I've been working on making my own shampoo and I'm always on the look out for natural ingredients that can make my hair grow longer and healthier.
My newest “discovery” is Acacia concinna, most commonly known as shikakai.
What is Shikakai ?
Shikakai (literally translates to "hair-fruit" or "fruit for hair") is a shrub-like tree that grows in central India. It has been used for centuries as a cleanser for hair, body, and pretty much anywhere else a cleanser might come in handy. What sets this plant apart from the rest is that shikakai actually lathers moderately because its bark has saponins, which foam up when shaken in water, similar to soap.
Some people who have used the "no ’poo" method love it but still miss the suds from commercial shampoo. Shikakai could be the solution for this problem. It's all natural, but it still foams up. Yay!
Shikakai is very high in vitamin C as well as vitamins A, D, E, and K, antioxidants which are essential for healthy and rapid hair growth. These vitamins provide the hair follicles with the necessary micronutrients to help hair grow fast and healthy.
Shikakai looks very similar to tamarind. Its seed comes inside a pod. The seed, or fruit, is then dried, mixed with the leaves and bark, and ground into a very fine powder. That's the reason the shampoo also lathers. This powder is then made into a paste and applied to hair.
The good news is that we no longer have to make our own powder. We can just buy it and follow these instructions. But before you go and buy your own bottle, let's examine the benefits of shikakai.
Shikakai Benefits: A Quick Look
~Shikakai has been used for hundreds of years in India as a shampoo and body wash.
~Shikakai bark has saponines, which make the powder foam up much like soap.
~Shikakai is known to promote hair growth, beauty, and strength.
~Shikakai has low pH levels, which means it won't strip hair of its natural oils.
The Benefits of Shikakai
One of the greatest benefits of using shikakai as a regular cleanser is that it is all natural, so you won’t have to worry about any harsh chemicals seeping into your body. But there are many other benefits, such as:
~Shikakai has very low pH levels, which means your hair won’t be stripped of its natural oils.
~Works as a shampoo and detangler at the same time. Since shikakai does not strip your hair of its natural oils, there's less chances of your hair getting all tangled up.
~Prevents and eliminates dandruff.
~Nourishes hair, making it grow faster and stronger.
~Can be used as shampoo, face cleanser, and body soap. This means there will be less bottles taking up precious shower space.
~Strengthens and conditions hair.
~Keeps hair moisturized and shiny.
~Protects the scalp from fungal infections and even hair lice.
~Helps delay the appearance of gray hairs.
~Strengthens hair roots.
Would you consider the idea of washing your hair with all natural products?
b.No, too expensive.
Your answer is ______.
Use shikakai for long, beautiful, healthy hair.
How Do I Use Shikakai?
There are various ways in which shikakai can be applied to your hair. Read on to learn how to make a paste to use it as a shampoo or a mask, use a shikakai tea rinse and mix with oil to use as a treatment to promote hair health.
If you have any trouble rinsing out the shikakai paste, just apply your favorite conditioner or natural oil to your hair after you shower. I use coconut oil and my hair has never felt better.
Making and Using Shikaki Paste
The most common method of applying shikakai is as a paste. You will need to buy the shikakai powder and add either water or herbal tea, until you end up with a mixture with the consistency of yogurt.
This paste can be used as a hair mask or a shampoo.
If you will be using it as shampoo, grab a handful of the paste, apply it to the scalp, and scrub gently for 2 minutes or until hair feels clean. Don't overdo it! Even though shikakai foams up, it is not soap. Your hair will not feel the same way it does when you wash with shampoo. Mind you, your hair will be clean, but it will also retain most of its natural oils so during the first few days, your hair might feel a tad rough to the touch. This can be fixed easily by applying conditioner or a little bit of oil to your hair after you shower.
My favorite choice of oil is coconut. Personally, I love how clean and moisturized my hair feels after washing it with shikakai.
Hair Mask :
Apply the paste to your hair and leave on for 30 minutes. If you find the shikakai hard to rinse, you can use diluted conditioner or oil to loosen.
Use shikakai to make your hair strong, shiny and healthy.
Shikakai Tea Method
This will take a little longer than the paste, but it's easier to rinse.
