About Me

Someone who fell in love with the natural world early on and has been smitten ever since. A blade of grass, a mighty mountain, a tiny raindrop, a roaring waterfall, all fill me with awe and wonder. Nature feels home, filled with warmth and love. It pains my heart to see this home being ravaged. This blog is an effort to find tweaks in modern living to preserve the sanctity of this home. I sincerely hope that you join me in this green karmic journey.

Saturday 2 May 2020

How To Make a Natural Shampoo

Right: Soap Nut and Shikakai powder. Left: The mix with water

Nature is one stop shop for all our needs. It's a grocery store, a cosmetics shop and a medicine cabinet - all rolled into one. 

Seek and thou shalt find!

Growing up, I always washed my hair with a concoction of amla, reetha and shikakai (gooseberries, soap nuts and  acacia concina). Mom kept a powdered mix of this lovely trinity in a jar. 

I would soak a handful in an iron vessel overnight. The next day, it would be my natural, herbal shampoo with free hair color thrown in! Gooseberries soaked in an iron vessel gave a solid black color to the mix.

As life got busier, I started reaching for the bottled shampoo more often because I would forget to soak the mix overnight. 

Slowly, the switch to bottled shampoo was complete and the herbal mix retreated to the depths of the toiletries cabinet. 

In time, as I got more aware of the harmful chemicals in the shampoo, saw people with greying hair at a young age and the waste that a plastic shampoo bottle created, I decided to switch back to the trusted, old formula. 

About the ingredients:

Coarsely grounded Shikakai, Amla, Reetha - my holy trinity for hair care

Acacia concinna or Shikakai: Shikakai grows as pods on a medium sized tree. It is rich in antioxidants and is a great natural cleanser. Shikakai softens and thickens hair, reduces hair loss and slows graying.  It also brings shine to them.

Gooseberry or Amla: Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, amla is a superfood. Amla works wonders for both hair and skin. It has been a popular ingredient for hair care in India - be it in the form of shampoo or hair oil. 

Soapnuts or Reetha: Reetha contains a chemical called saponin which is a surfactant. A surfactant is something that helps remove dirt and grime from any surface. 

No surprise, sopanuts can be used as detergents, dish washing liquid, mopping liquid, body wash, hair wash etc. 

In addition, soapnuts have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties too. What's not to like about them!

How to buy these lovely ingredients for your hair?

If you want to buy dried pods and nuts, they are available online. Try to buy the one with minimal packaging. In India, you can buy them at a grocery store from a bin and can do without the packaging too! 

In case you are short of time and don't want to go the whole nine yards, you can buy a ready powdered mix. Like the one below. 

The powder can be soaked overnight or steeped in warm water just before use.

The froth in the solution is due to saponin of soap nuts.

Or you can make the shampoo on your own!!

I take 1:2:2  ratio of that coarsely grounded reetha, shikakai and amla. Soak the mix overnight in an iron wok. Next morning, mash the mix thoroughly and bring it to a boil. When cool, strain. 

Your 100% natural, full-of-goodness shampoo aka hair tea is ready!!!

I can't make it from scratch each time!

You can make a large batch and store it in a glass bottle in the refrigerator. It can easily last for a month. 

If you want to store it for a longer period, freeze the mix in ice trays. Take out required number of cubes and voila! You are good to go in a jiffy!

How to use?

Apply the tea to the scalp and gently massage it in. Leave it for 15-20 minutes before rinsing with cool, plain water. 

Avoid getting the mix in your eyes. It will sting! 

If you do manage to get it into your eyes, just wash the eyes with plain water. 

Customize the recipe:)

Every Mom and Grandmom has her own version of this concoction. 

My Mom occasionally added dried orange or lemon peels powder. I've heard people adding curd, fenugreek seeds etc. according to their type of hair.

Go ahead and ask your Mom, Grandmom or Aunt about your family's traditional recipe. 

This is the perfect time to do it:) Share your versions in the comments below. 

What to do with the leftover fibre?

Well, add it to your compost pile, of course, you Green whiz! 

From Earth. To Earth. Completing the Circle. 

Close your eyes, and be ready to get soaked in that awesome green wave of satisfaction that's going to knock you off your pretty feet!:)

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