Beauty and health are interrelated. Looking beautiful means having skin that is attractive. If skin needs to be attractive, then it needs to be healthy and well-nourished. The same is applicable to hair. Beauty has been associated with long and healthy hair. Healthy skin and hair are a reflection of a healthy body. The secret to being beautiful is skin and hair health.
Cosmetic products are commonly used by most people to take care of their skin and hair health. But as people are becoming more and more aware of the harmful effects of chemicals every day, people have started looking for natural and chemical-free remedies. Here, comes the role of Ayurveda.
Do you know that your unhealthy hair is a reflection of your bad diet and lifestyle? Yes! Traditional Ayurvedic science sticks upon the interdependence of hair health with what you eat and how you live.
“Besides topical treatments with medicinal herbs, Ayurveda involves the concept of healthy Ahara-Vihara (diet and lifestyle), which benefits the healthy well-being of your body and mind along with your hair health.
The ancient Indian wellness system recommends the use of herbal supplements, oils, and creams to enhance hair health. These herbs are found in nature and have been used for centuries. They are time tested and the lack of chemicals in them makes them safe. There is no doubt that if you are looking for a gentle and natural way to improve your hair health, then the Ayurvedic approach can be helpful. It is the best way to take care of your hair.
Many Indian mothers and grandmothers have traditionally pampered their children with oily, herbal head massages. Afterward, they might apply sudsy reetha, also known as soap nuts, and rinse with fragrant water. This care and attention is believed to lead to thick, lustrous, healthy hair.
These practices can be traced back to Hindu myths and religious texts, known as the Vedas. In them, angry deities had unruly hair, while patient ones had thick, curly locks or smooth braids.
These myths, and the Ayurvedic practices that support, them are part of traditional hair care in India. This comprehensive approach of Ayurveda calls for a consistent hair care routine for healthy hair. You can apply these same remedies at home to promote hair growth and get shiny, bouncy hair.
What does Ayurveda mean?
To get ideal hair growth with Indian therapy, it helps to understand the basics of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is an ancient practice based on identifying the spirit of the body and their relationship to the natural elements: air, wind, earth, fire, and ether.
Ayurveda identifies three principal doshas known as vata, pitta, and kapha. Everyone has a combination of one, two, or all three. Each dosha influences the internal organs, as well as a person’s physique, attributes, and emotions.
Ayurvedic interpreter believe that dosha imbalance causes illness. These imbalances can affect various parts of the body, including the hair and how well it grows.
Ayurvedic Hair Care Routine: The 14 essential steps to follow
- Know Your Hair Type
Ayurveda teaches that a healthy body and mind will result in healthy hair and scalp, leading to optimum hair growth.
Ayurveda uses the concept of Doshas or principal energies to explain wellness and good health. The three Doshas – Kapha, Vata, and Pitta are present in our body. When one or more Doshas are in excess, they have an impact on health. Hair health also is related to the Dosha that is prevalent. Based on this concept, Ayurveda classified hair based on the different hair types. These are:
- Vata Hair Type
A vata person has a higher proportion of air and ether. A person with a balanced vata dosha is likely to have naturally wavy hair and a rather dry scalp. They’re also likely to have porous hair. This means the hair absorbs products and dyes well. The dryness of Vata can strip the scalp moisture. This makes the hair dry and rough in nature. Proper nutrition to your hair follicles keeps Vata dosha in balance.
This also means that hair strands take in dust, smoke, and toxins in the air and are prone to breakage and damage. When the overall vata dosha is imbalanced, the individual may develop an oily scalp with itchy dandruff and hair fall, or sluggish hair growth, this hair becomes difficult to manage. It can fall out in clumps and become brittle. This type of hair requires nourishment by deep conditioning by using natural remedies.
- Pitta Hair Type
Pitta is responsible for metabolic activity in hair, regulates the production of pigments and hair proteins. Pitta governs metabolism and since good metabolism nourishes the hair. A person with a balanced pitta dosha will likely have naturally straight, silky hair.
Their hair is moderately resistant to hair dyes and colours, because the hair follicle is typically dense. This means it’s resistant to both topically applied nutrients and air-pollution.
If Pitta is imbalanced, it can make the hair thin and lead to premature greying or baldness. This hair type is medium in texture. It has balanced porosity and hence is less prone to damage. The nature of Pitta makes the scalp oily and can cause boils or dandruff. This hair type is straight. Cooling herbs and using products that are anti-inflammatory can help manage this hair effectively.
- Kapha Hair Type
Kapha energy is responsible for your hair structure and its lubrication. A healthy Kapha hair is thick, lustrous, and curly with coarse texture and an oily scalp.
The excess oil can cause acne, blackheads, and other problems that occur due to clogged pores in the skin. This type of hair is less porous. It takes more time to dry. Moisture levels are adequate when Kapha is balanced. Cleansing the hair is essential to remove excess oil. It also needs detoxification. Cleaning clogged pores and regulating sebum production can help to manage this type of hair better.
