Shikakai, or Acacia Concinna, is a small shrub-like tree, which grows in the warm, dry plains of central India. For centuries the people who have had access to this tree have used its pod-like fruit to clean their hair. They collect, dry and grind this pod into a powder, which is considered a superior cleanser for “lustrous long hair” and has been reported as “promoting hair growth and preventing dandruff”. Because of these benefits, this powder was named “shikakai” which literally translates as “fruit for the hair”.
Today this fruit is grown commercially in large quantities in India and the Far East. As a result, shikakai powder is readily available and continues to be commonly used as a preferred shampoo. The dried, powdered fruit is sold in attractive packages that show women with long, beautiful, shiny hair. Many popular brands are sold throughout India.
Typically, shikakai is mixed with water to make a paste, which is worked through the hair. It lathers moderately and cleans hair beautifully. It has a natural low pH, is extremely mild, and doesn’t strip hair of natural oils. Usually no rinse or conditioner is used since shikakai also acts as a detangler. This ancient product is probably the world’s original pH balanced shampoo.