Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hair secrets

- By Janaki Krishnan

Kerala women are known for their long, lustrous black hair. Their secret? Traditional hair care methods.

I remember my childhood days in Matunga, when Tuesdays and Fridays were "oil bath" days. We children would gather in the bathroom, and take turns to sit on the large stone seat in the centre. My mother would massage til oil, heated with pepper and cumin, into our scalp. It was called neer-piditham - both cumin and pepper are belived to have heating properties, and were meant to keep us from catching cold. There was always a lot of rush-rush-rush on oil bath days because all of us had to get ready for school.

The oil was washed off with a home-made shampoo - we would pluck tali leaves and grind that with shikakai to wash off the oil. If the leaves were not available, then the kanji starch from the previous night's rice was used with shikakai.

As I grew up, I had neither the time nor the inclination to look after my hair. In fact, I've never shared the common belief that long thick hair is an important aspect of female beauty. Maybe it's because I've never had long thick hair! My usual retort is that you can either grow grey cells, or you can grow your hair! And I usually conveniently point at my youngest sister, who is the brainy one in the family, and has short hair.

But at the age of 70, I became a little worried as I experienced severe hair fall. It was then that I spotted, in a Tamil magazine, a recipe for a hair oil that guaranteed dark, long hair. I've adapted that recipe to my needs, and now my hair care routine includes this oil. I do feel that the hair loss has stopped.

Here is how my recipe works:

In a pan, collect the following: shoeflower (you can use both the leaves and the flower - if you don't find the flower, just use leaves), fenugreek, curry leaves, pepper powder and cumin powder. Heat the ingredients until the leaves become a little dry.

Add coconut oil and heat over a low flame. When you see oil bubbling (usually a white froth forms), then switch off the flame.

Let the oil cool, preferably overnight. Strain and store in a cool place. Apply on your scalp 30 minutes before a shower.

The original recipe I saw in the magazine also had henna leaves in it. But I don't want my hair to change colour, so I don't use henna. Also, henna has cooling properties, and it's easy to catch a cold when oil is infused with henna.

Another aspect is the pan itself. Traditionally, a heavy iron pan is used for heating hair oil. The oil is left in the pan to cool overnight, it is believed that the iron reacts with the oil, adding some of its properties to the oil.

So now you have it - my secret recipe for hair care! If you do try it, let me know the results!

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice to see something from you after long. My patti is 87 and she still has long thick hair though grey. She used "karisalankanni thailam" in her younger days and used to regularly bathe in the kutralam "aruvi" (waterfalls) which has medicinal properties. I know this isn't the right place to ask but can you please post some traditional recipes sometime. I still wonder if your grandfather(photo in an earlier post with namam)was iyengar. Please answer. Hope to see more posts from you. Lots of love..

Frederick said...

Hello Janaki!

"Add coconut oil and heat over a low flame..."
- Heating over a low flame is certainly a wise decision. Even so, coconut oil is the safest of all cooking oils because of its 92% saturation.

Enough talk, I'm on to my kitchen to try this. Thanks a lot!

Just my two cents.

Cheers,
CoconutOilGuy
http://www.coconut-oil-central.com
Your Drugstore in a Bottle

Ravi Ramakantan said...

And how foolish I was Mm, to think that "hair", like so many other things with us,was in the genes :-)

Ravi

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Deepa Krishnan said...

Response from my mom - we are Smartas, followers of Sankara, who united the different Hindu sects and preached advaita.

(Well actually she said a lot of other related things, I told her there's enough in it write an article about it! So I hope that inspires her!)

Smarts are true Universalists, and among the most liberal thinking sects in Hinduism, who believe all Gods are but a representation of the same Reality.

Here's some info if you want to read more:
http://www.experiencefestival.com/smartas

- Deepa

Anonymous said...

Deepa from your photos, it appears you have thick hair. Is that so ? Whats your secret?

Anonymous said...

what is shoeflower? where do you get it?

Anonymous said...

shoeflower is the hibiscus flower.

Deepa Krishnan said...

I don't have a hair care routine these days, although when we grew up we oiled our hair with coconut oil, and washed it with shikakai.

nazima said...

after a long time a have read a post that reminded me also of my childhood days. Thanks a lot for reminding me of flashback.please post more articles on natural hair recipies

Anonymous said...

THANX A TON FOR UR RECIPE. Will Definitely try out

Anonymous said...

Yes, coconut oil can help you lose weight, gain muscle, control
cravings, regulate the thyroid, treat candida, and level out your blood sugar all
resulting to successful weight loss. Add coconut milk, butter, chicken stock,
salt and cardamom to water whilst cooking rice. Now
you know why people of the tropics are so slim and healthy
at the same time, this is because in most of their cooking,
it is used.

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Anonymous said...

Namaskar mam,apki recipie of coconut and hibiscus is very gud.iwanna try ds.bt plz ye bta dijiye k kitne amount me ye sb chejein leni h oil bnane k liy.or 1 bat jo apne pepper powder likha h vo red chilly vala h kya?or leaves dry krne h ya ni.actualy mam me apne hair thining ki vjh se bhut depres hu.plz sugest me ful recipie and some other tips if u have

Anonymous said...

Mam,plz do reply it make me very mch depresd

Deepa Krishnan said...

I will speak to my mom and get back in a couple of days.

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