What is hair conditioner? It's whatever you put in your hair to make it smoother, shinier, or just easier to comb through when you get out of the shower. Unfortunately, most commercial hair conditioners are full of stuff that's pretty bad for the planet. Some of it, like palm oil, does its damage through the way its harvested and produced. Other ingredients, like many of the fragrances in hair conditioners (especially musk ketones) remain stubbornly in our water even after treatment at sewage facilities.
How about some DIY hair conditioner options that smooth your hair without smiting the environment?
1. Cider Vinegar. A couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a pint of water as your final rinse really does leave your hair soft and shiny. Plus, it's helpful against dandruff. Yes, there is a little aroma, but it's not really offensive and basically disappears by the time your hair dries. Be careful not to get the rinse into your eyes. Vinegar is not the No More Tears stuff of your childhood.
2. Tea. Use a pint of brewed black or green tea as your final hair rinse. The acidity in the tea brings out the shine in your hair.
3. Olive Oil. Rub a tablespoonful or so of olive oil into your scalp before shampooing your hair. If you have time, wrap a towel around your oiled head and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Then wash your hair thoroughly (with a little extra shampoo if it seems like you need it). Your hair will be soft and smooth (but not slick!).
4. Rosemary Oil. One method calls for infusing rosemary leaves in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes and adding a little of this concoction to your final rinse. Or, try Weleda's Rosemary Hair Oil, and follow instructions on the bottle, or just use it in the same way as the olive oil method (massage in and let sit before washing).
5. Henna. Real henna in its powdered leaf form is an awesome hair conditioner, and will enhance all other conditioning efforts. If you don't want to add color to your hair, use clear henna (Light Mountain makes a clear variety).