Ayurveda and My Hair Regimen

It’s Sunday.

That means that it’s time for my morning Ayurvedic hair care regimen.

As I am furiously getting back on track with this blog, I realized that I should be a little more informative when I write my posts. That means I should probably explain a little of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

Which means I should probably learn it myself. Hmm.

 

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda translates to “the knowledge for long life” and is both a traditional and alternative medicine in India. (Thank you, Wiki!)

Different levels of Ayurveda have been used for centuries in health, beauty and even spiritual enlightenment. By emphasizing the use of herbs and oils to purify the body and the mind, an individual can supposedly emerge cleansed, clear minded and void of many diseases.

And here I was just trying to grow my hair super fast.


Years ago, after sulfate shampoos lathered my relaxed hair down to nothing, I decided to look into safer methods of cleaning my hair and getting the same results – well, better ones. I lurked through multiple online hair care forums, both general and African American-focused, and discovered that a lot of women were going “mud-based” in their shampoos. That is, they were completely avoiding lathering shampoos and taking an approach that included mixing their own products with powders derived from herbs. 

I found recipes, descriptions, and results. Real results. Amazing results. Exciting results.

“My hair is growing like crazy!” one post would say. “My hair has never been this healthy,” another added. “It’s so soft and defined now.” Whatever negative comments I saw, there were 10 or 20 replies to soothe the original naysayer and offer advice on how to fix the human error.

In 2008, I decided to give it a whirl. I bought a box of Brahmi powder, mixed it with tap water, slathered it on my relaxed head and washed it out. Then, I rushed to the mirror to be amazed.

I wasn’t. My hair was dry, stuck together and even a touch crisper than I remembered.

I, in all of my melodramatic form, was devastated. I shoved the box to the back of my closet and returned to my sulfate shampoos, pledging repentance and promising never to stray again.

Fast forward to today. It’s been about a year since I cut off my relaxed hair and returned to my natural roots – literally and figuratively. Since that time, I also returned to my Ayurvedic research and discovered just how poorly informed I was originally. A lot of factors played into my lackluster (no pun intended) results four years ago:

  • My relaxed hair was already damaged beyond repair, and there was little I could do to reverse that.
  • The type of powder I’d chosen is usually mixed with other Ayurvedic powders to – that’s right! – ease its drying effects many people experience.
  • My use of tap water, though not bad, was ill prepared and would not give an optimum outcome.

With this in mind, I judiciously recovered from my mistakes and learned about other Ayurvedic products, techniques and practices that originated with the Indian culture centuries ago and has since been personalized by nationalities across the globe.


 

I could go on and on about every item I have found and tested on myself, but I will keep this post relatively short for today – especially since I still have my durn novel to write and my hair to finish washing. What I will give is the recipe that I am using today, which is also one of my favorites.

Ingredients (pictured above):

  • 6 parts Hesh brand Shikakai powder
  • 4 parts Hesh brand Amla powder
  • 2 ½ parts Hesh brand Tulsi powder
  • Distilled water
  • A splash of Dabur Vatika coconut oil
  • A splash of Dabur Rose Water

 Quick Explanation:

Shikakai powder, like Brahmi powder, is considered a “shampoo” and works to suck up excessive dirt and oil without drying the hair or scalp. It’s also a natural detangler.

Amla powder  is one of the most common “conditioning” powders and is listed as halting premature greying, promoting hair growth and strengthening hair roots. (The stopping grey hairs is freakin’ true. I wished I’d kept the proof.)

Tulsi powder  is also a “conditioning” powder and maintains moisture on the scalp while assisting with the control of dandruff.

Since distilled water is so…distilled, I’ve decided to apply it instead of tap water, allowing the minerals in the powders to take over instead.

The coconut oil and rose water both have softening and nutritional benefits and were added as an afterthought – and they just smell so nice.

The Steps:

  1. I scoop the powders into a glass bowl and blend them together.
  2. Then, I add distilled water and mix until I have a consistency of yogurt:

  3. Once it’s mixed, I pour in a little coconut oil and a little rose water and stir/whisk until smooth (You definitely don’t want to add too much oil, or you’ll end up with a mixture that breaks up and proves the “water and oil” adage just right.)
  4. I part my hair and apply directly to the scalp, massaging the paste along the strands as I work my fingers out. 
  5. I add the remaining paste to my hair tips and, after one more massage for good measure, I put a plastic cap over my head and allow it to marinate. It only needs about 10 – 15 minutes, but I usually let it go for an hour while I work around the apartment.

  6. After that, I rinse it out in the shower until the water runs clear. I apply a cheap, $3 conditioner as a method to scrub my hair and rinse out any particles I missed on the first go.
  7. If my hair feels like it needs it, I go for a deep conditioning that lasts approximately half an hour (including a 15-minute steam treatment).
  8. After the final rinse, I apply a leave-in detangler and homemade shea butter cream that I mixed with a few oils (namely castor oil and coconut oil) to my scalp and hair, work my “curlies” with my fingers in the mirror for a few minutes, and leave it at that.

I can almost hear the astonishment: “Holy crud; that’s a lot of time.”

You’re durn right, it is!  The whole process can take up to four hours if I’m feeling especially languid

One thing I’ve learned over the adventure with my hair is, I don’t have to manipulate my hair or use a lot of products to get it healthy and growing. Some days, I don’t have any time and end up doing a goat’s milk soap shampoo and quick conditioning before smearing in a glob of shea butter and hoping for the best. That lasts less than an hour.

However, on the days when I do have time, I like and prefer the Ayurvedic approach. For me, it’s just another part of my Sunday Pamper Time – and we should all, I think, take time out for ourselves. 

Freshly rinsed, no product.  I love Pamper Time.  

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