Shikakai: How to Use Indian Powder to Wash Your Hair


Washing your hair without using shampoo is possible. Among the alternatives to the classic shampoo of which we had already spoken we find the chickpea flour and the Moroccan clay ghassoul (also called rhassoul). Now we’ll talk about shikakai, a natural powder suitable for hair care of Indian origin.

The shikakai is derived from the Acacia concinna, a plant native to Asia. It is a natural extract sold in the form of powder that is mixed with water to obtain a consistency compound suitable for application on the hair and scalp.

The word shikakai can be translated literally as “fruit for the hair”. In the east, shikakai powder is considered a better approach to hair care than common shampoos. It is mainly used in case of dandruff, to strengthen the hair and to help them grow.

Shikakai works because it is obtained from the bark of the Acacia concinna plant, which is rich in saponins, natural detergents. It is a delicate product that is recommended for people with sensitive skin as an alternative to shampoo.

How to use the shikakai to wash your hair

The use of shikakai is very simple. It is a matter of preparing a creamy mixture by mixing this Indian powder with lukewarm water. Once the mixture is prepared, it must be massaged on the hair and on the scalp just like a shampoo. Leave to act for a few minutes as a normal shampoo and rinse with warm water.

Alternatively, you can use the shikakai combined with water as a hair-strengthening pack, increasing the rest times of the mixture before rinsing. The shikakai is not an aggressive product, but if you have dry hair you can proceed to sprinkle with a few drops of coconut oil before using the shikakai as a pack or as a shampoo.

In the traditional use of shikakai, with reference to Indian women, the use of washing powder is preceded by a massage of the scalp with coconut oil or castor oil. The oil is left to act for 2 or 3 hours. Then you switch to a compress or shampoo with the shikakai, to remove the oil.

Do this to use the shikakai as a shampoo or as a hair pack. Depending on the length of the hair mix 2 or 3 tablespoons of shikakai with hot water, adding it gradually, until a homogeneous mixture is obtained.

When the mixture has cooled, apply it directly on damp hair and leave on for 10-15 minutes, in the case of normal shampoo. However, if you want to make a compress with the shikakai, consider that over 30 minutes intensifies its effect on the scalp and hair. Massage the scalp and hair with the water and shikakai mixture and finally rinse with warm water.

Where to find the shikakai

You can find the powdered shikakai as a natural alternative for hair-washing in herbal medicine, on the internet, especially in online shops of natural products for body and hair care, and in ethnic stores, where you might be able to find it near the henna.

Be careful to choose pure shikakai. It is very important to choose a product that is truly natural. Look for the word “Acacia concinna” on the packaging that refers to the name of the plant from which the shikakai is made.

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