CHENNAI: There used to be a time when Sunday meant meticulous haircare day. After applying copious amounts of oil to our hair and giving a muchneeded head massage, our mother or grandmother would help us wash it off with a cup of freshlyground shikakai powder.
But, soon, we grew up and so did the hair care market . We switched to brands that promised to
make our hair strong, shiny and voluminous, while also reducing hairfall. Years later, now, we are
faced with the challenge of guarding our tresses from the chemical soldiers, who are growing in number unlike our hair. Better sense seems to prevail as we recognise that humble hair care recipes were in our backyard all the time.
Thanks to Instagram influencers and online organic cosmetic brands, homegrown leaves, herbs and spices with enhanced benefits and health properties that can nurture and nourish our hair like the hair-thickening hibiscus, hair-stimulating amla or antimicrobial bhringaraj are bringing us back to the roots. Elaborating on this trend and the laborious process of creating these hair elixirs, Vijaya Mahadevan, founder, Vaseegarah Veda, says, “The method of preparation is oldschool.
I use my grandmother’s close-guarded recipes. All our products are tried and tested by our family members. The raw materials are freshly procured from local farms, and then cleaned, dried in the sun for days and ground into a fine powder in the grinding mills. We retain most of our products in a powder or oil form so that it does not have to include preservatives.
These products do not contain sulphur, an ingredient used for producing lather. That’s also a reason it takes longer to manufacture them as we rely on seasonal availability of the herbs,” explains Vijaya, adding that the shelf life of natural products lasts for a year when stored in air-tight containers. It is the current generation that is taking the green route, observes Lakshmi Ganesh, a botanist and founder of a popular organic cosmetic brand on Instagram.
“Herbal hair kits for hair growth and premature greying are topselling products. While women mainly complain of hairfall, lice and dandruff, men are concerned about baldness. The reason we post before and after images is to encourage people to shift to using natural products. I have customers mostly from northern and eastern parts of India as the environment there is not conducive to grow these leaves and herbs. These are also sent abroad.
Even if you find these plants in your garden, you need to know the right proportions to extract oil or make powders out of them. That’s where we play a catalyst in bringing about a change,” she notes. Expanding on the commonly used leaves, herbs and spices in hair care products, Lakshmi shares, “Since there are plenty of products, other than your shikakai, available in the market, you need to be careful while selecting. Some cleanse your scalp, a few strengthen the roots and others prevent breakage and control hair fall. Read about the ingredients in the product and their benefits before you purchase. You also need to know your hair inside- out.”
A HANDY GUIDE TO HAIR CARE BY BOTANIST LAKSHMI GANESH
Neem is known for its antifungal properties. In some cases, dandruff and irritation can result from yeast build-up on the scalp. It helps to remove them. Neem oil’s anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antioxidant properties prevent baldness as it treats scalp issues like scalp psoriasis, which can lead to permanent hair loss if left untreated. Fatty acids present in neem leaves revitalise and restore dry, under-nourished or rough hair. Packed with antioxidants that prevent hair loss, neem oil is nature’s cure to all hair and scalp problems. The pungent smell of neem oil repels lice hence it is also used as a preventive treatment. Neem oil is known as a scalp saviour for its immense healing (anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral) properties. Regular application of neem oil to hair helps treat premature greying.
Having antimicrobial properties, the aromatic oil seeps deep inside the hair follicles, moisturises the scalp, relieves dryness and prevents itching. This oil improves blood circulation in the hair follicles, prevents various hair infections and also takes part in collagen formation. Regular use of the oil improves hair texture, adds shine and stimulates hair growth.
The nutrients vitamin A, vitamin C, biotin and zinc impart shine and lustre to your locks. Applying bitter gourd juice regularly to your scalp can decrease hair loss and greying of hair, treat split-ends and rough hair, shrug off dandruff, and combat itchiness.
It contains anti-bacterial properties, which help in curing any scalp-related infection. Regular usage helps in removing dandruff from the scalp and promotes hair growth. It works as excellent anti-lice treatment. It effectively kills the lice without affecting the scalp or hair.
It helps to stimulate follicle growth, arrest frequent episodes of hair fall and maintain a healthy mane. Bestowed with anti-fungal traits, henna is a natural solution for treating dandruff and other microbial disorders occurring on the scalp. Henna comprises a wealth of hairfortifying elements, including proteins, antioxidants and vitamin E, which vastly augment hair health. It is an organic herbal ingredient, intrinsically contains a reddish-brown colouring compound and is hence a approved dyeing agent for covering up greying and ageing hair. Using a henna-based conditioner on the scalp after thoroughly washing the hair helps to balance oil production on the scalp.
Curry leaves are very effective since it assists in the scalp restoration process, helping the hair follicles breathe and making them stronger. Curry leaves are a rich source of beta-carotene and proteins, which can reduce hair loss and increase hair growth. Rich source of vitamin B, it helps restore hair colour by nourishing and strengthening the roots. Curry leaves also help remove the dead hair follicles, which can be the reason behind dandruff. They also contain amino acids and antioxidants which strengthen the hair follicles and moisturise the scalp.
The goodness of anti-bacterial properties in bhringaraj makes it a prompt solution for treating a variety of scalp infections. It reduces inflammation of the hair follicles, scalp tenderness, alleviates scalp itching and increases hair growth. Stops premature greying of hair. It provides nourishment to hair follicles, increases blood circulation in the scalp, prevents dryness of the scalp and hence reduces hair fall. It has powerful anti-microbial, anti-bacterial properties but also has a high specific gravity, which allows the oil to penetrate deep inside the scalp and treat dry scalp and itching. It effectively increases blood circulation in the scalp and hair follicles, which in turn enriches the roots by bringing in more nutrients through the blood supply and promoting hair growth.
Black seed is a rich source of nigellone and thymoquinone. Both being potent antihistamines, are commonly prescribed for people with androgenic alopecia or alopecia areata. It is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant and helps fight dandruff and other scalprelated issues. It helps hair grow thicker and stronger, even in bald patches, by stimulating the dormant hair follicles.
Hibiscus flowers and leaves contain mucilage, a substance that acts as a natural conditioner, making hair smooth and shiny. It hydrates scalp and helps fight dandruff and other scalp-related issues. The amino acids in the hibiscus control hair loss and promote healthy hair growth. These amino acids produce keratin, the structural protein, which is the basic building block of hair. The antioxidants present in hibiscus help prevent premature greying of hair.
Turkey tangle helps get rid of dandruff due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
Stimulates hair growth and helps repair damaged hair follicles. The seeds helpfight dandruff, itchiness and other scalp-related issues. Fenugreen hydrates and conditions hair and makes hair smooth and shiny. It helps prevent premature greying of hair.
Dwarf copper leaf
It assists in hair growth, reduces hair fall and improves overall tone and texture.
Helps fight dandruff, itchiness and other scalp-related problems. It also aids in prevention of premature
greying of hair. Balloon vine stimulates hair growth and helps repair damaged hair.
It is packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for hair health. Moringa leaves stimulate hair growth and help repair damaged hair follicles.Moringa helps fight dandruff, itchiness and other scalprelated issues.
Amla stimulates circulation in the scalp and thereby promotes healthy hair growth. It is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial and helps fight dandruff and other scalprelated issues. It helps prevent
premature greying of hair. Amla strengthens hair follicles and makes hair stronger.