Summer 101: Don’t Let Lice Ruin Your Family’s Fun

So it’s the start of summer, which means family trips and summer camps for the kids. And camp is a lot of fun for the kids. And a family trip is fun for everyone. Until you get yourself and the kids back home and realize a few days/weeks later that someone has brought home a whole pack of extra friends. LICE. I know, I know – just reading the word makes you itch all over. Sorry! But keep reading, because I’m going to save your sanity.

We, tragically, have had those most unpleasant visitors twice (yes, twice!) in the past two years. We first came back from the happiest place on earth to discover that our daughter had lice. And the following summer both of our girls came home from camp with the little buggers. In fact, half our troop of girls that went camping came home with them. Rule number one for girls – do NOT share hairbrushes. Ever.

So, you discover you have lice and then have to figure out what to do next. First, go ahead and panic. Seriously. You know you’re going to freak out anyway, because there are bugs crawling in your child’s hair! Panic! Set a kitchen timer for five minutes and freak out. Then pull yourself together like a boss, and handle it. I’m here to give you the help you need. Because yes, you can go buy the chemical stuff from the local grocery store and use that. We did that option both times. The first time took at least 4 applications before we were finally free. And that’s a lot of chemicals to be spreading all over your child’s head. And a lot of school to miss if your child’s school won’t allow them to return until they are lice free (yay homeschooling, we didn’t have that problem). The second time we started the chemicals again, and I got fed up after the second application still didn’t work. So I started researching, looking for a better solution. Here’s what you’re going to need:


  1. A bottle of vodka. Yes, that’s right, vodka. And no, it’s not for drinking, although you might feel the need, because lice are awful. The vodka needs to be at least 80 proof. I went to my friendly local liquor store and bought a big cheap plastic bottle of 100 proof vodka.
  2. Cinnamon leaf essential oil. Be careful when you shop, because cinnamon bark essential oil also exists, and you want the cinnamon leaf essential oil. I found mine at the local Whole Foods.
  3. A head lice comb. You should be able to buy just the comb at your local pharmacy.
  4. A tail comb.
  5. Hair clips to clip the hair up in sections.
  6. A spray bottle. Visit the dollar store for the hair clips, hair comb, and spray bottle.

Measure 50 ml of the vodka, and add 4-6 drops of cinnamon leaf essential oil. Pour it into the spray bottle and shake, shake, shake. Section off your child’s hair into at least four sections, and clip each section separately. Pick a section of hair and start working. You are going to use the tail comb to separate smaller sections of the hair you’re working with. I know, this sounds confusing, so look at the pictures below to help you out.



If you’ve ever had highlights put in your hair, think in terms of those small sections of hair that your stylist works with. Spray your vodka mix on a small section of hair, then comb through it with the lice comb. Section off another small bit of hair, spray, comb through with the lice comb. And repeat. Forever. Until all the hair is done. It’s going to take a while, especially if your child has thick, long, or curly hair. Wait a week, and repeat the process.




Feel free to wash their hair in between treatments – you don’t have to go without shampooing. But wait 24 hours after the first treatment to wash their hair. One time doing this, and we had nothing remaining in their hair the next week. We still did the repeat treatment, but there was nothing there.

How does this work? Apparently, the cinnamon leaf essential oil eats through the protective coating over lice nits, and without that protective coating they nits die. The adult lice will come out as your combing through the hair with the lice comb. The vodka is a good carrier for the cinnamon leaf oil, because it doesn’t evaporate quickly the way water would.

I do have a friend who employs mayonnaise as part of her treatment. I personally haven’t used this method. It suffocates the adults, but doesn’t do anything to the nits, so you still need the vodka/cinnamon leaf mix to kill the nits. If you choose to use the mayo, go full fat mayo and leave it on for 20 minutes.

As a last word, pretreat your kids before you send them off to camp. And if the whole family is taking a trip and staying in a hotel, pretreat all of you. A great preventative measure is SoCozy Boo! spray – it’s made with essential oils, no chemicals. And there are plenty of lice preventive shampoos on the market also. Grab one and send it with your kids to camp. My girls will be taking boo! spray to camp this year and spraying it in each other’s hair each morning, in addition to the lice shampoo.


One last word – be prepared to freak out irrationally for a few months (years) every time your child puts their hand anywhere near their head and makes a scratching motion. Also, be prepared for dreams where your kids have lice. I once almost woke my husband up at 2:00am to check my hair because I had a terrifying and realistic dream.

Hope this helps, and happy summer to you all!

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