Choosing the right herbal shampoo for your hair
Why Should You Switch to Herbal Shampoos?
Most shampoos today contain a class of compounds known as surfactants. These compounds carry out the cleaning action. The most common kind of surfactants used are sulfates and its derivatives. These chemicals are harsh on the scalp. They steal the natural oils of the scalp and also cause damage to the hair cuticle. Herbal shampoos are entirely natural in origin and employ a mild cleaning action. Below are some of the reasons to switch to herbal shampoo.
- Herbal shampoos have the same cleaning efficiency as sulfates and parabens yet are free from the side effects of these chemicals.
- Herbal shampoos maintain the level of natural oils in the scalp, keeping the hair healthy and shiny.
- Herbal shampoos maintain the natural pH balance of the scalp and the hair.
- Herbal shampoos give your hair natural conditioning.
- The ingredients in herbal shampoo deliver essential nutrients and nourishment to the hair, promoting better health and growth.
- Herbal shampoos maintain the colour of the hair, both natural and dyed. On the contrary surfactant-based shampoos strip off chemical dyes from the hair.
- Ingredients in herbal shampoos are natural and biodegradable.
Understanding Your Hair Type & Needs
Before you go for the best herbal shampoo, you must understand your hair type. When one chooses to switch to herbal shampoo, expectations are high and thus you must be able to choose the best product for you. The choice depends on your hair type and can also be made based on the issue that you are trying to address. It could be dry hair, oily scalp, dull hair, dandruff and more.
However, a much deeper way to look at this is by taking the Ayurveda outlook. This says that your hair type is influenced greatly by the principle of life energies and their balance in your body. These principal energies are known as dosha and are Vata dosha, Pitta dosha, and Kapha dosha. Your wellbeing is guided by the balance of these three identities. Any problem in the body including scalp and hair issues too are rooted in an imbalance caused due to elevation in any of these three doshas. To address a problem related to the hair and the scalp, first, the dosha imbalance is diagnosed and then an appropriate medication is put together.
This leads to loss of moisture causing dehydration. Results in thinning of hair, split ends, brittle hair, and hair fall. On the scalp, it results in dandruff and dryness.
This leads to overheating of the scalp. This causes greasiness and dandruff on the scalp leading to inflammation. The hair roots become weaker and hair fall increases along with premature greying.
This spike causes overproduction of sebum. The hair becomes oily and greasy, getting dirty easily. Infections and dandruff followed by hair loss often accompany.
If you want to go for the right herbal shampoo for you as guided by the science of Ayurveda, you should identify the hair type and the dosha imbalance by consulting an Ayurvedic doctor. This will give you the clarity to understand the need of ingredients in the herbal shampoo that would suit your hair the best.
How to Choose the Right Herbal Shampoo for Your Hair Type
Ayurveda mentions many herbs and flowers whose extracts are used to make herbal shampoos that can address the hair needs for your hair type. The best way to go about this is to first understand your hair type and the dosha imbalance that influences it. This will help you decide on the appropriate ingredient to address your specific hair issue. Sometimes the best solution could be a combination of two or more herbs.
For example, bhringraj controls hair thinning, amla prevents greying while mulethi conditions the hair. Many other extracts from herbs, flowers, fruits, seeds find mention in Ayurveda. Each of these caters to specific aspects of hair care.
The best Ayurvedic hair care product will be the one selected to address a particular concern along with a key ingredient. In later sections, we have listed the most common ingredients in herbal shampoos and the specific concern and dosha imbalance they address. After you have narrowed your concern and diagnosed the dosha imbalance by consulting a practitioner, you can make the best-informed choice of ingredients that address your problem.
Ingredients to Look for In a Herbal Shampoo
Ayurveda prescribes many herbs and plant products that can be used to make herbal shampoo. Here, we list some of the most common and recurring ingredients. Also discussed are the primary concern and the dosha imbalance that the ingredient addresses. With these two pointers, you can choose the best and most suited ingredient that you want in your herbal shampoo.
Also known as soap pod, this is an excellent cleanser. It cleans the dirt and excess sebum without stripping any of the natural oil from the scalp. It also has antifungal, antioxidant properties and has a cooling effect.
Shikakai balances the Kapha and Pitta dosha. It is effective in treating scalp inflammation, dandruff, lice infection and premature greying. It also detangles the hair, preventing hair fall. A shikakai shampoo will make your hair stronger and denser.
Also known as soapnut, reetha is helpful in soothing inflammation in the scalp and repairing damaged cuticles. It is the most common ingredient in herbal shampoos.
Reetha balances all three doshas and is very useful in treating dry scalp and dandruff. It treats dryness and frizziness of the hair making it smooth. Using a reetha herbal shampoo will provide your hair with bounce and volume and also keep scalp infections at bay.
Also known as Indian gooseberry, amla is extremely rich in vitamin C. It stimulates hair growth and controls hair fall. Alma does so by promoting collagen production and replacing dead cells with new ones.
Amla balances all three doshas and this makes it a popular ingredient in herbal shampoos. Alma in shampoo naturally moisturizes the hair and adds volume. It is also very useful in preventing premature greying and giving a natural dark shade to your hair.
