What is Shikakai?
Shikakai is one of the most popular Ayurvedic medicinal plants. Its scientific name is Acacia Concinna. Shikakai is native to Asia. Shikakai is a climbing shrub that commonly grows in the warm southern and central parts of India. The fruits of the shrub are green reeds with dark green seeds, these seeds mature into a dark brown colour on drying.
Shikakai is also called the “fruit for the hair”, which is the literal translation of its name. It has found extensive use in the homemade as well as Ayurvedic remedies and shampoos. Shikakai has been found to contain saponins, these saponins are helpful in the lathering process required by a shampoo. However, a Shikakai remedy does not lather like the chemical-based shampoos that contain sulphides.
Shikakai is found to be very good for hair; it shampoos are known to not strip the hair of its natural oils, thereby, leading to better hair-health and hair-care in the long run. Shikakai is also supposed to be rich in Vitamin A, C, D, E, and K; this makes Shikakai a very nutrient-rich herbal remedy for skin, scalp, and hair.
What is Shikakai Powder?
The Shikakai powder is the powder obtained by crushing the bark, leaves, or pods of the tree. This ground powder is said to contain oxalic, tartaric, citric, succinic and ascorbic acids. The powder also contains two alkaloids, calyctomine and nicotine.
The leaves of the Shikakai shrub are believed to possess therapeutically potent substances; which can be useful in the pharmaceutical industry if they are isolated for novel drug production for resistant pathogenic microorganisms.
What are the Uses of Shikakai?
Shikakai is a very potent herbal, Ayurvedic plant. It is often used in skin, scalp, or hair care products. It is also popular for its uses in some unique illnesses due to its anti-fungal, anti-oxidant properties.
The most commonly Ayurvedic use of Shikakai is in natural hair care products. Shikakai is found to be beneficial hair-care in the following manner:
- Oil Control in Scalp or Hair : Shikakai works as an emulsifier and is popularly used in natural shampoos. Shikakai shampoo works by attaching itself to the dirt, grime, and excess oils on the scalp as well as hair. When the shampoo is washed off with water, it takes with it the dirt, grime, and excess oils as well. However, since Shikakai shampoo is not made with chemicals, the shampoo does not strip the natural oils of the scalp and hair. The shampoo cleanses the hair without causing damage. This way a Shikakai shampoo ensures the hair retain their natural shine and oil balance, without the need to follow up a hair wash with a conditioner as is the case with chemicals-based shampoos.
- Reduces or Cures Dandruff Problem : The Ayurvedic remedies using Shikakai specify that the anti-fungal property of Shikakai-based shampoos or hair masks help in the removal or reduction of dandruff in the scalp. Usually, the Shikakai leaves are used to produce an infusion that has anti-dandruff properties. Dandruff has two primary common causes: dirty hair or dry scalp. A Shikakai remedy addresses both these issues by cleansing the hair and maintaining the natural oil balance of the scalp skin.
- Hair Root Strengthening : Shikakai is observed to have the property of detangling the tresses. This is due to the presence of natural saponins in the Shikakai herb. While combing of hair, the hair roots undergo a lot of tugging and pulling that results in stress for the hair during the detangling process of hair-knots. The presence of saponins makes the hair shiny, smooth, and easy to detangle. This easy detangling the hair due to the use of the Shikakai herb ensures increased hair root strengthening.
- Promoting Hair Growth : The regular use of Shikakai is purported to increase the circulation of blood in the scalp, this property along with its rich Vitamin content is reported to promote new hair growth. Moreover, the use of Shikakai also increases hair root health which, in turn, promotes hair lengthening as well as hair growth.
Shikakai, with its rich nutrient background, is also supposed to have many beneficial uses for other health-related issues. The Shikakai pods, leaves, and bark can be ground to make extracts that are used for curing or caring for various skin diseases.
Ayurveda proposes the following uses of Shikakai for health-related problems :
- An extract of the Shikakai leaves can be used to cure malarial fever.
- A decoction of the Shikakai pods relieves biliousness.
- An infusion of Shikakai pods is said to have purgative properties.
- The saponins of the Shikakai bark are proven to show anti-spermicidal activity.
- Shikakai is also purported to be used in traditional medicines to treat jaundice.
- Shikakai concoctions have been said to be useful in curing constipation.
- The anti-fungal and anti-microbial property of Shikakai has led to its use in curing skin problems.
- The leaves and pods of the Shikakai herb work as an astringent that can be used in treating cuts and wounds.
Hair Care Recipes Using Shikakai
1. Shikakai-Reetha-Amla Shampoo for Hair Growth
Shikakai can be used with Reetha and Amla (Ayurvedic herbs) in a 2: 2: 1 ratio to make a blend or shampoo that can be used for washing hair.
- Take the pods or powder of Shikakai, Reetha, and Amla in 2:2:1 ratio in a bowl.
- Soak the ingredients overnight in water. (Even in powder form)
- In the morning, boil this mix.
- For a water and pod mix, boil this mix until the pods soften to touch.
- For a powder and water mix, boil this mix for 20 minutes.
- Cool the boiled concoction.
- Strain the concoction into a bottle after cooling.
- Use this blend like a shampoo to wash hair.
- This mix can be stored in a refrigerator for 2 weeks for repeated usage.
