I love messing around with my own hair and sharing hair tips and tricks with others.
Every time I watch TV, there is always some commercial for a brand-new product that promises to give me lustrous, beautiful, and healthy hair. And there I go, like a moron, rushing off to buy it. But I've been working on becoming a new person—a greener person—one who protects the environment and takes care of my health. That's why I have decided to stop buying every hair product I see.
Lately, I've been working on making my own shampoo, and I'm always on the lookout for natural ingredients that can make my hair grow longer and healthier. My newest "discovery" is Acacia concinna, most commonly known as shikakai.
What Is Shikakai?
Shikakai (which literally translates to "hair-fruit" or "fruit for hair") is a shrub-like tree that grows in central India. It has been used for centuries there as a cleanser for hair, body, and pretty much anywhere else a cleanser might come in handy. What sets this plant apart from the rest is that shikakai actually lathers moderately because its bark has saponins, which foam up when shaken in water, similar to soap.
Shikakai looks very similar to tamarind. Its seed comes inside a pod. The seed, or fruit, is then dried, mixed with the leaves and bark, and ground into a very fine powder. That's the reason the shampoo also lathers. This powder is then made into a paste and applied to hair.
The good news is that we no longer have to make our own powder. We can just buy it and follow these instructions. But before you go and buy your own bottle, let's examine the benefits of shikakai.
What Are the Benefits of Shikakai?
One of the greatest benefits of using shikakai as a regular cleanser is that it is all natural, so you won’t have to worry about any harsh chemicals seeping into your body, but there are many other benefits.
It Foams Up Like "Regular" Shampoo
Some people who have used the "no 'poo" method love it but still miss the suds from commercial shampoo. Shikakai could be the solution for this problem. It's all-natural, but thanks to the saponins in its bark, the powder foams up much like soap. Yay!
It's High in Vitamins
Shikakai is very high in vitamin C as well as vitamins A, D, E, and K, antioxidants which are essential for healthy and rapid hair growth. These vitamins provide the hair follicles with the necessary micronutrients to help hair grow fast and healthy.
It Washes and Detangles
Works as a shampoo and detangler at the same time. Since shikakai's low pH levels mean it won't strip your hair of its natural oils, there are fewer chances of your hair getting all tangled up.
It Strengthens and Nourishes Hair
This amazing ingredient nourishes hair, making it grow faster and stronger (starting right at the roots). It also conditions hair, keeping strands moisturized and shiny.
It Prevents Dandruff and Infections
Shikakai not only prevents and eliminates dandruff, but also protects the scalp from fungal infections and even hair lice.
It's a Multipurpose Cleanser
Since this ingredient can be used as shampoo, face cleanser, and body soap, there will be fewer bottles taking up precious shower space.
How Do I Use Shikakai?
There are various ways in which this product can be applied to your hair. Read on to learn how to make a paste to use as a shampoo or a mask, use a shikakai tea rinse and mix with oil to use as a treatment to promote hair health.
The most common method of applying this ingredient is as a paste. You will need to buy the powder and add either water or herbal tea, until you end up with a mixture with the consistency of yogurt.
This paste can be used as a hair mask or a shampoo.
If you will be using it as shampoo, grab a handful of the paste, apply it to the scalp, and scrub gently for 2 minutes or until hair feels clean. Don't overdo it! Even though shikakai foams up, it is not soap. Your hair will not feel the same way it does when you wash with shampoo.
Mind you, your hair will be clean, but it will also retain most of its natural oils so during the first few days, your hair might feel a tad rough to the touch. This can be fixed easily by applying conditioner or a little bit of oil to your hair after you shower.
My favorite choice of oil is coconut. Personally, I love how clean and moisturized my hair feels after washing it with shikakai.
DIY Hair Mask:
Apply the paste to your hair and leave on for 30 minutes. If you have any trouble rinsing out the paste, just apply your favorite conditioner or natural oil to your hair after you shower. I use coconut oil and my hair has never felt better.
DIY Shikakai Tea Rinse:
This will take a little longer than the paste, but it's easier to rinse.
- Add 1–3 tbs. of shikakai powder to 1 cup of water or herbal tea and let it steep for 1 to 5 hours.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve and add 1 1/2 cups of hot water (or hot herbal tea) to the mix.
- Use this liquid as a rinse instead of shampoo.
How to Use It:
Shake before applying to maximize the suds. Apply to wet hair and massage all over scalp and hair. Put on a shower cap and rinse at the end of your shower.
DIY Shikakai and Oil Hair Treatment
You can make your own shikakai oil to use as a treatment on your hair or skin.
You will need:
- 1 tbs. shikakai powder
- 1/2 cup of your favorite base oil (almond, olive, avocado, coconut, etc.)
- Mix the powder and the base oil and place it in a closed container.
- Shake vigorously.
- Place the container in a dark, cool place.
- Let the mixture rest for 3 weeks, shaking it occasionally to prevent the shikakai from settling.
- After three weeks, your infused oil will be ready to use. The oil must be kept in a dry, cool, dark place.
You can use this oil on both skin and hair.
My Favorite Brand of Shikakai Soap
Where Do I Buy Shikakai?
