I came across this post on my friend, Shalini Baisiwala’s blog in September. The home-made hair cleanser had been a part of my haircare routine for years together before I discovered the more glamorous–and easy to use alternative– shampoos!
On reading her post, I remembered how my mother has been diligently following the old ritual of preparing the hair-wash using shikakai ( Acacia Concinna) and Reetha (Soapnuts) and has had beautiful, problem-free hair for all these years.
I decided to turn a leaf and bid goodbye to the chemical-containing shampoos and welcome the home-made shampoos that packed a lot more in them than chemicals.
So, last month, I finally disposed of my shampoo and hair-conditioner bottles and prepared my own shampoo after more than 2 decades.
Suffice to say, I am glad I made the switch, for, in just a couple of washes, I noticed a marked change in the quality of my hair.
The recipe I am going to share is slightly different from Shalini’s for I use just the shikakai and soapnuts–the way my mother does.You can try both these recipes and pick the one that you like. But, either way, I can vouch for the fact–as well as Shalini–that you will only benefit from this change. It is after all a natural cleanser without an iota of harmful chemicals that ruin the scalp and the hair in the long run.
THE CHEMICAL-FREE SHAMPOO:
TO MAKE A LITRE OF SHAMPOO
Dried Shikakai – 5 to 6
Soapnuts (Reetha) – 1
In a cup of water soak the shikakai and reetha overnight in a bowl.
Next morning, place the bowl in a pressure cooker and cook for 2 whistles, or for 15 minutes.
Once cooked, allow it to cool.
Then, mash it all very well with the hand.Soapnuts give a lot of lather, which is why I have used just one
.Once you have mashed it thoroughly, use either a strainer to filter the pulp.Collect the pulp in a bowl and add some more water to the mashed shikakai and soapnut.Mash it all again and add this to the bowl. Keep adding water (a bowl at a time) to the cooked shikakai+soapnut and mash it as many times as you can.The above quantity of shikakai and soapnut will give you a liter of shampoo.Store it all in a plastic bottle and refrigerate it.
HOW TO USE:
Every time you want to wash your hair, take some of the shikakai shampoo in a vessel and heat it.
You may add the juice of half a lemon to it if you think your hair is too oily.
Once you heat it, add a little cold water to dilute it.
Wet your hair. Cup your palm and take in some of the shampoo, pour it on your scalp and rub gently.
You will have to do this twice or thrice so that the scalp and the hair get cleaned thoroughly.
Wash off with cold water to clean the hair.
Towel-dry your hair gently.
And, once the hair is almost dry, apply just 2 to 3 drops of coconut oil before detangling and combing your hair.
Scrub, but very gently, when you wash your hair.
Use your fingers to rinse the hair.
Detangle the hair when it dries. Wet hair tends to break.
Be gentle when detangling, too.
Apply just a couple of drops of coconut oil before detangling. Then, comb your hair well and tie it in a bun for a while. Leave it loose after an hour or so (if you like leaving your hair loose) and see how silky it feels!
BENEFITS OF USING THE CHEMICAL-FREE SHAMPOO:
Shikakai is a natural cleanser that cleans the hair and the scalp gently. The lack of any chemicals in it ensures your hair does not get robbed of its natural oils.
It softens the hair, gives it a shine and removes any traces of residue from the scalp.
Shikakai does not dry the hair. It gives you smooth and silky hair that’s easy to detangle, too.It also fights dandruff and hair fall.
Reetha acts like a soap that cleans the hair, removes excess oil and grime from the scalp and hair and gives you silky hair.
Because it gives a lot of lather, I use just one soapnut in my shampoo preparation as I have slightly dry hair. You may use more than one soapnut if you have excessively oily hair but stick to one if you have dry to normal hair.
Reetha also improves the quality of the hair and helps in hair growth.
Lemon, with its anti-fungal properties, keeps the scalp healthy.
It unclogs the hair follicles and keeps dandruff at bay. It is dandruff that increases our hair problems.
So, if the scalp is clear of dandruff, you can rest assured your hair will be in good health!You may add the juice of a whole lemon to the one-liter shampoo.
The shampoo will last you for more than 3 washes, depending on the length of your hair.
Sometimes, you might feel your hair a little bit oily even after the hair wash. But, don’t worry, it will take you some time to understand how much shampoo you will need to wash off all the excess oil.
The only downside while using this shampoo is that it stings the eyes and can be rather annoying sometimes.
But, believe me, the burning goes off in a couple of minutes, so if the shikakai water enters the eyes, wash off the eyes with cold water a few times. Rub the eyes very very gently and wash again. The burning will stop soon.
And, no, the eyes don’t turn red, nor does the burning stay for hours after you have washed your eyes.
I hope you benefit from this home-made hair cleanser. The fewer chemicals we use, the better it will be for our hair and scalp.
*You will find both – the shikakai and the soapnuts – on Amazon, or your local grocery store (in India).
Do try it out and share with me your experience.
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