Check out these homemade hair cures for every type of hair1.The problem: Thinning hair
The fix: Fatten it up
If you have baby-fine hair, your biggest stresses might comprise hiding a visible scalp or worrying about strands you can't afford to lose. Dispel concerns with a protein-rich treatment that can plump up a wimpy mane. Steal this tip from Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, author of Hair Care Rehab: The Ultimate Hair Repair and Reconditioning Manual.
Make a "banana protein smoothie," which consists of amino acid-rich bananas and eggs to enhance hair elasticity, strengthen, and add thickness. Blend two egg yolks, two ripe bananas, two to three tablespoons of honey, half cup of conditioner, and two tablespoons of olive oil, until fully pureed. Slather all over and leave on for 20 to 30 minutes; rinse with cool water. "Results are immediate," says Davis-Sivasothy. "But keep in mind that it only lasts until your next shampoo." For a drugstore purchase, she suggests Nexxus Emergencée Strengthening Polymeric Hair Reconstructor ($12, amazon.com).2. The problem: Limp locks
The fix: Boost volume
The surefire way to pump up a flat 'do is to add texture. But when you're low on your go-to arsenal of volumizers and root lifters, you can mimic the effect with laundry starch. Kyle White, the lead colorist at Oscar Blandi, says starch builds texture and has a strong hold that lasts throughout the day. Lightly mist starch to roots, blow dry, and style as usual. Remember, less is more. White says to start with a light layer and build up, as you see fit. For a similar hair product that gets the job done, White recommends Phyto Phytovolume Actif Volumizing Spray ($22, amazon.com).
3. The problem: messy waves or curls
The fix: Add definition
Define, rather than fight, your hair's natural bends with a homemade curl enhancer made of molasses and honey. According to Davis-Sivasothy, honey and syrup are natural humectants (ingredients that attract and lock in moisture) and can treat curls while hydrating thirsty hair.
You'll need: half-cup of molasses or maple syrup, 1/4 cup of olive oil, four tablespoons of honey, two bananas, half-cup of water, four table spoons of lemon juice, and two tablespoons of all-purpose flour (adjust according to desired thickness). Mix together ingredients, removing any lumps, and warm over the stovetop. Separate hair into four sections, evenly apply the sweet concoction, and cover it up with a shower cap; let sit for 45 minutes and rinse thoroughly. Feeling lazy? Pick up Tigi Catwalk Curlesque Curls Rock Amplifier ($11, amazon.com), instead.
4. The problem: Faded dye job
The fix: Intensify vibrancy
Add a jolt of red with a cranberry juice rinse (cherry flavored Kool-Aid works, too). Tilt your head back over the sink and carefully pour the juice over clean, detangled hair. Once every section is soaked, dry your hair section by section on low heat to lock color in place. Rinse and condition after.
To warm up ashy blonde hair, substitute the cranberry juice rinse for chamomile tea. Or bring out golden tones with some champagne (flat or bubbly both do the trick). Pour a glass over damp hair and comb it through, from roots to ends. Let sit for a couple of minutes and rinse with water. Got some brassiness in your blonde locks? Do a rinse with grape-flavored Kool-Aid to counter any signs of orange. "But remember to do a rinse only when necessary, otherwise it could lead to buildup," says White.
5. The problem: Dull and lifeless strands
The fix: Lock in shine
Think of the outermost layer of your hair, the cuticles, as shingles on a roof; and those shingles must lie as flat as possible for shiny strands. Anything from friction to hot water to humidity can ruffle up the cuticles, resulting in a lackluster mane. Residue and product buildup are also culprits of sapping shine.
To clarify and smooth cuticles, pour an apple cider vinegar rinse (a tablespoon of vinegar to half cup of water) over damp hair and comb through. Let it sink in for five minutes, rinse with cool water, and follow up with conditioner. The acidity in the vinegar complements the pH of our hair, which helps seal the cuticle and makes it lay flatter, says White. If you can't stand the stench of vinegar, try Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three ($7, amazon.com).
