From rice water to red wine, Aparna Gupta gives a peek into indigenous ingredients that women around the world trust in to give them lustrous, healthy locks. Here are the diverse haircare rituals practised across countries and centuries…
Spanish women use the burgundy coloured cranberry juice to highlight the red tones in their hair and to keep their tresses insanely glossy. The fruit acids slightly lighten the tone of the hair and leave behind a luminous red tint. Though cranberry juice works best on a brunette, it leaves natural dark-toned Indian tresses a lot glossier with subtle ruby hints that shine when tossed in the sun. The technique is simple: dilute cranberry juice with water and pour it over the head when you are done washing your hair. Those with blonde or lighter highlights should refrain from using this remedy which stains the hair with natural red highlights.
The women in the south of India are known for their thick, dark and shiny tresses. The secret to their beautiful locks lies not just in the coconut oil but also hibiscus. In most households, hibiscus petals are dried and allowed to rest in some coconut oil. This oil is then gently rubbed on the scalp and roots. This flower is undoubtedly the top herb for hair and is revered in Ayurveda. The red flowers are known to arrest the pet hair peeves of all times—premature greying and hair fall. It is believed that hibiscus flower can even stimulate hair growth. That’s why it’s the hero ingredient in many ayurvedic blends that target hair loss. When mixed with amla and reetha, hibiscus makes for a potent natural cleanser. A paste of crushed petals can be applied as a hair mask to condition dehydrated locks. While you can reach out for the natural blooms to embrace this traditional ingredient, the most convenient way is to look for shampoos, oils and masks that use this miracle herb.
From hammam to ghassoul clay to the traditional ‘black soap’, the women in Morocco take pride in their ancient beauty rituals. One of the prized possessions in their vanity kits is argan oil. The light oil, that’s easy to absorb, works as an all-purpose oil for skin and hair. Harvested from the argan tree, which grows abundantly in the southwestern region of the country, this oil is rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamins. Also called the ‘Gold of Morocco’ because of its deep amber colour, argan oil is one of the pioneers in reviving the tradition of oiling the scalp and hair. It tames flyaways, smoothens and makes the hair softer and shinier. Its inherent non-sticky composition without any peculiar smell has made it must-have in every beautiholic’s dresser, the country no bar.
Rice water is having its moment right now in the world of hair care. The milky white starchy liquid is increasingly being embraced as a magic elixir for the hair, that repairs damage, adds shine and increases hair strength. It owes its origin in the Far East. Japanese traditional beauty products tend to be natural and for the most part, edible. They come from things such as rice, camellia plant, seaweed and edible herbs. The noble women in Japan famed for their long, silky strands of hair were known to wash their hair with rice water. In the Chinese village of Huangluo, which has a certification from Guinness Book of World Records as the village with the world’s longest hair, the tribal women have been nourishing their hair with rice water. Science agrees that the ritual has merit as the starchy decoction contains amino acids that strengthen the hair roots, increase hair volume, and makes your hair shiny and smooth.
Lathering the tresses with red wine is the French secret to radiant locks. Polyphenols in the wine repair damaged hair, detoxify and nullify the oxidation of the locks. If you can’t really indulge in some luxurious top-to-toe vinotherapy, it’s okay to keep it simple. Just open a bottle of red wine, and instead of pouring some in your crystal glasses, just keep this deep burgundy tonic in a jar in your bathroom, as the last rinse-off after your regular hair wash. The resveratrol which is famed for its youth-preserving properties also promotes hair growth.
Greek women were referred to as Goddesses in the past for a reason: their gorgeous skin and shimmering tresses. Apparently, rosemary, a herb native to Mediterranean region is the secret behind this. This herb that’s known for its relaxing aroma also stimulates hair growth, gently cleanses, increases shine and fights premature greying. To do it like the Greek women, make a hair rinse out of rosemary, apple cider vinegar and some water. Again, this is a rinse that works great for darker Indian manes as rosemary is known to darken the hair tone. Olive oil infused with crushed rosemary leaves relieves the itchy dandruff on the scalp while adding lustre to the strands.
Every wellness enthusiast is aware of the myriad benefits of a few cups of green tea. From weight loss to good skin, the tiny green leaves promise internal rejuvenation. But did you know that green tea rinse is great news for the hair as well? In fact, not just green tea, even black tea (for those with darker hair) can be used for rinsing after a regular shampoo-conditioner routine. Korean women swear by this rinsing ritual that leaves the hair lustrous and shiny. Tea is rich in polyphenols, vitamin C and E, that improve the texture and the sheen while also working as a natural sunscreen for the hair against the damage caused by UV radiation. Korean scientists are conducting studies to prove how green tea also helps in reducing DHT-induced baldness. If the idea of a rinse seems messy, look out for hair potions and cleansers that use this wonder ingredient.