Neem is a very important plant that finds mention in Ayurveda for a variety of purposes owing to its antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
Neem balances the Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha and elevates Vata dosha. It is effective in addressing scalp irritation, scalp inflammation, itchiness, lice and dandruff. It also treats frizzy hair and split ends. A neem herbal shampoo promotes hair growth and keeps your hair and scalp well-conditioned.
Also known as Bacopa Monnieri, brahmi is a very useful herb for treating hair loss caused due to stress. It has a nourishing effect on the hair roots and keeps the scalp cool.
Brahmi balances the Kapha dosha and Vata dosha. It is very useful in addressing scalp dryness, itchiness and dandruff. Use a brahmi shampoo for hair growth and adding volume to your hair.
Aloe vera accelerates hair growth and provides deep conditioning. It calms scalp inflammation and can provide deep cleansing even for oily hair. Due to its antimicrobial properties, it also keeps infections at bay.
Aloe Vera balances all three doshas making it a popular ingredient in herbal shampoos. An aloe vera shampoo will make your hair conditioned and give it a natural soft texture.
It is known as ‘keshraj’ as it is one of the most suitable herbs for hair. It has nourishing and conditioning properties and helps control baldness and premature greying.
Bhringraj balances Vata dosha and Kapha dosha.
A common Indian spice, methi is also known as fenugreek and contains compounds that control dryness in the scalp. It promotes hair growth and preserves the hair colour while maintaining the moisture levels in the scalp.
Methi balances Vata dosha and Kapha dosha. It can help you relieve problems such as hair thinning, dryness and dandruff. Methi based herbal shampoo are the best herbal shampoo for dry hair. It will give your hair a natural shine and accelerate growth.
Lemon is rich in vitamin C and is a natural antioxidant. It unclogs the hair follicles very effectively and also promotes collagen production, boosting hair growth.
Lemon balances the Vata dosha and Kapha dosha. It can be used to address greasy scalp and dandruff issues.
Hibiscus is very effective in treating premature greying of hair. It promotes collagen production, making the hair grow thicker and longer. Along with this it also provides nourishment to the roots and a soft texture to the hair strands.
Hibiscus balances the Kapha dosha and Pitta dosha. Using herbal shampoo with hibiscus will repair the damage in your hair and give it shine and bounce.
Cinnamon stimulates the blood circulation in hair follicles making it a suitable ingredient for herbal shampoos. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties. These aid in relieving conditions such as scalp itchiness, dryness and dandruff.
Ingredients to Avoid in a Shampoo
Most ingredients to avoid in shampoo are surfactants and chemicals that hurt the health of your hair and scalp. Not just the hair, some of these ingredients are also harmful to the environment. Listed below are some harmful chemicals in shampoo that should keep you away from buying the product.
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – damage and make the hair brittle, increase frizz. Now that we know what a sulfate free shampoo is, and how effective it is, you can avoid this essential ingredient.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – fades the colour of the hair and takes away the natural oils.
- Parabens – have been linked to the growth of cancer cells. Always go for paraben free shampoos.
- Sodium Chloride – can cause dryness and itchiness in the scalp, and may escalate into hair loss.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) – these compounds have been found to induce cancer in animal testing.
- Formaldehyde – is a carcinogenic compound.
- Synthetic Fragrances – some fragrances are produced by compounds that can cause asthma or cancer.
- Synthetic Colours – be careful of the synthetic colours that come from coal tar or petroleum.
- Dimethicone – can clog pores and cause skin irritation.
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine – causes skin irritation and allergies.
- Triclosan – is known to cause hormone disruptions that can lead to cancer.
- Retinyl Palmitate – causes skin irritation. Side effects may also include cancer.
Can Herbal Shampoos Alone Stop Your Hair Fall?
Herbal shampoos stop hair fall by taking you away from using surfactant-based shampoos that use chemicals for the cleaning action and have a significant side effect on the health of the hair. Herbal shampoos also provide essential nutrients and deep condition your hair. Without any side effects, they seem to be the best option to address your hair fall problems.
However, not all hair fall issues can be addressed by switching to herbal shampoo. The herbal shampoo will reduce hair fall. In most cases, this may be sufficient for your concern. In some cases, the hair falls may be severe and could be happening due to an underlying condition such as stress, hormonal imbalance or any autoimmune condition. In such cases, you must consult a specialist to narrow down on the cause of severe hair loss. You can start with the diagnosis at Traya and go for the Traya Defense Shampoo which reduces hair fall and maintains scalp health.
Here's What You Need Along With Your Herbal Shampoo for Healthy Hair
Now that you know that herbal shampoos can go a long way in giving your hair a better life and are much better than chemical and surfactant-based hair products, we hope you must be narrowing down on the shampoo as per your needs and type. Switching to herbal shampoo does provide you with healthier hair, however, it is always best to have an assessment of your hair based on modern dermatology as well as the organic Ayurveda at Traya. This will help you understand your hair and its needs much better. A serious case of hair loss can be easily addressed by identifying its underlying root cause. At Traya, you get the diagnosis as well as the most suited product for your specific need.
Heena is our Hair Expert on board. She has a Masters in English Literature and is total nerd about medical journals and research.