Tag Archive | Ayurvedic herbs

My Henna Mix

Continuing on the subject of hair care as I’ve been doing for the past few months, I thought I’d share the current henna mix that I’m using these days.

Of course, when you mix up your henna you can always just use the pure powdered henna leaf all by itself and that’s just groovy.

But I like to enrich my mixture with other Ayurvedic herbs as well. I think it really helps to strengthen the hair more, make it thicker as well as conditioning the scalp and stimulating hair growth.

But I wouldn’t know if that’s really true. However you can read up about how I’ve grown my hair back after postpartum hair loss…….. that never recovered.

I do experiment a lot. So three months from now I might not be stirring up the same mix anymore.

But today, these are the ingredients of my henna mix:

My henna mix Ayurvedic herbs

I have long, thick hair. So I need a total of about 300g of powder.

  • 200g pure henna
  • 50g cassia obovata

I use cassia because since my hair is black you can’t see the henna in it at all. Nope, none at all. Cassia helps to lighten the colour a bit, I don’t know how or why it works but it does.

I also use cassia so the henna doesn’t loosen my curls, because I love my curls!

  • 50g manjistha

Manjistha is an herb that dyes red. It turns my hair a brilliant ruby red. I love it!

Red hennaed hair
  • spoonful of brahmi
  • spoonful of bhringraj
  • spoonful of powdered hibiscus
  • dash of apple cider vinegar
  • a good squirt of aloe vera gel
  • hibiscus infusion
  • few drops essential oils

I mix all the powders together in a non-metallic pot except manjistha. I squirt in the vinegar and aloe vera gel.

In a saucepan I infuse hibiscus petals by boiling them in hot water. I can find these at any herb shop.

When the water is hot (but not boiling) I pour it into the henna and, using a plastic spoon (but any non-metallic spoon will do like bamboo, wood, porcelain etc.), I mix it up until it’s a smooth, dense paste.

Then I let it sit for dye release.

Different types of henna require different dye release times.

My trick for obtaining intense ruby red hair is to dye release for about 8 hours, then store the henna in the fridge until I’m ready to use it.

This seems to bring out intense tones.

Dye releasing for shorter periods of time seems to bring out a lighter, more coppery shade. Which is also cool, sometimes one does feel like a change after all.

An hour before I want to apply the henna, I pour manjistha into a small bowl. I like to add a pinch of baking soda, they say it makes for a bluer red. I don’t know if it’s true but it never seemed to hurt.

Then I add more of the hibiscus infusion I used in the henna. Manjistha only needs to sit for about half an hour to release its gorgeous, scintillating colour.

When I’m ready to apply the henna I mix in the manjistha and stir it all up together. Add a few drops of whichever essential oils I feel like.

I don’t use essential oils for the fragrance. Personally I enjoy the smell of henna. I’ve learnt to associate it with anticipating beautiful hair haha.

I use essential oils to help the henna stick to the greys which I unfortunately sport now. Fortunately, though, I don’t sport too many hehe.

And now henna is ready to apply.

And here is the result:

Hennaed red hair

Oh and by the way I purchase henna and Ayurvedic herbs from one of the many online shops that have sprung up since covid began. It has become a lot easier thanks to online shopping now to find these products than, say, 5 years ago.

You can just do a google search for these herbs. Or if you are in the US I have heard that Henna Sooq is a really neat online store where they sell everything mentioned in this post. I’ve never purchased from them before, after all I am not in the US. But if you are, I’ve heard that they are good.

So do you have your own favourite henna mix? Don’t hesitate to share it with me in the comments down below.

And while you’re sitting around waiting for the dye to act in your hair, why don’t you read one of my thriller novels? You can find out more about them here: Thrillers by Moi.

Hibiscus flowers

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Some Ayurvedic Plants that I Use for Hair

So, if you’ve been reading the past few entries, I guess you’ve probably picked up on that I’m crazy about using Ayurvedic and plant-based stuff for my natural hair care routine.

