Long, lush hair has always been prized in India, so it's no surprise that Indian women go to great lengths to protect and boost their locks. Unlike many modern-day hair treatments, which focus on treating length and ends, Ayurvedic hair solutions focus on promoting scalp and root health, to ensure that hair grows strong and healthy. Here are five Ayurvedic solutions you can try at home that boast unbelievable results (hint: They don't involve argan oil).
1. Moringa oil
Vitamin- and mineral-rich, moringa leaves are a high-impact treatment for hair. While most people consider hair oils for the purpose of smoothing or heat protection, moringa oil can prevent hair loss when applied to the scalp because it boosts blood flow to the area. It is also full of antioxidants, meaning it can prevent damage to the hair caused by free radicals, another cause of hair loss. Today, moringa oil can be found in many markets. To apply, simply massage into the scalp once every week.
Product picks: UMA Intensely Nourishing Hair Oil packs in generous doses of Moringa, along with some powerful essential oils like hibiscus to complement its benefits. For pure moringa oil, Desert Essence delivers, and Organic India also makes a great moringa capsule!
2. Vitamin A-, B-, and E-rich foods
The secret to shiny hair really comes from within, so giving your hair the proper nourishment it needs is absolutely key. Drinking carrot juice is a nutritious Ayurvedic solution for protecting hair health. It turns out carrots are high in vitamin A, which can promote healthy hair and hair growth. Cooked sweet potatoes, squash, and kale are also vitamin-A-rich foods, with a plethora of benefits beyond hair health. You may also want to look for foods rich in vitamin B, like soy, and vitamin E, like almonds and plant oils, which also maintain healthy hair. You can find vitamin E capsules at your local health food store or market.
3. Curry leaves
Curry leaves are not just part of Indian cuisine. Combined with oil, they can be an effective treatment for hair. It turns out that the beta-carotene in curry leaves is what made this traditional, Ayurvedic solution so effective at keeping hair healthy and shiny. Plus they have a surprisingly pleasant odor! There is a simple recipe you can make at home, but you will need access to a stove. Heat about 6 tablespoons of coconut oil and add 30 to 40 washed curry leaves. Mix it into the oil, and let sit and cool for a day. Using a strainer, pour the mixture from the pot into a glass bottle. At least once a week, or more regularly if you prefer, gently rub the oil onto your roots and leave for 30 minutes. Be warned: It will leave a greasy residue, so you will need to shampoo your hair to wash it out afterward.
Where to buy: Curry leaves are available by many brands in the spice racks of your local grocer, including Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.
4. Hibiscus extract
This ingredient was beloved in ancient India and is a favorite of many hair care companies today. The fragrant and beautiful blooms are a natural choice for hair health because they are rich in vitamins, alpha-hydroxy acids, and amino acids—the properties that improve hair growth and prevent hair loss.
Product picks: Hibiscus flowers grow readily in many gardens so you may be able to make your own extract by crushing a few flowers together and mixing them into a carrier oil pre-shampoo! If that's too ambitious, Shea Terra makes an amazing cold-pressed hibiscus oil, and Amazon sells dried hibiscus powder from a host of ethical retailers.
5. Indian gooseberry oil
Amla, or Indian gooseberry, is a rich fruit that is often extracted into an essential oil. It's known to gently cleanse the scalp—which promotes hair growth—as well as prevent graying. In fact, it has become so popular that its use has spread outside India to all parts of the world. Consider this your natural alternative to frequent trips to the salon to undergo a chemical dyeing process! The best application for healthy hair and scalp is applying it to the roots. You can do this as an overnight treatment: Let hair sit in a towel for a few hours, or let hair sit for an hour before washing out. This ensures it soaks into the scalp as well as the roots.