While we are at our roots mammals, our hair is something that makes us distinctly human. Our hair is sacred, rooted in the energy of our crown chakra, a part of our bodies that is closest to the Divine, and yet holds the memories our body harbors. Since the dawn of humankind, our ancestors have been intimately connected to the mystical through our hair. The way in which we wear our hair, adorn our hair, or style our hair has always been deeply interwoven with our perception of the spiritual world, the way in which we express ourselves, and are reflective of the social constructs of the communities we exist in. All around the world, our hair is recognized in major religions and spiritualities, holds deep symbolism and reverence, and is intricately connected to culture. Furthermore, it is a widely held belief that our hair is sensory, acting in almost a psychic sense. It is an extension of our bodies that help us to tune in to our intuition, often when sensing something in our environment feels off. Matter of fact, we have a widely recognized saying for this. Does the phrase, “the hair rose on the back of my neck,” ring a bell?
Photo by Adrian Fernández on Unsplash[/caption] Stories acknowledging the physical and spiritual capabilities of our hair are deeply entrenched in our culture. For example, if we look at it from the Biblical perspective, Samson, who was an incredibly strong and valiant warrior identified in the Book of Judges, drew his power from his hair. Once it was cut, Samson lost his strength. Indigenous cultures also recognize hair as sacred, as an extension of self and is part of the spirit of the person. Hair is grown long and often braided to honor the weaving of family, tribe, and Creation. As described by Indigenous author Carole Lindstrom, cutting off one’s hair was a form of forced assimilation and violence against Indigenous peoples that occurred when children were forced into boarding schools. It was done to sever children from their sacred traditions, particularly that hair is only cut as a way to honor and express grief for a loved one in ceremony. Growing out one’s hair in modern times is not only a way in which to honor one’s ancestors and in Indigenous communities, but also is an act of resistance against imposed social constructs and an expression and reclamation of deeply rooted cultural pride. Furthermore, our hair, for many of us, is also closely connected to our personalities, and our sense of self. It is something closely tied to our self-confidence, and the way in which we express ourselves. There is something sacred and ancestral about even the act of getting our hair done by a fellow member of our community - a ritual that helps us to feel refreshed ourselves, but also in that salons and barber shops are important hubs that serve a great significance for connection in our communities. This is to say that caring for our hair is deeply important. However, we recognize that there is also a plethora of products and regiments that exist in our modern world for haircare, to the point it can be overwhelming! We invite you to join us, for truly, holistic care of our hair can be simple, and as always, we can find allies in the plants.
Golden Poppy Staff - photo by Sunshine Lady Photography[/caption]
Hair as an Indication of HealthIn a lot of ways, our hair functions in a similar manner to our skin. In particular, our hair can act as a messenger, helping to alert us to potential underlying conditions associated with our overall health. For example, if we are noticing that our hair seems brittle and fragile or is breaking frequently, this can indicate that we are experiencing a deficiency in our bodies, such as that associated with anemia and low levels of iron in the body. Hair loss may also indicate a hormonal imbalance in the body, particularly if it is also associated with other symptoms, such as cystic acne or irregular periods. Hair conditions such as dandruff may also be alerting us to an allergen in a product we may be using, or be a side-effect of a medication we may be taking regularly. Similar to other functions in the body, our hair works in coordination as a system within the body. If we are experiencing conditions with our hair that are less than desirable, we have the ability to adhere to the messages we are receiving from this system, along with the guidance of a trusted healthcare professional, to help track down a potential root issue in our body.
Holistic Hair CareBy giving our hair love and intention, we can help to promote healthy growth and regular nourishment. In our modern world, many of the products for haircare contain many chemicals that are potentially linked to negative health conditions and tend to be harmful for the environment and our water and oceans. While each person will be different depending on your hair type and texture, we can embrace nature in our haircare routine. Some ways to do this include:
- Limited Washing of the Hair. Our hair actually produces natural oils that are beneficial to our hair and act as a protectant for our scalp and hair strands. Many shampoos tend to strip our hair of these natural oils and contribute to it drying out quickly and becoming more brittle. By allowing a longer duration of time in between washes, we can help preserve these natural oils and allow them to better be absorbed by our hair. You can also give herbal hair rinses a try as an alternative to regular shampoo.
- Follicle Stimulation. Similar to our skin, our scalp actually really benefits from regular exfoliation and massage! By exfoliating the scalp, this can actually both stimulate blood flow to the follicles which helps to promote growth, and also helps to reduce build up on the scalp and relieve dandruff.
