I wrote this post as guest post on another blog, but I thought I should put it here for my followers!
There are three simple ways to learn about DIY natural hair care:
a. To get started making your own hair products purchase books about natural skin and hair care. (the expensive ones I got through inter-library loan) My favorite books included a glossary about each ingredient and their benefits and shelf life. Some books main focus is just recipes, while others explain the structure of hair, hair needs, etc. There is no one book unfortunately, trust me I searched, but a few will help.
From there you will learn the basic procedures of certain formulations and how hair products were made. One of the biggest formulas that are used in hair care is emulsions (water + emulsifying wax + oils).
2. Online Resources ( blog, vlogs, forums, ingredients databases)
a. As you already know the natural hair care blogs, vlogs and forums are also a great resource. A lot of what I learned is a combination of Google searches (blogs,vlogs,forums), books and natural ingredient wholesalers.
3. Natural Wholesale Companies
a. Wholesalers are very helpful when you have questions about formulations, ingredients and explaining the purpose of each ingredient sold. Many wholesale websites include their own formulary (recipes) and break down each ingredient explaining their purpose, shelf life, and formula compatibility ( oil-soluble vs water soluble, etc).
Start reading labels of your favorite products to see what is in them (not your ingredients to avoid list, lol!) and before you know it, you will be able to break down the products key ingredients and understand the formulation.
The best way to determine the freshness of ingredients is color, smell and texture. If the herbs are dry and crumbly, they may be too old.
The freshest herbs are obviously those pulled straight from the dirt, but these are not great for formulating because they still contain water, which can cause mold in your formulations. Because of this, dried herbs are best. These herbs should be stored in dark cool places, preferably in amber jars w/ tight tops and labels (expiration date). This will help the herbs maintain their potency. If they are exposed to too much light and air, they will lose their medicinal properties and flavor.
Herbs typically last for 1-3 years depending on what type (leaves, flowers seeds, bark or roots) and what form (Ground vs. Whole) you are using. Each serves different purposes and are easier to use in different formulations.
As for oils, they need to be stored in cool dark areas as well. These too need to be stored in UV protective bottles. Every oil has a different shelf life and can withstand different temperatures before they become rancid, so check their shelf life and label. For example, almond oil has a shorter shelf life than most oils and will last longer if refrigerated and butters must be heated at low temperatures, otherwise they will become grainy.
Beauty by Nature by Brigitte Mars
The Holistic Beauty Book: Over 100 Natural Recipes for Gorgeous Healthy Skin by Star Khechara
Natural Beauty Basics: Create Your Own Cosmetics and Body Care Products by Dorie Byers
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Beauty Products by Sally W. Trew and Zonella B. Gould
(These three are kind of technical (get from library), but give you general understanding, I really skimmed these)
Beginning Cosmetic Chemistry
Preservative Free and Self Preserving Cosmetics and Drugs Principles and Practices
Preservatives for Cosmetics
Local: Whole Foods, Indian Grocery, Health Food Stores, Farmers Markets
The Herbarie (Ingredients, Formulary, Preservatives, Antioxidant)
FNWL (Recipes Database, Herbs, Oils)
Essentials Wholesale (organic herbs, oils, butters)
Coastal Scents (mica, fair trade oil & butters)
Mountain Rose Herbs (organic; oils, clays, butters, herbs, tea, jars/containers, How-to’s, etc)
Brambleberry (DIY soap resource, oils, butters)
Texas Naturals Supply (butters, oils, formulation ingredients. Clays, etc)
Sunburst Bottles (wholesale bottle distributor)
New Direction: Aromatics
See my Formulators Supplies Needed post to get you started!
These are a few places that I have bought from and/or heard good things about and will order from in the future!