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Terpenes can be added into shampoos, conditioners, and body wash, as they add both their enticing aromatic properties as well as their physical benefits. Natural terpenes added into unscented bath products is a great way to guarantee unknown, unmarked potentially hazardous cancer-causing chemicals are not coming into contact with you or your family (read more here). Topically applied terpenes can penetrate the outermost layers of the skin - though not all have the capacity to break through into the bloodstream with only a topical application. This method of delivering medicine or active ingredients into the bloodstream is called transdermal drug delivery.
Transdermal drug delivery (through the skin) has attracted much attention as an alternative to intravenous and oral methods of delivery. When entering through the skin, the terpene bypasses first-pass metabolism, meaning it doesn’t get metabolized and lose any of its potency before reaching the bloodstream.1 As explained in Dr. Ethan Russo’s Taming THC, the Entourage Effect is the term coined to this characteristic. It has been found that small alcoholic terpenes with high degree of unsaturation enhance the permeation of other topicals, making other products more effective, as the product enters the skin effectively and more abundantly.
Shampoo & Conditioner
One way to ensure you are not allowing unknown, potentially harmful ‘fragrance’ chemicals into your body is by making your own shampoo and conditioner. Unscented shampoo and conditioner products are safer and often cheaper than scented shampoo. The added benefit is you can experiment and try to recreate some of your favorite scents or aim to make a unique signature scent. The potential of natural terpene and oil scents combinations is limitless, click here for more information on scent profiles and combinations. Per every 1 ounce of unscented shampoo add 3-6 drops of preferred essential oil. To make your own shampoo from scratch use the following common household ingredients:
Mix these into a clean empty bottle and honey is an emollient which seals moisture in the hair, keeping it conditioned and looking healthy and vibrant. Coconut oil stimulates hair growth and adds luster, shine, and softness to the hair. Vitamin E supports a healthy scalp and is an antioxidant. Making your own shampoo is satisfying as a project, but when you consider the money that is saved, the benefits your hair and scalp will radiate, and the potentially dangerous chemicals you are avoiding, its truly a valuable and gratifying project to undertake.
Hair Loss / Hair Growth
Many hair loss treatments have undesirable side effects, including loss of sex drive, gynecomastia, reduced fertility, anxiety, and depression. Terpene infused oils offer equal, or better results, with far fewer adverse effects.
Terpenes in many different oils are anti-bacterial and antimicrobial, and can reduce inflammation, itching and scaling, as well as promote hair growth. According to one study, rosemary oil performed as well as minoxidil, an ingredient in many brand name hair loss treatments, but had less scalp itching as a side effect.1 Mix several drops of rosemary oils with a carrier like coconut oil and apply it generously before washing it out with shampoo. Do this twice a week for best results.
Another 2013 study found tea tree oil to be effective when mixed with minoxidil, and more effective in improving hair growth than minoxidil alone.2 Tea tree oil has terpenoids such as eucalyptol, cineole, and nerolidol which provide antimicrobial properties responsible for tea tree’s antiseptic and nourishing traits. Consider adding a few drops into your shampoo or conditioner to receive its antibacterial, cleansing properties.
Other oils which promote hair growth include:
Mix a few (3-10) drops into a tablespoon of coconut oil and massage the mixture into the scalp rigorously before shampooing it out. These oils contain linalool, eucalyptol, and geraniol, among others, which are proven anti-inflammatories and provide extensive benefit to the scalp. Chamomile oil may also be used to promote hair growth, while naturally lightening the hue of your hair. Mix 5 drops with a tablespoon of sea salt and 1/3 cup of baking soda or coconut oil and, using warm water, massage into the scalp. Leave the formula on the scalp for half an hour before rinsing with warm water. For emphasized effect, sit in the sun while you wait. Roughly 50% of women dye their hair, and many dyes have been known to contain ammonia, peroxide, diaminobenzene, among other potentially toxic chemicals. Chamomile oil offers a safer and rejuvenating way to lighten your mane.
Dandruff can as frustrating as it is embarrassing. Dandruff is a condition of the scalp that causes flakes of skin to appear and is often accompanied with itching and irritation. Dandruff can be caused by a number of things such as seborrheic dermatitis, dry skin, stress, not enough shampooing, and even too much shampooing.
A 2016 study found lavender oil to have a profound effect on the health of mice’s thermal layer of skin and the depth of their hair follicles. The oil was found to increase hair follicles in female mice, potentially due to its hormone balancing effects.3 Rosemary oil contains geraniol, a terpene which has anti-inflammatory properties and can boost cellular metabolism resulting in the growth and restoration of follicles.
Cedarwood oil contains α-pinene which can relieve itching while eliminating dandruff. The oil can be mixed with shampoo or conditioner, preferably unscented, to treat dandruff.
Cedarwood has an enjoyable forest scent, but can be supplemented with any of the following dandruff-treating oils:
A study found that lemongrass oil significantly reduced the amount of dandruff and oil in the hair of test subjects, aged 20-60, around the seventh day of use.5 Topical application of apple cider vinegar is another homemade treatment, as it is known to kill the fungus which causes dandruff.
Hair can become brittle over time due to aging, overexposure to heat, sunlight, or chemicals like chlorine. Too much dye, straightening or curling can also lead to dry, dull, frizzy, split-ended hair. Brittle hair can make you feel lackluster but some oils like geranium, lavender, and rosemary oils have terpenes such as camphene and geraniol which can stimulate the hair’s roots, improve hair growth and shine, and increase scalp circulation.
Because there are so many terpenes which provide a vast array of different effects on the body, there are a seemingly endless combination of potential types of body washes which could be made. Whether you are looking for a specific physiological benefit like a boost in mood, an invigorating, energizing effect on the body, or a relieving anti-inflammatory effect, there is a terpene to provide such effect, plus many, many more. Or maybe you are looking to craft your own signature scent. Believe it or not, scent has a lot to do with how people react to you, and it can also play a role in determining whether or not potential mates are attracted to you. Recent scientific research has determined that all mammals (particularly females) base a large part of their decision in choosing a mate on scent. Terpenes can provide both custom scent and select physiological benefits, while avoiding potentially hazardous ‘fragrance.’ To make your own you will need:
Start by pouring 1 and 1/2 cups of Castile Soap into your empty 16 oz. bottle. Next, add 4 teaspoons of the vegetable glycerin. The glycerin is what will make this homemade body wash sudsy and soapy. Castile soap is a gentle cleanser, but the glycerin will give you the lather you that is great in a loofah and in a smooth body wash. Now add the essential oils or terpene isolates of your choosing. Lavender is soothing for your skin and has a calming effect, plus it smells great. Frankincense and myrrh oils also provide a myriad of benefits, like anti-inflammatory, hormone balancing, sedative, antimicrobial, and has a more masculine scent and appeal. Finally, Shake the bottle and mix all the ingredients up and test to see if the scent and sensation of the soap are ideal.
1 - "Terpenes: Effect of lipophilicity in enhancing transdermal delivery of alfuzosin hydrochloride." US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pmc/articles/PMC3560127/. 2 - "Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial." US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842469.
2- "Preparation and evaluation of a multimodal minoxidil microemulsion versus minoxidil alone in the treatment of androgenic alopecia of mixed etiology: a pilot study." DovePress, 30 Jan. 2013, www.dovepress.com/ preparation-and-evaluation-of-a-multimodal-minoxidil-microemulsion-ver-peer-reviewed-article-DDDT. 4 - "Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice." US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843973/.
3 - "Anti-dandruff Hair Tonic Containing Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) Oil." US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, NCBI, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26566122.