One of the biggest trends to come out of the lock down, was the ‘grey hair’ movement. As lots of us struggled to get to the salon, many of us decided to embrace our natural hues and allow ourselves to grow out our grey locks.
It can be hard to know how to do this and we’re not going to lie, it can feel challenging at first, so we advise doing it the ‘Ayurvedic’ way.
What does Ayurveda Mean When It Comes to Your Hair?
We all want hair that looks its best and for many of us, it’s an intrinsic part of our identity.
Ayurveda is about nurturing yourself from the inside out, recognising the unique needs of your body and soul type to do that the right way for you. Most hair products are designed to hide the signs that our bodies are out of balance and can even put our hair in a worse state in the process.
The Ayurvedic approach is the opposite of this, focusing on health, which leads to beauty as opposed to the other way round.
A key principle of Ayurveda is the power of agni (the digestive fire), reflecting the quality of nourishment to our organs – this includes the bones, skin and most importantly, the hair. (1)
If you follow Ayurveda, you understand that the health of your hair starts with what you eat and relates deeply to your digestive strength; so far, all common sense. It also highlights the importance of understanding our hormone health (incredibly relevant in midlife women especially) and looks at factors like hereditary issues, and our lifestyles to define the right ways to nurture our bodies.
Ayurveda categorises our hair into three key Dosha types:
Kapha-Type Hair when healthy is the hair we all long for. Thick, lustrous, and wavy but can be straightened or curled easily, it shines with health.
If your Kapha is out of balance, your hair will be greasy and lank. This is most often the case for teens and post-natal women.
Vata-Type Hair when healthy is thinner and coarser. It may be straight, curly, or a combination of the two, grows quickly and is harder to style. It’s most likely to be affected by humidity and wind.
If your Vata is out of balance (usually called an excess of Vata) it will be dry, brittle, prone to breaking and very difficult to grow. It won’t reflect light well and may frizz.
Pitta-Type Hair when healthy is naturally straight, very fine and soft, with a natural shine usually.
If you have too much Pitta, you may be a hot head in more ways than one. You are considered to have too much fire going to your head, which leads to thinning, premature greying, and even baldness and conditions like Alopecia.
You may also have a very short temper to go with it.
The Ayurvedic Approach
When we are ageing and we are keen to go grey naturally (rather than tackle premature greyness caused by an excess of Pitta), we usually must address our Pitta and Vata the most.
Akala Palitya – or premature greyness in Ayurveda, is the outcome of a disturbance in Pitta-Vata doshas. The Bhrajaka pitta, an offset of the Pitta dosha controls your hair and skin colour. If your Pitta-Vata is out, your hair loses its natural shine, becomes brittle, harder to grow and quick to frizz.
If you’re not prematurely grey, but simply ageing naturally, focus on the Vata side more. If you are early to grey, you need more Pitta.
Firstly, the inside-out approach of Ayurveda insists you address your nutritional needs. Warming soups packed with natural ingredients like Pumpkin and rich in omega-3 will help feed your Vata and warm you back up. Spices like Cinnamon and Ginger are also preferable.
From the outside-in, steam baths, wearing multiple layers that mean (especially during a hot-flush) you can cool down quickly but stay warm when you need to and regular head-massages using nourishing oils like sweet-almond are vital.
For your hair, you need to think smooth over rough. As your grey hair comes through, it will be more brittle and require more care. Organic cotton hair bands and pillow cases work wonders.
Treatments need to work to the Ayurvedic principles too. Our Bhringaraj powder (also known as the King of Hair) is excellent initially for reducing Pitta and slowing the greying process, but it helps when embracing our grey to reduce hair loss and breakage. It works to reduce the effects of stress and environmental damage that affects the look and feel of your hair as it ages. It also prevents hair fall being too extreme, returning fullness and malleability to your greys.
As your grey hair grows, it may discolour easily. To support a beautiful grey, a hair mask of Cassia can be used. This helps firstly to ease the brittleness, returning it to softness and shine. When mixed with lemon, it can add a gentle golden glow to your grey.
It won’t cover the grey or colour, it just adds warmth to your grey. For a purer ‘silver’ grey you can use tea, like earl grey. Simply create a cup of tea with your bag (around 200ml of water) and use that to blend your henna. It won’t add warmth, but just highlights the white and softer tones.
Alternatively, a paste made from Organic Amla powder mixed with fenugreek is excellent for darker greys.