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These tips are mainly geared towards anyone who has started adding ayurvedic herbs into their hair regimen. It was a little scary for me at first. I had my herbs. I knew what to do, mostly since I was just following what others were doing. Yet, while recipes fly around regularly, it's some of the simplest things that never get mentioned. So hopefully this helps:
1) Store your opened powder packs in a ziplock bag, small container, or glass jar to keep freshness.
You've opened that fresh bag of amla, but you only needed a couple of teaspoons. What now? How do you keep the remainder fresh? Its very simple. I typically leave the rest in the same original packaging, roll it down, and use a large paper clip to hold down the roll. If my powder came in a box, I will replace it back in the box, then take the box and seal it in a ziplock bag. If the powder is in a pack that does not have a resealable closure, I use the paper clip to hold the roll made and store the pack in a ziplock bag. The powders will continue to stay fresh this way. Other ways include storing the powders in an airtight jar. Lastly, be aware that many herbs require to be stored away from direct sunlight, so a nice dry spot in a pantry or kitchen cabinet will keep your herbs freshest for the longest possible time.
2) Use that extra paste as a face mask!
This works especially well when you are doing an amla treatment. Amla is great for the skin. You're working on your hair, why not treat your skin at the same time. Just like in a spa! Oh, it may go without saying, but you won't do this if you're doing a henna paste.... the dye will have you looking like a bad suntan job or something worse!
3) Find varying ways to incorporate ayurvedic herbs into your regimen.
No time to do a full paste? You can still work these beneficial herbs into your hair regimen. There are a number of products that have ayurvedic herbs as ingredients that you can use in styling or conditioning. Find products that contain your favorite herbs, use an herb infused oil, or keep a bottle of ayurvedic tea spritz on hand.
4) Brew your ayurvedic tea in a coffee machine using a coffee filter!
I can't take the credit for this one. When I first added a YouTube account for our store, I discovered a customer who had made a video on how to make an ayurvedic tea spritz. Until then, everyone I knew was brewing tea in a tea pot or regular pot on the stove. She used a simple Mr. Coffee coffee maker, put her herbs in a coffee filter and brewed the tea in the same manner as you would coffee! Quick and easy and no more worries on finding muslin bags or straining herbs or cleaning grit. Some may still want their herbs to steep for a while in the actual water, but for those who need a quicker, cleaner way - here it is!
5) Freeze unused pastes for the next time!
This will work for nearly all of your ayurvedic pastes, even henna and cassia. Put it a freezer safe container and let it stay there until you are ready to thaw it for the next usage. The only powder/paste you cannot freeze is indigo. Also, you should not freeze indigo powder in an attempt to keep it fresh. You cannot save unused indigo paste. Indigo is perishable and the paste is for use one time. Indigo paste will even become ineffective if left to sit around for as little as 2 hours. This is why once indigo has released its dye, you use it immediately for best results.
6) Know your herbs and why you are using them.
So many herbs and you want to use them all, right? But wait... what are you looking to get from your treatment? Do you know what benefits that using neem powder, for example, is giving to your paste? I know its fun to experiment and see what you can come up with, but truthfully, the ayurvedic regimen can be simple. It's not mandatory to use 5-10 herbs in every treatment. You don't have to do full pastes every week. Not taking away from the fun of experimenting - I love it myself. Just don't feel obligated to buy every herb out there and mix them up in one shot.
7) Think about the ingredients you're adding to your recipes.
Likewise to #6, you don't have to use 15 ingredients along with your herbs either. Know what benefits your added ingredients are bringing to your hair. I love coconut milk, extra virgin olive oil (evoo), and honey/agave nectar in all my mixtures. They provide the added smoothness and moisture that I am looking for with my pastes. I worked with them originally on recommendations while still learning and continue to use them because they work for my hair. I like to play with different oils, herbs, and clays, but this is not mandatory. Start off simple with your mixtures until you know for certain what works for your hair. After all this time, I still keep a basic combo that I work with and may only add one or 2 herbs/clays as I vary things. If you feel comfortable with many ingredients and it works for you, great! Just know that you don't HAVE to do this to get results. Amla and a favorite conditioner works for many.
8) Try wearing gloves.
Let me state now that gloves aren't necessary unless you are working with henna or indigo because of the stain that will be left for weeks once their dye gets on your hands. However, I found that even with my herbal pastes, the paste can get under your nails or in your cuticles. It can be hard to get rid of or mess with a nice manicure or nail job - trust I know. Gloves usually allow for me to work a little faster with application as well since I can really get down and dirty with the mud without worrying about my nails accidentally snagging my hair. Try it and see if it works for you.
9) Keep a journal of your recipes and your results.
When concocting herbs and brews, its easy to forget that you added a dash of bhringraj (maka) powder when you normally don't use it or maybe you substituted Jamaican Black Castor Oil for your usual avocado oil. Keeping track of the recipes and results is helpful in determining ultimately what regimen is the best for you.
Make note of the herbs, and brand, if applicable, and from where you bought them in case they aren't branded and specially ordered by that business. Along with the recipe, also make note of the conditions, such as weather and time of year. Just like hair products, you may have to do things a little different based on what your hair needs are at the moment. There may even be a time when you need to change the frequency of how often you use your herbs. Lastly, don't forget to make note if you are also experimenting with other hair products. Many times we can think that one thing was the cause of a bad hair experience, when it was something else totally different or the reaction of one new thing with something old. This a good way to see if certain hair products no longer work as a result of incorporating herbs into your regimen. This happens often with henna users.
Enough times of applying pastes and spritzing various teas, and it will all get jumbled. Keeping the journal will help keep you on track.
Written and posted by Ekua Fox Oct. 29, 2010