Indian women tend to have wonderfully thick, long, and healthy hair that even seems to be resistant to turning gray. Though genetics certainly play the most important part in hair growth and texture, there are some Indian hair care methods that help thousands of women around the world maintain beautiful, healthy locks.
In this article, we'll look at hair oiling, a traditional Indian hair mask that encourages shiny, healthy-looking hair. We'll also learn about some other Indian DIY hair treatments and look at some preventative things you can do to keep your hair long and luscious.
Traditional Indian Hair Care: Hair Oiling
Hair oiling is a long-standing tradition that Indian women use to keep their hair smooth and shiny. It is a bit like a hair mask, but it uses just one ingredient: oil. The type you use depends on what scent you prefer and what you have available. Coconut oil is used most often, but some people use olive, almond, or argan oil, or even a mixture of a few different oils.
How to Oil Your Hair:
- Lightly heat some oil in a bowl.
- Using your fingers, gently apply the oil to your scalp. Massage it well, starting in the center of your head and working outwards.
- Rub the oil down the lengths of your hair, all the way to the ends.
- Put your hair in a loose braid or bun and leave it in for at least half an hour. However, leaving it for 6–8 hours or overnight will produce the best results.
- (Optional) Fifteen minutes before washing, rub half a lemon over your scalp and ends. (Skip this step if you have recently dyed your hair.)
- Using a mild shampoo, wash your hair to get the oil out. Try not to over- or under-wash. It may take a few tries to get the right balance.
Alternative Oil Care for Your Hair
If you don't like the smell of coconut or olive oil, there are of course products that are great alternatives to hair oiling, such as hair masks. These masks often include coconut or olive oil, along with a myriad of other chemicals and scents. This is a good option if you don't like the smell of most oils or you want something a little easier to work with.
More DIY Indian Hair Care
Besides the aforementioned oil masks, there are a few other ways to care for your hair with natural products. Here are some DIY hair masks that are used in India and elsewhere:
Make a Henna Mask
Henna masks are said to support hair growth and can give your hair a nice hint of color. Henna is a natural reddish dye that is often used in place of harsh chemical hair dyes. This mask also includes amla and brahmi powder which, according to traditional Ayurvedic medicine, are said to provide nourishment to the hair and reduce dandruff. You can find henna, amla, and brahmi powder at your local Indian supermarket or online.
- 1 cup henna powder
- 3 tablespoons amla powder
- 5–10 tablespoons brahmi powder
- Mix together the henna powder, amla powder, and brahmi powder. Add water and stir until you have a creamy consistency.
- Apply the mixture to your scalp and hair and leave for 30 minutes.
- Wash off with lukewarm water. Repeat once a week.
Try a Milk Mask
If you don't have any oil or henna, you can just use regular full fat milk as a mask. Milk can calm your scalp and may reduce scurf. For more hair benefits, you can add honey, which has antimicrobial properties.
- 1 cup fresh milk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Mix together the honey and milk.
- Apply this mixture to your hair thirty minutes before washing.
Additional Tips for Colored Hair
If you color your hair regularly or use conditioner each time you wash your hair, you might get itching, dandruff, or oily hair. Excessively scratching your scalp can lead to hair loss, especially if you are stressed out. Baby shampoo is a helpful solution. It is the mildest shampoo and will help prevent dandruff and stop itching.
In case your hair ends become too dry, only shampoo your scalp—avoid washing the ends of your hair.
How to Properly Treat Your Hair
Even if you don't have time for hair oiling and masks, it's still important to take care of your hair and prevent it from becoming damaged. Here are some small changes you can make to your routine to keep your hair growing healthy and long.
1. Don't Wash Your Hair Every Day
Many Indian women don't wash their hair every day. Two to three times a week is enough to give the scalp time to re-grease. The natural oils produced by your scalp protects your hair against the environmental affects of too much sun, dry air, smog, dirt, and dust.
If you currently wash your hair everyday, switching to washing every two or three days will take some time to get used to. It might feel like you hair is extra oily during this time, but don't wash your hair! After a few weeks, your hair will get used to your new washing schedule, and the resulting effect will be worth it.
2. Let Your Hair Air Dry
Your scalp will also be happy if you avoid using a hairdryer. Let your scalp and hair air dry. If you get cold while you do this, you can wrap a towel or t-shirt around your head to absorb most of the moisture.
3. Use the Right Brush
Never use brushes or combs with metal, rubber, or plastic prongs. Wooden products are better for your hair, and will lead to less breakage.
