Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


Homemade Hair Gel

For years, literally, I’ve had a couple of outstanding requests for a homemade natural hair gel.

I was totally intimidated by the request, so I conveniently ignored it for, well, years.

And then my son was born with a full head of hair and my husband appointed himself as his official stylist.  Next thing I know, he was asking for a hair product for our infant son!  I was out of excuses and couldn’t ignore the request any longer.  So, off I went to find a recipe for a homemade hair gel.

Emir with a full head of hair

Crunchy Betty

I’m a big fan of Crunchy Betty, so I started out by looking at the Crunchy Betty site.  Sure enough, I found a recipe for Flaxseed Hair Gel.  Click here to have a look at it.

I also had a look at a tutorial video online.  It was done by Naptural85 and was referenced a few times in the comments on the Crunch Betty site.  It’s a great tutorial.  Click here to see it.

Flaxseed Hair Gel

The recipe itself is very simple.

I used just over 1 cup of water, 2 Tbsp of flax seeds, a dollop of aloe vera gel, and some lavender essential oil.

I boiled the water and then put the flax seeds into it.  I stirred the seeds regularly until the liquid started to thicken and I started to see a gel.  Once it was quite thick, I strained the seeds using pantyhose and a pair of chopsticks.  Finally, after I had strained the gel, I added some aloe vera gel and the essential oil.

I have stored this in the fridge and it is keeping well.  As an experiment, I kept a small amount in jar on the counter and it didn’t smell so great after a few days.  It’s important to keep this in the fridge!

This recipe made a fair amount.  Considering it’s only for my son, I expect it to last quite a while.

Flaxseed Hair Gel

Flaxseed Hair Gel

Does The Hair Gel Work?

Yes, it works!  Not only was it easy to make, it actually works!  This is a shot of my son with it in his hair.  It was enough to style his hair and it held his style, more or less, for the whole day!  A couple of times, when it was a bit flat, we just added a bit of water to his hair and it reactivated the gel.  I’ll definitely be making this again!

Styled Hair


Tips for Healthy Hair

I’ve struggled to care for my hair properly for a long time now.  While I was pregnant, it got a bit easier and now I think I may have figured out what works for me!

Hair looks great during pregnancy

While I was pregnant, my hair grew so well!   I used to leave the bathroom floor littered with strands of hair after my shower.  However, that all stopped while I was pregnant.  My hair got thicker and was looking great.

I got in the habit of applying a hair mask at least once a week and washing my hair backwards.  All of that lead to me having the best hair I had ever had!  Woo hoo!

Post-Pregnancy Hair

As soon as my son was born, I adopted a new hair style.  It was a top knot secured with a butterfly clip. I admit, it’s not the most elegant look, but it keeps it out of my face and away from my son’s grabbing hands.  I can put it up whether it’s wet or dry and it’s a passable look. Did I mention that it’s quick too?

About 10 weeks after my son was born, my hair started to drop again.  I had expected it, so I wasn’t too distressed.  Fortunately, it wasn’t more than usual, so I felt like my hair was just getting back to normal.

I completely stopped applying my hair masks after my son was born.  I just kept forgetting to think ahead and prepare one!  I also stopped blow drying my hair completely.  When I’ve had some down time, blow drying my hair simply has not been the first thing on my mind!

Healthy Hair

A few days ago, I decided it was time to put some attention on my precious locks.  I applied a simple hair mask of coconut oil to my Coconut Oil in Handhair about 30 minutes before washing.  I also decided to blow dry my hair, just for the fun of it.  I thought it would be nice to have a different style, even if it was just for one day.

Who knew that it would take three times as long to dry my hair?!  Seriously…it used to take me 10 minutes at the most.  I must have worked on my hair for at least half an hour.

So, why is that?  Well, I can only come to one conclusion.  After not blow drying my hair for several months, my hair is far less dry than it used to be.  So, instead of drying out on its own, it took a lot of work to get those locks looking sleek!

Alia’s Tips for Healthy Hair

Here are my tips for healthy hair.  Keep in mind, these are all based on my own experience only.  I am certainly not trained in this field and I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination.  Rather, these are the things that have worked for me.

Carrot Banana Hair Mask

Carrot Banana Hair Mask

– Apply a hair mask to your hair every so often.  I try  to do it weekly, but as you can see from above, it doesn’t always work out.  You don’t have to use coconut oil on your hair.  There are lots of different recipes out there.