Henna 4ever T-shirt

Here are some of the plants that I use and their main properties:

Amla: Emblica officinalis or Indian gooseberry, is a round green fruit with antioxidant properties. Ayurvedic practitioners swear by this plant and not only use it on the hair and skin but also eat it. I don’t eat it because it isn’t sold here as a fruit where I live. It softens hair and helps to fix the dyes of henna and manjistha to the hair. I personally don’t like to use this plant too much because it darkens my already almost jet black hair, and I don’t want that!

Brahmi: or Bacopa monnieri, is considered THE herb par excellence for hair care. Like amla, brahmi is also antioxidant. It thickens the hair thus making it stronger and less prone to breakage. It also strengthens the follicles, which prevents hair fall. I use this quite a bit and always put some in my henna mixes.

Bhringraj: Eclipta alba is supposed to be a real tonic to help your hair grow and you are supposed to be able to use it if you are having hair fall or getting bald spots. I also add this to henna. And I also make a hair oil using this. I simply put one spoonful of Bhringraj into a large glass jar, along with a spoonful of Brahmi, a pinch of dried rosemary and another spoonful of Alkanet Root, then top the jar up with olive oil. I take a little bit of this oil to use every time I oil my hair.

I like to nickname Bhringraj, Brahmi and Amla as the sacred Ayurvedic triumvirate haha. Just the 3 of them alone are so potent, you can do almost anything even if these are all you have. So Popeye’s spinach, move aside!

Shikakai: Acacia concinna contains saponins, which are like a natural soap and actually do foam up. I originally wasn’t too sure about using this in a hair mask and I also didn’t really believe it could really wash well. But after adding Shikakai to the hair mask, when I was rinsing it out without using any other products like shampoo, I noticed that the water was coming out foamy and sudsy. So it apparently helps to clean and purify the hair and scalp and lathers up really well too.

Hibiscus: I add powdered hibiscus to my henna, but I make the hot infusion that I mix henna with using dried hibiscus flowers. Hibiscus grows in wonderful tropical places like southern Spain, where I live. It also grows in Hawaii and people there use it to make garlands. Hibiscus imparts red hues to hair and also softens it.

Reetha or Aritha: also called soap nuts. You can buy them whole, as soap nuts. Or you can buy them powdered. If they are powdered you can add them to your hair masks. But they wash things really really well. I do my laundry with them — with the whole soap nuts, I mean, not with the powdered ones. You can use Aritha alone or combined with other plants to wash your hair.

Manjistha: Rubia cordifolia is one of my favourite plants because it imparts my all-time favourite ruby red shade to my henna mixes. It really does turn my hair ruby red.

Red hennaed hair

You have to dye release it separate from henna because it doesn’t work with acids the way henna does. I was releasing the dye using baking soda, which is alkaline, but I might stop doing that because they say alkaline substances dry hair out. But it’s been working fine for me.

Alkanet Root: Alkanna tinctoria is a little-known secret plant that is supposed to turn your grey hairs back into coloured hairs. I’ve been using it for a while, now I can hardly ever find any grey hairs on my head anymore. But since I also henna frequently, I don’t know whether this is because I don’t have any grey hairs anymore, or because I henna so often there isn’t time for the grey hairs to grow long before I cover them with henna again, so you just never see them hehe. It also grows in the Mediterranean, so you’re not shipping it over from the other side of the world. I put a spoonful of Alkanet Root in a large glass jar along with a spoonful of Bhringraj, a spoonful of Brahmi and a pinch of dried rosemary, then top the jar up with olive oil. The Alkanet Root turns the oil a gorgeous shade of deep red. But if you try to dye your hair red with it, it won’t work unfortunately. I take a little bit of this oil to use every time I oil my hair.

Sidr: I tried washing my hair with Sidr or Ziziphus Jujuba once, you can read about it here. Like Aritha and Shikakai, you can use Sidr to wash your hair. I found out you can also use it like Cassia, to combine with henna to make it a bit lighter. But for that purpose I personally prefer Cassia, because it’s easier to get a hold of, it’s a lot cheaper and it doesn’t suds up. After all I don’t really fancy sudsy henna.