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6. The problem: Frizz, flyaways, and wisps
The fix: Smooth and tame
Unfortunately, raised cuticles not only affect shine, but they can also stir up frizz. If you're prone to frizz, an act as simple as rubbing your strands dry can cause an unruly mass of hair. Swap your towel for a microfiber one or an old clean cotton T-shirt to absorb excess water without roughing up cuticles, says Davis-Sivasothy.
If at the slightest hint of humidity your hair "rears its ugly head," then your strands are parched - and they're looking to the air's moisture for replenishment. Create a buffer between your 'do and the air with a very thin layer of castor oil; apply only where you need it. Castor oil acts as a thermal protectant and can actually help heal the hair, thanks to its omega-9 properties, says White. If you don't have castor oil, a pump of Phyto Phytolisse Finishing Serum ($23, amazon.com) will tame frizz without leaving behind grease.
7. The problem: Product buildup
The fix: Deep clean
Between smoothing creams and hair oils, it's easy to accumulate layer upon layer of product residue. Excess buildup leads to strands that never feel clean and dandruff-like flakes. But you can cut through oils and buildup with Davis-Sivasothy's "baking soda power cleanse." Combine 1/3 cup of shampoo with one to two tablespoons of baking soda, stir well, and pour over wet hair. Gently massage the mixture into the scalp and let sit for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Or, try a clarifying shampoo like Kenra Clarifying Shampoo ($12, amazon.com).
Crushing an aspirin into shampoo also works as a good at-home clarifier, says White. The salicylic acid, the common acne-fighting ingredient that exfoliates and clears blemishes, in aspirin helps remove buildup.
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8. The problem: Dry, damaged tresses
The fix: Hydrate and repair
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Otherwise, you're only a hair away from split ends, frizz, and breakage. Opt for an intensive overnight treatment if your average conditioner isn't cutting it.
"Invest big money in shampoo and save in deep conditioners," says White, who is a believer in the reparative properties of coconut oil. "It's the heaviest of oils and can penetrate two layers of the hair shaft." Take a tablespoon of coconut oil, warm it in the microwave, massage into damp hair, and sleep on it. Wear a shower cap and lay a towel on your pillow to prevent a greasy mess. In the morning, shampoo it out. Only use coconut oil on dry and damaged areas, which typically occur from the midshaft to the end.
If you have finer hair, pick a lighter oil, like olive or avocado, as coconut oil can weigh strands down. Intimidated by oil straight from the bottle? Start with an oil-based conditioner, like Crème of Nature Argan Oil Intensive Conditioning Treatment ($8, amazon.com).
9. The problem: Itchy scalp
The fix: Soothe and moisturize
An itchy scalp can be caused by myriad problems, from something as serious as psoriasis or as minor as dryness. First, reach for tea tree oil, "an effective remedy for nearly any scalp ailment, including antifungal conditions," says Davis-Sivasothy. Drip three drops of the oil on a cotton swab and dab onto the scalp. If the oil is irritating, dilute 1½ tablespoons of oil to one cup of warm water. To combat dryness, White recommends breaking a Vitamin E capsule and rubbing the oil on itchy areas to help moisturize skin, slough off dead skin cells, and unclog hair follicles. Leave the oil on overnight and rinse out in the morning. Or, turn to a scalp conditioner, like Neutrogena T-Gel Treatment ($9, amazon.com), but make sure to apply it to the scalp to avoid damaging hair and stripping color. If the problem persists, see a dermatologist.
10. The problem: Dandruff
The fix: Keep flakes under control
Dandruff is a scalp disorder that involves rapidly shedding dead skin cells. To slow down cell turnover and fight dandruff, Davis-Sivasothy suggests a ginger root scalp spritzer: ginger has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe the scalp and keep dandruff in check. Finely grate half a ginger root into two cups of water and boil until it's one cup of tea. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and olive oil. Mist the brew directly onto scalp, let dry, and shampoo out. If you're missing some ingredients, stop flakes with The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo ($16, amazon.com).
How you tame your mane? Let me know in the comments!
--by Andrea Cheng