1.Add 1 to 3 tbs. of shikakai powder to 1 cup of water or herbal tea and let it steep for 1 to 5 hours.
2.Pass the mixture through a sieve and add 1 1/2 cups of hot water (or hot herbal tea) to the shikakai water.
3.Use this liquid as a rinse instead of shampoo.
How to use it:
1.Shake before applying to maximize the suds.
2.Apply to wet hair and massage all over scalp and hair.
3.Put on a shower cap and rinse at the end of your shower.
Shikakai and Oil Hair Treatment
You can make your own shikakai oil to use as treatment on your hair or skin.
You will need:
~1 tbs. Shikakai powder
~1/2 cup of your favorite base oil (almond, olive, avocado, coconut, etc.)
1.Mix the powder and the base oil and place in a closed container.
3.Place the container in a dark, cool place.
4.Let the mixture rest for 3 weeks, shaking it occasionally to prevent the shikakai from settling.
5.After three weeks, your shakakai-infused oil will be ready to use. The oil must be kept in a dry, cool, dark place.
You can use this oil on both skin and hair.
Where Do I Buy Shikakai?
If your local health food stores don't carry shikakai, the best way to buy it is online. However, if you're interested in buying the Dr. Bronner's Shikakai soap, you might find it in your local Sprouts, Whole Foods, or pretty much any other health food store.
My Favorite Brand of Shikakai Soap
Dr. Bronner's Shikakai & Tea Tree Soap ↖
The Lazy The Lazy Method of Shampooing with Shakakai
This is my favorite method because it includes buying a ready-to-use version of the shikakai soap. Dr. Bronner’s brand sells an excellent product. It comes in liquid form and the only thing you have to do is dilute it with water, which you can do right in the shower.
I like to keep a bottle with a soap pump dispenser filled with diluted shikakai soap in the shower. That way it's ready to use at all times. I use it in my hair and as a body wash. So far I'm loving it.
Dr. Bronner's shikakai soap is all natural. These are the ingredients: Organic White Grape Juice, Organic Sucrose, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Tea Tree Oil, Organic Shikakai Powder, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, and Tocopherol.
This soap comes in many different smells, just like their castille soap. My favorite scent is tea tree oil, but there many others to choose from.
Have fun trying new, green things! They're good for you and the environment.
Shikakai helps hair grow fast and healthy↖
Acacia concinna is a climbing shrub native to Asia, common in the warm plains of central and south India. The tree is food for the larvae of the butterfly Pantoporia hordonia. Alkaloids are found in the tree's fruit.
Acacia concinna has been used traditionally for hair care in the Indian Subcontinent since ancient times. It is one of the Ayurvedic medicinal plants. The fruit is known in Myanmar as "Kun Pon Ywet". India as shikakai (Hindi: शिकाकाई, śikākāī; Kannada: ಸಿಗೆಕಾಯಿ; Tamil: சிகைக்காய் - literally "hair-fruit", sigai=tresses and kaay=fruit;) "fruit for hair" in its use as a traditional shampoo. In order to prepare it the fruit pods, leaves and bark of the plant are dried, ground into a powder, then made into a paste. While this traditional shampoo does not produce the normal amount of lather that a sulfate-containing shampoo would, it is considered a good cleanser. It is mild, having a naturally low pH, and doesn't strip hair of natural oils. Usually no conditioner is needed, for shikakai also acts as a detangler. An infusion of the leaves has been used in anti-dandruff preparations.
Acacia concinna extracts are used in natural shampoos or hair powders and the tree is now grown commercially in India and Far East Asia. The plant parts used for the dry powder or the extract are the bark, leaves or pods. The bark contains high levels of saponins, which are foaming agents found in several other plant species used as shampoos or soaps. Saponin-containing plants have a long history of use as mild cleaning agents. Saponins from the plant's pods have been traditionally used as a detergent, and in Bengal for poisoning fish; they are documented to be potent marine toxins.
The leaves have an acidic taste and are used in chutneys.
In commercial extracts, when the plant is hydrolyzed it yields lupeol, spinasterol, acacic acid, lactone, and the natural sugars glucose, arabinose and rhamnose. It also contains hexacosanol, spinasterone, oxalic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, succinic acid, ascorbic acid, and the alkaloids calyctomine and nicotine.