Wash your hair backwards. I have been doing this for months and I love the way my hair turns out.

– Minimize the amount of blow drying and curling/straightening that you do to your hair.  If you can, let it air dry.

– Brush your hair before you go to bed.  This helps spread the natural oils throughout your hair.

– Don’t wash you hair every day.  Rather, wash it every other day or even less often.  I tend to wash mine twice a week, though since my son arrived, I’ve kind of lost track of the days!

What are your secrets for keeping your hair shiny and healthy?


Go Deep! A Treat For Your Locks

I’ve been dying to try out some DIY hair masks and over the past couple of months, have finally had a chance.  The experiments have been fun and I’ve got a few favorites.

What is a Hair Mask?

Hair Masks are great at providing deep conditioning to your hair.  It’s not something I would recommend doing every day.  However, it’s a nice weekly treat, if you can make the time.  The ingredients of a hair mask can vary.  There are masks you can buy and there are lots that you can make at home with regular ingredients from your kitchen.

Years ago, I used to indulge in a hot oil treatment every few weeks.  It felt great on my hair and was easy to manage.  I also used to do overnight treatments of mayonnaise on my hair.  It worked great, but I wasn’t a fan of the “scent” of mayo on my head all through the night.

Recently, I’ve been venturing into my kitchen to find ingredients.  In all cases, I reversed washed my hair.  After the hair mask, I shampooed, but didn’t have a need to re-condition my hair again.  Here’s my assessment of my experiments so far:

Avocado/Egg Hair Mask

I mixed half an avocado (mashed) and a beaten egg in this mask.  The mixture was pretty thin and it spread easily throughout my hair.  I massaged it into my dry hair and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  I rinsed it out in the shower with cold water. (You never want to use hot water when there is egg involved, in case you accidentally cook the eggs!).  After rinsing, I shampooed my hair and skipped the conditioning step.

Not only was my hair not tangled at the end of it, it was so soft.  My hair felt great!

This mask also works great if you add honey to the mixture.  It makes the mask a bit thicker and easier to handle.

Coconut Oil Hair Mask

This hair mask had only one ingredient – coconut oil.  I massaged the oil into my dry hair and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  I loved the smell of coconut while I was doing this.  Unfortunately, I think I used too much that day, because it took my several rounds of shampoo to wash out the coconut oil.  Perhaps I should have had an ACV rinse on hand to help me get the excess out.

I tried this a few weeks later, using less oil (maybe 1.5 tsp in total).  I was able to wash it out easily with my regular shampoo.

Both times, my hair felt great afterwards and I would recommend it, provided that the amount of coconut oil used is scant!

Carrot/Banana Hair Mask 

I was inspired to try this hair mask after reading Stilishbabe’s blog.  I blended two small peeled and chopped carrots with half of a banana, 1 T of Manuka honey and 1 tsp of coconut oil.  I did my best to massage the mixture into my hair.  However, it was quite crumbly, so it was a bit of a challenge.  I let it sit on my hair, under the cover of a shower cap, for about 30 minutes.  Before getting into the shower, I shook out my hair to get most of the mixture out.  Then, I washed my hair with my regular shampoo.

This mask was a bit more work than others and it was worth it.  My hair was soft and shiny at the end of it.

Have YOU Tried a Hair Mask?

Have you ever tried a deep conditioning hair mask? If you have, was it worth it?

If you haven’t had a chance to try one yet, go for it and try one of these easy recipes!


Wash Your Hair Backwards!

A few weeks ago, I started washing my hair backwards.  Or, maybe a better way to say it is that I’ve started washing my hair in reverse order.  First, I condition and second, I shampoo.

Is That Co-Washing?

Nope.  Co-washing is different from what I’m doing.  Co-washing is when you “wash” your hair with conditioner only.  The theory behind it is that by conditioning your hair, without using a shampoo, you are adding moisture to your hair without stripping it.  You would apply your conditioner and then rinse it out after it has sat on your head for a while.  Many women swear by this method of washing their hair. 

Reverse Hair Washing

By conditioning my hair first, I ensure that it gets lots of moisture. I gently massage it into my scalp. I’m also sure to cover the tips of my hair.  I leave it in for about 10 minutes while I shower and then rinse it out.  If I were to stop there, I would end up with quite the build up in my hair (I learned that the hard way), leaving it feeling heavy and greasy over time.  So, I use a bit of shampoo to get the excess conditioner out.

