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Ayurvedic Herbs: Shikakai And Soapnut

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Did you know that all of the herbs available here at Henna Sooq can be utilized in a few different ways?  This article series mentions all the herbs available as well as their uses.  Updates will be added with new additions.  Stay tuned for future blogs on our series: Ayurvedic Herbs.

Shikakai
Shikakai is “a small shrub-like tree which grows in India. Its pod-like fruit is collected, dried and then ground into a fine powder”.

Uses:  Shikakai  Powder is used for cleansing the hair and skin.
Effects: Cleanses, eliminates dandruff, promotes growth, nourishes new growth.
Tips: Shikakai Powder can be drying, so it is recommended to pre-oil the hair the night before washing.  If the Shikakai is not cleansing enough,  either leave the herb pack/tea/sludge on for longer, add 1TSP of lime juice, or increase the strength of the tea.  If the opposite happens (too cleansing, drying), try a weaker tea solution, or leave the paste on for a shorter amount of time or add Aloe powder (1tsp for tea/sludge, 2tsp and up to 1TBS for herb packs).

Using Shikakai
Tea
Mix 1-3 TBS of Shikakai Powder in a container/bottle with 1 cup hot water or herbal tea.  Let the tea steep for 1-5 hours.  Strain and add 1.5 cups more of hot water to the tea.  Shake and pour over wet oiled wet hair, gently massage scalp and ‘press’ tea into hair.  Cover with a shower cap until the end of your shower and wash out very well.  This method is great for those that have drains in their homes that clog.  If you’re adding more herbs such as Organic Amla Powder, Soapnut Powder, etc, the combined herbs should equal around 3TBS.

Herbal Blend
Shikakai can be mixed into a paste with  water or herbal tea to a similar consistency to that of henna, or brownie batter, applied to oiled damp hair and left on for up to an hour.  A herb pack can consist of many other herbs. First time users may find a little diluted conditioner in the beginning helps with the transition phase.

Paste
Mix a few tablespoons of Shikakai with enough water or herbal tea to make a runny paste similar in consistency to thick yoghurt and apply to damp/wet lightly pre-oiled hair.  Leave on for 30 minutes and wash out well. First time users may find a little diluted conditioner in the beginning helps with the transition phase.

Oil Infusion
Oil infusions are best for scalp and hair oiling.  Choose a carrier oil such as olive, Organic Golden Jojoba oil, Organic Camellia oil, coconut oil, any oil or blends you prefer.  In a sterilized  jar(*See sterilazation note towards end of article), add 1TBS of Shikakai (or 2 TBS  of combined herbs) and pour half a cup of oil over the herbs.  Tightly screw the lid on and shake very well and place the jar in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks.  Shake the jar every day to avoid the herbs clumping at the bottom.  After the 3 weeks are up, strain the oil using pantyhose into a clean *sterilized jar.  Keep in a cool dark place. Shikakai oil is great for scalp oilings.


Soapnut (Aritha) Powder
Soapnut powder is the dried, ground fruit/berries  from the deciduous tree found mostly in India and the Himalayas. The berries contain a natural saponin that is used to clean many things, from clothes to hair.

Uses:  The tea made from Soapnut Powder is used for cleansing the hair and skin and the powder is very effective as a facial/body scrub. Soapnut tea can also be very useful for washing clothes (especially silk), jewelry,  and even dishes!
Effects: Cleanses gently, prevents hair loss, slows excessive shedding,  normalizes scalp Sebum,  brightens skin tone (when used as a scrub), clears the skin (when used as a wash). Gives hair lots of body and shine.
Tips: It is recommended to pre-oil the hair the night before washing as aritha/soapnuts can be drying to some.  Just like Shikakai, If the Soapnut Powder is not cleansing enough,  either leave the herb pack/tea/sludge on for longer, add 1TSP of lime juice, or increase the strength of the tea.  If the opposite happens (too cleansing, drying), try a weaker tea solution, or leave the paste/tea/sludge on for a shorter amount of time or add Aloe powder (1tsp for tea/sludge, 2tsp and up to 1TBS for herb packs).  Soapnut tea can also be made into a foam which can be applied to dry hair prior to showering. Go here and here for foaming instructions.  These instructions are for Soapnuts, but can be used with Soapnut Powder tea as well. Mix powder into paste with honey or water to make a facial scrub.

Using Soapnut Powder
Tea
Mix 1-3 TBS of Soapnut powder in a container/bottle with 1 cup hot water or herbal tea.  Let the tea steep for 1-5 hours.  Strain and add 1.5 cups more of hot water to the tea.  Shake and pour over pre-oiled wet hair, gently massage scalp and gently ‘press’ tea into hair.  Cover with a shower cap until the very end of your shower and wash out very well.  This method is great for those that have drains in their homes that clog.  If you’re adding more herbs such as Amla, Aritha, etc, the combined herbs should equal around 3TBS.

Herbal Blend
Soapnut Powder can be mixed into a paste with water or herbal tea to a similar consistency to that of henna, or brownie batter, applied to oiled damp hair and left on for up to an hour.  A herb pack can consist of many other herbs. First time users may find a little diluted conditioner in the beginning helps with the transition phase.

Paste
Mix a few tablespoons of Soapnut Powder with water or herbal tea to make a paste similar in consistency to thick yoghurt and apply to damp/wet lightly pre-oiled hair.  Leave on for 30 minutes and wash out very well.  First time users may find a little diluted conditioner in the beginning helps with the transition phase.

Oil Infusion
Oil infusions are best for scalp and hair oiling.  Choose a carrier oil such as olive, Organic Golden Jojoba oilOrganic Camellia oil, coconut oil, any oil or blends you prefer.  In a *sterilized jar, add 1TBS of Soapnut Powder (or 2 TBS  of combined herbs) and pour half a cup of oil over the herbs.  Tightly screw the lid on and shake very well and place the jar in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks.  Shake the jar every day to avoid the herbs clumping at the bottom.  After the 3 weeks are over, strain the oil using pantyhose into a clean sterilized jar.  Keep in a cool dark place.

*To steralize Jars either place jars in a 225F oven for 10 minutes and let cool in the oven, or boil jars in water for 15 minutes.

 

Natural hair care does require some experiment to find what is best for your hair.  What works for other’s hair may not necessarily work for your hair, and vice versa.  If you are a first time herbal hair/skin care user, please keep in mind that there will be an adjustment phase to using herbs.  Using diluted conditioner in the beginning may help with the transitioning phase.

 

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