Many women with straight, wavy, coily, kinky, and curly hair have dealt with dullness at some point. Major manufacturers typically deal with this issue by creating “shine” products full of different silicones which mostly coat the hair to make it look shiny and to keep flyaways down. But what if you want shiny hair without using heavy chemicals?
That’s fine if you know how to regularly remove those silicone products from your hair to prevent buildup and to make sure moisture is actually getting to the strands.
However, if you’re trying to fight dullness, you may want to incorporate teas and herbal infusions into your routine. Generally, they tend to make the hair shine.
Most of the time, Instead of plain water, I use 100% teas (Green Tea, Rooibos, Black tea) or herbal infusions (Hibiscus, Nettle, Horsetail, Rosehips, etc) when I’m twisting and retwisting to help get shiny hair.
I use these herbal infusions to spray my hair when it starts to feel dry as well.
When I’m oiling my hair with a butter or oil, I spritz it with a tea/herb (or combination of teas/herbs) first. You’ll be surprised at how much natural shine you can get without a heavy silicone product.
To make curls pop, try to use or make conditioners with a lower pH. The Natural hair Scientists/Chemists can tell you more about why this works. Shoot for a pH around 4.5 to 5.
If you don’t have those or don’t know the pH of your chosen store-bought conditioner, use an astringent tea/herbal infusion.
A quick and unscientific way to tell whether an herbal infusion or tea will help with shine is to do a simple taste test. Any tea or herbal infusion without sugar that tastes bitter, sharp, or makes you pucker is probably a low pH tea.
This is mostly due to the presence of tannins. Any tea that is known be astringent or very high in Vitamin C is also a good indicator that it’ll work for these purposes.
These teas/herbal infusions usually have the effect of helping to close hair cuticles, make those curls pop and to promote shiny hair.
I’m only going to mention a few I use regularly to add shine. You should experiment with different herbs to see whether or not they help your hair with shine. Try to use one herb/tea at a time so you’ll know for sure which herb/tea is causing the shine.
Make sure your hair is clean (and any silicone buildup is removed) and use 1 or a combo of these herbs to make a tea to add shine:
+ Hibiscus – LOVE LOVE LOVE hibiscus! It’s a powerhouse herb and you can almost never go wrong with using it (unless you’re allergic). Hibiscus is huge in Ayurvedic treatments, but it’s been used for thousands of years. Hibiscus is astringent, contains citric acid and Vitamin C, and is very high in antioxidants.
+Lemon Balm – I find Lemon Balm to be a little overlooked in the Natural hair community….or at least I don’t see a whole lot of people using it from my cursory research. (Teehee :P). It’s also great for oily hair, don’t let that deter you.
+ Rosehips – Rosehips are the little red fruits found on rose bushes which are very high in Vitamin C. It’s a very nice addition to any shine-enhancing mix.
+ Black tea – Black tea is great in general to help strengthen hair, to promote shiny hair and help decrease general shedding. But it also helps make the hair shine, especially when used after a wash. If you’ve been natural for more than 5 minutes, you should have heard of other naturals doing “black tea rinses” before.
+ Green tea – Green tea is a powerhouse herb, like so many of the others. And like so many other teas, it’s full of antioxidants, vitamins (Vitamin A, C, B1, etc) and minerals (calcium,manganese, potassium,etc)
Just like you had to find the right products to add shine to your relaxed hair, you’ll have to find the herbs which work best for your specific needs.
Some herbs, like Nettle, work best to help condition. Other herbs, like Parsley, work best to deter shedding. While other herbs, like Marshmallow Root, help to improve strength. And still, many of these herbs have multiple purposes and can do all of above.
It seems like I’ve tried a gajillion different shampoo/conditioners/moisturizers/stylers/gels when I was relaxed. So when I went natural about 13 years ago, I was determined to spend time learning how to care for my own natural hair which includes finding great herbs and teas that work for me.
Patience and realistic expectations are your best friends when you’re trying to find what works for you!