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Should One Prefer Ayurvedic Oils for Hair?
We millennials loved to question and rebel when we were younger. And while that did bring us to progress in some areas, as we grow older, we find ourselves coming back to our roots. This goes especially for Indian millennials. Consider hair oiling for example, and how your mother just wouldn’t leave you alone unless she oiled your hair twice a week and that too with an ayurvedic oil for hairl. I hated it! And I’m sure I’m not alone there. However, soon I figured out that hair oiling indeed does a lot for my hair. It makes it smoother, keeps my scalp nourished, and allows me to massage my head and get rid of stress. But it can get quite confusing. How exactly should one go about hair oiling? What are the real benefits of hair oiling? Should one prefer Ayurvedic oils for hair enriched with herbs over other types of hair oils?
Turns out, Ayurveda has all the answers to these questions. Read on to find out how to oil your hair the right way and if you already do oil your hair, scroll to find out if you’re really doing it right!
An introduction to hair oiling in Ayurveda
The practice of hair oiling has existed for over 5000 years (that’s how long Ayurveda has existed). Simply stated, hair oiling involves massaging ayurvedic hair oil to one’s scalp derived from ingredients such as coconut, sesame, almonds, etc. These natural oils are then concocted with various Ayurvedic herbs such as bhringraj, amla, reetha, shikhakhai, and much more according to the physiological needs of the person whose hair is being oiled. In the Indian culture especially, thanks to our country being where Ayurveda was born, oiling with Ayurvedic oils for hair is the kind of tradition that feels like an heirloom being passed down - from mother to mother. In fact, did you know that the process of hair oiling is called “Sneha” or “to love” in Ayurveda? This little detail is enough to demonstrate just how significant hair oiling is considered in our culture.
What exactly is the explanation behind this esteem for hair oiling? How do you know which natural oil or Ayurvedic oils for hair should you choose for yourself? Ayurveda preaches quite many benefits of hair oiling that may be of interest to us all. The most obvious benefit of hair oiling is that it is great for making your hair shiny and soft, as it emolliates your locks with its texture. Apart from this, the specified herbs concocted with your ayurvedic hair oils and the natural nutrients present in it are responsible for making your hair thicker, stronger, and even darker in colour! After all, that was the ultimate secret to how our mothers and grandmothers were able to seamlessly deal with their long, thick, and black hair.
But that is certainly not all Ayurveda proposes! The Vedic science stresses the importance of Marma therapy and scalp massage to best reap the benefits of Ayurvedic oils for hair.
Scalp massage & marma therapy - From mothers to daughters
As stated before, we millennials have started to go back to hair oiling with ayurvedic hair oils to nourish our hair with goodness. But the question remains - are we doing it right? Well, turns out if you are not taking your sweet time and truly enjoying the process of hair oiling - you’re probably not doing it right!
Scalp massage is the very key and the heart of ayurvedic hair oiling rituals. According to Ayurvedic scholars, the scalp is the key to having healthy hair. Massaging enables your scalp to truly absorb the goodness of the herbs and nutrients in Ayurvedic oils for hair. Scalp massage also improves the blood circulation to your hair and scalp, improving and getting rid of any congested stress and enabling better nutrient absorption by your hair locks.
Further, the scalp enables direct contact with our stress points and our mind as it is placed right above the brain. Ayurveda proposes that our scalp has certain “points” more specifically known as “marmas” that we need to stimulate for an effective session of Sneha. By stimulating and massaging our marmas, we can relieve any headaches we feel during the day and instantly feel much better. These very Marmas, Ayurveda preaches, upon massaging, are responsible for balancing the energy and imbalances that can be caused by everyday stressors. Therefore, the biggest benefit of hair oiling is not what it does to your hair - but what it does for your mental and spiritual wellbeing. The next time you wonder why you felt so lightheaded and stress-free every time your mother massaged your scalp with Ayurvedic oils for hair - you’ll know the answer!
This connection of hair oiling with the mind and soul makes it an excellent bonding activity, especially for mothers and daughters. This is probably why the tradition of hair oiling and special oil concoction formulas are particularly something that is passed down over generations through mothers and daughters. Under the simple “beauty” treatment we call hair oiling, lies centuries of sentiments and mother-daughter love and specially formulated Ayurvedic oils for hair.
Oiling as per the doshas – An ayurvedic guide to hair oiling
One of the reasons you may not believe the efficacy of Ayurvedic oils for hair is that you are simply not choosing the right one. We all have hair that is as unique as our personality. Just like not all of our personalities have the same interests, not all of our different hair types have the same oiling needs. It is therefore important to pick the perfect one among the range of available ayurvedic oils for hair.
Just as Ayurveda does with all things - the concept of hair oiling is holistic in its discipline. Therefore, all the herbs and ingredients concocted for one’s ayurvedic hair oils- even the very base oil you use is ideally well suited to your needs. These “needs” are determined by the Tridosha philosophy of Ayurveda which suggests that there are three core doshas in our physiology that govern our overall wellbeing. These doshas are- Pitta (fire), Vata (air), and Kapha (water). There are multiple quizzes online that can help you determine what kind of dosha your hair is affected by, or you can consult an Ayurvedic professional themselves. Until then, here is a general idea behind what sort of Ayurvedic oils for hair should you pick according to your dosha -
The Pitta Dosha is governed by the fire element, which loosely translates to the “biological fire” in our physiology. This means that all that requires heat is usually governed by Pitta Dosha - digestion, metabolism, and so on are examples. An aggravated Pitta Dosha may cause excess heat in the body, causing various problems.
An aggravated pitta can lead to overheating of the hair follicles causing dry and brittle hair, hair fall, and an irritated scalp. This is why people with imbalanced Pitta are prone to premature greying (heat causes faster aging) and hair thinning caused by excessive hair fall. If you are Pitta dominant, chances are your hair is straight to wavy with medium length and strength at its normal state.
