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.
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.
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.
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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