When considering the complexities of cultural traditions within the area of holistic healing trends, South Asia resembles a phoenix rising from the ashes. Raising its golden neck in triumph, bathing in its river of brilliance, and stunning those unbeknownst to its centuries of wellness secrets. Each year, I watch as a trend sweeps through the bubble of social media, and bursts into the mainstream.
Recently, the latest trend on the lips of all the latest beauty influencers is Amla hair oil – a traditional hair oil with its origins deeply embedded in a Ancient India.
The practice of oiling hair is something almost sacred; a ritual done with immense care and respect. Stemming from the Sanskrit word ‘Sneha’, meaning ‘to oil’ as well as ‘to love’, this Ayurvedic method encompasses wellness at its very core. It symbolizes that something as simple as applying oil to one’s head can be a form of a loving gesture, expressing endearment when words fall short. This is why it is typically done by a mother for her daughter, or an older sister for her younger sibling.
In India, there is not a single beauty ritual that remains as embedded in daily life as the application of hair oil. Just as we apply lotions to feed the skin, we must also feed the hair, and hair oil is the perfect solution. There is a sort of sentimentality about oiling hair that warms the heart with nostalgia. As someone born in Pakistan- a place where Amla oil has been used for generations- to me the practice of oiling hair is the core of traditionality. The action evokes a sense of spirituality; when a mother gently presses her palms onto our head, massaging and soothing our nerves, threading her fingers into the strands of hair, and allowing the Amla oil to rest on our scalp, and seep into our very soul.
Amla oil is a simple recipe, and given you have the right ingredients at your disposal, you can even make it at home. There are many ways to make this oil, but there are only two main ingredients. All you need to do is combine amla powder and coconut oil in a pan on low heat. Once bubbles form, turn off the heat, cover it and let it steep until cool. The oil is then strained and placed in a glass jar, and now prepared for usage. This option also reduces waste. The essence of something homemade truly brings out the care and attention put into it, something held dear when considering this intimate ritual.
As a traditional treasure, Amla oil holds a place in the hearts of many in South Asia. It is a healing tool, embodying wellness, and relaxation from the sincere act of massaging one’s head. The cultural significance as well as the multitude of health benefits it provides proves this hair oil to be the epitome of Indian wellness.
Hair in itself is the perfect signifier of a person’s overall health. Virginia based dermatologist, David Pariser, MD told thenationshealth.org, “the health of the hair is often associated with the health of the body”, so maintaining a healthy scalp can aid in the prevention and control of many conditions and diseases, such as ringworm or head lice.
Hair has quickly become a focal point in the wellness of our bodies, and those spreading the content range from teenagers to millennials, showing us that it’s simply never too early to take care of our hair. Oiling hair has quickly caught on the rapidly changing train of trends, inspiring people to start taking care of their hair. Hair care is more than just shampooing or conditioning; the tending begins from the very base of the root and must be given immense care till the very end. It must almost be treated like it is a live entity itself, requiring love and attention every day.
Procured from the Indian gooseberry (Amla fruit), Amla oil is rich with antioxidants, minerals, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. It is no surprise that this oil is held in high regard in India, as it is attributed as a restorative agent, promoting health and growth back into the hair. The benefits of Amla oil are countless.
Strengthens the hair: there is a wealth of vitamins and minerals in this oil that works to add shine and nourish the hair.
Prevents dandruff: Amla oil will keep the head moisturised and in turn prevent dandruff, as well as prevent itching of the scalp.
Nourishes the scalp: rich with vitamins and nutrients that enhances the condition of hair, Amla oil promotes hair growth and sustenance with its multitude of fatty acids present.
These are only a few of the many benefits that Amla hair oil provides. It is used commonly in India as a pre-shower application, resting in the hair, working its way into the roots to soothe and moisturise hair follicles. When considering wellness, hair care is usually pushed aside, however, India places the utmost importance on the health of hair; it is equally as significant as the well-being of the body.