The hair follicle is often very dense and doesn’t take in nutrients or dyes easily. When this dosha is unbalanced, hair may become fine and brittle, and it may break easily.
Kapha types are the least likely to experience hair loss, but their hair may be slow to grow.
- Hair Oiling and Shampoo Based on Your Hair Type
Make sure your fundamental hair products, that is your hair oil and shampoo, contain Ayurvedic herbs that work on your annoying dosha levels. Choosing wrong hair products may worsen your hair condition and cause an imbalance in your doshas.
Here is the list of few dosha-specific herbs that you can seek in your hair care products:
A. Vata-Pacifying Herbs-
Palandu (onion), Gunja (Rosepea), Yashtimadhu (Licorice), Devdar (Cedar), Krishna Tila (black sesame), Saireyaka (Barleria Prionitis), Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus), etc.
B. Pitta-Pacifying Herbs-
Yashtimadhu (Licorice), Japa (Hibiscus), Kamala (Nelumbo Nucifera), Nimba (Neem), Lodhra (Symplocos Racemosa), Karanja (Pongamia Pinnata), etc.
C. Kapha Pacifying Herbs-
Gunja (Rosepea), Grapeseed, Kushta (Saussurea Costus), Methika (Fenugreek), Karpoora (Camphor), Jyotishmathi (Celastrus Paniculatus), Daruharidra (Berberis Aristata), etc.
D. Tridosha Haras (Herbs To calm all three doshas)
Kumari (Aloe Vera), Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri), Bhringraj (Eclipta Alba), Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry), Tagara (Valerian root), etc.
- Oil Your Hair regularly
Hair oils help nourish the hair follicles, as well as the scalp. Simply adding hair oiling to your routine can encourage hair growth and deeply moisturize the hair you already have.
The best oils by type are:
almond or sesame oil for vatas
coconut or almond oil for pittas
olive oil for kaphas
“You can use plain coconut oil or sesame oil, or purchase an herbal oil that’s made especially for the purpose. An herbal oil will contain extracts of Indian herbs, like amla and rose petals. You might find up to 20 herbs in one formula,” says Ghanima Abdullah, a cosmetologist and hair expert at The Right Hairstyes.
Hair massage with dosha-specific Ayurvedic oils promote healthy, strong and lustrous hair growth with their nourishing, root-strengthening and conditioning properties of herbs.
Ayurveda recommends oiling your hair 2-3 times a week. You can also fix your frequency of oiling based on your hair type. Kapha hair type can be oiled with less frequency whereas the Vata hair type needs more oiling than Pitta and Kapha types.
- Scalp massage
Traditional Ayurvedic practices involve oiling your hair at least 20 minutes before your hair wash. For better results, massage your scalp and hair with warm oil at night and wash your hair the following day. This works as a great natural conditioning treatment to your scalp and hair.
Another practice is to massage the neck and shoulders in addition to the scalp.”
1. Apply warm oil gently across your scalp.
2. Massage your entire scalp in a circular motion using your finger for about 15 minutes.
3. Now, work some oil from your hair roots to tips by giving a gentle massage.
Circular scalp massage stimulates the blood circulation and enhances the oil absorption into deep layers of your scalp. You can also use coconut oil, sesame oil, almond oil, olive oil, etc. to massage your scalp and hair regularly.
- Wash Your Hair regularly
Your scalp follicles get clogged with the unwanted build-up of excess oils, dirt and dust, which you need to cleanse out through regular mild hair wash with Ayurvedic shampoos.
Besides Ayurvedic shampoos with herbs that are specific to your dosha imbalances, you can also opt for natural hair cleansing herbs like Reetha (Soapnut powder), Shikakai (Soap pod), Hibiscus flowers, Triphala powder, etc. to wash your hair.
- Rinses and hair teas
Rinses and hair teas serve as a finishing step in hair care. A rinse involves washing the hair out with water. A tea involves soaking the hair in a tub.
Traditionally, herbs, like neem or henna leaves, have been added directly into buckets of warm water or mixed into bath water to create herbal rinses and teas.
You only need a few simple herbs to make a hair tea or rinse. Dried powders, flowers, leaves, and herbs are some favorites in Ayurveda when it comes to hair care and also some fragrant floral additions are often used in cold water baths, including:
- Green tea leaves
- tulsi or holy basil
- rose petals
- jasmine buds
These ingredients may calm irritated skin, including the scalp, and leave behind a sweet, pleasant scent.
- Condition Your Hair Regularly with Hair Masks
Hair mask is often used to treat undernourished areas by directly delivering nutrients where they’re most needed. Herbs can treat scalp issues, like dryness and dandruff. A good hair mask also seals the nutrients in the strands.
