November 19, 2020

Ayurveda and the beauty of Western hair

The word "Ayurveda" means "science of life", from āyus (life) and veda (science, or knowledge). It is a holistic medical approach dating back to the Vedic civilization and still practiced today. In India, as of November 2014, it is promoted by the Ministry of Yoga. The goal of Ayurveda is threefold: maintenance of health, healing of disease and self-realization. The tools to achieve this combine a vegetarian diet, the use of a 100% natural pharmacopoeia, the practice of massage, yoga and meditation, ...

Ayurveda is a form of traditional medicine originating in India, which is said to have its sources in the Veda, a collection of sacred texts from ancient India.

What does Ayurveda teach us about hair beauty?

Indian hair is considered the most beautiful in the world, both in terms of its texture and the possibility of coloring it! In addition to the genetic aspect specific to this population, Indian women traditionally practice care techniques that promote the strength and beauty of their hair: Indian women care for their hair with products and techniques that are 100% natural, directly from Ayurveda.

Which practices to consider in the West?

Ayurveda uses 100% natural products and treatment strategies. For hair care, we can choose external treatments, more systemic approaches, internally, or a combination of both. Ayurveda aims to address the root cause of the problem, which often originates below the surface! We can distinguish between external and internal healing practices:

1. Internal practices

One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda is that the strength of the agni (digestive fire) determines the quality of the food received by the organs and tissues throughout the body, including the hair. Thus, according to Ayurveda, hair health begins with the food we eat and is deeply dependent on our digestive strength, as is the health of all other tissues and systems.
But our hair can also be affected by imbalances outside the digestive tract, unique personal and hereditary vulnerabilities, as well as our stress levels and the quality of our lives.

Ayurveda teaches us that hair is a byproduct of bone tissue (like nails and teeth), continuously nourished by blood plasma.
Hair is also linked to the nervous system and gut. So if the health of any of these tissues deteriorates, the hair may be affected. Similarly, if the quality of nutrition available to the body's deeper tissues is compromised, hair will undoubtedly be affected. This is where the holistic approach of Ayurveda can be infinitely more effective than superficial hair treatments alone.
As we begin to heal the digestive tract, the body naturally begins to function more efficiently, becoming more and more capable of creating the most refined nutrition possible, which benefits every cell and tissue in the system. And since the digestive fire is the cornerstone of optimal health, we are also setting ourselves up for better long-term health and longevity.

To nourish and strengthen your hair from the inside out, simple rules can be applied, such as focusing on fresh, whole foods, minimizing processed foods and sugars, reinforcing with enough fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as protein and healthy fats. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This helps optimize the health of the digestive and circulatory systems and strengthens the body's ability to perform tissue nutrition.

2. External practices:

Hair oils

In the West, we consider hair more aesthetically, and we are mainly interested in the appearance of our hair, often to the detriment of the health of our scalp (excessive use of detergents - the foam of shampoos, bleaching and coloring hair, blow-drying, ... which weaken the hair and tire the scalp)

Ayurveda favors plant-based treatments, and since the origin of imbalances is often below the surface, plant oils serve as vehicles to bring these active plant combinations from the outside in.
The Indians consider the hair as a plant, and adopt a caring relationship with their hair. It is therefore the scalp - the living part of the hair! - which is nourished and moisturized by the use of hair oils enriched, most often by maceration, with various active plant ingredients, and stimulated by regular massages.

Scalp massage

The massage allows to make penetrate these recipes and to bring the whole of the active ingredients which they contain as far as possible, under the surface of the skin.

In a basic way, the following technique is recommended:
1. Apply oil to the head and gently massage the scalp with the pads of your fingertips, using small circular movements.
2. Allow oil to penetrate for one hour or leave on overnight.
3. Wash in the morning with a mild shampoo before wetting hair
Oil massage helps improve blood circulation in the scalp while strengthening hair roots.
Practice this nourishing scalp massage once or twice a week.

In summary, head massage allows:
- to calm a scalp sensitized by the coloring process or daily aggressions (blow-drying, dandruff, pollution, use of fixing products, ...)
- to revitalize the scalp (by eliminating toxic residues in the roots)
- to tone the scalp (by stimulating blood circulation and providing oxygen to the living cells of the scalp)

and brings moreover
- a feeling of well-being, of relaxation
- an activation of the sensory receptors
- a dissipation of the headaches, the ocular tensions, ...

Recommended plants

For all constitutions, the use of slightly warm sesame oil is the basis for nourishing the hair. This oil contains vitamin E, A and B, minerals, trace elements, unsaturated fatty acids and especially omega 6. It promotes the beauty and growth of hair while preventing hair loss. Moreover, it does not grease and makes the hair soft and silky.

The plants usually found in the preparations intended for the care and the beauty of the hair and the scalp are the following:
. Bringaraj (INCI: Eclipta prostrata) which promotes hair growth,
. Amla / Amalaki (INCI: Emblica officinalis or Phyllantus emblica), an important source of antioxidants,
. Brahmi (INCI: Centella asiatica), considered a "hair rejuvenator"
. Neem (INCI: Azadirachta indica) to fight dandruff and cleanse the scalp
. Reetha - or soap nut - (INCI: Sapindus Mukurossi), used to wash hair

Useful tips for hair care, according to Ayurveda

- Choose a diet rich in calcium and iron. Cook spices such as cumin, black pepper and turmeric. Wash your hair only if necessary, avoiding shampoos containing detergent chemicals (such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate = SLS). If you have no choice, don't hesitate to dilute your overly foaming shampoos! Protect from excessive sun exposure. Choose vegetable dyes to enhance hair color. Avoid hair dryers and prefer natural drying.
- Brush hair daily in all directions using long, smooth strokes from the scalp to the hairline.
- Practice yoga and meditation. Stress can be detrimental to hair and overall health.
- Seek restful sleep each night to give the body time to regenerate.
These simple Ayurvedic recommendations help beautify and promote hair health starting from the inside. Nourishing your hair and scalp with diet, Ayurvedic herbs and oils can not only promote healthy hair, but also promote a calm mind and balanced nervous system.