Herbal Hair Care- How It Works?

A s many people experience the effects of increasing -pollution and ill health, hair can thin, fall out, lose its color and become brittle and dull.

Mehendi (henna

Henna represents a natural material derived from dried leaves of the plant Lawsonia inermis. It is mainly used as a hair dye in Europe, based on the staining properties of the main active ingredient Lawsone, 2-hydroxy-1,4- naphthoquinone (CAS no. 83-72-7). Lawsone is known to be a natural part of Henna.

Popular as Henna, Lawsonia Inermis can actually enrich, color and enhance your hair. Henna is a powerful and natural hair conditioner that can help heal the hair shaft by repairing and sealing the cuticle, protecting hair against breakage and loss of shine. Henna is excellent for the maintenance of healthy hair.

Henna is a small tree which grows upto a height of 6 meters. It is glabrous, multibranched with spine tipped branchlets. Leaves are opposite, entire, glabrous, sub-sessile. elliptical, and broadly lanceolate. Henna plant has lateral branches with leaves that grow in pairs, around 2 to 4 centimeters in length. Henna leaves have a red-orange dye, lawsone, and the highest dye concentration is in the petiole (the central vein). Young leaves have the highest petiole dye content. The dye content reduces as leaves grow older. Lawsone has an affinity for bonding with protein, and thus has been used to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather, silk and wool. Henna body art is made by applying henna paste to the skin: the lawsone in the paste migrates into the outermost layer of the skin and makes a red- brown stain. 

Henna also imparts excellent conditioning affect as well as thickness to the hair. The henna works more efficiently when the extract of some plants like amla (Indian gooseberry), reetha (Soap nuts), Shikakai (Acacia Concinna) etc. are mixed added to it. Henna can be used in any type of hair. However, the darker hair produce excellent result when henna is applied on it. When used as a conditioner, Henna imparts following benefits.

  •  Prevents hair loss 
  • Strengthens hair 
  • Controls dandruff 
  • Conditions hair 
  • Tones and promotes 
  • healthy scalp 
  • A Removes excess oil from 
  • the scalp 
  • A Relieves headaches and scalp tension.\

In the early Ayurvedic texts, Henna is being mentioned as a cure for number of skin and hair problems. It is used to manufacture natural and herbal hair oils and shampoos.

 Henna has Lawsone, a tannin dye molecule, in its leaves. You can’t see it because it is masked by the chlorophyll. When you pulverize the leaves and mix them with a slightly acidic liquid such as lemon juice, the dye molecule becomes available as the cell walls’ cellulose dissolves. The dye molecule can then migrate out of the paste, breach cuticle cell walls in the hair shaft, and bind with the keratin.

If the idea of Lawsone “migrating” from henna paste into keratin seems confusing, compare it to this: if you put a wet teabag on a white table cloth, the tannin in the tea “migrates from the teabag into the cloth fibers, binds with those fibers, and leaves a stain. And, the longer you leave the teabag there, the darker the stain.

To release Lawsone efficiently, while preserving the hydrogen atoms necessary to bind the molecule to the keratin, mix henna powder with an acidic liquid, and leave it at room temperature overnight. 

Your gray hair is special. There is no melanin in the middle of gray hair! 

When your hair no longer produces melanins, only the keratin hair shaft remains. Since keratin is the same stuff your fingernails are made of, your gray hair is the same color as your fingernails. Your gray hair may be slightly yellowish or grayish, or pure white. These variations are from the structure of the keratins scales, and whether they reflect more or less light, and from minerals in the water you drink and bathe with.

Since your hair follicle isn’t busy producing melanin, your gray hair grows much faster than the rest of your hair! Your gray hair may also be a different texture from the rest of your hair. 

When your hair no longer produces melanin, only the keratin hair shaft remains.

If you henna hair that has no melanin, the only color lawsone content is low, the color will be weak red-orange. If the lawsone content is high, the color will be dark red- orange, oxidizing to deep auburn (hair color that is somewhere between brown hair and red hair) .

