Marshmallow Root in Natural Hair Care


I recently purchased organic marshmallow root from Mountain Rose Herbs to try out in different DIY hair products that I’ve created.  Marshmallow root extract is a popular ingredient in many hair conditioners for its amazing slippery texture for easy detangling as well as softening the hair.  It is high in plant protein that promotes healthy hair growth and shine while also soothing dry scalp and skin inflammation.

What you will need:

Purified water

Marshmallow root

Nylon or Strainer

Two glass jars

Tongs (if using nylon)

I prepare marshmallow root extract almost exactly as I do flaxseed gel except different proportions.  You can easily boil 2 tablespoons of marshmallow root in 2 cups of purified water until the mucilage is released, approximately 15 minutes.  Or you can simply steep the same amount of the herb in 1 1/2 cups of boiled water like you would make a tea.  If I do the latter, I prefer to steep overnight or longer in a glass jar sealed tightly.    Extract the gel by straining or using a nylon to filter the mucilage from the herb with tongs into a clean bowl or jar.  Boiling the herb will create a thicker consistency.

You can use the mucilage from marshmallow root to add more slip to a previous store bought conditioner or add to one of your own DIY recipes.  I added the marshmallow root extract to the DIY Green Tea Cleansing Hair Rinse.  I created the hair rinse as I usually do, then added the marshmallow root extract in a container mixing the ingredients together.  The application of the hair rinse felt much better to the touch, giving slip for detangling, and my hair felt even softer afterwards.

Marshmallow root extract can also be added to flaxseed gel for super curl definition or used in conjunction with aloe vera juice for conditioning and detangling straight and wavy hair.  The options are endless and I plan to continue trying new things out to share.  Let’s Talk Hair–Part 2 will be continued next week.  Read Let’s Talk Hair–Part 1 to catch up if you haven’t already.  Have a beautiful weekend!

(General Note: Please research new herbs to ensure there is no conflict with pregnancy or medical conditions before using.)

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  1. Monique says

    Dear Dawn Michelle,

    I’m in the process of buiding a herbal hair care regimen (I have nappy hair that loves acidic rinses/deep conditioners).
    So far, I’ve been using the method of putting the herbs in a coffee filter which I seal. I then put the little bag in a pot of water to boil.
    Would this method allow me to benefit from the properties of marshmallow root (mainly slip)? Or is it a must to go through the whole nylon + tongs process? I’m trying to keep things as simple as possible …Is it possible to boil the root and then strain it with a tea strainer?

    Also, would you say adding marshmallow root left your hair moisturised?

    Third: you’ve written in a previous post that you no longer deep condition weekly. Do you still seal your hair with a butter after a mid-week green tea rinse? Have you’ve been needing less heavy butter/oil over time?

    Forgive me for all the questions, I’m fascinated by your regimen…

  2. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Monique,

    Although I’ve never tried extracting marshmallow root extract this way, you could boil the herb then use a tea strainer to separate the herb from its extract. For a thicker extract which would give more slip to whatever product you are adding it to, boiling the herb on the stove will work better than steeping it like a tea. It just depends on your preferences.

    I do think that marshmallow root extract helps moisturize my hair. I first noticed a big difference in my no-poo hair method when using the Greek yogurt and apple cider vinegar conditioning treatment. Adding marshmallow root extract to the DIY Green Tea Cleansing Hair Rinse only improved the regimen further. The combination of the two works well for me.

    Now that the weather is changing I’ve only been doing the mid-week hair rinse when I really need to. I do continue to apply camellia oil to my hair daily and use the heavier leave-in mix to my hair on my wash day. I am constantly discovering new things with this regimen and will definitely be writing more about my no-poo experience.

    Best Wishes,
    Dawn Michelle

  3. Laura says

    thank you for your unique blog full of ideas that work. it is extremely inspiring and the core concept is life changing.

  4. chineze says

    Hi Dawn
    I have been reading your new regimen and have started using it myself. Loving it! I would however like to find out if you would recommend using okra instead of marshmallow as it also slimy?

  5. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Chineze,
    I’ve been playing around with herbs because of their healing and medicinal properties. Although okra may be slimy I’d rather just eat it. Marshmallow root moisturizes and softens hair and is soothing to skin. Although it is a mucilage herb it is much more than just the texture that makes it so good in hair care products. There are other mucilage herbs such as slippery elm which is widely used in natural hair care as well. Enjoy your day and I’m so glad you are also benefiting from my simple hair care regimen!

  6. Carla says

    Hi Dawn,

    how do you prepare the slippery elm? Do you steep it OR just mix the powder in your concoction?