This blended shampoo reduces oiliness in hair, decreases dandruff, and improves hair growth. It also adds shine and bounce to the hair for a more voluminous look. The shampoo can be used twice a week for sustained results.
Please note, this shampoo does not lather much; therefore, lathering should not be a criterion for judging the cleanliness quotient of the hair.
2. Shikakai Infused Coconut Oil
The Shikakai powder infused coconut oil is said to be beneficial for hair and hair root strength.
- Take Shikakai powder and Coconut Oil in a 1:1 ratio in a bowl.
- Mix the two ingredients well.
- Store the infused oil in a jar for 2-3 weeks in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight exposure.
- Use this infused oil after the required gestation period for a 10-15 minute massage, once a week for a minimum of 2 months.
This Shikakai infused Oil is recommended for use to cure dandruff as well as to see visible results in improved hair health.
Please note that Shikakai can also be infused in Almond Oil for similar benefits.
3. Shikakai – Henna Hair Mask
Hair masks are an effective way to induce nutrition in the scalp and hair. Henna is a natural herb that is usually used to colour hair naturally and increase hair volume. This Henna mask can be infused with Shikakai for increased hair and scalp health.
- Use 250 grams of henna with 1 tablespoon of Shikakai powder for a hair mask for medium hair length. The quantity of Henna and Shikakai can be proportionately increased or decreased as per the hair length.
- Mix the ingredients with water to make a medium thickness paste.
- Soak this paste overnight.
- Apply this hair mask in the morning from root to tip.
- Cover the hair with a shower cap to prevent drying of the mask.
- Leave it on hair for 2-3 hours.
- Wash the hair with cool or warm water.
This Shikakai- Henna mask adds hair volume, colours the hair to a have a reddish tint, and cleanses the scalp. Most users of Henna Hair Masks often complain of dryness in the scalp as well as damage due to tangling of hair-locks. The addition of Shikakai in the hair traditional Henna hair mask ensures hair detangling, provides hair conditioning, and reduces hair damage. Therefore, it promotes good hair health.
This mask can be applied as often as required with a minimum gap of 15 days between two consecutive applications. The Shikakai – Henna Hair Mask helps to nourish the hair roots and increase hair volume.
4. Shikakai – Neem Hair Pack
The anti-oxidant and anti-fungal properties of Neem and Shikakai, they act as an effective remedy for the cure dandruff.
- Take Neem and Shikakai powders in a 1: 1 ratio in a bowl.
- Mix the ingredients with water to achieve a paste-like consistency.
- Apply this mask on the head from hair root to tip.
- Leave it on until it dries.
- Wash the mask off with a mild shampoo with cool or warm water.
The Neem – Shikakai Hair Pack can be used 1-2 times a week for 3 months. It has a positive effect on scalp health and successfully cures the dandruff problem.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shikakai for Hair Growth
1. Can Shikakai Regrow Hair?
Ans : Yes, Shikakai can help in the regrowth of thinning hair. Shikakai is known to be rich in Vitamin A, C, D, E, and K. These vitamins promote hair growth. Shikakai is also said to provide a collagen boost in the scalp. This also improves hair growth in the scalp. Traditionally, people in ancient civilization in India have been using Shikakai for Hair Growth successfully.
2. Can I Use Shikakai on the Face?
Ans : Shikakai has been proven to be an effective Ayurvedic remedy for many skin-related ailments. Shikakai can be used in treating cuts, wounds, pimples, and dry skin. It is completely safe to be used in herbal face – masks.
Here is a simple face – mask recipe using Shikakai :
- Take Shikakai powder with Turmeric powder in a 1: 1 ratio in a bowl.
- Blend this powdered mix with milk.
- Apply this face – mask evenly on the face.
- Let it dry.
- Wash the mask off with cool water.
- Pat the face with a soft towel to dry.
This mask is a sure way to boost skin health and to increase the natural glow on the face.
3. Does Shikakai Make Hair Black?
Ans : No, Shikakai does not colour the hair. However, the regular use of the Shikaki – Reetha – Amla Shampoo helps to keep hair black for longer. This shampoo is also proven to reduce pre-mature greying in hair.
To colour as well as nourish hair by using Shikakai, the Shikakai – Henna Hair Mask is recommended. This mask will induce a reddish tint in the hair as well as make it shiny and voluminous.
4. Does Shikakai Remove Dandruff?
Ans : Yes, using Shikakai for Hair Growth implies its use for dandruff removal too. Shikakai can be used to effectively cure dandruff. The anti-fungal property of Shikakai has been proven to rid the scalp of dandruff permanently. The use of Shikakai – Neem Hair Pack is a sure way to reduce the occurrence as well as recurrence of dandruff in the hair.
5. Is Shikakai Good for Curly Hair?
Ans : Yes, Shikakai is very good for curly hair. One of the major problems faced by individuals with curly hair is the tangling of locks. This results in major problems in hair care, specifically when using a comb or brush. The detangling of hair knots and the combing of hair leads to breakage in curly hair; thereby, resulting in the shortening of hair length due to damage.
The conditioning property of Shikakai, due to the presence of saponins, helps in easy detangling of hair without the use of chemicals; therefore, the use of Shikakai leads to good hair length and health for people with Curly Hair.