Cassia: I like Cassia obovata, which scientists now prefer to call Senna italica just so that they can get us all mixed up and boast about how they know Latin and we don’t harhar. (Believe me they do like to boast about it, my parents were scientists and in their day science students were forced to learn Latin at university. So after all that hard work trying to master a language that no one speaks today, how would you not boast about it?) Cassia is great to combine with henna to make the shade lighter, which I do all the time because when you have jet black hair you always want to pull towards lighter, and lighter, and lighter. But if you don’t want red hair and you want the conditioning properties of henna, you can use cassia instead. It will give your hair all the shine, strength and thickness that henna does but without the colour. If you dye release it, it might stain your hair a little bit yellow, if you want to go blonde. But I don’t mean like canary yellow hehe, more like a golden blonde shade.

Henna: Lawsonia inermis. If I had a personalized T-shirt it would boast a pic of a henna leaf and the logo “Henna till the end of my days” haha. Because that is how much I love my henna. My house is filled with boxes of henna. I thought I was a weirdo but then I saw a video of a woman who was about to henna her hair and her cupboards were filled with bags of henna too! When you get into the henna culture you just can’t get enough of it. I apply henna once a month and halfway through the month I apply a henna gloss too. So you can imagine I use up a lot of henna.

I thought I’d mention 2 more plants as well, rosemary and nettle. Because I wanted to know if there were any locally available plants that could help with hair growth, as it’s more sustainable to purchase local plants rather than get them shipped over from the other side of the world. Well I could never find any local alternative to henna, but rosemary and nettle are pretty mean locally-grown alternatives that could probably put up a good fight with Bhringraj to help get your hair to grow.

I bought dried nettle as well. Well you certainly don’t want it fresh, it stings! I haven’t tried it yet though. But you can use it the same way as rosemary, that is, infused in oil to use as a hair oil or in hot water to add to your hair masks.

So these are the plants that I use on my hair. I might add that I don’t spend the whole day every day brewing up plants for my hair care, even though from these posts it might seem that way. Most of the time I use store-bought hair products filled with artificial chemicals because I’m lazy and busy.

But I try to put plants on my hair once a week or if I’m busy, once every 2 weeks or at the very least, once a month.

Red hibiscus flowers

So how about you? Do you use plants on your hair or in your skin care? Don’t hesitate to leave me some comments below, I lurrrve (positive, non-spammy) comments.

And while you’re at it I’d also love it if you’d check out some of my thrillers. You can find out more about them here: Thrillers by Moi.

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Washing my Hair With Sidr: Zyzyphus Jujuba

So I tried washing my hair with sidr today, so do I like it?

Noooooooooo!

Bowl of sidr powder

I do like the results. Well I haven’t taken my hair down yet, but while I was rinsing it out it did feel really really soft and smooth. And my hair doesn’t always feel soft and smooth. So it does seem to give ideal results.

However it took me AN HOUR to wash my hair!

It was the same as if I was applying henna, took just as long as it does to apply henna.

After all it is just like henna, it’s like a mud pack. The only difference is that it doesn’t stain your bathroom orange, so you don’t have to take as much care as you do with henna and it’s easier to rinse out of the shower.

And unlike henna you have the satisfaction of being able to rinse it out of your hair after 5 minutes and you don’t have to wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it on for 3 hours.

However, it’s very very very very hard to rinse out. It’s just like rinsing henna out, takes about half an hour to get all the little grains of sidr out.

With henna you’re willing to put up with a half hour rinse time, after all I only henna once every month and a half and the results are soooooooooooooooooo worth it.

But sidr? Not so much.

I think I’ll just stick with my solid shampoos!

Sidr is muuuuuuuuuuuuch more natural, it’s healthy, it makes your hair strong and thick and protects it, it doesn’t have harmful artificial chemicals and it makes your hair shine.

It’s also supposed to fix indigo to your hair to make it more permanent. I don’t use indigo, so I don’t have any need for this particular benefit of sidr.

It just doesn’t work very well for long hair. I mean, it works great for long hair but…… it takes an hour!

It’s the same as washing your hair with clay. I only ever ventured to wash my hair with clay one time and never did it again for the very same reason. I should’ve known sidr would be the same.

