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The Secret to Hair Growth Lies Within This Powerful Medicinal Plant

Ayurvedic-inspired haircare brand Fable & Mane recently expanded into scalp care with a new soothing serum. What caught our attention was the product’s star ingredient: amla. We’ve heard of amla before, but never really took the chance to learn more about it. Now, that opportunity was staring us straight in the eyes. We reached out to the experts to discover everything one could possibly need to know about amla, including what it is, how amla oil benefits the hair, how to use it, and the best products. Read on to get educated on all things amla!

Person using a dropper to apply hair oil to the ends of their brunette hair
(via Canva)

So What Exactly Is Amla?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with amla, Dr. Amanda Doyle from the Russak Dermatology Clinic explains the ingredient’s origin and most common uses.

“Amla, more commonly known as Indian gooseberry, is one of the most important medicinal plants in Indian medicine,” she shares. “Typically, the most important part is the fruit, which has been used alone or in combination as an oral and/or topical treatment. It has restorative, anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for conditions such as the common cold, fever, and hair loss.”

Dr. Rachel Nazarian from the Mount Sinai Department of Dermatology notes it “has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for many years, supposedly offering a range of health benefits.”

Amla can be used as a powder or oil, explains Santa Monica-based, board-certified dermatologist Dr. R. Sonia Batra. “Amla powder is made from ground, dried berries, while amla oil is usually made by steeping either fresh or dried berries in a carrier oil, such as argan or coconut oil.”

The Benefits of Amla for Hair

Considering amla has been used for years, there have to be a number of benefits it offers, right? In fact, there are. Dr. Batra notes that because it is “rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, nutrients, and protein, it can help stimulate hair growth, decrease hair loss, and promote healthy skin on the scalp.”

Dr. Doyle tacks on a few additional benefits of the powerful ingredient. “When used as a hair loss remedy, its antioxidant properties and hair growth factor expression make it particularly helpful for stimulating hair regrowth. It contains lots of essential fatty acids that improve the appearance and strength of the actual hair follicles. Additionally, the tannins within alma bind to hair keratin, reducing damage and protecting the hairs from breakage.”

Still, the extensive amount of research needed to prove this has yet to be completed. Dr. Nazarian warns, “there’s little evidence to back up the claims. There are some studies that have shown improvement in hair growth, but most use amla in combination with many other ingredients, and fail to show any improvement with amla alone.” That being said, she does note there is evidence it improves circulation and blood flow, which can increase hair growth.

“The majority of hair studies were done using amla as oil. There is some evidence to suggest that amla is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, and may improve circulation and blood flow. Although true studies are lacking, there is a reasonable suggestion that anything that increases local blood circulation may offer some benefits toward hair growth and thickness,” she shares.

How Does It Prevent Hair Loss?

One major benefit of amla oil or powder for hair is its ability to increase hair growth and reduce hair loss. But how exactly does this potent ingredient do that? Well, there’s a very scientific explanation. “A 2012 study found that amla inhibited the enzyme (5α-reductase) that converts hormones to a form that contributes to hair loss,” Dr. Batra points out. Basically, amla prevents these enzymes from causing your hair to fall out.

When it comes to hair growth, Dr. Batra notes that “the fatty acids in amla are thought to promote the strength of the hair follicle while the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties promote the health of the scalp skin.” As we always say, a healthy scalp promotes healthy hair. You need a solid foundation for things to grow.

Are There Hair Types That Will Benefit From Using It More Than Others?

Because amla is focused on hair growth, Dr. Batra shares that those with “thinning hair brought on by hormonal effects or advanced age may benefit the most from using amla.” Dr. Nazarian agrees, noting that “most people should be able to tolerate a small amount of amla daily, either in shampoo form or oil form.” However, it should be stated you should always consult with a dermatologist before using the ingredient. And if any irritation occurs after you start using it, be sure to stop applying it immediately.

Which Hair Types Should Avoid Using Amla on Their Hair?

Amla isn’t for everyone. Dr. Batra mentions that those who are “already using an oral or topical medication for hair loss” should not apply amla to their strands. Combining hair growth treatments won’t bode well in this scenario.

Additionally, Dr. Batra shares “there is also no safety data in pregnant or breast-feeding women or in children, so these groups should avoid use.” Those with “allergies or sensitive skin should patch test amla by applying it to their jawline nightly for five nights to test for irritation before applying it widely on the scalp,” she also notes.

How Should Amla Be Used in the Hair?

Amla can be used as an oil or powder, both offering the same benefits. If you’d prefer to use a powder, Dr. Batra recommends creating your own mix. “To use the powder, mix it with water to form a paste, massage onto the scalp and hair, and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing off.” With the oil, you’ll also apply it to the scalp. It can be used “either as a treatment for 15 to 20 minutes before washing or left on overnight.”

The Best Amla-Based Hair Products

1. Fable & Mane SahaScalp Amla Soothing Serum

Considering this was the product that led us down this deep dive into all things amla, we’d be remiss to not include it on our list. Amla is the standout star of this scalp product, promising to nourish hair, remove buildup, and relieve itchiness. Provide your strands with the nutrients they need to grow by focusing on boosting the overall health of your scalp.

Fable & Mane SahaScalp™ Amla Soothing Serum
(via Sephora)

2. Wow Skin Science Amla Hair Oil

Dry scalp and limp hair got you down? Not anymore. This amla hair oil from Wow Skin Science is here to save the day. From repairing damaged strands to controlling dandruff, this bottle of magic is all you need for luscious locks. The applicator comb also makes application a breeze and ensures the product touches every strand.

Wow Skin Science Amla Hair Oil
(via Distacart)

3. IGK Bad & Bougie Amla Oil Deep Repair Shampoo

You’ll notice an improvement in your strands almost instantly after using this shampoo. Packed with amla oil, coconut oil, and a patented vegetable protein complex, this lightweight sudser nourishes, hydrates, and smoothes dry, damaged tresses. Pair it with their conditioner, and you’ve got a match made in hair heaven.

IGK Bad & Bougie Amla Oil Deep Repair Shampoo
(via IGK)

4. Playa Healing Hair Masque

Moisturize and soothe your scalp with a potent blend of kaolin clay and amla oil. Dry and brittle strands, be gone. Those who struggle with a dry or flaky scalp will notice an improvement right away after using this mask. No other hair mask works as well as this one to relieve you of an irritated scalp.

Playa Healing Hair Masque
(via Sephora)

Amla isn’t the only ingredient we’ve got our eye on these days. Though hyaluronic acid has been noted as a powerful skincare ingredient, it also works wonders for your tresses. Discover everything you need to know about using hyaluronic acid for hair HERE!

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