Ayurveda is a diet and health practice originating in India that focuses on an individual energy, or dosha. Your dosha is can be either Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, which all have their own set of traits and impact everything from your skin to digestion and of course, your hair. To find out everything about this ancient system and how it might change the way you self-care, we connected with Michelle Ranavat, founder of Ranavat Botanics for all things Ayurveda haircare related.
Ayurveda in Practice
Michelle grew up surrounded by Ayurveda; it was a part of her day-to-day growing-up, from the food she would eat to the remedies her parents would share with her. “I didn’t actually know what it was called until my teens,” she explains. Michelle founded Ranavat Botanics about a few years ago. After experimenting with her family formulas and using ingredients like sandalwood powder, fuller’s earth, saffron, and bakuchi seed, in skin and hair treatments, she soon realized her own recipe was the only thing that could save her hair post-pregnancy.
“The way our Mighty Majesty hair treatment came about, is that I was struggling with postpartum hair loss and tried everything! Ultimately, it is this Ayurvedic combination of sunflower, jasmine, and amla oils that really worked—I knew I had to create a treatment so I could share it.” The formula is known as “tri-doshic,” which means it is beneficial to all three dosha types. “The beauty is in the simple yet incredibly powerful ingredients,” says Michelle.
To make sure the ingredients are fully activated, sunflower oils are cold-pressed. This preserves the nutrients in order to protect locks and build shine. The treatment may seem small but it packs a big punch. “It takes 150lbs of jasmine flowers to make 1oz of the oil,” reveals Michelle, who notes the flower’s anti-fungal properties in aiding the scalp. The product also has amla extract, uniquely extracted without using heat or chemicals in order to retain its full, vitamin C heavy potency.
Finding Your Dosha
In order to reap the benefits of Ayurveda, it’s important to understand your dosha. “A simple way to sum up doshas is that they help classify us into different ‘energy types,’” Michelle explains. “This classification can help us avoid certain foods/ingredients that compete with our dosha and focus on those that are complimentary. Doshas aside, I think the main concept Ayurveda teaches us is that the mind and body are completely connected,” she explains. Our environment, which includes our stress level, overall health, and the food we eat, all have a definite impact on our manes—whether we can feel it or not. “Ayurveda hopes to create a very harmonious connection between our mind and body and believes that when this connection is balanced, beauty and outer radiance will result,” says Michelle.
Dosha Hair Types
Those with a Vata dosha tend to have dry hair and scalps. The hair texture tends to be curly and can be easily tangled or unruly. The scalp is also prone to dandruff or itchiness as a result of an overall dryness.
Recommended treatment: Massage the scalp regularly using warm oils (almond, coconut, and sesame are all suggested). Brush hair out post-massage, wrapping in a hot towel, and rinse out using an herbal cleanser anytime from two hours after to the following day.
Pitta manes are oily. Premature graying or hair loss can be a common issue as well. Hair is thinner in texture and flatter than Vata, while the scalp can be easily irritated.
Recommended treatment: Gently massage in brahmi, triphala, amla, or coconut oil, followed by a cooling paste made from flowers and leaves, such as licorice, hibiscus brahmi, amla, and henna. Rinse after 30 minutes using cool water.
Kapha locks are thick, full, wavy, and slightly oily. The scalp is not dry and as a result, hair is naturally glossy. However, there can be a tendency towards dandruff.
Recommended treatment: Massage the scalp vigorously with warm oils—this will stimulate circulation. Follow with a herbal cleanser wash (like a triphala rinse).
Creating an Ayurveda Haircare Lifestyle
After you figure out your dosha, prioritize treating your hair accordingly—and perhaps most importantly, regularly. “The art here is to really think of treating your hair as a lifestyle and not something that is done occasionally,” says Michelle. Treating your hair as a matter of practice is more transformative than doing something just once and expecting it to have a lasting effect. “Indulging in weekly deep conditioning treatments is incredibly helpful. Also, just like our skin, our hair needs protection from the environment,” notes Michelle.
Ultimately, when you turn to something like Ayurveda, you’re taking a holistic approach to haircare. “Ayurveda is the full picture—you are addressing the mental aspect as well as the physical. When you use ingredients that are trusted by billions of people over 5,000 years, it is a very powerful tool.”
Michelle reminds us that it’s not just about what your products are made out of, but the potency of the ingredients. “I would stress that the quality of the ingredients you use on your hair is just as important as the ingredients themselves. Just because something is organic does not mean that it is made with the best extraction methods. You really want the vitamins and minerals to be as active as possible if you want to see results.”
And of course, consistency is key. “Building your hair ritual as an ongoing practice will really help you see changes. Just like you can’t go to the gym a few times a month to see results, hair is the same way. You need to find a way to make Ayurveda a part of your haircare routine.”