Ashtree WildcraftingAnother season of foraging is just around the corner.  With only three ingredients remaining in the list of wild plants we wish to sell in our wild-crafted tea blends over at Ashtree Wildcrafting, we are already thinking of how we will continue to bring locally foraged, wildcrafted loose leaf tea to market.  At worst, we will be stuck with craft fairs and online.  At best, we will earn enough to purchase business licenses and get our products into local stores.

With organic and non-GMO being the current fads out there, sometimes claims cross my screen that haven’t been thought through too well.  For example, a new hair care company is claiming that you take care what you feed your body, now do the same for your hair.  The only issue with that statement however, is that by feeding your body correctly, you are, by extension, also feeding your hair by giving it the nutrients it needs to grow.  Perhaps I am one of the few people out there who have noticed that anytime I start eating better, my hair gets thicker and longer, faster.  Less stress also helps the hair grow better while more stress causes me to start losing hair.  Needless to say, with how stressful 2018 was for the latter half, I am currently relieved that my hair is on another thicken-and-grow stage with very little being lost to the brush now.

Can you feed your hair with shampoo and hair care products?  Most hair care products are unnecessary and contain chemicals you don’t want anywhere near your body.  Those ingredient lists are almost too tiny to read on purpose, and when you can read them, many of the ingredients are on the banned-but-allowed-under-a-certain-threshold list on the Canadian government website.  It has been the experience of my daughter and I, that making our own shampoo and conditioner eventually reduced to shampoo and an Argan oil blend as needed.  The oils and the castille soap are purchased at the store.  However, we infuse the water with a blend of herbs that we’ve harvested from the forest and meadow.  These herbs treat the scalp more than they treat the hair, which is necessary due to my daughter’s flaky skin issue on her head.  Nettle for example, does almost as good a job as Head and Shoulders in treating dandruff.  The high Vitamin E content of the Argan oil blend feeds the skin directly as well.  Mint, Dandelion, and Burdock have anti-inflammatory properties that calm the scalp as well.  The recipe we use calls for a tiny bit of olive or jojoba oil, so we infused some olive oil with a similar mix of herbs, swapping out the mint for plantain.

These herbs help the skin of the scalp to function better, resulting in healthier roots for our hair.  Researching shampoos and conditioners led us to believe that it would roughly a month before our hair stopped looking limp and oily all the time.  For us it was the better part of 6 months to get past that phase depending on the season of the year (seasonal changes can result in brief bouts of ongoing oiliness), and another year and a half before we both began noticing our hair getting thicker, healthier and longer.

It is important to remember that once your hair leaves the skin and flops around on your head, the part you brush and wash is actually dead.  The roots in the skin follicles are what you are feeding whether directly through the skin itself, or via your diet and lifestyle.  Having said that, Plantain and Burdock aid in darkening your hair colour, while Dandelion aids in lightening it.  Needless to say, the streaks my daughter gets in the summertime don’t go away half as quickly, and her un-died balayage treatment in the lower half of her hair sticks around throughout the year now.

Two-thirds of the way through our first year or so of making our own shampoos and conditioners, we began to discover we didn’t need the conditioner as often.  For the past year we haven’t used any conditioner save for the occasional squirt of Argan oil rubbed between our hands to touch up the ends of our hair or a squirt along the part on top to keep the skin from drying out.  This has led us to another conclusion, that the hair-care industry has largely manufactured its own market.

Curly-wavy hairStudying the origins of hair care as we know it in the modern-day, led us to discover that the lie was perpetrated that your hair was greasy and needed cleansing.  That was followed up by, your hair is brittle and too wispy, and full of knots, tame it with conditioner.  The shampoos that were made commercially were responsible for the brittleness and the development of knots.  Both my daughter and I have long hair by today’s standards, and neither of us are using conditioner now, even of our own making almost 3 years later.

One of the things that you will be taught if you take a marketing course, webinar, or spend time educating yourself on the topic via articles, books, etc, is that if you have a product for which there is no existing market, create it!  You create your market by creating the problem that your product will fix.  You then tell people they have this problem and that you have the solution for it.

This wasn’t just done with shampoo and conditioner early on, it was also done with deodorant and antiperspirant.  As those have aluminum in them, we are now finally experimenting with homemade deodorants that will replace the commercial brands.  A few years ago, I began only applying the commercial stuff a couple times a week because what I was buying had long periods of active behaviour.  The latest commercial antiperspirant in my drawer says it will last up to 90 hours!!!  It’s also motion-activated, so I would apply it on Monday and find myself fighting with the soap to get it off on Thursday before I shaved or it would gum up the razor.  However, even with the slowed pace of application, I am having to use a Ph-rebalance solution first, because the deodorant we made was causing me to rash out.  This rashing is normal when moving from chemicals to natural, but the Ph-rebalancer aids in the transition, and is to be used anytime the homemade deodorant causes rashing in the future.  Homemade deodorant has baking soda if you can’t afford Bentonyte clay.  Some recipes combine the two, or use corn starch.  Ours uses corn starch and baking soda to reduce the environment necessary for bacteria to grow, but because baking soda does this via its alkaline nature, the need to rebalance your skin’s PH balance will crop up from time to time.  My son and I are having to start with the rebalancer.  One source said that for some people, that’s all they will ever need.  We’ll see how this experiment goes.  The skin’s pores need to a) unclog from years of being deliberately clogged, and b) calm down and not work has hard as they used to, to do the same job of removing impurities from the body.

But the point is that in an effort to create markets and sales for products we never needed, companies have created problems we didn’t know we had and have sold us the solution.  We only make lifestyle changes in this house when it fits within our budget to do so.  As we’ve noted in the past, we are saving quite a bit of money not buying commercial hair care products, toothpaste, and now deodorant.  We do buy the castille soap, our carrier oils that fit our budget, the baking soda, etc.  But we forage for the herbs we put into these products.

Overall, we are healthier for the changes we’ve made, including our hair.