What wrinkling is to skin, greying is to hair. Both are signs that herald age. But it can be postponed if taken proper care
We despair as much over the wrinkles that begin to line our face, as we do over the hair that turns white. Ageing, however, is a natural process. With time, the body ages and the signs of ageing manifest themselves… greying is one of them. Sometimes, the hair begins to gray prematurely and presents a problem, mainly because the exact cause of graying is not known as yet.
To understand the graying process, one must have a basic idea of the structure of the hair. Each hair consists of concentric layers. The outermost layer is the cuticle, which is made up of tiny transparent scales that overlap each other. The cuticle protects the hair and contributes to its shine. The second layer is the cortex. It is in the cortex that pigment or colouring matter forms and gives the hair its colour. For reasons not yet known, the pigment does not form. When the pigment fails to form, the hair is white. The white hair mixes with the dark hair and gives the impression of grey hair. Naturally, when the white hair appear, the question of how to deal with them causes much concern, not only from the aspect of concealing them, but also to check further graying.
To begin with, the hair that have turned white cannot become dark again, except by dyeing or colouring. Today, dyeing and colouring of the hair has become common practice. In fact, colouring of the hair is very much in fashion. Today, it is not merely a matter of hiding gray hair. Unfortunately, most people do not know the way the structure of the hair can be affected by using chemical dyes and colourants.
Semi permanent methods, like hair rinses and creams, last for 4 to 6 shampoos. They also work by penetrating the cuticle, but do not cause as much damage as the permanent dyes, which actually enter the middle layer and change the pigments. Semi-permanent methods are used for disguising grey hair, or for lending a richer colour to dull hair. Repeated use of semi-permanent colourants also causes enough hair damage.
Henna is the only natural hair colourant that is widely used. In the ancient days, walnuts and indigo were used along with henna to colour the hair. Modern colourants made from vegetable dyes are also available, in the form of “hair mascaras.” These are somewhat like crayons, which are used to colour strands of the hair. They can disguise strands of gray hair quite effectively. They also help to add glamour to the hair, by colouring strands a different colour from the normal hair colour. Hair mascaras are temporary methods of colouring the hair. They are easier to use and remove and the effect lasts till the next shampoo. The main advantage is that they assure safety from damage to hair structure and texture. We have introduced Herbal Hair Mascaras for streaking the hair, to add glamour, or to camouflage grey hair. They are available in many shades, like black, brown, copper, bronze, gold and starlight blue.
Using amla with henna also helps to check graying. To add amla to henna, soak a handful of dry amla in about 2 to 3 cups water overnight. Next morning, strain the water, but do not throw it away. Grind the amla. To the henna powder, add the ground amla, 4 teaspoons each of lemon juice and coffee, 2 raw eggs and enough amla water, so that the henna mixes into a thick paste. If one does not wish to use eggs, they may be omitted. Apply the paste on the hair, so that the entire head is covered. Keep it on for two hours and wash off with plain water. This can be done once a week.
However, if you have coloured your hair with a chemical colourant, henna should not be used, as it will interfere with the colour of the chemical colourant you have used. So, you can wait for your chemical colourant to wear off and then start using the henna and amla treatment. Apart from concealing gray hair and checking further graying, the use of henna and amla have other benefits. Natural products are non-toxic and do not harm the structure of the hair. The body is also safe from the build-up of toxins and their harmful effects. A natural dye like henna does not enter the hair shaft. In fact, it coats the hair shaft and adds body and strength to the hair. Henna also has so many benefits for the scalp. It restores the natural balance and actually promotes the health of the scalp and hair.
If you wish to use a chemical colourant, ensure that it does not contain ammonia and remember to condition your hair after shampoo. Use shampoos that have built-in conditioners. Herbal shampoos for damaged hair would also help. Those who colour or dye their hair should give their hair regular hot oil treatments. Once or twice a week heat pure coconut oil and apply on the scalp and hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, wring out the water and wrap the towel around the head, like a turban. Keep it on for 5 minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap 3 or 4 times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better. Use a mild herbal shampoo to wash the hair. One can also use hair oils and shampoos which contain natural ingredients like amla, bhringaraj, brahmi, reetha, shikakai, henna and so on.
As amla is said to check graying, one can drink daily the juice of one raw amla added to a glass of water. Some doctors also believe that strengthening the immune system also helps to check graying. Therefore, you can ask your doctor to prescribe Vitamins B-Complex and C.
One of the most important aspects of beauty is to be aware of the damage caused by chemical ingredients. Avoid treatments that mar the natural beauty of the skin and hair. The choice is yours.
(Inputs by: Beauty expert Shahnaz Husain)