I’d like to share a method I’ve incorporated into my regimen to help me retain length.
My hair had been growing longer but I noticed that the older parts
(the ends) would get dry and were prone to breaking off easily.
at this point, I’d trim my hair, but since I decided to challenge
myself to grow my hair to waist length, just because, I decided it was
time to adapt length retention techniques into my regimen.
henna and protein treatments had helped strengthen my hair and made it
less porous overall, but it didn’t stop my ends from getting dry. And while the LOC
method has proved effective in providing daily moisture, I felt I
still needed more to reinforce my fine hair and make it stronger to
My quest for length retention led me to the ‘Indian Oiling Method’. I’ve been consistently using this regimen since
2013 and have made changes along the way to better suit kinky, curly
hair of different textures with the help of feedback from the
naturalistas around me.
This regimen is especially
useful if you’re suffering from unexplained dryness, brittleness,
breakage, hair shed and dullness. Where this is excessive, please see
During the period of adopting this regimen, it has really helped my hair by:
– preventing breakage and improving length (I was able to finally grow my fine hair down to my waist!)– I have waist length hair!
– improving elasticity and strength
– improving sheen and softness
– improving moisture retention
– improving styling
Here’s an excerpt from an article revealing Indian haircare practices and products used:
Generally using herbs for healthy hair maintenance (in India) involves some kind of oiling and an herbal wash.
may also add an herbal rinse. The wash and rinse can be one mixture, or
used separately, but together they should contain at least one
cleansing agent (such as shikakai or aritha/reetha and one conditioning
agent such as amla).
Some Indians also use rice
starch as a type of natural emulsifier to bind the herb powders together
and make them easier to apply and rinse out.
women tend to oil their hair daily or every other day, and to wear
their hair in a single braid or a bun. Very rarely do they wear their
Oils are used as a
protective conditioner and for treating problems of hair growth and both
hair and scalp condition. They can be used daily to protect hair from
Herbal oils are applied to the scalp daily or pre-wash to treat
scalp conditions. More thorough scalp and length oiling is done pre-wash
as a conditioner to protect the hair from the drying effects of the
cleansing herbs and water.
Herbal oils are chosen depending on condition of the scalp and used either together or separately.
They are applied on non wash days in the evening or at least 30 minutes before washing to let the herb act on the scalp.
Pre-wash oiling is done on dry hair at least 30 minutes before
washing. Non- wash day oiling can be done on dry or damp (misted) hair
depending on how hair reacts to oiling.
Amount used depends on hair length and how much oil the hair absorbs. Start with small amounts and increase as needed.
Post wash oiling is done on dry or damp hair depending on the
hair reaction to oils. Only a small amount is used. It helps in
detangling and shine, similar to a leave-in conditioner.
Which oils might be right for you?
– Coconut oil
Prevents protein loss from hair during washing.Applied both pre-wash and on the days between washing.
dry or damaged ends: Wet/ mist the ends of the hair and liberally apply
coconut oil, then braid. Let the oil soak in for at least a day.
Can be applied between washing but, referred as a pre-wash oil as it has a stronger scent than coconut.
It is used more in Northern
India, for the scalp and for medicinal body massages. It brings
circulation to the scalp due to its mild irritating properties, similar
to cayenne pepper. It has anti-bacterial properties.
Do not try to infuse herbs in this by heating as it produces noxious fumes. Applied pre-wash to scalp only. Has a strong scent.
Conditioning astringent. Used for hair loss, premature graying, strengthens the roots, reduces dandruff.
Prevents split ends. A small amount is applied to hair and scalp after washing or massaged in pre-wash.
The regimen has three parts,
Step 1: Shampoo
The first step is the shampoo step. If you’ve been oiling your hair everyday till wash day, your hair will be protected from hygral fatigue (water causing your hair to expand) with the accumulated oil.
If this is your first time, apply a lot of oil overnight before shampooing (pre-poo). You don’t need to repeat this step again afterwards.
You can choose any shampoo of choice but it should be pH balanced, moisturising and sulfate free. The original shampoo regimen is a mix of Soapnut, Amla and Shikakai powder. If you don’t have the time or ingredients to mix, a gentle poo works fine.
My washing mantra is shampoo the scalp, condition the hair.
Dilute your shampoo in a bottle or cup with a spout. It makes it easy to access your scalp and get it clean. It also makes sure whatever shampoo you’re using doesn’t strip your hair.
You can also wash your hair in braids or twists. Whatever helps you get access to your scalp. You can use this opportunity to give yourself a scalp massage.
Don’t worry about your hair strands, they’ll be cleansed by the run off while you rinse.
Optional : After rinsing off the shampoo, mix 3 parts water and 1 part apple cider vinegar , then use it to rinse your hair again. This is meant to acidify your hair and close cuticles so your hair feels smoother. It’s also helps with dandruff and itchy scalp. So if this is you, try this out.
If you experience unexplained shedding, try brewing black/green tea and use it to rinse your hair.
Wait 5-10 mins before proceeding to conditioning.
Step 2: Conditioning
Sometimes I even skip the conditioning step and proceed to the oiling step especially after I’ve done an ACV rinse. However, conditioning helps provide the slip for detangling and coats the hair with moisturising ingredients.
I actually prefer deep conditioning instead of the usual conditioning for this step. I use the rinse out conditioner to co-wash off my deep conditioner instead.
Condition your hair only. Try not to let the conditioners touch your scalp. You want to keep your scalp clear.
Blot off excess water and proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Oiling
After working with different oil mixes, this formulation has been effective in improving the health of my hair and scalp. You can use any oil you notice your hair loves. Coconut, amla and or a castor oil/coconut mix are top choices.
-Divide your hair into four sections.
-Pour a small amount of oil into your palm, rub together to warm and massage into your scalp with your fingertips and the rest along the length of your hair. If your hair feels greasy, you have used too much. This is how much I use for each section:
-Do this for each section of your hair and scalp until fully absorbed.
-I enjoy bending forward while I massage the oil into my hair and scalp. Not only is it easier on my arms, it increases blood flow to the scalp.
-After oiling your hair, apply a light leave in conditioner and then seal your ends with a moisturising butter.
-Then braid or twist your hair till it dries. This is so your natural hair stretches, the oil is given time to penetrate and you have a fabulous braid or twist out.
-Everyday afterwards, apply a little oil to your hair and around your edges. You don’t need to repeat all over your scalp unless you are treating any scalp issues. It fits right into your LOC moisture routine as the Oil step.
-By the time your next wash day comes, you wouldn’t even need to prepoo and with consistency, you’ll notice less breakage and shedding, I kid you not!
Here’s my wash and go after oiling for 3 days straight. When I’m lazy, I usually skip several days but I had just taken my hair out of a protective style and it was as brittle as kpekere so I had to be serious with oiling for 3 days without fail.
Because my hair was happy, I only used very little gel for each of the 8 sections of hair I worked with.
No product overload.
P.S. Oils are not moisturizers, water is…so while doing this regimen,
don’t forget to moisturize after with a water based leave in.