Therefore, for the Pitta dosha, one needs Ayurvedic hair oils and herbs that can cool one’s scalp to cancel out excess heat. The most preferred Ayurvedic oils for hair would then be coconut oil. The coconut oil can be concocted with other cooling herbs such as Brahmi, hibiscus, amla, and Amalaki. Do note that you might have to practice hair oiling more often in summers in the case of Pitta dosha.
Vata stands for the air element in our body - and therefore governs processes like breathing, blood flow, and travelling of messages across the nervous system. Think of an aggravated Vata as dry air blowing through your veins - it can cause roughness, dryness, worsen your sore throats, and more.
If your hair falls under Vata's dominance, it is likely to be thin and rough, perhaps even frizzy. It can be so that your hair feels particularly low in density. And when Vata gets aggravated, this hair can start falling due to enhanced brittleness, dandruff, and split ends.
It is therefore important to use exceptionally nourishing herbs in the ayurvedic oils for hair you pick in case you have a Vata dosha. These herbs must compensate for the brittleness and hollowness of Vata hair by adding nutrients and density to it. Such herbs include growth herbs like Ashwagandha, Shatavari, and Bhringraj which should form an essential part of Ayurvedic oils for hair for Vata Dosha. For the base oil, almond oil is the best choice as it is high in nutrients and can effectively soften your hair.
Finally, the third dosha Kapha stands for water and earth. Based mostly in the lung area, Kapha is responsible for giving the body its substance, just like water, it makes up most of our body mass. It lubricates one’s joints, keeps your skin glowing, produces mucus, and protects your tissues.
Kapha type hair has no problem being thick - it is abundant and plentiful, often with hydrated and strong hair. However, an aggravated Kapha can lead to overproduction of oils on your scalp - causing infections, greasy dandruff, sticky hair, and accumulated dirt.
The focus of care for the Kapha hair is purification rather than lubrication or strengthening. Therefore, it is advisable for Kapha hair individuals to not go overboard with their oiling and always look for purifying herbs such as Reetha and Shikakai in Ayurvedic oils for hair. Though Kapha types can very well bask in the glory of scalp massaging and marma healing - they must focus thoroughly on cleansing their hair with a good herbal cleanser afterwards.
How, when, and how often you should oil your hair
Alright, now we know why Ayurveda advocates for hair oiling and the major benefits that come with hair oiling. However, it is a moot point to oil your hair relentlessly as often as you feel because that is not how both scalp massages and the benefits of ayurvedic oils for hair work.
Many have the misconception that keeping your hair oiled is good for you, but on the contrary, it is best to consider hair oiling as a transitional and therapeutic stage of hair care. If you keep oil stuck on your scalp for too long it is very likely to attract dirt and impurities to stick to your hair and block the connection between your hair follicles and shafts. It can also cause stubborn, thick, and yellow flakes of dandruff.
Ayurveda ideally suggests hair oiling once a week with a thorough scalp massage and activation of marma points for full benefits. Do note that this also means that Ayurveda recommends washing your hair once a week too. Ideally, you should be oiling your hair with Ayurvedic oils for hair each time before you wash it. However, if you have any of the doshas aggravated, this number could increase to 2-3 times a week. As your hair gets back to normal, you can reduce the frequency of hair oiling and washing.
Here is a simple set of steps you can follow for your hair oiling routine to reap maximum benefits of ayurvedic oils for your hair: -
- Keep your concocted/customised/store-bought Ayurvedic oils for hair in a cool and dry place.
- Before oiling, warm up your ayurvedic oils for hair to lukewarm. Do make sure that you don’t warm it up to sizzling hot, as too much heat does not do good for your scalp. Lukewarm oil on the other hand is easier to apply, feels soothing, and enables the Ayurvedic oils for hair to penetrate deep into your scalp.
- Part your hair from the side. Dip your fingers into the oil for hair growth and apply it to the parted area which shows the scalp. Next, part your hair adjacent to this area. Apply Ayurvedic oils for hair to your entire scalp this way. This is done so that you do not miss oiling any spots on your scalp.
- Once done, let your fingers find their way to points in your scalp. Massage gently all over your head for about 5-10 minutes. If you have a headache, you will notice that you feel a little lighter.
- For best results, consider using a comb during application to minimize any entangling or mess in your hair. And of course, it is always best to have someone else massage Ayurvedic oils for hair onto your scalp, be it your mother, daughter, or partner. This will help you bond better with the magic of touch and the aroma of sweet Ayurvedic oils for hair.
The ideal duration for which you are advised to leave the oil for hair growth on your hair is overnight (roughly 7-10 hours) and then wash it off with herbal shampoo. If you forget to oil your hair at night, attempt to ayurvedic hair oils at least an hour before hair wash. Avoid leaving oil on your hair for more than an overnight duration at a time, as dust and dirt can start getting accumulated.
Finally, do remember that the practice of Sneha is not a beauty treatment but a holistic way of life. Therefore, give your body time to reap its benefits and see significant results.
Hair oiling with Ayurvedic oils for hair growth, is a precious ritual in Indian culture, especially for the tradition of passing on holistic well-being practices from generation to generation. Now that the wellness culture is spreading to the west, many people abroad are adopting the methods of Ayurveda - hair oiling and scalp massages included. It is important to be loving of yourself and the act of Sneha enables you to do so by nourishing & strengthening your hair and alleviating your stress at the same time. If you have made it till here and have been reading everything, you by now are pretty well-versed with the benefits and concept of hair oiling. You’re ready to take on your hair problems by the roots with the magic of ayurvedic oils for hair.
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