We previously covered the bases of traditional long hair practices and products from various countries in Africa as well as from the Caribbean specifically Haiti and Jamaica. This time we turn to India where many traditional practices are taking firm roots in today’s natural hair practices as more people move away from commercial products to more pure natural/raw ingredients.
1. The Coconut oil Pre-Poo Treatment
There is probably no greater nod to a traditional practice when it inspires a scientific investigation that ends up yielding fantastic insight. The tradition of Indian women applying coconut oil to hair prior to shampooing(coconut oil pre-poo) did just that. The scientists discovered that the coconut oil application allowed it to penetrate into hair which then protected the hair from damage during washing as well as during combing (Journal of Cosmetic Science pp 169–184,2001).
2. Shikakai (Acacia Concinna) — A Natural Shampoo
Shikakai is a traditional natural shampoo. The fruit pods are dried and crushed into a powder which is then made into a paste and applied to hair. Sometimes shikakai is referred to as a herbal powder although it really is not herbal. It is known to contain saponins which are very common in plants and are detergent like in behaviour, foaming up when added to water (Int J Toxicol., Suppl 3, pg75-118, 2005) . These saponins could be the reason that shikakai is regarded as a cleanser.
3. Henna and Indigo — Natural Hair Colour
Many naturals already use Henna and not necessarily for its colouring action. If you do have grey hair, you may indeed be able to see that this plant based dye can colour hair in various shades of red which become darker/deeper with regular repetition. Indigo is another plant based dye which as the name suggests dyes hair indigo! On dark hair, indigo and henna are difficult/impossible to discern as they are both thought to be attracted to and attach to the surface of the hair as opposed to changing the inner melanin of the hair (NPR, pp 45–48,2008).
4. Amla and Neem Oil — Antifungal treatments
Many natural oils (including coconut oil) have antifungal properties. (Mycoses, pp 363 — 369, 2009). Amla and Neem oil are commonly used in India and both have antifungal and for Neem, antibactelial and anti-lice effects. Some scientists correlate oil use to low rates of ringwormin India.
5. Hibiscus, Onion and Garlic — Hair growth
Hibiscus is a flower that is being studied as a possible hair growth promoter with some small positive results in animal studies. It is also being studied as a contraceptive, so do not start sipping on that tea if you are trying for a child. Onion and garlic raw extracts applied directly to the scalp have been shown to restimulate growth where hair loss from the follicle has occurred and so may be worth a try if you have issues with your edges or have a bald patch.
Have you tried any of the above traditional Indian practices for hair growth? What were your results?