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The power of herbs for hair: Shikakai (Acacia concinna)

At TRUU by Nature, we love our shikakai! We use it in our bi-phase shampoo bars because it's just such a lovely, natural herb that truly deserves more attention. So let's do just that, shall we?

Shikakai is a shrub native to South Asian countries, and it has been used for centuries for cleansing and treating hair. It has natural saponins (or natural 'soap' effects) and it cleanses hair beautifully! The nut is dried and then ground up, and when combined with water it makes a natural no-poo hair cleanser.

There are many benefits to using shikakai:

  • It cleans your hair and detoxifies your scalp, helping hair grow faster and revitalizing follicles.

  • It gently exfoliates the hair strands, making them look shiny and feel smoother.

  • It soothes an itchy scalp, fights dandruff, and helps to heal the scalp.

  • It's rich in vitamins A, C, E, D, and K.

It's especially important to note that the natural, high Vitamin C content of Shikakai works as an antioxidant, and also helps your body produce collagen which is a super important part of hair's structure. Vitamin C deficiency can cause dry, brittle hair.

How to use it:

Shikakai can be either sourced as a dried nut, dried powder or as an oil (note: oils do not contain vitamin C). The most common way to use shikakai to cleanse hair naturally (one of the most common "No Poo" methods) is to combine a couple of tablespoons of the powder with some warm water, mix to form a paste, and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Then, this powder is carefully rubbed onto wet hair and left on for 2-3 minutes, then rinsed out. (oh, and get ready to really clean your tub or shower floor because it can make a mess!). Be careful not to get it in your eyes either, as it HURTS. A LOT. (not recommended for kids!)

Shikakai oil is highly beneficial for the scalp because of the many benefits we mentioned earlier. It is usually macerated using other carrier oils, like olive and sunflower, which offer added benefits. This beautifully crafted oil can be dabbed to the ends of the hair, as well as used as a scalp oil treatment and left overnight before washing out next-day.

There are many herbs that contain natural saponins, like shikakai, which you can use to naturally cleanse your hair and scalp with – such as yucca, ginseng, alfalfa, and any mucilage-containing plant (mucilage is the viscous snotty goop in some plants), like Aloe vera, country mallow, and even oatmeal. If you're looking for more natural cleansers, try mixing some of these up and give them a try! My advice is to start with shikakai, and you'll be pleased with the results from this one herb.

Have you used shikakai on your hair and scalp before? Comment and let us know!

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