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Head Lice Oil Recipe

Head Lice Oil Recipe

Many years ago, my children came home from school with a case of head lice that caught our house in a stranglehold. I washed bed linens and towels so many times they started to fray. I threw out hats. I imprisoned favorite stuffed animals in plastic bags in the attic. I used every form of lice treatment on the pharmacy shelves as well as some crazy sounding “natural” remedies, but the lice just kept coming back. I finally ran into a version of this recipe that worked. I have refined this formula to suit our needs over the years, and it has never let me down.
For photos of headlice, see Harvard University’s Entomology Department’s collection of head lice photos.

Almond oil is easier to clean out of the hair but olive oil is cheaper to use in this formula. Organic, cold pressed oils are my first choice since they leave the hair feeling fresher after they’re rinsed out. Use the strongest smelling essential oils you can find. You may use this recipe without the clove essential oil in a pinch but don’t try to substitute the other essential oils. It’ll only end in sorrow.


  • 2 oz carrier oil, such as Almond or Olive Oil
  • 10 drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil
  • 10 drops of Anise essential oil
  • 5 drops of Clove essential oil


  • Glass container with dropper
  • Label
  • mister (optional)


  1. Measure 2 oz. of carrier oil in a glass container.
  2. Add the essential oils. Be sure to carefully count the essential oil drops.
  3. Mix the oils well.
  4. Transfer the scented oil into a labeled glass container with a tight fitting cap or mister.

Storage and Use

Label and store and your Head Lice Oil in a colored glass container to protect it from the deteriorating effects of sunlight. The mixture should be usable for up to 1 year.

  1. Mist or comb the Head Lice Oil into the hair starting at the scalp. This is where the nits live. Use a fine toothed lice comb to be certain every strand is covered.
  2. Cover the hair with a plastic bag or disposable shower cap for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Wash the hair thoroughly after treatment.
  4. Check the scalp over the next few days for signs of re-infestation and repeat this procedure as necessary.

Caution: Do not put Head Lice Oil or any essential oil in your eyes.

Candace Hunter

Candace Hunter is a self-taught herbalist and artist who never, ever practices on guinea pigs in part because her family and friends are generally up to the job. She is co-author of The Practical Herbalist's Herbal Folio series and author of Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse. She edits The Practical Herbalist website and Practical Herbalist Press publications. She has also recently entered into the field of podcasting with reckless abandon. Listen to her on Real Herbalism Radio today, see her work at, or find her on Facebook at Candace Hunter Creations.

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