How to save your hair

If your hair is suffering from the damage of dyes, bleaches and heat, here are two of the best and most dependable hair treatments from India.

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Vedang Lambe

(Illustration by Vedang Lambe)

Aksha Mittapalli, Contributing Writer

Growing up in India, I was told that healthy hair is just as important as a healthy body. Long, thick, voluminous hair is a great symbol of beauty that many strive to achieve. I have tried dozens of Indian hair care techniques and remedies and compiled the two best treatments to reverse the effects of excessive dying, bleaching and heat. 

Oiling 

A long-standing tradition for hair care in India. Not only does oiling strengthen hair, but it is also an act of love and service between women. My mother likes to make a blend of three essential oils to ensure hair strength, fast growth and scalp health. 

The first oil — my personal favorite — is coconut oil. A house staple, coconut oil is famous for its hydration properties. It will protect you from a dry, flaky scalp and give your hair a beautiful shine after washing it off. 

The second is almond oil, which can change the feel of your hair. If you’re looking for softer strands, almond oil will condition your hair and keep the scalp cool — I’ve noticed it makes my hair look much silkier. 

The third and final oil is an onion black seed oil blend. Despite its mild odor, the oil does wonders for heat damaged hair. It’s my secret to never having split ends and minimal breakage. 

Use equal parts of all three oils and boil them together for 10 minutes to create the only oil blend you’ll ever need. I have medium length straight hair, and I use about two tablespoons of the oil blend for my hair twice a week, but use it accordingly for your texture and length — use more if your hair is curlier. Remember, it should look oily, not wet.

Massage the oil into your scalp — making sure to focus on your natural parting — behind the ears, and above the neck. Ensure that you massage your scalp well to stimulate it and promote hair growth, but just make sure to not wash it out!

Hibiscus Leaf Hair Mask 

Ingredients for one use:

1 egg yolk 

½ cup yogurt 

75 grams hibiscus leaves (approximately 25 leaves)

15 grams henna leaves (approximately 5 leaves)

If years of heat and bleach robbed your hair of its original luster and volume, then this is just the recipe for you. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until it becomes a paste and apply liberally on your hair. Cover your hair with a shower cap for no more than one hour. Rinse thoroughly and wash with a sulfate free shampoo until there is no prominent residue. 

The set up and clean up might be arduous, but I swear by using the hibiscus leaf hair mask at least once a month for quick, effective nourishment. Expect results after just three uses. 

As always, make sure to do a patch test to check if you might have an allergic reaction to any of the oils or herbs. My hair would not be as happy and healthy without these hair care tips and tricks from my ancestors. I am spilling generations worth of Indian hair secrets just for you, so use them well. Good luck!

Contact Aksha Mittapalli at [email protected]