Hair masks or ‘Shiro lepa’ in Ayurvedic terms is one of the extremely beneficial therapies to nourish and deeply condition your scalp and hair. Ayurveda suggests applying hair masks once in a week or fortnight to keep your scalp and hair in good health while it also helps you combat internal hair loss factors like stress and anxiety.
You can use Ayurvedic herbal powders like Amla, henna, fenugreek and solvents like egg white, aloe vera gel, etc. to prepare your nutrients rich deep conditioning hair masks. Apply the mask from your roots to hair tips and leave it for about 30-40 minutes before rinsing it off with water.
If you want to try a hair mask, follow these steps:
- Wash your hair before applying the mask.
- Create a paste with the desired dry ingredients and a suitable liquid, like water or oil. Oil is best for dry hair and scalp.
- Wash your hair with a light shampoo, and rinse before the mask has dried completely.
- Avoid blow drying your hair after the treatment for maximum benefit.
- Learn How to Comb
Combing is one of the greatest ways to enhance blood circulation on your scalp. It helps in detangling your hair and spreading your scalp’s natural oils evenly over your hair strands. But, vigorous combing can damage your hair by stretching it and this may lead to hair breakage and split ends.
Ayurveda suggests you comb your hair once or twice gently using a wooden blunt-toothed comb. Also, wash your comb weekly to avoid dirt accumulation and do not share your comb with others in order to avoid scalp infection.
TIP: A neem wood comb works best if you have dandruff.
- Trim Your Hair regularly
Broken hair with split ends gives a thin and rough look to your hair tips. You can avoid this by getting rid of split ends through regular trimming. Ensure you eliminate your split ends by trimming your hair every 8-12 weeks.
10.Try to avoid Chemical Products
The harsh chemicals used in hair products may change your scalp pH level while they can strip off the natural oils from your scalp and protein layers from your hair.
Switch to Ayurvedic products with natural herbal ingredients to gain holistic hair health without unwanted risks.
11.Protect Your Hair from Harsh Environment
Environmental pollution and UV radiation damage your hair follicles by tampering with your scalp’s natural oils. It also makes your hair brittle and dull time by time. On top of that, excessive intake of alcohol and cigarettes may worsen your condition causing severe hair fall.
Make sure you wear a cap or scarf to protect your hair when you go outside or swim in chlorinated water. Avoid the consumption of cigarettes and alcohol for better hair health.
“Ayurveda suggests applying oil to your hair before going under the sun as it acts as a protective layer to your scalp and hair tissues,”.
12. Nutritious diet
A balanced assortment of nutrients is necessary to prevent premature hair loss and early greying. List of beneficial healthy hair foods includes white sesame seeds, fresh coconut, green vegetables, whole grain-rich diet, dates and raisins, (curd), sprouted mixture of beans, nuts and seeds and healthy fats such as ghee or oil.
Ayurveda advocates for regular intake of (turmeric), black pepper, fenugreek, coriander seeds and cumin are both flavouring and agni (digestive fire) enhancing. herbs like amalaki (emblica officinalis), haritaki (terminalia chebula), hingu (asafoetida), bhringraja (eclipta alba) and seasonal fruits especially citrus fruits help to improve digestion and immunity for all age groups and all dosha types.
13. Exercise Regularly
According to Ayurveda, the toxins (ama) need to be flushed out of your body for the growth of healthy hair. Regular exercise is the key to detoxing your body through sweating. Sweating from scalp tissues unclogs your hair follicles.
Exercise also enhances the blood flow, thus supporting the nutritional and oxygen intake in your scalp tissues. Ayurveda recommends the everyday practice of yoga, meditation and pranayama to keep your body, mind, and soul in balance.
You can also include moderate to high-level cardio exercises like cycling, Zumba dance, running or brisk walking for healthy hair and body.
14. Ayurvedic Therapies
Ayurvedic therapies works on the principle of detoxing, rejuvenating, and balancing your bodily energies.
Besides every-day haircare practices at home, you can take some time once in a month for Ayurvedic therapies like Panchakarma, which involves deep purification and nourishment practices like Nasya, Basti, Shirodhara, Shiro abhyanga, Shiro lepa, etc.
Besides purifying your blood by balancing your doshas and promoting healthy hair re-growth, these therapies bring calmness and relaxation to your mind and body from inside and outside too.
Consult your Ayurvedic doctor before using any of the Ayurvedic ingredients mentioned in this article to check if they are suitable for you based on your medical history.
Our hair is often an indicator of our overall health. Proper hair care is about taking care of the hair, as well as the rest of the body.
Ayurveda is the way of life to remain balanced by aligning our bodily rhythms with the rhythms of nature. This is achieved through the routine which suits your unique Prakriti and corresponding hair type while you can achieve exceptional hair health by keeping your doshas in balance. Ayurvedic hair care is just one part of a entire self-care routine that can lead to increased hair growth and shiny, healthy hair.