Remember that one time when I went to India? Well, besides hipster trinkets like my fake nose ring, a gorgeous, ornate clutch and ALL the pashmina scarves, I also brought back a few beauty secrets! Indian women are known for their strong, long, healthy locks. And heads like this–
— didn’t even turn heads over there (well, except for ours). Dope hair is what they do. So when I was offered top shelf henna from M.S. Bitta and homemade amla oil from one of our hosts, Shakuntala, I didn’t turn down nothin‘ but my collar. I’ve been dipping into my private stash for the last 3 weeks and while the henna is not all that different, *insert Katt Williams voice* this sh*t right here… this amla oil situation, is something else entirely. I’ve been using it to pre-poo and my hair is, well….
Amla Oil (coconut or sesame oil infused with dried amla pieces/powder) has been a staple in Indian households for centuries, and when used regularly as a pre-poo treatment, results in darker, shinier, THICKER hair. They claim that it promotes hair growth and reduces premature hair fall. I had heard all of this, so she didn’t need to convince me… but my previous experiences with amla oil had been less than productive.
1. Soft Sheen Carson Optimum Amla Oil- ($11/5oz) I was gifted a few bottles last year and they were promptly re-gifted when I flipped the bottle over to check out the ingredients. As you know, I’m all about that first five... if the ‘featured ingredient’ is suspiciously absent from the top of the list, I’m not here for it. #WheresTheAmlaAtTho In this case, it was number 8… of 10 ingredients… after the fragrance. It’s Natural Hair101, folks– ingredients near the end of the list are typically comprised of less than 1% of the total. TheBeautyBrains appropriately refers to situations like this as ‘fairy dust’–
‘They are added to increase consumer appeal. These ingredients are also called pixie dust, fairy dust, marketing ingredients and a few other names. These are truly “inactive” because they’re added ONLY because they look good as part of the label. They serve no function other than to attract consumer’s attention. These ingredients include botanicals, vitamins and minerals, (some) proteins and just about anything else “natural.” You can easily spot these ingredients because they are often incorporated into the product name (Sun-kissed Raspberry Shampoo) or placed on the front label (lotion with jojoba oil).This depends on the product – if you have a shampoo with natural jojoba oil . It’s likely to be used as a featured ingredient. It would be at a very low level and it would be rinsed away.’
I cannot. They’re charging what it would cost to source amla from India, except they don’t have the decency to actually put amla in the damn bottles!
2. Dabur Amla Oil -($7/16.9oz) I bought some from Amazon (super popular brand) when I was on the Vatika Oil bandwagon. See above for my complaint. #WhereTheAmlaAtTho #Next
3. Qhemet Biologics Amla Oil Pomade ($16/4oz) Gifted from Qhemet (back in 2011). It was a staple for a few months but sadly proved too thick for daily use (#TeamFineHurr) and can be hard to acquire. The ingredient list is on point, but that price, tho… at least you’re actually getting what you pay for!
I’ve been using my gifted, homemade mix (coconut oil + amla powder + what has to be essences of frankincense and myrrh) before every wash (with a plastic cap and heat for 20 minutes) and it does seem to perform better than just coconut oil alone. My hair feels heavier (when I shake it and y’all know I likes to shake it), I shed less (no little beasties in the shower) and there is no need for a shine serum once my hair dries. It’s the real deal. By the bye, Shakuntala says that pre-poos are absolutely essential for healthy hair– Indian women don’t miss a pre-poo session and neither should we.
Where to get REAL Amla Oil
So where does that leave us? If you wish to incorporate this ancient Ayurvedic preparation in your natural hair care routine, you can either-
1. Make your own- Probably your best bet and it’s not even hard! Get some amla powder and a jar of unrefined coconut oil, pour an enormous glass of Pinot, read this and watch this video–
2. Cop the real stuff- If you’re like me and want your ish pre-made, head over to FromNatureWithLove, Butters-N-Bars or HennaSooq. The prices are decent and there’s actually amla in the bottle! I haven’t tried any of their mixes, but the ingredients check out.
Then, you can use it as a pre-poo, add a few drops to your hot oil mix, mix it into your henna or even to seal your ends!
Have you tried amla oil? Share your experiences below!