Ayurvedic Hair Oiling
The Science Behind Hair Health
The ancient practice of Ayurveda uses holistic beauty to grow luscious and healthy locks, and one of those practices is the tradition of hair oiling.
If you have never heard of hair oiling and are unsure how it affects hair health, this article will clear up those curiosities. I’ll take you through the history of the hair oiling ritual and the scientific benefits of implementing it into your hair care practice.
What is Hair Oiling?
Hair oiling is when you lovingly apply a mixture of oils and herbs to your locks and scalp before washing the hair. It’s used in Ayurveda to increase the energetic flow in the body and nourish the hair and scalp.
The History of Hair Oiling in Ayurveda
‘Sneha’ (Sanskrit for oil) is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that means ‘to love.’ It’s a tradition over 4,000 years old and is a weekly ritual passed down through the generations in India.
Tending to the scalp unblocks the Crown Chakra (located at the top of the head). When unbalanced, this Chakra is closed to new ideas or thoughts, and you may experience dissociation. Applying oil to the strands is a relaxing practice and restores nourishment to the hair. However, hair oiling is not just a spiritual practice but is rooted in science.
The Scientific Impact of Hair Oiling in Ayurveda
Ayurveda translates from Sanskrit to the ‘science of life.’ That means the holistic treatment of hair growth isn’t just soul-fulfilling but has an evidence-based impact.
It Prevents Protein Loss
A 2003 study shows that using coconut oil as a pre-wash treatment protects the hair against protein loss. A shocking 80% of hair is constructed of the protein keratin, and lack of it leads to hair loss and breakage. It’s thought that coconut oil is particularly effective because it closely resembles your hair’s natural protein, and the composition of the oil can pass through the hair cuticle.
It Encourages Hair Growth
Certain essential oils can increase hair growth with consistent use. A 2015 study suggests that rosemary oil has the same potent growth effects as minoxidil (a synthetic chemical for proven hair growth). If you are using an essential oil, make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil (such as olive or argan oil) to prevent irritation and sensitivity on the scalp.
It Reduces Hair Loss and Premature Greying
A scientific study demonstrates the incredible benefits of using a herbal hair oil made with aloe vera and the plant Indigofera tinctoria, combined with fenugreek and black cumin seeds mixed with coconut oil. Participants saw a diminishment in hair loss and greying and increased hair growth.
It Protects Your Hair Against Pollution
Cars, factories, planes… they all pollute the air we breathe. However, it also affects your hair health. The free radicals in pollutants attack the hair cuticle, but many hair oils contain antioxidants to protect the hair from damage. Oiling also creates a thin barrier between fumes and your hair cuticle. It will stick to the oil and reduce the amount of pollution your hair cuticle absorbs.
The Difference Between Scalp Oil and Deep Conditioning Hair Oil
Your scalp is part of your skin (the largest organ on your body) and needs a different oil treatment than your hair (which is made of dead cells). Using the same oil can cause build-up and irritation on the head or not provide the moisture your hair needs.
Scalp Oiling (When You Have an Unhealthy Scalp, You Have Unhealthy Hair).
Nurturing your skin with scalp oil is like providing flowers with the perfect environment to grow. A longitudinal study shows oiling nourishes the scalp with vital nutrients and enhances pathways for biotin production (a form of protein that stimulates keratin production). Regular oiling also reduces itching and irritation because it’s an anti-inflammatory.
Consistent scalp oiling can:
- Reduce dandruff - although you must use the correct oil.
- Prevent inflammation - inflamed hair follicles restrict blood flow, limiting hair growth and triggering hair loss.
- Hydrate the scalp - just like any part of your skin, it needs water to stay hydrated.
- Exfoliates the skin - a gentle massage helps shift build-up, loosen dirt, and encourages cellular turnover.
Deep Conditioning Hair Oil (You Cannot Just Wash Your Hair, It Needs Nourishment)
A deep conditioning hair oil penetrates the hair shaft to replenish the strands with proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Depending on the porosity of your hair and the type of oil you use, it can also fill in gaps between the cuticle to prevent moisture from escaping, increasing hair strength and elasticity.
Deep conditioning hair oils include:
- Coconut oil - abundant in omega 3 and Vitamin E.
- Olive oil - contains emollients that hydrate the hair.
- Avocado oil - provides antioxidants to protect strands against free radials and minerals to nourish the hair shaft.
Inner imbalances Can Trigger Hair Loss.
Although hair oiling can treat and prevent hair loss, it’s vital to remember that deregulated hormones and misaligned chakras can cause excessive hair fall. Ensure to live a holistic Ayurvedic lifestyle and nurture each chakra to prevent imbalances within the body.
Use Modern Science and the Wisdom of Ayurveda for Hair Health
Studies continue to develop the science of hair care to determine the best oils for scalp and hair health. However, it’s crucial to remember that external practices make up a small percentage of healthy practices. Make sure you don’t neglect the mind, body, and soul connection by incorporating the insight of Ayurveda for holistic beauty.