We discover the Indian tradition of hair oiling, and its benefits
For centuries in India, hair styling has revolved around rituals and traditions that promote strong, healthy hair, rather than focusing on the latest styles and trends. Women nourish their hair with ingredients sourced from their land and wear their strands in neat braids. Almond, coconut, jasmine, amla and other plant-based oils are used to soften hair and promote growth. They believe that their hair is something to nurture, and maintaining the health and length of their strands means valuing tradition and culture. It makes us wonder: Is it time to adapt a simpler, perhaps more traditional, hair routine? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40 percent of American women have experienced hair loss by the time they are 40. And while hair supplements can help over time, even one rigorous styling session can cause more harm than good.
Ayurveda, the Indian holistic healing tradition that is more than 5,000 years old, is rooted in the philosophy of taking care of your body, with ingredients available in nature. And while its more bold notions—like consistent colon cleansing—may not be accepted by the Western world yet, the ritual of hair oiling resonates with our obsession of clean and effective beauty.
The basics of hair oiling
Hair oiling is a scalp and strands treatment that uses high-performance ingredients to promote growth and hydration. It is a two-step process: Applying nutrient-rich oils and then massaging them into the scalp. A traditional Indian routine involves a more in-depth approach: Divide the hair into smaller sections, take a generous amount of warm oil into the palms and massage it vigorously into the scalp and strands. This stimulates blood circulation and encourages growth. The hair is then tucked into a neat bun or braid and slept with. Keeping the oil in your hair overnight helps it penetrate deep into the skin. It is suggested to shampoo twice the next morning. You will step out of the shower with hair that is soft, moisturized and nourished.
The traditional context
Hair oiling—India’s most common beauty practice—is a time-tested ritual that not only uses Indian ingredients for luscious locks, but is also a reflection of maternal bonds within Indian families. The word sneha, which means ‘to oil’ in ancient Sanskrit text, also translates to ‘to love’. Most Indian girls grow up with their grandmother or mother taking care of their hair, oiling it weekly and tying them into tidy braids. And when they do this, they bond over family stories, or ancient fables. While the tradition of coating the scalp and hair from root to tip may vary regionally—with South Indian women oiling their hair daily and North Indian women oiling their hair twice a week—it is passed on from generation to generation.
Hair oiling’s reparative and restorative benefits have been touted in the Indian subcontinent for centuries. From strengthening and moisturizing, to aiding in hair growth, we discuss some benefits of hair oiling below:
Helps in hair thinning and loss
Depending on the oil and ingredient you choose, hair oiling can work against thinning and loss of strands. Coconut, rosemary and castor are some ingredients that promote hair growth.
Stimulates blood circulation
The massage increases circulation of blood to the scalp and introduces nutrients into the scalp that work hard to nourish and protect the hair.
Enhances the quality of hair health
It helps increase hair’s tensile strength, reduces frizz, prevents heat damage, and hydrates intensely.
Relaxing and de-stressing
Like body massages, hair massages are also stress busters. Stress is one of the biggest causes for hair fall, and a good massage helps calm nerves.
Practicing hair oiling in modern times
Traditionally, women slept with oil in their hair but even an hour of oiled hair will help moisturize and protect your strands from detergent-based shampoos and conditioners. To help the oil penetrate even deeper, wrap a hot, steaming towel around your head in a turban-style. Customize to your needs: Put it on your hairline to promote growth or on the roots to nourish the ends.
RANAVAT’S Fortifying Hair Serum: Mighty Majesty
For RANAVAT, this traditional ritual of the Indian culture was one to behold. We want you to experience its transformative powers and see real results. With the Mighty Majesty, we introduce a lesser-known ingredient to you: Amla or Indian gooseberry, a potent antioxidant that works as a natural conditioner. Our three-ingredient serum infuses amla with a high concentration of jasmine and sunflower oil, packed with vitamins C and E, that work together to control breakage, encourage hair growth and nourish the scalp. Use this as a serum post shower—apply two to three drops onto wet or dry strands from mid-length to ends—or leave it overnight as a deep conditioning mask.Natural is better, and hair oiling, backed by thousands of years of Indian tradition, is proof.