Henna has been used to treat skin infections such as tinea and it is known to have antibacterial properties which have been attributed to naphthoquinones, including lawsone (Wren RC. 1988 Potter’s new cyclopaedia of botanical drugs and preparations. Revised edition. Saffron Walden: CW Daniel Co. Ltd. p 143.)

As per the study it is identified that lawsonia inermis contains – Alkaloids, quinones, Tanins & Flavanoids, out of which flavanoids are 25.5+0.18mg/g.

The study in vitro showed antibacterial activity of Lawsonia inermis. The antibacterial activity was expressed at varying degrees with the activity being of both strain and dose dependent. Five bacterias were used for antibacterial studies.

Many recipes using amla (gooseberry) are used in various parts of the asian countries to prevent premature graying of hair, as a conditioner, to prevent hair-loss.

Medicinal plants are being used by large proportion of Indian population. The reasons for this include a) True improvement of diseases conditions after herbal treatment b) Harmful side effects and high cost of the other forms of treatment.

This study, the results were encouraging, as the Lawsonia inermis appeared to contain substances that had antimicrobial properties because of, the methanolic extract of lawsonia inermis leaves were active against five different bacteria’s. Plants showing significant activity may be due to the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins and quinones. Among the various microorganisms, the methanolic extract of lawsonia inermis was more active against Staphylococcus.

Indian gooseberry: 

Amla (Indian gooseberry) is a proven hair tonic and is used in all or polyherbal ayurvedic preparations for hair loss. It enriches hair growth and hair pigmentation. Amla is also excellent for strengthening the roots of hair, maintaining color and luster. Ayurvidic medicine has used Amla oil as a topical solution to give additional nutrition to the scalp and hair in order to prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth. It is also known to prevent scalp infection and controls premature graying of hair.

Many recipes using amla (gooseberry) are used in various parts of the asian countries to prevent premature graying of hair, as a conditioner, to prevent hair-loss.

he berries are very nutritious, containing vital amino acids, large amounts of proteins and vitamin C, and minerals. Hair requires protein and amino acids to grow and flourish in a healthy way. Amala contains more amino acids than even apples. It contains glutamine, proline, aspartic acid, lysine, alanine, tannin, gallic acid and albumin. It also contains high levels of needed copper, zinc and chromium.

The berries boost calcium absorption which is vital to the production of healthy hair. It preserves the color of the hair and delays the onset of gray hair, even well into old age. It provides one of the best supporting mechanisms for strengthening the hair follicles, reducing the thinning and possible baldness that could eventually occur. 

A fixed oil is obtained from the berries that is used to strengthen and promote the growth of hair. The dried fruits have a good effect on hair hygiene and have long been respected as an ingredient of shampoo and hair oil. 

Indian gooseberry is an accepted hair tonic in traditional recipes for enriching hair growth and also pigmentation. A fixed oil obtained from the berries strengthens and promotes the growth of hair. The fruit, cut into pieces, is dried, preferably in shade and then boiled in coconut oil, the resulting oil is said to be excellent for preventing hair greying in Ayurvedic terms, a classic sign of excess pitta dosha. The water in which dried amla pieces are soaked overnight is also said to be nourishing to the hair. 

Shoe flower (Hibiscus Rosa sinensis) Commonly known as Japa pushpa or Chembarathi, Hibiscus belongs to the Malvaceae family has a showy petals usually flowering in red colors. The women from ancient times are using the combination of hibiscus flower with herbal oils have proved to have amazing effects in hair care. It is one of the most luxurious and exotic way to pamper the health of your hair. 

The topical application of the formulated herbal hair oil on the denuded skins of experimental animals showed excellent hair growth initiation as well as hair growth completion, which was comparable to standard minoxidil. It was also observed that in hair oil treated group the texture of hair was coarse, rough and hard as compared to the hair of minoxidil 2% treated group which were short and silky. However the exact mechanism of hair growth stimulation is still not known and further studies are a perquisite in order to evaluate the exact mechanism behind hair growth stimulation. Literature survey reveals that minoxidil is accompanied by some unwanted side effects like withdrawal alopecia, headache & dizziness etc, which limits its extensive usage or its suitability for commercial exploitation, hence along with the mechanism of action and compounds showing bioactive properties in formulated hair oil, further research work is desirable to isolate and develop compound exhibiting properties similar to minoxidil, but with lesser or mild side effects. 

