared this as a routine of the past. Other ads in the same edition had solutions for gray hair and dandruff as well. “Liquid Silmerine” for wavy hair was a great alternative to the damage caused by heated irons.

A further look back into history from the 1890s “The Every-Day Cook-Book” of this columnist’s great-grandmother also has suggestions for beautiful hair. “A Good Wash for the Hair” used rosemary, but also used borax which seems a bit harsh, as well as rubbing in pomatum, a perfumed oil made from hog’s lard and essence of lemon or lavender. Obviously, hair washed less frequently than today got dirty. Great grandmother’s book in the section of “How to be Handsome” says that women should take down their hair and brush it using various ingredients and how “it would be surprising to many ladies to see her carefully wiping the separate locks on a clean, white towel until the dust of the previous day is entirely removed.”

It’s spring and the winds long to play with your hair- beautiful, gleaming and flaxen. Make it a good week and get ready to enjoy everything nature has to offer.

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