  7. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Carla,
    I haven’t worked that much with slippery elm. It is another herb that I will probably try again in the future. I did use slippery elm powder one time last year with bentonite clay for a hair treatment. If you are interested in using slippery elm similar to how I use marshmallow root, I would use the dried herb and steep or boil it to release the mucilage. Hope that helps.

  8. Monica says

    Hey Michelle,
    I’ve purchased Marshmallow liq herbal extract from Mountain Rose Herbs. Can that be used in place of the dried kind in my flax seed gel?

  9. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Monica,
    You can definitely use the marshmallow herbal extract in your flaxseed gel recipe as it will provide more benefits to your gel recipe. I have not bought the extract before so am not sure if it contains the exact same consistency of mucilage as when you boil the dried herb, but should have some as that is one of the characteristics of the herb. Please share your results when mixing it into your flaxseed gel.
    Dawn Michelle

  10. Anonymous says

    So glad I found someone who was discussing marshmellow root. Kinky Curly’s Curling Custard has marshmellow root in it and it turn my hair into butter, so easy to detangle and sooo sooo soo soft. I was just thinking I wonder if I can just buy it and use it somehow in my regimen

  11. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Anonymous, Marshmallow root is one of my favorite herbs to work with! I wrote a series called No More Chemical Hair Care which discusses my thoughts on natural hair care and also shares a lot of information on ingredients and recipe ideas. I mention how you can use herbs like marshmallow root in a DIY Herbal Cleanser in Part 2 of the series as well as for a leave-in in Part 3. Part 4 of the series discussed regimen building with natural and herbal ingredients. Hope this helps!

  12. says

    I was tempted to buy a Flaxseed, Marshmallow, and Aloe Vera Gel online from a Homemade company. But when i read the ingredients, i figured i could make it myself. Exactly How, do i mix the flaxseed gel with the marshmallow gel. I get that i make the marshmallow gel just like the flaxseed, right? But can you tell me exactly how to make the Gel with flaxseeds and marshmallow? And how could i incorporate aloe vera into this mixture? I dont want it to spoil!thank you so mcuh. and i love your blog

  13. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Rye,
    I haven’t made a gel with flaxseeds, marshmallow root, and aloe together yet you can make see how to make flax gel here and play around with how much marshmallow root extract and aloe you’d like to incorporate into the mix. Whenever I’m making a beauty product I take notes on the ingredient amounts. You can tweak the recipe with each formulation. I’d keep the mix refrigerated and it should last up from 1-2 weeks.
    Best wishes!

  14. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Kish,
    I’ve used powdered marshmallow root in my DIY Herbal Hair Cleanser but didn’t like the feeling of powdered marshmallow root in leave-ins. I had a hard time boiling it when I tried. I had a better experience boiling dried marshmallow root, yet that is only my experience.
    Hope this helps!

  15. Amy says

    I’m looking into a more natural way of cleaning my hair, and I must say I have really enjoyed your site! Only, many of your recipes say, “this is great for curly hair,” and my hair is straight as a stick. I would like to know, can marshmallow, flax seed, and/or aloe vera gel be used as a natural replacement for hair spray? Like, to spray on top of my head, not just to tame flyaways, but to really hold them there. Something I can depend on. And if I did spray something like that on my hair, would I need to wash it out asap, like when I take down my hair?

  16. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Amy,

    Because my hair is tightly curly most of my recipes are definitely relating to my own experiences with natural hair care. I do hope that you can also find what works for you as well with the info here too. As for a hair spray aloe vera gel and the jelly extract from marshmallow root would work as great detanglers for your hair type. Flaxseed gel would provide more a conditioning hold but you may still like it for updos, flyaways, etc. and would keep your hair in place.

    You can easily try the flaxseed gel by purchasing a tiny but in a natural grocery in the bulk section and creating your own hair gel extremely inexpensively. It really takes trial and error and as you can see I have tried and shared a lot of natural beauty ideas myself. Take notes on what you try and the results to help you find what works for you. Because all of these natural stylers are chemical-free, you would only need to wash your hair after using if you did not like the results.

    Best wishes!

  17. Tiffany says

    Hi Dawn, I am really confused about what you are using is it the whole root or a powder? & do you mean a nylon like pantyhose… & if so what are the tongs for? Is that if you use the whole root? If you could tell me more of a step by step that’d be awesome. Sorry for all the questions. New to diy hair care!

  18. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Tiffany,
    When you use the whole herb you must strain it after boiling it to separate the mucilage liquid from the herb. You can use a mesh strainer if you have one or pantyhose and tongs if you don’t. This is similar to making flaxseed gel. I hope this explains it better. 😉