The Benefits of Reverse Washing

The first time I tried this, I was worried that my hair would be full of knots and tangles at the end of my shower.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have long hair that goes to the middle of my back and I had no problem running a comb straight through it.  Phew!  I had no need for an extra leave-in conditioner or to have a war with my hair. 

Even better, my hair felt softer and looked shinier when I was done.  I’ve now had those great results for a few weeks, so I know it wasn’t just a one time thing!

Who Else is Reverse Washing?

As much as this was a personal discovery for me, I’m not the only Reverse Washer out there!  Reverse Washing is referenced in the book No More Dirty Looks and also on their blog.  They’ve had a great experience with Reverse Washing as well!

AloeHow has Reverse Washing worked for you?

Have you ever tried washing your hair in reverse?  If you did, how did it work for you?  If haven’t had a chance to try it yet, would you be willing to give it a shot and tell me how it worked?  I’d love to hear from you!


Tea Tree Oil – Nature’s First Aid


Tea Tree Oil is indigenous to eastern Australia’s tea trees.  It’s Latin name is Melaleuca alternifolia and it is also known as Australian tea tree oil or Melaleuca oil.

This oil has a strong camphor-like smell.  To be honest, it’s not my favorite scent.  However, it works great to clear a stuffy nose!

The oil itself is clear.  If you purchase it, be sure to get it in a dark glass bottle to  protect it from light that can reduce its potency.


Tea Tree Oil has long been used a natural remedy.  It has been used to treat acne, athlete’s foot, dandruff, and skin infections.  It should always be used in a diluted form and should not be ingested.

Tea Tree Oil is used in creams, shampoos, lotions and other skin care products. It’s even found in some toothpastes and mouthwashes.  These are considered safe since you should not be swallowing either the toothpaste or the mouthwash.

Tea Tree Oil is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Continue reading


From Natural Shampoo to No Shampoo

During the summer, I made the switch to natural shampoo.  It took a bit of trial and error to find one that worked well with my hair, but when I found it, I was very happy with the result.  The one I ended up choosing was Aubrey’s Blue Camomile Shampoo and Conditioner.

Right after I settled on this great option, I started reading about the “no poo” movement.  I was intrigued and of course, decided to try it out.

So, I made myself a baking soda rinse.  I used it for the first time over a month ago.  After the first time, my hair still felt a bit dirty, so I made myself an apple cider vinegar rinse for the next time.  Sure enough, using the vinegar rinse helped get that clean feeling in my hair.

Over the past month, I have experimented with the amount of time between “washes”.  I definitely have to “wash” my hair more often than when I was using actual shampoo.  If I rinse my hair every other day or every two days, it looks and feels pretty good.

As a backup, I have used a dry shampoo from time to time to help absorb some of the oil when I don’t have time to do a full wash.  All in all, I’m very satisfied with myself.  I loved the natural shampoo and have it on hand in case I feel the need for a good lather in my hair. And of course, I will still work on formulating my own shampoo.  In the meantime, I’ve found a gentle way to keep my hair clean and have reduced the number of chemicals in my daily routine!


What is Dry Shampoo?

If you read my last post, you’ll see that I stumbled upon the use of dry shampoos.  I have never heard of a dry shampoo until very recently.  So, I decided to do some research to learn what I could about dry shampoos.  If you’re in the same boat as me, please read on!

Regular shampooing, with water, can cause hair follicle damage.  For those with dry hair, the whole process can be hard on your locks, making them even harder to nourish and manage.  Daily shampooing can actually dry out your natural oils, causing your glands to overcompensate and produce even more oils, making your hair oilier than before!  Of course, the next step would be to shampoo it again, thus restarting the cycle.

Dry shampoo can be used in between regular washings.  It works to absorb excess oils in order to give you the look of clean hair.  It will help your hair look fuller and will add volume to your hair.  Dry shampoos are made with a variety of ingredients.  Whether you use cornstarch or clay, they all have the ability to absorb the excess oils in your hair.

It should take far less time to do a dry shampoo treatment on your hair, as compared to a regular shampoo.  The process is simple.  You take the product and massage it into your hair, ensuring that you’re getting to the roots and oily spots.  You can let that sit for a few minutes.  Then, simply brush out your hair.  It’s a messy process, so it’s best to do this over a sink or tub, or be prepared to sweep the floor right after you’re done.