If your local health food stores don't carry it, the best way to buy it is online. However, if you're interested in buying the Dr. Bronner's Shikakai soap, you might find it in your local Sprouts, Whole Foods, or pretty much any other health-food store.
Dr. Bronner's Shikakai Soap Is My Favorite
This is my favorite method because it includes buying a ready-to-use version of the shikakai soap. Dr. Bronner’s brand sells an excellent product. It comes in liquid form and the only thing you have to do is dilute it with water, which you can do right in the shower.
I like to keep a bottle with a soap pump dispenser filled with diluted shikakai soap in the shower. That way it's ready to use at all times. I use it in my hair and as a body wash. So far I'm loving it.
Dr. Bronner's shikakai soap is all-natural. These are the ingredients: Organic White Grape Juice, Organic Sucrose, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Tea Tree Oil, Organic Shikakai Powder, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, and Tocopherol.
This soap comes in many different smells, just like their castille soap. My favorite scent is tea tree oil, but there are many others to choose from.
Have fun trying new, green things! They're good for you and the environment.
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.
© 2013 Silver Q
Vsugar on January 03, 2020:
Will it help with hair due to menopause?
Sid on December 02, 2016:
I didn't understood the part of applying to the scalp. In case of shampoo, I just apply to my head and rub until it's very lathery and then wash it. Do I have to do the same in case of shikakai paste??
divya on May 10, 2016:
Hey actually am having severe hair fall and am having curly hair...when I turned to my doctor she told some of your hair follicles have closed it seems ... My question is Will tis help me to solve my problem
Princy on April 18, 2016:
No problem in using shikakai powder for the past 1 year . you can try Pure Shikakai Powder which is manufactured with 25 ingredients naturally grinder. we can use that for body for taking bath. awesome feeling.
try that from http://pureonly.in/
Ganesh morrthy on April 18, 2016:
if you want to keep you healthy from your hair to your body, use natural. because as a family , we have experienced a tremendous growth on hair and healthy skin and a body . dont touch shampoos
Ruth Valerio on April 13, 2016:
Hi, I've just got some shikakai powder to use. Can you tell me: do I apply the paste to wet or dry hair? Thanks.
rajesh patra on August 08, 2015:
Is their any problem if use shikakai daily ????
Silver Q (author) on August 05, 2015:
have you tried castor oil? It's amazing, and if used at least twice a week, it can make your hair grow up to 3 cm a month!
praskash on July 06, 2015:
hai i too facing the same problem suggest me the best suggestion i worried very much
shaukat ali on May 25, 2015:
hi i am 22, i have hair fall problem, what should i do????
Silver Q (author) on November 18, 2014:
I love natural products, too! I try to use them as much as possible because they usually turn out better than the store bought stuff. Thanks for the comment and voting up!
Suzie from Carson City on November 17, 2014:
Silver Q......Thanks so much for this valuable information. I am an advocate for natural products as well and your article has proven very educational to me. I have bookmarked this hub. Great read! UP++
Silver Q (author) on July 22, 2014:
Try it! I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Thank you for reading and commenting!
Alka Narula from INDIA on July 20, 2014:
Though its so common in India but I never tried Shikakai...after going through your hub I am so sure to try it out.
Silver Q (author) on June 20, 2014:
Yes, give shikakai a try. You'll see that you won't be disappointed. Thanks for reading and commenting.
torrilynn on June 20, 2014:
thanks for your insight on shikakai. I love how beneficial it is for your hair. I will consider using in the near future. thanks again and voted up.
Silver Q (author) on February 18, 2014:
Yes, you have to dilute it. What I do is mix 1 part shikakai soap with 2 parts water. It is easier if you leave this prepared in a bottle. You can use a water bottle or a soap pump dispenser, that way it will be ready to use every time you shower. Thank you for reading and commenting.
SarahLuvsFiona on February 16, 2014:
Hi :) Okay I have a question . I've bought the Dr Bronner Shikakai Soap, and I've tried Washing my Hair with it. But my Hair feels quite Greasy? Will I get better results if I dilute it with water? And if so, how much water is needed?
Silver Q (author) on January 20, 2014:
Hi Dave smith:
Shikakai helps strengthen the hair's root. It could help with hair loss that is caused by factors, other than genetics. Thank you fore reading!
Dave Smith on January 18, 2014:
Is it useful for hair loss?
Silver Q (author) on November 11, 2013:
Yes, natural is always better. Thank you for reading and for commenting!
JPSO138 from Cebu, Philippines, International on November 11, 2013:
Thanks for this information. You are right indeed, there are so many products available in the market but there is no substitute for the natural ones.
Silver Q (author) on November 07, 2013:
I'm glad I reminded you of something good. :) natural hair products always seem to be the best choice. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Toy Tasting from Mumbai on November 07, 2013:
My mother always applied Shikakai shampoo on her hair. She even forced me to do the same. Probably that is the reason, why my hair were much more better than present. Thanks for reminding me the true value of herbal products. I am surely going to use Shikakai from now on.
Silver Q (author) on November 03, 2013:
Thanks for reading!
mbusley on November 03, 2013:
Thanks for the article. I am definitely going to try Shikakai powder now :)