Rooted in Ritual
Of all the massive contributions South Asia has made to the beauty landscape, a relatively unknown one has been the word ‘shampoo’. This term has its roots in the Hindi term cāmpo or champoo, meaning ‘to press’ or ‘to knead’. In other words, a massage.
Shampooing the hair is a way of massaging and stimulating the scalp. In ancient India, gram flour or rice water rinses were used to wash and cleanse the hair, but we’ve come a long way from there. Ranavat’s Mighty Majesty Regenerative Veda⁴ Bond Complex Shampoo and Conditioner™ sets a new gold standard for scalp and hair care, especially when teamed with the iconic original that started it all, the Mighty Majesty Fortifying Hair Serum. In clinical tests, 43% bond strengthening repair was seen with every use, and it's been proven to improve scalp barrier function after immediate use, resulting in the reduction of redness and irritation.
“South Asians tend to focus on hair prevention as a key element of their ritual versus damage reversal” - Michelle Ranavat, founder
“South Asians invest a considerable amount of time in our hair routines, focusing on both the scalp and length, leading to overall better hair health,” says Michelle Ranavat, the brand’s founder. Scalp health is vitally important to hair health, as it acts as the living soil which grounds and feeds the hair shaft, which is technically dead tissue. Both modern science and Ayurveda acknowledge that a person’s hair can only be as healthy as their scalp. Often, what we refer to as ‘haircare’ is actually scalp care. For instance, shampooing, oiling and massaging are all practices that benefit the scalp, and in turn, a healthy scalp produces healthy hair.
Modern and Ayurvedic science’s understanding of the scalp
To truly understand how to improve our hair quality, we have to first understand how the scalp functions. The scalp has some of the thickest skin and more sebaceous and sweat glands than most other parts of the body. “Our skin cells go through a turnover process and old cells shed off every few weeks. Scalp skin has many hair follicles which can trap these dead skin cells. Those cells, along with hair products we use, can cause buildup on the scalp,” says Dr. Kiran Mian, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. The scalp also has a unique microbiome, which refers to the beneficial species of bacteria and fungi that live on our skin and maintain balance by keeping pathogenic or bad organisms in check. “A healthy microbiome is one that has a diverse amount of bacterial and fungal species,” says Dr. Mian. Excessive sweat, oil and buildup can be food for bacteria, throwing off the microbiome and causing irritation, flaking, and itchiness. She advocates for exfoliating the scalp with clarifying ingredients and a gentle massage with the fingertips, for optimum hair growth.
In Ayurveda, the health of the body is like a web, innately connected to the universe, our environment, diet, lifestyle and even our profession and relationships. A disturbance on one thread causes the entire web to tremble. The hair and scalp functions similarly, and habits we might think are unconnected to hair health may be causing its decline. Nidhi Pandya Bhanshali, a third-generation Ayurvedic practitioner and educator, outlines a few key factors that contribute to hair health.
In general, your hair is a reflection of your overall well-being. The hair shaft is considered a sub-tissue of the bone tissue, according to Ayurveda, but the skin of the scalp and the hair follicles which actually grow hair and are responsible for its quality, are dependent on the health of all the other tissues of the body. “The balance of all five elements—earth, water, fire, wind and ether—in your body, as well as the health of all bodily tissues really determine how your hair turns out,” says Pandya Bhanshali. A diet well-balanced in all the six tastes, which are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy, and astringent, is also a key factor.
An important lifeline of scalp health is the sebum or oils it naturally produces. A balanced production of sebum is the goal. A lack or an excess of it will both lead to unhealthy hair. “A shortage of sebum is often caused by anxiety, worry, insufficient sleep, excess caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods, or a low fat diet. That’s when hair follicles become dry and lose their nutrition, leading to rough and brittle hair,” says Pandya Bhanshali. That’s where the need for oiling comes in. On the flip side, excess oiliness causes congestion which is typically fueled by a lack of stimulation and massage, infrequent cleansing and a diet of predominantly fried foods. It leads to blocked hair follicles, dandruff and other issues that hamper hair growth. Enter cleansing or shampooing, to remove the unwanted sebum.
Hair is also adversely impacted by heat and dryness, says Pandya Bhanshali, citing the sun, excessive heat styling, spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and a fiery, angry demeanor as contributors. “This can cause the melanin cells to burn out, leading to premature graying,” she says.
In a nutshell, Ayurveda counsels a cool environment—physical as well as mental, a regulated amount of sebum, a balanced diet, and stimulation to ensure optimum circulation as a recipe for healthy hair.
The Ayurvedic philosophy of preventative care
A key pillar of Ayurvedic science is its laser focus on prevention instead of a cure. “The definition of health in Ayurveda is to keep the body in homeostasis, or in a condition of balance, and to have a fulfilled mind, spirit and senses,” says Pandya Bhanshali. The goal is to maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle and ward off problems and issues in the first place, instead of fixing them after they happen.