(Inter. J. Curr. Trends Sci. Tech., 2010 151) 

Much likely the hibiscus has gained a huge popularity throughout India and have achieved a holy platform sharing with tulsi-Basil leaves. They are usually used in all kinds of rituals and festivals in India which displays all the benefits. According to Ayurveda these leaves consist of numerous elements that benefit hair and scalp. It is widely used for the treatment of dandruff and hair fall.

Be it the world of Ayurveda or the traditional Chinese herbal medicines the concoction of herbal oil with the hibiscus flowers show a great effect on the scalp posses good amount of properties which helps to restore the health of our skin and hair. 

The flowers help if used regularly. The extracted juices of the flowers are blended with hair dyes like henna and indigo. The properties of hibiscus have gained world wide acknowledgement because of the astounding results it showed on the hair scalp and hair fall troubles.

Hibiscuses have soothing and cooling effect on the scalp. Usually dandruff creates rashes in scalps and worsens the condition of the scalp. When hibiscus extraction is mixed with herbal oil and applied on the scalp it produces a very soothing effect and also repairs the damage that is created due to dandruff. Undoubtedly it also helps in eliminating the dandruff from the scalp.

It has proven of great benefits in seborrhea conditions on the scalp. During seborrhea over activity of the sebaceous glands causes the skin to become oily which is treated with the help of the hibiscus extracts. It also reduces excess oiliness that damages your hair.

Hibiscus aids to eradicate and lessen pore clogging which improves the general look and condition of hair. It also abridges extreme scaling, itching and redness of the scalp.

According to traditional texts (Nadkarni, 1954; Kumar et al., 1994), it is well accepted that the leaves and flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis have hair growth promoting and anti- greying properties. Moreover, in India the herbal products in the market intended for hair growth include the extract of various parts of Hibiscus. 

The many other benefits of hibiscus have proved to give greater effects on the health of the hair. At the very bottom line it helps in eliminating the toxins from the body but at the same time it also bushels the normal acid alkaline. While massaging it already improves the blood circulation and when combined it with hibiscus it gives essential nutrients to the follicles. All the elements that are needed to counter fight the pollutants that reside in the scalp due to the pollution are eradicated with the help of hibiscus.

There are many ways to use hibiscus flowers and get benefited through it. Hot and cold infusions both are very helpful in treating the hair. In a hot infusion the flowers and the leaves are added to boiling water and allowed to keep it for 10 to 12 hours  and then strained it before using it on the scalp. While in the cold infusion are made to stand in cold water with a ratio of one is to six and then flowers are squeezed, strained and then used. Any of these infusions can be used as last rinse after washing the hair thoroughly.

Not necessary that you have to use these infusions just after washing your hair but this mixture can also be used to wash the hair or apply on the scalp with the help of cotton wool. Blend this extracts or juice of the flowers with henna paste and place it on the scalp. This forms total hair nourishments and helps in amazing growth of hair.

Nowadays Hibiscus extract is also added to brahmi, bhringaraj, amla, henna and other such extracts, to formulate products for hair care, like cleansers, hair tonics, anti-dandruff preparations, hair conditioners and rinses. 

Hibiscus Hair oil Recipe 

Shikakai Acacia concinna is a tree native to Asia, common in the warm, plains of central & south India. Alkaloids are found in abundance in the fruit.

Acacia concinna has been used traditionally for hair care in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. It is one of the Ayurvedic medicinal plants. The fruit is known in India as shikakai. The word Shikakai, means “fruit for hair”, it is a traditional shampoo used in India In order to prepare it the fruit pods, leaves and bark of Acacia concinna are dried, powdered and made into a paste.

