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“HAIR”, THERE, EVERYWHERE


One of the most common complaints that most people have in these days is hair fall. We have all tried the gallons of oil, the shampoos, hair gels and hair spas. Somehow, we are still stuck there. Why? Hair fall is associated with the two Ds – Dandruff and deficiency. What causes these? Our diet, lifestyle and selecting wrong skin and hair care.

Needless to say, our lifestyle and diet are extremely unhealthy. Those who are health conscious fall prey to wrong advertisements and unscientific fads. All of this increases Vata dosha in the body which in turn weakens the body, starting with skin and hair. While we will discuss the appropriate diet and lifestyle in future segments along with the why and wherefore, here let us look at appropriate external hair care.

In Ayurveda, along with the now-familiar concept of Doshas, we have the concept of Agni or digestive capacity. This digestive capacity isn’t just confined to our stomachs; it is present in every part that has a transformative function – the seven basic tissues (Saptadhatu), eyes, skin, etc. Our focus here is the Agni in our skin. Whatever oil, etc we use should be the type that can be assimilated by the Agni in our skin. This is where what apply comes into play. How do we know how to select the appropriate regimen? The following steps can be a guide.

STEP 1: Identify your skin (scalp) type.

First, assess the scalp type. Is it dry, slightly oily or very oily? Is it sensitive? Identify your scalp and hair Dosha by taking the dosha test. Remember that sometimes the overall prakruti dosha may differ from the specific dosha predominant in the hair.

STEP 2: Oil selection.

Take a look at the ingredients and base oils whenever buying or selecting hair oils. The following table will act as a guide based on the Dosha dominance of the scalp and hair.

 

DOSHA TYPE

BASE OIL

HERBS

POINTERS

LOOK FOR

AVOID

LOOK FOR

AVOID

VATA

Castor oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, oils processed with milk, avocado oil, olive oil, mustard oil, argan oil

Mineral oil, light liquid paraffin (LLP), Neem oil

Musta (nutgrass), Triphala, liquorice (yashtimadhu), bhringaraj, gunja, etc

--

The dryness of Vata requires heavy, warm oils for better absorption and benefit

PITTA

Coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil

Mineral oil, LLP, LP, Castor oil, Milk processed oil, sesame oil, mustard oil

Neem, Triphala, Hibiscus, Jasmine, Musta

Liquorice, gunja, dhatura, etc.

Pitta people are highly prone to allergies and infections so purifying and cooling herbs and oils are preferred

KAPHA

Mustard oil, sesame oil, coconut oil

LLP, Mineral oil, milk processed oil, castor oil, olive oil

Neem, Triphala, Hibiscus, Gunja, ginger, yashtimadhu, bhringaraj, etc

Dhatura

Oily, thick scalp and hair of Kapha requires oiling but only with light and warming oils.

 

NOTE: Those with damaged hair or frequent use of heated equipment and chemicals should ALWAYS opt for light oils like coconut or sesame and totally avoid heavy oils like castor and olive.

STEP 3: How to use the oils

Once the suitable oil is selected, how much and how to use the oil? That depends on the Doshas too. Vata people, in general, require more amount of oiling therefore, the oil can be left for 6-8 hrs. A light oil or oil-based hair serum can be used as a leave-in conditioner (after the hair dries). For Pitta scalp, the drier type can leave in the oil for a maximum 6 hrs, whereas the oilier scalp type can leave it for around 4 hrs. Light oil-based serum, usually with anti-dandruff properties is recommended for Pitta scalp to apply when hair is dry and leave in. For Kapha type, 1 to 2 hrs should suffice.

For Kapha and Vata, the oil can be warmed slightly. The oil, for all scalp types, should be gently massaged until absorbed. Keep adding oil and massaging till the scalp stops absorbing it. Detangle the hair and leave for the required amount of time.

How often do you oil your hair? Vata can oil the hair as frequently as daily or at the least every 2 days. Pitta people twice a week and Kapha people once a week is considered ideal.

STEP 4: Washing the scalp

The most preferred way is to wash off with a paste of herbal powders like shikakai, soap nut, etc. As it is time-consuming and daunting, using this paste as a scalp and hair mask and washing it off as a weekly ritual is more practical. Other times, try using mild handmade shampoos or shampoo bars. If, like many others, a commercial branded shampoo is preferred, always dilute the shampoo and use. It is okay if you have to use it twice or thrice. All cleansing agents come under the umbrella of kshara in Ayurveda. Kshara, in excess, causes dryness and weakness as its action is to wear off anything such as Kapha, oil and even kidney stones! Harsh chemicals cause our skin to become dry, weak and open to infection.

Make sure hair is detangled and always use lukewarm water or cold water. This helps to reduce any stress on already weak hair thus reducing breakage and hair fall. Towel drying of hair should be done gently and on the whole, avoid any heating apparatus such as irons, curlers and hair dryers. Heat weakens and damages the hair as does flowing air. Do not tie up or bind your hair until fully dry.

This is a basic external hair care regime that can be followed by everyone. Please do send feedback and let us know what else YOU want to know about Ayurveda and general health.

Have a Happy Hair Day every day!

Dr Tanvi Dayanand
BAMS, MD (Ayu)


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