When we lived in Brooklyn, NY, Caidin started pre-school and within the first month he brought home a letter from the school Nurse alerting me to the fact that someone in the lower school had head lice. They don’t tell you which class, so you have no way of knowing if your child is in direct contact, close proximity or not even connected to the child in question.
I couldn’t stand the uncertainty, and I absolutely did not want to us the toxic chemicals recommended when a child has lice. Tapping into my Naturopathic philosophy, rather than waiting for an outbreak, I decided to look for a way to keep them away altogether. So I went on a search for a natural solution. I have often made my own soaps and shampoos to address different needs, and I figured I could make my own shampoo.
From my research lice are repelled or killed by menthol (Peppermint essential oil) camphor (Rosemary essential oil) and Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oils which are antibacterial, antifungal and have strong monoterpenes.
I had all of these essential oils on my shelf, but we had more of a kitchenette when we lived in Brooklyn. It opened to the living room and it took up a lot of space to craft things in that apartment. I did a little more searching and found Happyheads Shampoo. Not only was it a natural solution to a lice outbreak, but it was also clinically proven to prevent lice in the first place. I found a few more shampoos that would prevent lice, but they were all solely essential oil based. Happyheads had a special enzyme in it that would break down the exoskeleton of the lice, the larva and the eggs – thereby wiping out the infestation altogether. Plus using it once weekly assured that no outbreak would occur, ever.
I opted to use Happyheads with Caidin. He’s used it once weekly since he was four and we have weathered lice infestations of classmates, and even close friends who visited right before their lice was discovered. Happyheads, made by a Brooklyn, NY mom, is on my ‘highly recommended’ list.
If you want to make your own shampoo – here is the recipe I use. Remember this is a preventative shampoo so it would need to be used every time you and your child washes your hair. (Treating the whole family is one of the secrets of effective lice prevention.)
Lice Away Shampoo – 8oz
4.5 oz (135 ml) Spring or Distilled Water
3.2 oz (95 ml) Decyl Polyglucose
½ tsp Xanthan Gum Powder
½ tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
1 ml Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
(base recipe from Holistic Aromatherapy For Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell)
8 drops of Peppermint
4 drops of Rosemary
4 drops of Lavender
2 drops of Tea Tree
- I infuse the water with herbs – usually whatever I have on hand like a handful of lavender, calendula, comfrey root or chamomile. To infuse the water you place the herbs in the water, bring it to a boil and then let it steep for 20-30 minutes. You then need to strain the herbs out of the water.
- Next add to the hot infused water your ACV, GSE and Decyl Polyglucose. Mix Completely with a stick blender. I tried not using a stick blender, but it’s a must for this process.
- While the mixture is still warm add the xanthan gum powder and blend completely.
- Don’t add the essential oils until the mixture has cooled or they will evaporate.
- Once the mixture has cooled add your essential oils.
- Be sure to buy good quality essential oils. Some oils (the cheaper versions) are blends and may contain solvents to thin the oils.
Whether you make your own or you purchase a premade shampoo be sure that you wash your child’s hair or supervise. Peppermint and Tea Tree Oil are both strong oils and will make the eyes burn if your child gets this shampoo in his or her eyes. If they do, use a wash cloth to blot the eyes. Don’t add more water as it will intensify the burning. If it’s really bad, a little castor or almond oil dabbed in the corner of the eye will reduce the burning as well. I’ve gotten it in my eyes, it hurts, but that’s the extent of it, no lasting damage that I can tell.
As we head into the new school year (yup, it’s that time) here’s to a lice free year for all!
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© 2012 Christine Agro
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Christine Agro is a Clairvoyant, Naturopath, Master Herbalist, Conscious Mom and Author of 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously as well as of The Conscious Living Wisdom Cards (Special Moms’ Edition). Christine is founder of The Conscious Mom’s Guide , a membership site where she helps support you on your own journey of living life consciously and on your journey of being a Conscious parent. You can also join Christine on Facebook. To contact Christine, invite her to speak or to schedule an appointment with her please email her.