Working With Herbs To Make Hair & Scalp Mist

Herbal Hair & Scalp Mist

As you may have seen, over the past few weeks we have been highlighting ways to use herbs and botanicals in hair care products. We covered different types of hair and scalp gels, shampoo, and now it's time for hair spray. We absolutely love using botanicals in skin and hair care products, but many of you may be wondering how exactly does one do that?


How To Make A Herbal Infusion For Use In Formulations

You can’t use the actual plant matter in formulations or it will rot and go bad, rather you have to make a botanical infusion with your chosen herbs so that you can work with them in a liquid form.

Much like making a normal tea, you pour hot water over the herbs and allow them to infuse to extract their properties. You will notice the colour of the water deepening and it may even take on a particular smell as the herbs infuse into it. You can leave it to infuse from anywhere between 15 minutes to overnight.

Once you are happy with the infusion, remove the plant matter by straining through a piece of triple folded gauze or cheesecloth. Collect the liquid in a beaker and preserve with 1% Geogard 221 according to the weight of the liquid (for example, 1% of 100g liquid will be 1g, so you would then use 1g preservative).

Just like drinking herbal tea has health benefits, so does using the infusion in hair and skin care products. The only real difference is that you need to preserve the botanical infusion so it doesn’t go bad, because it won’t keep for longer than a few days. Of course you can make it up fresh every 2-3 days but I find it much easier to simply preserve it.

There isn’t a strict ratio of herbs to water, but I like to do a 5% infusion, meaning 5g of herbs in 95g water. You can of course go higher if you like; try 10% herbs to 90% water.

Decide on which herbs you would like to use - a good resource to help is the Quick Guide To Botanicals For Hair.

When it comes to leaf or powder, you can use either form. I personally prefer the powder, but keep in mind that this is more difficult to strain as the particles are finer.


Olive Leaf Conditioning Hair & Scalp Spray

Let’s practice working with herbal infusions by making a hair and scalp spray. I chose olive leaf and marshamllow root because they have conditioning properties, and make your hair feel soft and hydrated.

3g olive leaf

2g marshmallow root

95g freshly boiled, slightly cooled water

Spray bottle

Herb options: feel free to use any herbs of your choice; you don’t have to stick to the olive leaf and marshmallow that I used. Experiment with other herbs according to your needs.

Step 1: Weigh out the herbs into a beaker and pour over the water. Allow it to infuse, then strain out and measure the amount of liquid that you get. Calculate 1% of that amount and use that as your preservative amount.

Your botanical infusion is now ready for use! You can use it as is, or add extra ingredients to it. If you are planning on adding other ingredients, please go to Step 2 below.

Step 2: If you are adding more ingredients, don’t add the preservative to the infusion first, but rather add all the extra ingredients and then weigh the final amount to calculate the preservative amount needed.

You can add any water based ingredients to it such as apple cider vinegar, hydrolyzed proteins, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, etc. If you are adding any of these ingredients, add 2-3 grams, then weigh the final amount and calculate 1% which will be the amount of preservative you need to add.

If you would like to add oils or oil based ingredients, you will need to turn your product into an emulsion (because oils and water don't mix without an emulsifier). You will use the botanical infusion you made as a replacement for the water amount in an emulsion formula. You can find all kinds of emulsion formulas here.

To use your hair spritz, pop the liquid in a spritzer bottle and apply to your scalp, roots and hair. You can apply it to damp or dry hair then style as you like.


About the author:

Juliette van der Meer

BSc, BScH, Adv Dip Cosmetic Science

Cosmetic scientist