- Oiling. A deeply ancient Ayurvedic practice, oiling the hair can help our scalp and hair follicles to retain moisture, promote healthy growth, and is deeply restorative to the nervous system. We made a product specifically for this: our Ayurvedic Hair Oil
- Nourishment. Yet another way our hair mirrors the skin, by ensuring that we are eating foods that bring nourishment to the body, including lots of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, this has a direct impact on the health of our hair. When we eat well, our hair reflects this by appearing full, soft, and shiny. Dull and fragile hair can be an indication of our body’s nourishment. Our Healthy Hair Tea offers a lovely compliment to your helthy eating habits.
- Switch to natural alternatives. Traditional hair care products are some of the worst offenders when it comes to chemicals that are toxic to our health. Studies have shown that people who use hair straitening chemicals have a higher risk of developing certain cancers. The same goes for many commercially available dry shampoos, which is a big reason why we've been making our own for some time, and have gone to great lengths to find natural alternatives to our hair care. Check out our Dark & Light Dry Shampoos
Herbal Allies for the Hair
There are several plants that have an affinity for the hair. Whether we incorporate them into our diets, or use them directly on the hair itself, they can be potent allies for improving the strength and vitality of our hair. Rosemary: This aromatic herb is beneficial for our memory, brain health, and in promoting healthy hair growth and scalp health. Rosemary can be used as an infused oil on the scalp, or is often brewed as a tea and then poured over the hair as a wash. Nettle: This powerhouse herb is deeply nourishing to the body. As pointed out by the Women’s Wellness Collective, nettle is high in vitamin B5, silica, and iron, all of which are crucial for hair health. This is a nourishing herb that can be infused as a daily tonic for our bodies and overall wellness. Marshmallow Root: The gelatinous properties of Marshmallow can be deeply nourishing for those who experience frequent dryness in their hair. Marshmallow can be protective, helping to retain moisture in the hair. Horsetail: Often found as a wild herb, horsetail has been used for centuries as a hair wash to help improve hair vitality and strength to prevent against breakage. Check out our line of natural Hair Care products to get started on your natural hair journey.
Herbal Hair Rinse[/caption] We hope you find the sacred in the mundane, and perhaps as you let your hair down after a long day, you take a deep breath and lean into the mystical properties our hair holds. Perhaps as you brush your hair, you also sing a little song of reverence. And when communing with our herbal allies, consider what a gift it is to give an offering of your hair, a piece of yourself to share with the natural world. Thank you for joining us, dear reader, and we wish you many belated summer Solstice blessings!
- Blair, Elizabeth. “Indigenous author explores the power of hair for Native Americans in children’s book.” NPR. 12 April 2023. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2023/04/12/1169569310/indigenous-author-explores-the-power-of-hair-for-native-americans-in-childrens-b
- Blaise-Bille, Braudie. “Beyond Braids: The True Story of Indigenous Hair.” Vice i-D. 17 June 2023. Retrieved from: https://i-d.vice.com/en/article/mbvbj8/beyond-braids-the-true-story-of-indigenous-hair
- Che-Jung Chang, Katie M. O’Brien, Alexander P. Keil, Symielle A. Gaston, Chandra L. Jackson, Dale P. Sandler, Alexandra J. White. Use of Straighteners and Other Hair Products and Incident Uterine Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djac165 (2022).
- Connor, Bethany. “The Spiritual Roots of Hair.” Today Indya. 2 June 2020. Retrieved from: http://www.todayindya.com/article/spiritual/the-spiritual-roots-of-hair/78678
- Gorman, Megan and Korin Miller. “8 Things your Body Hair Says about Your Health, According to Doctors.” Prevention. 11 June 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.prevention.com/health/a20467472/body-hair-causes/
- Hair straightening chemicals associated with higher uterine cancer risk https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/hair-straightening-chemicals-associated-higher-uterine-cancer-risk
- Stensgar, Barbie. “The Significance of Hair in Native American Culture.” Sister Sky. 4 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://sistersky.com/blogs/sister-sky/the-significance-of-hair-in-native-american-culture
- Women’s Wellness Collective, The. “Holistic Hair Care Guide.” The Women’s Wellness Collective. 2023. Retrieved from: https://thewomenswellnesscollective.com/journal/2018/1/29/holistic-hair-guide