My hair epiphany happened when I was 28. I was in a lab, with my friend who specialized in natural herbs and their application in skin and hair care products. We were discussing hair damage, and she made a remark that startled me.
“Preethi, almost every single woman I know has damaged hair”, she said. I hotly disagreed, and ran my hand through my hair to disprove her.
Yes, I coloured my hair, I added, but I spent top dollar to buy the best products money could buy. I was careful to choose ammonia free colours. I used the best shampoo, conditioner, and serum I could buy. I had even added a post wash spray on serum for care and gloss. Hell, I actually spent a significant proportion of my salary buying high quality haircare products – surely my hair wasn’t damaged?
“So give me a strand of your hair”, she said, “and let’s look at it under the microscope”.
And I did.
My hair was appalling.
The cuticular scales were missing and damaged. I could see gaping portions of the hair shaft visible under the 200X pitiless magnification of the sophisticated microscope in my friend’s lab. She pointed out places where atleast 6 layers of my cuticle were missing.
And she exhaustively listed every single treatment I was doing to my hair which was damaging it – shampooing with an SLS / SLeS based shampoo, blow drying it with my fancy hair styler, colouring it every other month in different colours, perming it (once), straightening it (twice), and washing it almost every single day to keep it bouncy and ungreasy.
“You do know that your hair isn’t supposed to be washed so often, or feel so greasy, right?”, she casually added. “Your hair is supposed to be healthy and look good, without using so many synthetic products”.
We believe all kinds of things about hair – but if there’s one thing we should believe in, it is this. Like my friend said to me 9 years ago, your hair is supposed to look good. It is designed to look awesome. And its awesomeness is not just aesthetic, it is also functional. The same stuff that keeps it glossy and shiny, also keeps it strong, whole and protects it from damage.
Unfortunately, almost every single synthetic product we put on our hair to wash, condition, straighten, colour or perm it damages it. Pretty badly.
Yet human hair, like the human body, is resilient. It is capable of healing itself and repairing damage, if the damaging conditions are removed.
I am the very first user of all of the products we make at Krya. In the 8 years that have passed since I peered into a microscope to study my hair, convention dictates that my hair should have gotten more fragile, more damaged, and less healthy.
On the contrary, as I transitioned to better food (read mostly organic, whole grain, and plant based), cut the stress (somewhat – I do run a business!), got more air and light in (and stopped working in an air conditioned environment), my hair damage started to reverse. Somewhere along this way, I threw away all the synthetic products I used and started to use only 2 products – a Krya all natural, toxin free shampoo with frequent oiling using a Krya all natural, herb filled oil.
My hair is growing more, breaks less, is less greasy (so I do not have to wash as frequently) and my scalp is flaking less.
Most hair that is damaged due to lifestyle reasons can be coaxed back into good health. And we are going to be spending a lot of August, telling you just how, on the Krya blog. We are also going to be running some fun contests and giveaways on the Krya facebook page, so do join us there as well.
And to inspire your transition to natural haircare and to re-discover just how good your hair can look / be, we have a very special deal on all of Krya’s haircare products with upto 20% off on all our haircare goodies!
When we write / speak about natural haircare, we often draw a strange blank. We are met with a sense of panic when we recommend you throw away your synthetic shampoo / conditioner and You ask us this: “Just how do I then care for my hair? Am I supposed to just look unfashionable without my serum?”
Hair and herb history – or how people looked good without the SLS
A recent paper I read that studied the plants used in traditional haircare by Bhil tribals in 3 taluks (Vijaynagar, Khedbrahma and Bhiloda of Aravalli ranges ) in Sabarkantha district in Gujarat . They treat hair ailments with plant remedies based on their inherited knowledge handed down from their local vaidyas in the tribe. Nearly 25 plants were listed in the research conducted among tribals from 3 taluks in a single district in India.
The traditional Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sarangadhara Samhita and Bhaisajya Ratnavalli are full of formulae, herbs and preparations both internal and external to cleanse hair, treat scalp infections, promote hair growth, and even colour and condition it. Siddha texts including the more recent “Anubhava Murai vaidyam” by Raja Serfoji includes a similar compendium of hair care herbs.
A reading of Nicholas Culpepper’s seminal work published in the 17th century contains a rich account of herbal and pharmacological knowledge. Culpepper spent most of his life in the outdoors, cataloguing the medicinal herbs found in the English countryside, and was one of the most well known astrological botanists of his day. His approach to herbal medicine have had a far reaching impact on how modern medicine is practices today. For example, he prescribed the medical use of foxglove, a precursor to digitalis , used to treat heart conditions.
These materia medica list thousands of local and indigenous herbs that can be used to safely care for hair. Apart from these formal systems of learning, ethnographic studies or oral traditions in tribal communities also records the rich and varied use of herbs to treat ailments and to enhance beauty.
Today we have presented just 5 of these many thousand herbs used for healthy haircare.