A botanical complex that supports scalp and hair health
Staying true to its Ayurvedic DNA, Ranavat’s Mighty Majesty Regenerative Veda⁴ Bond Complex Shampoo and ConditionerTM carries that ethos of prevention in its formulation and function. The nutrient-rich complex at the heart of the shampoo and conditioner formula is made up of botanicals with an impressive, centuries-old track record for maintaining and boosting every parameter of hair and scalp health. “South Asians tend to focus on hair prevention as a key element of their ritual versus damage reversal,” says Michelle. “The reason we developed the first Ayurvedic Bond Strengthening Complex is because I’ve always seen a link between Ayurveda and actual, real life results.” Michelle spent over three years perfecting the proprietary bond strengthening complex and married Indian Ayurvedic ingredient wisdom with European formulation expertise to land on this formula.
The plant extracts work together in synergy to maintain a balanced scalp that gives root to lush, healthy strands. “I love the idea of grouping these ingredients into a compound because traditionally, Ayurvedic ingredients were used in compounds so that herbs could come together to offset, balance, and enhance each other,” says Pandya Bhanshali.
The ingredients have also been vetted by modern science as integral to hair health, and both, Dr. Mian and Pandya Bhanshali run through how each botanical extract makes an impact.
- Pink Lotus: This floral extract provides the cooling environment the scalp needs as per Ayurveda; it nourishes and moisturizes the scalp and the hair follicles without congesting them. “When it comes to scalp health, being cool and being nourished is everything,” says Pandya Bhanshali, who says this ingredient would benefit those who are graying prematurely.
- Hibiscus: “Hibiscus is classified under a group of herbs called kesya, which means ‘good for your hair’,” says Pandya Bhanshali. In traditional medicine, it was a remedy for alopecia, as the flower works to regenerate and restore the health of the follicles. “The flavonoids and amino acids in this ingredient help strengthen hair,” says Dr. Mian.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is a powerful herbal remedy and a rasayana or elixir, according to Ayurvedic texts, restoring vitality to the body. It’s a powerhouse for hair, supporting the creation of new tissue, strengthening hair follicles and promoting blood flow to the scalp. “It has antioxidants that fight free radical damage and repair the hair,” says Dr. Mian.
- Amla: Amla or Indian Gooseberry is every hair expert’s favorite all-rounder. “Amla is not only great to restore the environment of the hair and bring it back to balance, but it's also good for premature graying as well as hair fall,” says Pandya Bhanshali. Dr. Mian lists some more of its impressive credentials: “It’s high in carotene which is the building block of hair, and is rich in Vitamin E, which moisturizes and undoes oxidative damage. It also consists of many fatty acids that help lock moisture into the cuticle, or the outer covering of hair strands, and increase shine.” Amla’s high concentration of Vitamin C, however, is what makes it supremely valuable for hair. “Vitamin C builds collagen, and has an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action. This normalizes the microbiome, controlling overgrowth of yeast which leads to build up and dandruff,” says Dr. Mian.
- Sunflower Seed Oil: According to modern science, sunflower seed oil is rich in Vitamin E and oleic acid, a fatty acid that helps with hair breakage. In Ayurveda, oil is considered to be actual food for your hair. Hair is not necessary for the body’s survival, so if there’s a lack of dietary nourishment, the body diverts it to vital organs and necessary bodily functions, with only leftovers, if any, going to the hair. Since hair is the body’s last priority, it’s often malnourished if the body itself is undernourished. And as Pandya Bhanshali noted above, depleted scalp sebum leads to brittle, unhealthy hair and needs to be replenished. “So you really need to provide the nourishment, like topical applications of oil, to feed the hair,” she says. The conditioner and hair serum will do just that.
The results might be self-explanatory, but here’s a taste of what to expect. The tag team of the shampoo and conditioner promise to clarify the scalp and remove excess oil, eliminating congestion and yet delivering hydration to the scalp. Each hair follicle will be strengthened, while the strands will have reduced breakage, increased shine and reduced frizz, and less chances of future damage.
Your new Mighty Majesty ritual
The new additions are meant to seamlessly integrate with the existing Mighty Majesty MVP, the Fortifying Hair Serum, which is the first stop in your ritual. A scalp massage with oil, is a vital South Asian beauty ritual that’s endured over the generations, with a multitude of benefits. It’s supremely relaxing, the oil nourishes the scalp and strands, and the massaging action stimulates the skin and roots to produce healthy hair. A delightful bonus is the intoxicating jasmine scent—it’s a spa experience in your own bathroom.
Michelle promises that the shampoo and conditioner will just draw out that moment of bliss. First, gently massage the serum into the scalp the night before or even a few hours prior to shampooing and conditioning. “To get the most out of the shampoo you really want to take your time working the shampoo from the scalp all the way down to the ends. It creates a very delicate ‘champagne’ lather as a result of using gentle non-SLS surfactants. The scent is intoxicating!” Michelle says. The conditioner follows, feeding the hair and even scalps that need the extra hydration, leaving behind a shiny, nourished length of hair. Finish with a few drops of the serum rubbed into the ends of the hair for a boost of moisture and that otherworldly bouquet of jasmine.
Parizaad Khan Sethi is a New York-based freelance beauty writer and editor. A regular contributor to publications like Allure, The Cut, and The Zoe Report, she's also a Contributing Editor with Vogue India, and was the magazine's former Beauty Director.