Shikakai, a traditional Ayurvedic hair care product, not only cleanses your hair but can also make your hair strong and thick. Here’s how to prepare herbal shikakai powder at home.
Did You Know?
The condition of hair and skin reflects the person’s overall constitution. Poor diet, illness, and stress can seriously affect the quality of hair and skin. Herbal products that are free of chemicals not only improve the quality of hair and skin, but also help calm down the nerves and lower stress.
Shikakai has been used for hair care in India since ancient times. This climbing shrub grows in abundance in the Indian subcontinent. As more and more people are taking interest in Ayurvedic skin and hair care products, these shrubs are now grown on a large scale, especially in central and south India, and in the far East Asia. The botanical name of this flowering shrub is Acacia concinna. Shikakai means ‘fruit for hair.’ The pods and the bark of shikakai plant are packed with saponins, which act as a foaming and cleansing agent, when used in shampoos and soaps.
The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of the pods and the bark make them perfect ingredients for natural hair and skin care products. Shikakai powder can help prevent and get rid of both lice and dandruff. As the powder doesn’t contain any chemicals, it doesn’t harm your skin and scalp. It has a low pH and does not leave your hair or skin dry after use. It helps retain moisture in them. And, as shikakai acts as a detangler too, you don’t have to use a conditioner. You must have noticed that chemicals in shampoos and conditioners eventually lead to hair loss. Shikakai not only prevents this loss, but it also promotes hair growth by strengthening the roots. It can soften your skin and delay graying of hair too.
How to Prepare Herbal Shikakai Powder
➺ The simplest way of making pure shikakai powder at home is to sun dry the fruit pods, (also leaves and bark of the plant, if available) and using a grinder, grind them into a powder. The leaves and bark of the tree may not be available online, but you can get shikakai pods online, or in Indian spice stores, or in a store where you get Ayurvedic herbs and medicines. Shikakai contains vitamin C and D and does not take away natural oil from your skin and scalp. If you live in tropical or sub-tropical areas, you can grow the plant, and can collect the pods. The leaves and pods have several other medicinal uses too.
➺ You can add various other dried herbs, fruits, and spices to optimize the cleansing capacity of shikakai. Shikakai has a mild pH, but if you find that it leaves your hair dry, you can add dried amla (Indian gooseberry – Phyllanthus emblica) and reetha (soap nuts) to it. Both these are good cleansers and conditioners. The saponins present in these herbs help remove dust and grease from your hair. They can help normalize scalp sebum and give your hair lots of shine. You can take all three ingredients in equal proportion. The shikakai powder may contain most of shikakai (two third) and a small portion (one third) of amla and reetha. There is no fixed recipe as such. As all the ingredients are natural and safe, you can vary the quantity of ingredients as per availability. Usually, these three are the main ingredients in ready-to-use shikakai shampoo powders.
➺ Along with amla and soap nuts, you can also add a few curry leaves (Murraya koenigii), fenugreek seeds, neem leaves (Azadirachta indica), nagarmotha (Cyperus scariosus), brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), basil, etc. and can make a herbal hair care powder that would have exceptional medicinal properties. The shikakai powder made this way would be rich in essential vitamins like vitamin A, C, D, and K and other nutrients like antioxidants. If you wish, you can plant these herbs in your organic garden, and can apply ground fresh leaves to your hair and skin from time to time. All these herbs can nourish your hair and skin, and can keep fungal or other infections away. The phytonutrients present in these herbs can nourish the hair follicles and promote hair growth. They help prevent hair loss. Herbs like brahmi, neem, and basil can help cool the nerves too. Fenugreek seeds contain nicotinic acid and proteins which strengthen hair roots and promote hair growth. All these herbs act as conditioners and prevent premature graying of hair.
➺ You would love the lingering smell of shikakai powder. But if you want, you can add dried rose petals and hibiscus flower petal powder to it for a pleasant fragrance.
➺ You can add a few tablespoons of flaxseed as an ingredient. It also acts as a conditioner.
➺ If you wish, you can add 1-2 teaspoons of multani mitti (Fuller’s Earth) to the powder. Some even mix 1-2 teaspoons of green gram (mung bean flour) or chickpea flour (rich in vitamins and protein) with shikakai powder at the time of use. These are very good cleansers and softeners. They help remove grease from your hair.
How to Use Homemade Shikakai Powder
➺ Whatever ingredients you choose, just dry them properly and grind them together.
➺ Gently massage your head and body with coconut, castor, or shikakai oil half an hour before bath. Applying oil at night and washing it away in the morning would give better results. You can use shikakai without an oil massage, but massaging would help strengthen your hair. With a pre-bath massage, hair and skin won’t look dry.
➺ Take some shikakai powder in a bowl (2-3 tablespoons) and make a thick paste by adding some water to it. Take some more powder if you want to use it as a body wash too.
➺ Apply this paste to wet hair. Using your fingertips, gently massage the paste into your hair and scalp.
➺ Let it stay there for 2-5 minutes.
➺ Rinse the hair thoroughly with warm (not very hot) water.
➺ You may apply the paste over your body. It will act as a scrubber and deep cleanser.
Homemade shikakai powder is beneficial for those who are allergic to sulfates and parabens present in commercial shampoos and conditioners. With regular use of shikakai, one can have ‘shiny, thick hair’ and ‘smooth, supple, and glowing’ skin.