- Mushta / Nagarmotha /Indian Nutgrass / Cyperus rotundus
Mushta is discussed elaborately by Acharya Sushruta, acharya Vagbhatta and Acharya Charaka. Acharya Charaka describes this plant to cool pitta and treat pitta related conditions like diarrhea and skin infections. Acharya Vagbhatta described Mushta as a febrifuge that cools down pitta induced fevers.
In Cambodia, Mushta is known as a diuretic herb. Traditional Chinese medicine describes Mushta as being effective against liver disease (interestingly the liver is considered the seat of Pitta in Ayurveda). In srilanka, Mushta decoction is taken internally to reduce fevers, diarrhea and stomach complaints.
As Mushta brings down pitta and has a woody fragrance, it was often used as a decoction or a paste to cleanse hair. It was also added to hair oils to delay graying and keep hair soft, well conditioned and healthy.
Mushta can be found in many of Krya’s skin and haircare products including the Krya Classic Hair Oil, the Krya Classic Hairwash, the Krya Abhyanga bath powder for women, the Krya After Sun Bodywash, The Krya Body wash for Men, etc.
- Nimba / Neem / Azadirachta indica
In vedic literature, Neem is mentioned several times. Acharya Charaka classified Nimba as a Kandughna (anti pruritic) drug. Acharya Charaka used the flowers of Nimba in Nasya treatment and indicated that it is to be used extrenaly in skin diseases.
Acharya Vagbhatta described the seed oil of Nimba as being very effective in the treatment of grey hair and hair fall.
Neem leaf , neem seed oil and neeem flowers are traditionally used in hair and skin care. Neem helps bring down scalp itching, scalp dermatitis and scalp psoriasis. It is a very effective anti bacterial cleanser and deodorizes scalp and skin with regular use.
The crushed seeds and leaves are applied over hair as insecticide to kill lice. The infusion of fresh leaves is applied on the head to cure dandruff. The mixture of seed and exuded sap from trees growing near water, is massaged on the scalp for promoting hair growth.
- Amalaki / Phyllanthus embellica / Indian gooseberry
The Indian gooseberry is renowned in Ayurveda and Siddha and is called the “Dhatri” or the Nurse. It is one of the few herbs that contain all 6 tastes, and is therefore considered a perfect food. It is not a surprise, therefore to see such frequent mentions of this fruit in Vedic literature and in Ayurveda.
The Texts classify Amlaka as a Chavanaprasha and Rasayana (rejuvenative, life expectancy enhancing, youth promoting) herb. It has extremely strong anti microbial activity, hypoglycaemic activity, hypolipidimic activity and anti emetic activity.
It is a strong, health giving and hair nourishing herb which promotes hair growth, retards graying, removes excess pitta and conditions hair. It is also an extremely rich source of Vitamin c which stimulates healthy hair and skin growth even in the boiled / dry form (a unique fruit as generally Vitamin C is water soluble and disappears on boiling).
Amlaki is found across all Krya hair formulations including the Krya Classic hair system, the Krya extra conditioning hair system, the Krya damage repair hair system and the Krya anti dandruff hair system.
- Saw Palmetto / Serenoa repens (Peruvian ginseng) /
Saw Palmetto is a palm like plant with berries that grows in the south eastern united states. The berries were a staple food for Native Americans. The active ingredients in Saw palmetto include fatty acids, plant sterols and flavonoids. Saw palmetto is prescribed in Europe for Benign prostrate hyperplasia (a non cancerous enlargement of the prostrate gland). The berries are also expectorant, a mild sedative and help expel mucous. The herb is also used to treat urinary disorders.
Historically, saw palmetto was used to stop hair loss and trigger healthy hair growth. Research suggests that saw palmetto inhibits DHT (dihydotestosterone), an enzyme that is associated with male pattern baldness.
- Soapwort (a cousin of the Indian soapberry ) / Saponaria officinalis
Soapwort comes from a family of nearly 30 species of saponin containing plants found in Europe, parts of Asia and Western Siberia. Soapwort leaves and roots can be used as a gentle cleanser for hair and skin. Historical anecdotes indicate it was used to clean the Shroud of Turin.
It has also been used historically, much like its Indian cousin, the Soapberry to clean delicate fabric like wool and garments with lace.
So there you have it – we read about 5 herbs that have been used historically around the world to cleanse and care for hair.
As we are fond of saying, the chemical consumer product industry is about 150 years old. But human beings have been washing, bathing and keeping themselves clean for millennia. And we did pretty well (apart from that brief blip during the Black plague in medieval Europe). The most brilliant thing about the human body is its ability to heal itself, if the conditions that cause it harm are removed. Similarly, hair that is damaged due to lifestyle reasons can be coaxed back into good health.
To inspire this change and to give your hair a much better shot at real health, we are celebrating the Krya Hair Olympics Challenge this August.
Looking for thicker, healthier, stronger hair this August?
Throw away your synthetic hair care products and replace them with Krya’s nourishing hair care products instead.
Every Krya hair care product for adults carries a special discount only in August 2016
- 10% off if you buy a single piece of any Krya hair care product for adults
- 20% off if you buy 2 or more pieces of any Krya hair care product for adults or a Krya hair care system for adults