Henna, Indigo, Amla, Neem, Shikakai…those are just a few names you might read when seeking natural hair care advice on the Internet. They are herbs and plants that are usually included in a Ayurvedic hair care regimen. Many African American women who decide to go natural, explore Ayurvedic hair care as a way to promote healthy hair and use more natural remedies. An ayurvedic hair care regimen usually includes herbal mixtures and natural oils that are minimally processed, or in many cases, used whole. Although, Ayurveda is usually discussed with regard to natural black hair, anyone can benefit from its principles. To decide if Ayurvedic hair care is right for you, it’s important to first understand “Ayurveda”.
Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old system of preventive medicine and healthcare that originated in ancient India. Ayurveda means “knowledge of life span”. The book, The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs: The Most Complete Guide to Natural Healing & Health with Traditional Ayurvedic Herbalism, explains:
Ayurveda looks to create a balance between body, mind, emotion, spirit and environment, and places emphasis on the ability of the human body to heal itself, with the assistance and support of a variety of non-toxic therapies, including medicinal foods, dietary programs, and herbal medicines. Today, many of the health and medical “discoveries” being heralded as breakthroughs by scientists every day were long ago observed and documented by the Ayurvedists.
Basically, Ayurveda says that everything from a healthy head of hair to a healthy heart is determined by your emotional well-being. Ayurvedic medicine requires that you get in tune with your emotions and inner thoughts and then pursue a lifestyle that keeps you feeling balanced and stress free. That’s a powerful concept, especially for today’s women who are busy with work, school, bills, kids, etc. If you want to pursue an Ayurvedic hair care regimen, start by using some of the alone time that you get when you’re doing your hair as an opportunity to relax.
A scalp massage with essential oils (instructions), relaxes your mind while stimulating your hair follicles and encouraging growth. Take Deepak Chopra’s Dosha Quiz to find your Ayurvedic “mind-body” type. Then, incorporate these suggested essential oils into a daily scalp massage.
Vata dosha: Creative, tendency to worry, energetic
Best essential oils: Patchouli, Basil, Lavender, Sage
Pitta dosha: Likes challenges, tendency toward anger, cannot skip meals
Best essential oils: Ylang-ylang, Lavender, Rose, Sandalwood
Kapha dosha: Detail oriented, thoughtful, resistant to change
Best essential oils: Eucalyptus, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary
Add 2 or 3 drops of the recommended essential oils to a base like Almond, Oilve, Coconut, or Jojoba Oil. The essential oils are included for their aromatherapy benefit, so remember to breathe deeply and take in each scent. You can also use herb-infused oils that are known to promote hair growth or stop hair loss, examples include Brahmi (also known as Mandukaparni), Amla, and Bhringraj oil. It’s important to buy herb-infused oils from a trustworthy retailer to be sure you’re getting an authentic product.
Healthy hair comes from a healthy body, so, in that sense, everyone can benefit from Ayurveda. However, keep in mind that Ayurvedic principles do not suggest that you get rid of commercial products and make everything at home…especially if that requires time that you don’t have or causes you more stress. When it comes to your hair, doing what makes you feel good (inside and out) is always most important.