A dry shampoo is a great option when you don’t have time for a regular shampoo, don’t have access to water to wash your hair, or want to give your hair a break from the shampoo and conditioners that you use.   I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that it would replace regular shampoo.  However, using it could certainly save you some hair washing time and help your shampoo last a bit longer.


How often do you wash your hair?

As I’ve been researching the topic of natural hair care, I’ve found a few articles that talk about how often you really need to wash your hair.  Some people wash their hair every day and others wash their once or twice a month.  Why such a difference?

All on its own, your body’s sebaceous glands produce sebum.  Sebum waterproofs and moisturizes your hair.  When left unwashed, sebum can accumulate in your hair and you can get that look of unwashed and oily hair.  This causes us to shampoo our hair to get rid of the excess oil.  However,some shampoo gets rid of so much of our natural oils that we have to then condition our hair and replace the oil we just removed.  That sounds a bit redundant to me.

The fact is, until recently, frequent hair washing was not common. It wasn’t long ago that women used to go to the hairdresser once a week to have their hair washed and styled for the entire week!  Over the last sixty years, that trend has changed in North America.  Now, it is largely unacceptable allow your hair to get too oily.  Now, we largely choose to strip the oils out and promptly put them back in with a conditioning product.

As redundant as hair washing sounds, the fact is that when I don’t wash my hair every other day, it gets very oily.  It doesn’t feel great and it looks worse!  Some have turned to dry shampoo.   This product is formulated to absorb excess oils and remove the need for excess washing.   They’ve been used for many years and are seeing a bit more popularity right now.  There are a variety of ways to make them and they are certainly for sale in regular stores.  Can you guess what I’m going to try making next?

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Continuing the Search for Natural Hair Care

Just after my last post on this topic, I went out and purchase new shampoo and conditioner.    My thought in buying something was that I would find something I liked and then set out to try and make my own shampoo and hair conditioner that worked just as well.

I chose Aubrey’s Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner.  This set met all the criteria…no fragrance, no parabens, and no other suspicious ingredients.  I do like both products, though I think I may have misjudged my hair type.  The shampoo and conditioner are very moisturizing and might be a bit heavy for my hair.  So, before I start working on my own shampoo, I’m going to continue looking for a shampoo that works for me.

Even at this mid way point in my search for a great natural shampoo, I must admit that I’ve now got far more control over my head of hair.  I’m doing away with the frizz and the unruly baby hairs!  So far so good on the quest for great natural hair care.

I also purchased a smoothing lotion called Shea Leave In for my hair by Hamadi. Again, this a great product that definitely smooths out my hair.  I can get by without using it, but it’s nice to have on hand.

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In search of natural hair care

I recently made a trip to the hairdresser for a long overdue trim.  I love being pampered at the salon, but often don’t take the time to actually make the appointment to go.  After a year of procrastination, I finally got myself booked in to a nearby salon.

My hair doesn’t need a lot of special attention.  It’s fairly straight and I don’t colour it.  In fact, other than needing a trim, the only thing that has been bugging me about my hair is the fine baby hairs that curl away from the sides of my head.  You know, the kinds that stick out like wings when you pull the rest of your hair into a sleek ponytail?  Yes, those ones.

I asked my stylist about this and she promptly suggested a whole line of smoothing hair products.  There was a shampoo, conditioner, oil, and lotion.  She used the complete line of hair care on me.  It worked beautifully!  I had the smoothest and straightest hair when she was all done with me!

As any good stylist would do, she encouraged me to purchase the whole line of products so that I could reproduce her magic on my own.  I took a quick look at the list of ingredients in each bottle and was not surprised to see that they were each full of chemicals which I couldn’t pronounce.  Worse, they all contained parabens.

Now, I’m no expert on ingredients.  However, I’ve read enough to know that there are mixed reviews on the use of parabens in skin and hair care products.   A mixed review is more than enough to make me leery. More importantly, through making my own skin care products, I do have an idea of what things are good for your skin and, by extension, your hair.  I didn’t see those ingredients listed on the back of those bottles.

Needless to say, I skipped out on purchasing the line of hair care.  I simply left the salon with a new mission.  I need to find or make a great product that will smooth my hair so that I can avoid the fly-aways and enjoy the great cut I got last week!

After a bit of surfing, I’ve found a few sites that have some good suggestions:

A DIY natural hair conditioner recipe:

A full hair care recipe book:

A source of vegan natural hair care products:

I’m going to start experimenting, hopefully without doing any great damage to my hair.  If you’ve got any suggestions, I would love to hear them!