I mixed my sidr up by mixing about 75g of sidr with a couple of spoonfuls of clay (you can use any clay you want, I had Bentonite clay on hand, or you can skip the clay altogether) and a squirt of vinegar. Then I added as much sage infusion as needed to make a smooth mud pack of yoghurt consistency. You can use any infusion or just hot water, I happened to have sage at home.

Bowl of sidr with black cat

Sidr with cat paws, yep Cat went up on the table to scout out the sidr, he’s very curious.

It’s very easy to apply, I applied it strand by strand by hand like henna but you can just smoosh it on if you prefer and rub it around like liquid shampoo, but it STICKS, so then you can’t rub it around anymore.

Leave on 5-10 minutes, rinse out. It leaves your hair soft and silky and clean. Use a conditioner or hair mask afterwards if you have dry hair because it’s quite drying.

It’s very easy to use, just it’s very time consuming.

I think I prefer to stick to my solid shampoos. They don’t take any longer to use than liquid shampoos from a bottle.

And if you’re hennaing your hair and hanging around with nothing to do for 3 hours, why not check out some of my novels? You can find out more about them here: Thrillers by Moi.

Have you used sidr or clay to wash your hair? What did you think? Do leave me some (positive, non-spammy) comments down below.

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Shikakai: My Recent Experiment

Shikakai: My Recent Experiment

This is my recent experience with shikakai.

No, Shikakai is not the name of an exotic new boyfriend (although I wish it were haha, not only am I in the mood for a boyfriend but if, in addition, he’s exotic too, that would be really icing on the cake haha).

It’s the name of an Indian herb that is used a lot in Ayurvedic medicine as well as for natural hair care.

I’d just henna-ed my hair, and I was so thrilled with the results once again—as I always am every time I henna my hair, which I don’t do often enough—that I got into a completely natural hair care craze, and started looking up all sorts of ways that I could care for my hair in a more natural manner, and avoid carcinogenic, toxic and aging chemicals.

I’m pretty natural in my hair care routine already as it is. I frequently oil my hair, as I describe in this post on hair oiling. But I was still using all these chemical-laden shampoos filled with sodium lauryl sulphate and silicones, that you can buy in any drugstore or supermarket.

I was looking to reduce the amount of chemicals that I was using even more. Then I discovered Indian Ayurvedic herbs.

I already knew about these herbs and was in the habit of using them when I lived in Barcelona. There they have a large Indian/Pakistani community, so there are several Indian grocery stores where they sell Indian products. There I could buy amla, shikakai, brahmi, aritha and any other Indian herbs that I liked whenever I wanted.

But when I arrived here in Malaga, I found it was impossible to obtain these herbs here as there are NO Indian or Pakistani people, hence no demand for Indian products, so they are not sold here. (I’ve been told there’s an Indian food store in Fuengirola, on the Costa del Sol, but that is far from where carless-me lives.)(And if I did have a car I’d be discouraged from using it to go to Fuengirola by the hassle of trying to find a parking space haha.)

But now I am in seventh heaven and have started to use these Ayurvedic herbs again, because I’ve now discovered that I can buy them online.

There are several shops that sell them on the internet now here in Europe. One I discovered fairly recently is called Bazar Al-Andalus. They have a huge array of products and an amazing blog as well, in which they describe in detail about all the different uses of Indian and North African natural cosmetics.

Their service is also THE MOST ASTOUNDING I have EVER encountered EVER in any online store in my whole entire life. I recently ordered a few vegetable-based, lead-free kohls from them, an experience which I hope to describe in a future post.

WITHIN LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER MAKING MY ORDER, I was already holding the products in my own hands, having had them delivered personally to my door.

Okay, I suppose maybe it helped a bit that they are located in Granada, which is only an hour’s drive from Malaga.

But even so, no one is obliged to send you your order with such unheard-of expediency.

So due to that, I would highly recommend this online shop to anyone who happens to be living in Spain (they deliver nationally and internationally with very reasonable shipping rates) and would like to live a more natural way of life.

