The following is based on my - Updated November 18, 2012, over 7 years of experimentation with and use of catnip tea, as my only consistent (I experimented with conventional hair conditioner in short spurts) hair colour and conditioner. My hair has gone from being fragile and full of split ends and breakage to being much stronger, with no split ends and minimal breakage. My hairline has filled in somewhat since I started using it, my hair looks much thicker and my hair growth, which was always good is even better. Catnip is described on some websites, as a herb for "hair growth and shine" on lists of herbs and their cosmetic uses, or for "growth" or "shine" on other websites and such lists.
The "even better" growth, may be from the definite reduction of breakage I have experienced giving that appearance. My hairline filling in "somewhat", may be from the lack of other products weighing my hair down in that area. That makes more sense to me. I do know that overall, my hair does look much thicker. That is from no longer having the weight on my hair from the conventional conditioning products I used to use, and catnip not adding weight to my hair.
______________________________________________________Catnip cannot affect split ends that already exist (except condition and stain them). Those can be cut off for the best relief of them. Catnip tea used as a treatment, in my experience, prevents split ends from forming, even when there has been breakage.
Catnip, Nepeta cataria, or common catnip (it is a different species than catmint), has many helpful properties for hair and scalp. It is non toxic, naturally acidic, may be antibacterial, anitiviral and anifungal, contains oils, and is soothing to skin. It is known as a specific for scalp irritation. It is not recommended to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Catnip has been used to help treat infant colic. For any uses regarding infants or babies, please consult your doctor.
At higher concentrations (less diluted), catnip is astringent but not overly drying.
It can be used as a skin wash and is not irritating to eyes. It can remove sebum and certain "oil" or moisturizing lotions like silicone based sunblock and even washable mascara.
It can also be used as a dry skin treatment. I use leftover catnip from my hair treatment. I gently exfoliate my facial skin with my hands after washing it with catnip. I then apply more catnip to my skin and let it dry, leaving it on for 1 hour and rinse it off. The result is soft, smooth skin that feels wonderful and dry skin lines have either been reduced or are not visible.
Catnip can be used as a shampoo on its own on mildly oily hair but is best used in rotation with an alternate cleanser, as catnip is not a strong enough cleanser on its own, to deal with leave-in hair products (including oils) or remove product build-up or residue. Catnip used as a shampoo and then more catnip applied afterward to condition, does not offer the same split end protection (as catnip does following conventional shampoo), for me. The hair is also prone to knotting. Catnip "shampoo" leaves behind some oils and conditioning properties, enough to prevent more catnip from being absorbed into the hair, as much as it can be.
I have found catnip is best used unadulterated (nothing added to it), on hair that does not have a *coating on it from another product that prevents the catnip from having direct access to the hair. Some conventional shampoos and conditioners can contain waxy ingredients and oils and some plants can contain things like mucilage and resins. All of these things can coat hair and *build-up, enough not to allow catnip to access and penetrate the hair as much as it can or stain it. When used following a shampoo that does not build-up, catnip will cover grey or white hair with a light yellow stain, that is between warm and ash and contains no red or brown (it is not gold). Catnip stain or dye, is not permanent and will wash out. Not all of the stain will wash out with one shampoo but it will completely wash out over a short period of time, if it is not reapplied.
My definitions: *coating: anything left behind by a product that does not allow direct access to the hair by another, or more of the same, product. * build-up: any coating that cannot be removed by a regular conventional shampoo in one use.
Catnip tea does not build-up on my hair. Enough of it is easily removed with a mild shampoo each time, to allow more catnip to be absorbed by the hair.
With catnip, less is more. 1 level teaspoon to just under 300 ml (10.144 fluid oz US) of boiled water, covered and steepd to cool (or longer), is an excellent dilution and moisturizing enough for both sensitive skin and dry hair. Some of the oils in catnip are volatile. To help preserve these, never boil catnip and always cover it when steeping catnip tea. Tap the condensation from the underside of the cover (I use a small saucer), back into the container used to steep it in (a mug will do), when the tea has cooled and before straining. I strain the tea into a large ceramic creamer for easier pouring and then strain it again into a freshly washed out plastic shampoo bottle. If I do not use the catnip tea right away, it is stored in the fridge.
Even though I wash all items used to prepare my catnip infusion after each use, I sterilize my mug, saucer, stainless steel tea strainer and Pyrex measuring cup with boiled water just before I prepare a new batch. I prepare a new batch once a week. Leftover catnip to be used on my skin stays in the fridge between uses. I have never had catnip go off, with my method of preparation and use.
Catnip can be applied to hair a number of ways: on wet or dry hair, before or after shampooing, left in or rinsed out, over conditioner or not.
However, catnip tea is most effective for me, following shampoo, with no conditioner residue (if conditioner has been used frequently, there will be some left behind after shampooing) as a treatment on hair that has had the excess water gently squeezed out of it (the shampoo used, one that does not cause build-up or contain a coating that can interfere with catnip's accessibilty to the hair, like mucilage), bagged (covered with plastic) and timed on the hair for 1 hour and then rinsed out.
Covering grey or white hair with catnip can be done most effectively, by first steeping catnip tea longer than just cooled to room temperature, to deepen the colour. All other directions remain the same, including the 1 hour timing. The only other additions are: 1. when removing the bag or other plastic covering, let the hair cool down a bit before rinsing off the catnip 2. add more catnip to the greyest areas at this time before the hair cools down completely and the cuticles are still slightly open from body heat 3. only rinse with tepid to cool, not warm or hot water.
Catnip can be purchased in a number of forms; leaves only, buds only (unopened catnip flowers) and a combination of both, referred to as leaves and flowers. It is best to purchase leaves and flowers. The buds (flowers) contain more oils and the leaves and stalks more tannins (the yellow stain from catnip is a tannin), and the best place to purchase catnip is a pet store or pet section of a larger store, where organic (if possible) pet catnip can be found. It is fresher and better quality than health food store or bulk catnip.
Catnip tea does not retain the odour that drives cats wild, once it is brewed.
Growing catnip: the video Harvest the flower buds before they open or form darkened seeds.
I have steeped catnip for different hours. I prefer 4.75 hours as my steeping time, for both colouring and conditioning. Over 5 hours gave me too much moisture and caused knotting. I no longer get any knotting, not even one "fairy knot". Catnip releases more of something that coats the hair differently to what is released in an infusion steeped at under 5 hours for me, aside from what is absorbed into the hair, during a plastic wrapped, hour long treatment.
Observations: It still yields a light yellow colour, no brown or red but it looks darker in my white bone china mug and covers my grey or white hair better than brewing catnip for less time.
The conditioning effects are better for me. I have not altered or increased my treatment time of 1 hour or my method of application.
Split ends, white dots and more, explained by The Trichological Society, in Britain
Why some people have more fragile hair than others because of genetics