While this traditional shampoo does not produce the normal amount of lather that a sulfate-containing shampoo would, it is a good cleanser. It is mild, having a naturally low pH, and doesn’t strip hair of natural oils. Usually no conditioner is needed, for shikakai also acts as a detangler.

Acacia concinna extracts are used in natural shampoos or hair powders and the tree is now grown commercially in India and Far East Asia. The plant parts used for the dry   powdered or the extract are the bark, leaves or pods. The bark contains high levels of saponins, which are foaming agents that are found in several other plant species. Saponin-containing plants have a long history of use as mild cleaning agents. Saponins from the plant’s pods have been traditionally used as a detergent.

The name “shikakai” literally means “fruit for hair”. The powdered pods, leaves and bark of the shikakai shrub (Acacia concinna) have been used for cleansing hair and in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Shikakai is reputed to get rid of dandruff, reduce shedding and help strengthen hair.

How Shikakai Works as a Shampoo 

Shikakai’s pods contain saponins, compounds which produce lather when mixed with water and shaken. These saponins help to clean oil off the hair and scalp, while the low pH of shikakai helps to condition the hair and prevents overdrying. Shikakai powder is finely-ground, medium brown and has a pleasant smell reminiscent of fruit tea. 

Unlike commercial shampoos, shikakai does not produce mountains of lather. It is a milder cleanser than other natural shampoo substitutes such as baking soda. Due to its conditioning properties shikakai can be used alone: it can also be folowed. by a natural conditioner such as a hair treatment pack with other herbs such as henna and fenugreek (methi). Another popular practice is to oil the hair fairly heavily and let it soak for a few hours, before applying the shikakai to soak up the excess oil and cleanse the scalp. 

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is very popular and the most preferred among the hair oil worldwide. Let us find out why. If you ever visit coastal parts of India, like West Bengal, Kerala, Coastal Tamil Nadu etc, you will be surprised to see lots and lots of old men and women, in their 70s and 80s, still having thick jet black hair. Thanks to the coastal climate, the rice and fish meal and of course, to the pure coconut oil they use on hair. Since their childhood, people living in most of the coastal areas of the world, more specifically in the areas where coconut grows in abundance, such as in the Indian Subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines etc., know the one and the only, the sweet smelling coconut oil as their only hair oil. Coconut oil has been in use as hair oil for ages and it has shown remarkable results. Certain components in it keep the hair strong, vitalized, nourished and protected from effects of ageing. Let us see those components and their effects on hair. 

Lauric Acid:

One of the most responsible reasons behind hair fall and hair loss is microbial action on the scalp and hair roots. So, to protect hair against them, what we need is an antimicrobial agent. Lauric Acid present in Coconut Oil is one of them. It is basically a triglyceride which yields a monoglyceride called Monolaurin when acted upon by a species of bacteria which breaks the glycerol bonds. This monolaurin has excellent antimicrobial properties.

Capric Acid

This is yet another triglyceride present in Coconut oil, which, like Lauric Acid, yields another monoglyceride called Monocaprin due to bacterial action, having antimicrobial properties similar to that of monolaurin. 


Almost every aptly educated person knows the importance of vitamin-E for skin and hair. It keeps scalp and skin healthy and hair rejuvenated.

Moisture Retaining Capacity: 

Coconut Oil has high moisture retaining capacity, since it is not broken down easily nor evaporated, being very stable. It does not let moisture escape thus keeping hair moistened and soft. This prevents breakage of hair. Coconut Oil is a far better conditioner for hair than any synthetic one available in the market.


The various fatty acids present in Coconut Oil serve as very good anti dandruff agents and are way better than any anti dandruff shampoo. A regular application can help you get rid of dandruff for ever.


Coconut oil can be good styling oil for hair too, as it melts on heating and then condenses on cooling. So when you apply it on your hair, it thins and spreads evenly due to heat of the scalp. Soon afterwards, as the hair comes in contact with air, the oil on hair condenses on cooling and thus works as a styling gel or cream.

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