However, I’ve now discovered a site that sells Indian herbs—and also a larger variety of them as well—at a much more reasonable price, called Aromazone. I haven’t tried them out yet, but I may put up a post about them in the future if I do.

(Edited to add that Aromazone has quite a high shipping rate to Spain, 8 euros. So I think Bazar Al-Andalus will still be my natural and ethnic online store of choice for the moment, especially for smaller orders.)

All right, so on to my experience with the herb “shikakai” in particular.

I just washed my hair with shikakai, even though it’s only been 2 days since I’ve hennaed and you are supposed to wait 3 days before washing, in order to give the henna more time to bind to your hair. But I just couldn’t wait any longer hehe. I was so impatient to try out shikakai and see how it made my hair look.

This is what the box I bought in Barcelona looks like. It’s from the brand name Hesh, a very common brand in India. But you can find it from many brands on the internet.

Shikakai Hair Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

In many sites on the internet they tell you that regular use will strengthen the roots, make hair grow thicker, stronger and shinier, and nourish it with minerals. It looks like carob beans.

Shikakai Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

It’s very easy to prepare a paste with shikakai. You simply take some of the powder and mix it with warm water in a non-metallic dish, such as a porcelain, glass or plastic bowl. This is what the powder looks like.

Shikakai Powder Hair Indian Ayurvedic Herbs

Shikakai turns into a very dark brown paste like dark chocolate and it smells a bit weird, but not a bad weird. Similar to henna, a sort of plant-y, earthy, black tea smell.

You let it sit for about 5 minutes, then take it into your shower with you. Wet your hair. Then cover it all over with the shikakai paste, working it in with your hands.

Let it sit for 5 minutes (during which time you can be doing your face, your toes, your fingers…… whatever it is you usually do in your shower haha). Then simply rinse out. Conditioner is not necessary after that.

I don’t think I will be doing this too often, though, because it takes too long for me to do it. I need to use a lot because I have a lot of hair and it’s long.

So what is my verdict and what are my impressions now that my hair is completely dry and styled? (Ie. it has styled itself haha, as I never style it, just let it dry and it falls into its own style by itself.)

Hair With Shikakai and Henna

The hair LOOKS great. It’s very shiny and bouncy, much better looking than when I’ve used a drying chemical- and sodium-lauryl-sulphate-filled shampoo. It has more volume than just after I’ve washed with a shampoo. It does FEEL nice and soft and silky, which is always a plus since my thick, coarse, wiry, straw-like hair never feels silky.

However, it also feels drier than after I’d hennaed. After I hennaed I just used conditioner. However, the roots look great, with volume and oil-free.

So maybe shikakai is better for oilier hair and not as good for dry hair? Maybe for me conditioner-only washing (co-washing) is better since I have dry hair?

Or perhaps I should only use shikakai on the roots, and use conditioner on the lengths. My friend has been only washing her hair with conditioner for several months and she is delighted. The trick is to use the very cheap, large-format conditioners since these have the least ingredients and therefore less chemicals.

So I am not that impressed with shikakai, mainly because of the smell. It smells horrible!

Well, okay. It doesn’t smell that bad. But it’s not what people would call fragrant either. It has a scent of black tea, and that’s not something you want to walk around smelling like all the time. And this when I’d rinsed it out well, too, and the water was even coming out clear.

At any rate, I don’t think I’ll be using shikakai that much in the end, mainly because of the smell. Maybe I’ll use it once every few washings. I don’t wash my hair very often, usually only twice a week, as it’s long and dry.

Maybe I’d just use the shikakai when I do hair oiling, to remove all the oil instead of using shampoo for that, as it seems it would indeed remove all the oil.

(I’ve since discovered that bentonite clay is much better for that. And it doesn’t leave a funky, horrible smell the way shikakai does.)

Another natural alternative I was thinking of was to use Jabón Lagarto to remove the oil when I oiled my hair, but in the end perhaps shikakai would work for that, as it seems quite astringent.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Have you ever tried Indian herbs or other natural hair cleansers in place of shampoo? What have been your experiences? Feel free to leave me a comment about your experiences. As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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