“Fruit for hair” is the literal translation for Shikakai, the beautiful Hindi word for the Acacia concinna, a shrub native to India that is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine and beauty recipes thanks its many properties. Passed down from generation to generation as part of wisdom shared over millennia, we’ve included Shikakai in our solid shampoo bar range as one of the best natural ingredients for cleansing, nourishing and strengthening all types of hair.
Dried Shikakai fruit pods, leaves, and bark were traditionally powdered to make a paste that was then applied to the hair and scalp as a magical elixir. When mixed with water, Shikakai produces an extra-mild, light lather shampoo that respects the hair’s natural oils. But it also has other benefits: its essential oils and micronutrients reduce hair loss and promote hair growth while keeping your locks smooth, soft and shiny.
Feminine constructs for hair aren’t unique to India, of course, but Indian women have had deep ties to their hair since ancient times. There are many practices in the Hindu religion relating to hair, and traditional beauty ideals show long, thick, glossy black hair as a symbol of femininity and sexuality. Ancient paintings depict women combing and plaiting each other’s hair, and still nowadays women carefully adorn their hair with flowers and jewellery for religious rites and ceremonies.
Hindu traditions state that young girls should wear their hair in pigtails, while the transition into womanhood is marked by a single long plait, or a bun. Both short and loose hair were traditionally supposed to attract negative energy and have a bad influence on women’s behaviour, thoughts and speech. While some of these practices still resonate today in certain religious and conservative communities, the progress made by emancipatory activism in India now defies the power of religious influence over modern Indian women.
Pictures by Pia Riverola and Nuria Val