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by thalia ortiz

Scoring the healthy hair of your dreams doesn’t have to be expensive – especially if you’re strapped for cash. Frequent styling treatments with hot tools can be tempting, but they can quickly burn a hole through your wallet and leave your hair looking parched. Some of the most effective ingredients can be found in the comfort of your home. Next time your hair requires some serious TLC, rescue it with these versatile ingredients that you might have stashed away in your pantry. 

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

For hair that’s struggling in the shine department, an apple cider vinegar rinse could be the missing secret ingredient in your routine. Not only can it help keep lackluster hair looking its best, but it can also stabilize an oily scalp that’s out of whack, explains Jordan Aaron, a stylist at the Ian McCabe Studio. “A good apple cider vinegar rinse is always a great reset for those who tend to have extremely oily scalps...and gets rid of buildup in no time. It’s all about balance,” explains Aaron.

So, what is it about apple cider vinegar that makes it such a powerful ingredient when it comes to hair care? For starters, it can help balance pH and fight fungus. This is why it’s often used to nix dandruff and treat an overly active, irritated scalp, explains Aaron. When using a vinegar rinse, it’s essential to handle it safely while applying it to the hair. Aaron recommends using water to dilute the solution and avoid excessive use to prevent causing unwanted damage. For buildup that requires even deeper cleansing, Aaron says that a baking soda rinse can be used sparingly as a clarifying treatment to remove heavy product buildup like hair spray, root touch-up or dry shampoo. 

2. Tea

If a vinegar rinse seems like it could be too harsh on your strands, a tea rinse may be right up your alley. Commonly known to be a dietary staple, it also has detoxifying benefits for hair. When used as a vinegar alternative, Aaron states that “green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that protect and promote healthier hair. This detox is another great defense against dandruff and helps to rebalance the scalp.”

Equally as important in the journey for healthy hair is black tea, explains Kerry E. Yates, Founder and CEO of Colour Collective. To apply it, Yates recommends cooling black tea after it’s boiled. From there, drench hair from mid-lengths to ends then rinse it away. Once hair has dried, “you can instantly see a difference in the shine…tea is infused with caffeine which locks in moisture, while the tannins enrich hair’s color, making it appear shiny. Plus, the polyphenols protect the hair from environmental stressors,” she says. However, for lighter blonde strands Yates suggests opting for white or green tea instead.

woman conditioning hair

3. Deep Conditioning Treatments

DIY hair masks can be a savior for hair that’s been through the wringer and can make for some of the best treatments on a budget. Since eggs are packed with protein, they can help bring damaged, dry and brittle hair back to life by making it more durable, notes Aaron. Another option packed with moisture is mayonnaise because it also contains eggs. “Mayonnaise enhances shine and replenishes lost proteins, while the oil [found] within mayonnaise naturally conditions and improves hair suppleness,” explains Yates. However, too much of a good thing is never ideal. “I discourage excessive use and recommend giving your hair what it needs. Always consult with your colorist to see if these masks are recommended for your hair’s color and condition. Use with discretion,” adds Aaron.

4. Essential Oils 

One of the most versatile items you can add to your hair care arsenal are essential oils. With so many varieties available, it’s easy to reap the benefits, explains Aaron and notes that “if you’re a sucker for the tingling sensation, adding a couple of the drops to your shampoo and conditioner will be heaven-sent. This will give you amazing aromatherapy as well as added moisturizing benefits and a healthy scalp.” She also suggests adding lavender essential oil to mask the smell of an apple cider vinegar rinse.

5. Cornstarch

If you’re in a pinch and find that you’ve run out of your favorite dry shampoo, you can always reach for cornstarch instead. According to Aaron, cornstarch is typically used to absorb oil at the roots, which can help keep your blowout intact for longer. “This ingredient or something similar can be found in many dry shampoos. I suggest using a makeup brush [at the roots] for easier application. Apply to the oily parts to freshen your style without washing,” she explains.

The sky’s the limit when trying to revamp your hair care routine with natural ingredients from around your home, making it the perfect way to indulge while keeping things affordable. 

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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.