One of my favorite and most effective regimen's thus far [and unfortunately most complex] has been my Ayurvedic Regimen. I can honestly say it greatly contributed to the growth, thickness, and overall health of my hair. I maintained a strict Ayurvedic regimen for the first six months of my hair journey, however due to time restraints, I had to simplify things a bit more.
Ayurvedic regimens are effective, and easily customizable to suit your hair needs. Most importantly, the ingredients are inexpensive and all natural. I have decided to break this post into several parts as not to overwhelm/bore anyone out there. In this installment, we will discuss the basic ingredients found in most Ayurvedic Products, as well as their benefits. I will also talk about Shampoo methods and list a few formulations for specialty treatments that have worked wonders for me. Part 2 will focus more on conditioning & moisturizing methods, and I will also list a few more specialty treatment formulations as well!
Here are some herbs/ingredients you should get familiar with:
Bhringraj - Treats hair loss, premature graying, and also acts as a conditioner
Neem - Is an antibacterial powerhouse, it helps correct scalp issues, as well as promote healthy hair growth
Brahmi - Strengthens hair at the roots, helps relieve dandruff, also purported to thicken hair
Amla - Stimulates hair growth, has wonderful conditioning properties, strengthens hair at the roots
Shikakai - Acts as a natural cleanser, and mild conditioner, whilst promoting hair growth
Aritha [Reetha] - Natural cleansing agent
Methi [Fenugreek] - Prevents hair loss, promotes hair growth, helps strengthen hair shaft, light protein
Hibiscus - Conditions hair, promotes healthy hair growth, prevents hair loss, thickens hair
Shampoo:Some shampoo's contain harsh sulfates and surfactants that strips the hair of it's natural oils, leaving it dry, brittle, and lifeless. If you are building an Ayurvedic regimen, try some of these options instead:
Shampoo Bars: I absolutely love Ayurvedic "Poo Bars". Look for bars that are formulated with vegetable oils/nut oils, and skip the bars that are loaded with surfactants [these are usually added to help with cleansing and lather] often these can leave your hair feeling drier than the Sahara. Shampoo Bars are easy to use, pretty inexpensive compared to a bottle of shampoo, and will leave your hair much softer to boot. Because these bars are au-naturale they have a tendency to produce a very mild-lather, so don't expect all the sudsy goodness like that of your normal shampoo.
The Chagrin Valley Ayurvedic Shampoo Bar was my favorite; it's formulated with Bhringraj, Amla, Hibiscus, Aritha, Mango Butter, Coconut Milk, and a slew of other hair-loving ingredients. A second favorite that can be purchased at your local Indian Grocer, is Godrej Shikakai Shampoo Bar; this is more of a basic bar [but stellar none-the-less] with Bhringraj, Amla, & Shikakai.
I used Shampoo Bars every-other week
Because shampoo bars aren't loaded with additional chemicals, it can be hard to remove product residue/buildup. I recommend soaking wet, dirty hair in a Clarifying ACV mixture [1/2 cup ACV + 1 cup water, spritz hair with mixture, then cover with plastic cap] for about 20 minutes prior to shampooing, as this will gently clarify the hair.
Cleansing Mixtures: I will admit that these were somewhat difficult to use at first, not because they weren't effective, but because I had a hard time wrapping my brain around using powder and water as my shampoo du jour. These leave your hair feeling soft, conditioned, and strong!
Mix #1 [my favorite]
2 Tablespoons of Amla
2 Tablespoons of Shikakai
1 Tablespoon of Hibiscus
2 Tablespoons Amla
2 Tablespoons Shikakai
1 Tablespoon Neem Powder
For each formulation, mix with enough water to make a thick paste. Apply evenly on wet, freshly pre-conditioned hair [see the pre-shampoo treatment below], and massage gently massage mixture on to scalp. Allow to sit on hair for about 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cool water. Follow up with a basic light ACV rinse to remove any additional oils/residue left behind. [1/2 cup of ACV + 2 cups water]
How Often:2x monthly. I would alternate between these cleansing mixtures and the Shampoo Bars.
For maximum softness, I recommend doing Pre-Shampoo treatments before applying any type cleansing mixture [because the Shikaki has a tendency to be a tad bit drying]. Simply oil your hair thoroughly with Coconut Oil, cover with a plastic cap, and allow to sit for about an hour [or more if possible], then rinse w/lukewarm water.
Neem Oil + Tea Tree Treatment: Perfect for those with psoriasis, and issues with dandruff. Neem Oil is packed full of antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties, therefore making it the perfect herbal solution for curing scalp ailments. I am warning you all now; this stuff has a stench that is out-of-this-world. However, it works :-)
Try It:In a large bowl, mix 1/4 cup of Neem Oil with 6 drops of Tea Tree Oil. Pour oil mixture over head, massage into scalp, and cover for about an hour. - Use this treatment on dry, unwashed hair.
Coconut Milk Protein Treatment: This is an easy, inexpensive way to do an all natural protein treatment at home. The nutrients in Coconut Milk encourages healthy hair growth, and also helps strengthen hair.
In a large bowl, mix one can of Coconut Milk, 4 tbsp of honey and 4 tbsp of Olive Oil. Carefully pour mixture over head, and cover for about 30 minutes. - Use this treatment on dry, unwashed hair.
Hibiscus Rinse: Doing a final rinse with Hibiscus Petal Powder leaves your hair feeling soft and conditioned [from the mucilage], it also makes detangling woes, and excess hair loss a thing of the past.
Try It:Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add 4 tablespoons Hibiscus petals and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain liquid through sieve, or cheesecloth and discard petals. Pour mixture over your head after rinsing out conditioner. Massage thoroughly, then rinse with cool water after about 5 minutes.
Henna Treatment: Henna can be used for correcting porosity issues, as a protein treatment, in some cases to loosen your curl pattern. Click here for a tutorial on how to use Henna.