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How a Traditional Indian Approach to Hair Care Saved My Afro
If you’re a Type 4 reading this post, you probably already know what I’m about to say. Somehow, looser curl types have dominated the natural hair discussion, so much so that most products cater naturally to them. Take the brands SheaMoisture and Carol’s Daughter. When both hit the shelves, they were lauded for the moisture and shine the products gave curls and kinks but in recent years, the brand owners have been accused of white washing the products to “appeal to a wider audience.
If you have ever slicked on a new pomade just to realize it’s not taming any frizz or used edge control that must’ve been made for actual baby hair, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Finding hair products that cater to afros and kinky hair types can be hard, if not downright impossible depending on where you live.
Needless to say, for several years, I had a love-hate relationship with my own hair. I loved the afro, the bigness and the size, but hated the constant shedding, the breakage and frizz. My hair kept me chained to my vanity– I had to moisturize it several times per day and my wash day would take forever. And so began a long list of products and brands that I tried, including both listed above. Heavy oils and butters were a no-go for me. They just sat on the hair and lighter products didn’t stand a chance at breaking into the shaft.
So, by the time I met Christian Karega, owner of Ayur Luxe, I was desperate for a haircare fix but also incredibly jaded about what was on the market. She created her brand out of the same frustration and desire to have products that actually worked for her hair. Honestly, I fell instantly in love with the sample she sent me because I’d never seen a product actually end frizz and moisturize my Type 4 afro all day. And using Ayur Luxe sent me down the rabbit hole of Ayurveda, a traditional Indian approach to health that relies on natural ingredients to heal from the inside out.
In fact, you probably already use Ayurvedic herbs; coconut oil is one. If your favorite hair oil has Amla, that’s another one. However, I learned that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Ayurveda. Many herbs not only moisturize your hair but can even reduce hair shedding and breakage/ damage, keep your hair in the growth phase longer or increase the number of follicles on your scalp, decreasing baldness and thinness. When practiced correctly, Ayurveda can be transformative for your hair health and the shine and moisture is just a result of that better health.
Here are three herbs you should know more about and begin incorporating into your hair routine:
- Shikaikai: Literally translates to “fruit for hair,” this superfood allows you to wash your hair with minimal damage and is one of the only natural shampoos that actually allows you to heal any breakage or shedding you’re currently dealing with. It’s rich in most major vitamins, including A, B, C, D & K and with so many antioxidants, it’s able to not only cleanse your hair of oils and dirt but even free radicals that can cause thinness and balding. Historically, Shikaikai has been used for other skin conditions like eczema and for digestive health and stomach issues.
- Neem: You might already know about neem, but did you know that it has insane scalp benefits? It’s quite literally called the “Village Pharmacy” because every part of it has different healing properties. Neem is an effective, natural killer of lice, reduces dandruff and scalp flaking and keeps the scalp moisturized and healthy, able to repel dryness. It’s even a popular, natural herb to fight psoriasis. Because it’s also anti-fungal, the oil can keep the hair cleaner longer, meaning fewer wash days and overall a light smell that you can enjoy for hours at a time.
- Bhringraj: If you want to grow your hair, this is the herb for you. This herb actually works with your scalp and hair to keep the follicles in the anagen, or growth, phase longer. For most of us, we grow about six inches per year. By lengthening this phase, your hair has more time to reach new lengths and when combined with ingredients that are super healing and sealing, you are more likely to retain that length. Bhringraj is a favorite for many because it’s a natural healer that actually changes how your hair work, unlocking all kinds of new potential.
For the most part, these herbs are easy to get but it’s also important to be critical of any products you find online that claim to have these as ingredients. The industry is ballooning, which means there are a lot of fake products on the market that can sometimes contain dangerous ingredients.
I’ve been using Ayurvedic herbs for about four months now, primarily through Ayur Luxe. I would switch every week with other brands and products to see immediate results and the difference was striking enough for me to now consider only using Ayurveda. For one, the ingredients list is much shorter.
And two, it doesn’t put my hair type second.
About Tianna Mañon
Tianna Mañon is a contributing reporter for WXXI news. She’s covered issues like the presence of plastic in the Great Lakes, the death of Trevyan Rowe and the impact of the opioid epidemic in the inner-city. Passionate about using various forms of media to tell the story, Tianna enjoys simply getting out of the newsroom and talking to people. In her free time, Tianna can be found reading a book in her home library, at the Public Market or otherwise exploring the region.
About 29 Days of Little Known Facts About (Black) American History
29 Days of Little Known Facts About (Black) American History is an annual blog campaign curated by 540WMain that has a mission to promote and share little known facts about Black Americans throughout history every day throughout the month of February. Now in it 3rd year the campaign highlights the life and work of past and present day Black American that are overlooked or underrepresented in our conversations about American history.
540WMain will celebrate its 4 year anniversary with a party and extravaganza on Saturday June 20, 2020. In just four years the organization has become a pillar in the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood and a convener and curator of important and vital community conversations, classes, and programs. Your financial support helps us scale up this work in 2020 and beyond with a year long fundraising goal of $40,000