One good reason attributed to the lustrous and long tresses of women from the southern parts of India is their culture of a traditional head bath using natural oils and herbs. For ages, shikakai has been the magic that nourished, strengthened and helped maintain hair health and the beauty of Indian women. And it is now making a comeback…
Shikakai for natural hair care
Blessed with knee length hair, one weekly routine I used to dread as a child was the traditional oil bath because I had to spend a half day for this regimen. However, soon enough, I realized that my tresses received public adulation due to this healthy ritual that not only kept my hair shining but also healthy.
Shikakai is not just grandmother’s beauty care regime, nor is it old-fashioned. It is making a huge comeback in a world where women are stressed out due to ‘bad hair’ days, which is a result of an overload of harsh chemicals in shampoos, conditioners, hair oils, styling gels, etc.
Acacia Concinna is a tree that grows in central India and has been used for centuries in hair and body cleansing. Rich in vitamins C, A, D and K as well as antioxidants, shikakai promotes hair growth and health. The hair follicles are nourished, making hair grow faster. The leaves, bark and fruit pods are dried, powdered and made into a paste to be applied on hair.
- The shikakai extract obtained from nuts and pods soaked overnight acts as a natural cleanser due to low levels of pH, removing dirt and oil from the hair.
- It restores moisture and prevents stripping of natural oils.
- Shikakai has a natural property of detangling your hair, leaving it soft and smooth without causing any damage. If you use shikakai for washing your hair, there is no need to use a conditioner.
- Shikakai is good to resolve fungal problems and tackle lice.
- It gives mass and bounce to hair as it is a natural astringent.
- Shikakai keeps the scalp and hair moist in summers.
- Shikakai leaves help in the treatment of dandruff.
- It strengthens hair roots, giving you thicker, stronger and healthier hair and also prevents hair loss.
- Shikakai slows down the greying of hair.
- If used to wash hair before dying, shikakai helps the dye to soak better and stay longer.
Homemade shikakai shampoo
- Since shikakai doesn’t lather much, a shampoo can be made by mixing it with soap nuts or reetha.
- Soak dried shikakai pods, dried amla and reetha nuts overnight.
- Next morning, boil this water until the pods are soft and can be mashed with the hands. Cool, mash and strain the mixture and use as a shampoo.
Shikakai hair pack
- Boil shikakai pods or powder, neem leaves, amla and fenugreek powder for about 15 minutes. After cooling, mash the contents with your hands, strain and massage this onto your scalp and hair. Leave on for 30 minutes and wash. You can also throw in a few henna leaves if you want.
Shikakai hair wash powder
- Dry shikakai pods in the sun, powder and keep. You can also add shikakai leaves and barks or mix this powder with henna and amla Add water to make a paste and use it as a hair wash for soft and shiny hair.
- Make a thick paste of yogurt and shikakai Apply the paste on your hair and leave on for 20 minutes. Wash off with water. You can add amla and neem powder to this mixture too.
- Mix one tablespoon of shikakai powder to half a cup of basil, avocado or coconut oil. Place the container in a cool, dark place for a few weeks, shaking it intermittently. Rub the oil on your scalp and hair two or three times a week before shampooing with shikakai shampoo for soft, silky and shiny hair.