“Home remedies are back in the spotlight.”
Luscious, lengthy locks are what Desi women are celebrated for. Healthy hair is part and parcel of our culture. This is probably attributable to the traditional reliance on natural treatments.
Many of us have shunned these for more modern approaches. Heat-styling and assortments of chemical-filled products are now intrinsic to many of our daily routines.
However, home remedies are back in the spotlight. Unsurprisingly, these make much use of ingredients our grandmas have been preaching about for years!
So, we delve into some Desi remedies to boost your hair’s health.
The best thing is, you have probably got all this stuff in your cupboards already!
Many of us grew up with our mums massaging oils into our tresses regularly. Until we suddenly deemed it ‘uncool’ and became addicted to straighteners and blow-drying instead. Our mums really knew what they were doing though!
Oils are the champions of providing moisture and protection. They lubricate strands and form a layer of defence, strengthening hair from the very root.
Even the (slightly aggressive) massaging techniques employed are beneficial. All that prodding of the head, in fact, helps increase blood flow. This means the hair receives an abundance of nutrients, stimulating its growth.
Many Westerners are probably familiar with using argan oil in haircare. Any other oil though…that must be for cooking.
Quite to the contrary, Indian culture utilises an array of oils to maintain healthy hair. Each has unique properties that allow them to be useful in different ways.
For example, nutty oils (think coconut, almond) are great at deeply penetrating and nourishing hair. This is thanks to their high fatty-acid content.
Meanwhile, castor oil has an anti-microbial nature. For dandruff and generally improving the health of head and hair, this oil reigns supreme.
Elixirs combining the oils are extra-effective in treating the hair. Mixing stickier oils with lightweight ones allows a perfect consistency to be achieved too.
The versatility of application is also a plus. Oils can be used as nourishing overnight masks or quickly spritzed onto the hair to add some sheen.
Henna is deep-rooted in Desi culture. From the beginning of time, ladies have used it to decorate skin and nails with beautifully intricate designs.
For hair, henna is commonly associated solely with colouring. However, it offers additional health perks for your locks too.
It goes without saying that henna should be used by those aiming for a burgundy/auburn colour. Blondes wanting to stay blonde – steer clear!
As a colourant, henna is much preferable to chemical hair dyes on the market. These can be irreversibly damaging, weakening strands from the root and leaving hair brittle.
Fortunately, henna can contribute to improving hair quality. It contains tannin, which actually attaches to the hair thus strengthening it.
The medicinal properties of henna also make it effective in keeping the scalp clean and free of irritation. A result of this will be the growth of luxuriant, healthy hair.
If you struggle with excess grease, there is no better solution. The optimum pH level of the scalp can be maintained with the help of henna. It is able to control sebaceous glands so that they do not overproduce oil.
Those with drier hair may be wary of using henna for this reason.
However, there is no need to miss out on reaping its other benefits. Henna powder needs to be combined with a liquid-like ingredient to allow for application on the hair.
Using oils or other moisturising substances like aloe vera in this mixture can counteract the drying effect.
For a deeper colour, the mixture should be set aside for longer before application. Once brushed onto the hair, it should be rinsed out with warm water after a few hours.
It is crucial to use henna as a powder. In this form, it is a completely natural ingredient, with a minimal chance of provoking an allergic reaction.
This is one you will definitely find in the fridge of any Desi household! Alongside being an excellent accompaniment of aloo parathas, yoghurt is great for the hair.
Firstly, it is bursting with proteins. So via consumption, it stimulates the growth of strong and healthy hair.
This is particularly important, what with all the heat-styling and pollution our locks are exposed to. Our first line of defence – the skin – is also fortified, which can help treat dandruff.
The ingredient has several other benefits when applied as a mask.
The lactic acid content of yoghurt is excellent in flushing dirt and dandruff from the scalp. It has a hydrating effect too, leaving hair silky and moisturised.
You can apply yoghurt alone to the hair, or combine it with other ingredients like honey. Leave for around 30 minutes before rinsing out.
This one is more associated with rowdy uncles at wedding parties than hair. Yes, you read it correctly though – beer has a lot to offer when it comes to magnificent manes.
The beverage is, in fact, a concoction of antioxidants.
Vitamins like iron, B12 and magnesium work to nourish the scalp, promoting the growth of healthy hair. The silicone in beer can reduce frizz, whilst the sugars add shine. Even the yeast plays a part in adding volume to limp and dull hair!
You should shampoo as normal, using the beer as a substitute for your conditioner. It is crucial that the beer is flat – carbon dioxide in fizzy beer can turn water hard, which can be harmful to the hair.
Be conscious that this method is not the most practical. You would probably rather be drinking your beer than soaking your locks in it! It is quite a far stretch from the floral, fruity scents we desire for our hair too.
Using it once a week is more than enough to notice results over time.
We scramble them, fry them, make masala omelettes with them…but probably would not think to slather them on our heads.
Nevertheless, many Desi mothers and grandmothers swear eggs to be the secret to glossy locks.
Eggs are a nutrient superfood. Being protein-rich, they contribute to strengthening strands. The vitamin and fat content of the yolk helps keep tresses thick and moisturised.
Applying egg as a mask exposes hair directly to all this goodness. Raw egg can be whisked and brushed straight on, although a few drops of lavender oil adds a pleasant scent.
Let it sit for an hour or so before shampooing and conditioning as normal.
The advantage of eggs is their effectiveness both when consumed and as an external treatment. Enjoy a slice of home-baked cake while your hair mask is doing its job for extra eggy goodness!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Deemed a god-send in Indian households, apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for many ailments. An esteemed treatment for acne, weight loss…and healthy hair too.
Many experts advise drinking the vinegar for it to work internally. If knocking back a shot of the stuff does not sound appealing to you though, do not fear! It is incredibly effective when applied directly to the hair.
The acidity of apple cider vinegar is its most significant property when it comes to haircare.
The acid destroys remnants of dirt and oil left on our scalps, providing a deep cleanse. pH levels are also restored to their optimum; our dependency on serums and sprays can disturb this.
The high acidity also means one should be cautious with apple cider vinegar. Acid is a corrosive substance by nature. So, high concentrations or overuse of the vinegar can strip hair of natural oils.
Using the vinegar diluted with water, and no more than once a week avoids this problem. 1 part vinegar and 5 parts water is a recommended ratio. Your locks receive the benefits without any damage.
Use your mixed solution after shampooing. Leave in the hair for a few minutes and then proceed with conditioner.
With a multitude of organic solutions available to rescue lifeless hair, there will definitely be one to suit you. Many of the ingredients discussed above can even be combined to create ultra-effective masks.
Granted, these methods may take some time to work. However, with perseverance, healthy hair is attainable for us all.
Additionally, avoiding the alien toxins and chemicals of processed hair products is only a positive. These natural methods are kinder on your wallet and kinder to your overall health too.
Just be ready for when your mums and grandmas catch you using these solutions…brace yourself for the “I told you so!”
You should always do a patch test with these ingredients before applying to your head.