I love nettles. Yes, it's true. We are brought up to avoid them, hate them, because of their sting, and of course a nettle sting can irritate for hours. The tiny stinging barbs on the underside of their leaves are there to protect the plant from being eaten. But assuming you can avoid their itchiness, they have a lot to offer. A patch of stinging nettles, or Utica dioica, can be a beautiful thing with their tall spikes, serrated leaves and tassled flowers. And they have a lovely scent, green and cleansing, and they can be made into an absolute. Once the leaves are dried, the acid in the sting is neutralised and the sting is rendered harmless.
Medicinally, stinging nettles have been used to combat aches and pains and ancient herbalists used the leaves to treat gout and arthritis and they have a natural anti-histamine effect. They are are now sometimes used in the treatment of arthritic conditions and asthma.
Nettles like rich soil and can often be found on old compost and waste heaps, sometimes long after humans have abandoned the site. They are a butterfly heaven; Red Admirals and Painted Ladies, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Commas are particularly fond of nettles, so if you can, leave a nice patch for these butterflies and they will reward you by pollinating your garden flowers and crops. They provide a home for Ladybirds too.
So why are we, as handmade soap makers, so interested in nettles? Well, stinging nettles are rich in Vitamins A, B, C, D and K, so make yourself some nettle tea as a vitamin boosting tonic. They also are anti-inflammatory, and astringent, so can be used to make a topical treatment for inflamed skin, burns, rashes and eczema. Traditionally however, it is of benefit to the scalp and hair, for hair loss, dandruff and shinier, healthier hair.
So we make handmade nettle shampoo! We use handfuls of dried nettle leaves, soak them, pulp them and use the infusion and herb directly in our solid shampoos. We add parsley and wonderful essential oil of Spanish Rosemary to help stimulate hair growth and treat a dry scalp.
Our handmade shampoo bars are great when you are on the move, to take to the gym, or on holiday. No bottles!
To use our solid shampoo bars, thoroughly wet your hair and gently massage the shampoo directly onto your scalp. When you've got a good lather going, massage the scalp and allow the suds to wash the rest of your hair to the ends. Rinse, and rinse.
You won't need a regular conditioner. We believe they are an invention to counteract the harshness of synthetic detergents in commercial shampoos! It has to be said though, that in some areas, our soap can react with minerals in your local water and you may find a residue. For this reason, we strongly recommend you use a traditional hair rinse after washing. You can make your own easily by adding about a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar to a litre of water. Don't worry about the vinegary smell, it will disappear, but the vinegar will close the hair cuticle, act as a natural detangler, reduce frizz and add SHINE!