4. Use Protective Styles
Protective styles differ depending on what kind of hair you have. In general, tight ponytails or buns are not good for your hair and can lead to breakage. Tie your hair in a casual way—such as in a braid or a loose bun—with a band. Special events, of course, require special styling, but even then you should try to work with natural materials instead of metal, plastic, or rubber products.
Overall Health Is Important for Beautiful, Long and Thick Hair
Get Your Vitamins and Nutrients
Diet is very important for your overall health—and that includes the health of your hair. Whole, fresh foods will help your hair grow longer and thicker: drink lots of water, and eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and brazil nuts are especially helpful for healthy skin and hair.
These foods have important vitamins and minerals that will help your hair, skin, and nails look and feel healthier. Eating burgers, fries, and other junk food often can affect the health of your hair and skin—if that's important to you may have to make some changes to your diet.
If you have trouble getting all the vitamins you need from your diet, consider taking vitamin supplements. These are sold at most drugstores, and usually contain vitamins A, B, and E, along with iron, folate, zinc, and other minerals that may help promote hair health and growth. Vitamin B-12 is especially great for your hair, skin and nails.
Take Care of Your Overall Health
Think about your lifestyle. Your everyday stress and worries are reflected in your appearance—you might look tired, with sallow skin and deep, dark circles around your eyes. You feel exhausted, tired, and weak.
Please take more care of yourself. Take time to relax. Take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly until your heart beats a little slower. Try to get back into balance—the balance of your innermost self is the most important for being healthy. Spending one day a week to focus on your wellness can work wonders. Enjoy it!
Make a Schedule for Hair Care
I read a lot of tips about hair, beauty, and skin routines. One theory I read about is how the moon calendar may influence what days you should focus on your beauty and wellness. According to this theory, the best time for hair care are days in which the moon is in Leo and Virgo. That means you have a window of about four days each month to go get your hair done. You might find this ridiculous, but it does not cost a penny so it is worth a try. In my case, it took two to three months for me to notice a change—but then I got compliments from people who I never expected to comment on my hair!
Prioritize Wellness and Take Care of Yourself
By far the most important beauty secret, no matter where you are in the world, is to take care of yourself. Stress, anxiety, and depression can all negatively affect the way you look, and more importantly, how you feel. You really should take some time for yourself—time away from all your duties and commitments. Focus on being in the moment and enjoying the present. If that feels selfish, start slowly, just two hours a week. Here are some ideas for things you can do to make yourself feel better.
- Take a walk in nature—preferably near water, like around a lake or along a beach or a river. Start dreaming. You could take photos, read a book, or sit down and paint. Or maybe you prefer to do nothing, simply watching the sky or the animals, letting your eyes wander.
- Go to cinema and watch films you've always wanted to see. Doing this alone is very intense—you will always remember the films you watch alone.
- Meet your best friend at a coffee shop and eat cakes, ice-cream, or have a cup of coffee. Goof around, make plans, dream together. Just avoid one thing: discussing your problems or bad things in the world.
- Go shopping, but in a relaxed manner. Even just walking through the city and gazing at the windows can clear your mind and inspire you.
Time for yourself means you can do whatever you like. Start a diary or create a scrapbook for your wellness days where you write down your ideas, add photos or drawings, save tickets, or preserve stones and shells you've found.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the secret Indian woman hair oil?
Answer: Usually it's simple coconut-oil.
© 2014 Elisabeth Meier
Elisabeth Meier (author) on April 16, 2018:
Hi Angiele, isn't that amazing? I additionally discovered that my hair grew the thicker when I stopped coloring them. So, I now let it grow as it is and don't care about that they begin to turn grey.
Angieie on March 04, 2018:
I tried this now NY hair grows 2and half inches a month.
rudolphia on February 02, 2018:
thank you very interesting where do you get the wooden brush from?
em on October 17, 2017:
I find a lot of nice advice, thank you so much.
Best regards from Sweden
roz on July 14, 2017:
Hoping to get great results from this site of course by taking it seriously.
Seems a very useful site specially coming from India should really work...
Good luck girls :)
azraa on May 28, 2017:
How do u do it
Elisabeth Meier (author) on June 12, 2016:
@Rashika - Thanks for your comment. Yes indeed, the hair becomes much shinier and these brushes reduce spliss. Nice that you experienced the same.
Rashika Mukherjee from New Delhi on June 04, 2016:
The idea of using wooden brush to comb your hir is quite effective.