That seems like such a basic title to this post, even to me. But think about it, do you really feel like you take care of your hair? Do you love on it and dote on it with luxurious treatment?

These days, self-care is generally about self-correction. Fixing what’s wrong with you, getting yourself to a place that feels more “right” according to all sorts of different parameters. Maybe some of those are personal and healthy, but I’m willing to bet a lot of them stem from painful fears and top-down standards. Hair is one of the easiest places to impose our endless appearance rules. It doesn’t feel pain. It generally bounces back. It is easy to control and manipulate, and when it fails you, you can throw it up or out, and just start over. And no matter where you are in the process, you can talk smack about it like it’s separate from you somehow.

I have hated my hair my entire life (see, smack talk). Or at least since puberty, which is when it took on a life of its own, and when I realized you could hate things about yourself. In middle school, it started to curl in weird ways (not adorable ones), frizzed constantly, and turned the most dull brown I could imagine. I spent years beating it up with products and haircuts, trying to force it just to choose a damn side. Spoiler alert: it never did. But these days, I appreciate that. I’m 34 and over the past few years I’ve decided to let my hair’s freak flag fly. Like Hayley said, hair is its own very expressive outlet, and I have learned to appreciate that my hair is just like I am: indecisive, rebellious, moody, and in the end, super basic in the best way. It has taken me years of work (both in the shower and in my mind) to get to the point where I can truly say…I love my hair.

It’s not as saucy as it sounds, but it’s the work in the shower that I’m here to teach people about. The best way to get in touch with your hair (and yourself) is to take things back to the basics. Get to know what your hair is like without products, how it responds to different ingredients, and in what ways it actually needs to be nourished. Though they will certainly try, no one can tell you what your hair needs. Your hair has to tell you. So light some candles, steam up that shower, and get re-acquainted with your hair.

Start with a Hair Mask

1/3 cup castile soap

¼ cup coconut milk

4 tablespoons dry clay like bentonite

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together gently to prevent too much foaming. If you have permanent (GDY) dye in, skip the clay because it may strip some of it (you can swap in 1 teaspoon of baking soda instead). Wet your hair and slowly work the mask into your strands. Leave in for up to 30 minutes, wrapping hair into a bun if it’s long. You can also rinse immediately, especially if you feel too messy—it’ll still work its magic! Gently massage into scalp when rinsing. This DIY is super hydrating but also cleansing. It will help strip your hair and scalp of buildup without drying everything out.

Then try a Protein Treatment

1 tablespoon shea butter

½ cup of full fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

Melt shea butter in a small pot or in microwave. Combine all ingredients and stir together. Apply to tips of hair and work your way upwards toward scalp. If your hair tends to be oily leave off your scalp, but if you are super dry and itchy, massage into scalp as well. Leave in for a few minutes or up to half an hour. Shampoo out, may require 2-3 rinses, but if you can manage to do this over a weekend to leave some of that grease in, do it! It’s good for you, and will rinse out after a few showers. Shea butter protects your hair from heat, locks in moisture, and helps with split ends. Greek yogurt has twice the protein of other yogurts and will help make your hair shiny and strong. (If you’re vegan, get you some coconut yogurt instead!) Blackstrap molasses is a nutrient-dense sugar, it is super high in antioxidants and will also help strengthen your hair.Finally, reset with Conditioner

¼ cup aloe juice, or the inner gel of the aloe leaf

¼ cup cooled chamomile tea

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3-7 drops chamomile essential oil

3-7 drops rose otto essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and apply to wet hair after shampooing. Rinse as you would a normal conditioner or leave in for up to 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Chamomile brightens the hair and generally enhances color, aloe is ultra-soothing, apple cider vinegar will help correct your scalp’s pH. Overall this recipe will help your hair get back to its least anxious state.

These recipes along with so, so many others appear in Skin Cleanse and Just the Essentials, two books I wrote to help you love on your skin and hair, because they (and you) deserve it! Leave any questions in the comments below, and happy DIY’ing!

Written by Adina Grigore, Founder of SW Basics and Author of Skin Cleanse and Just the Essentials.

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