Herbal Party Series: SHIKAKAI

Hey everyone,

A couple of weeks ago, we announced that several powders/herbs are now available on the African Naturalistas store. And I was excited to see that too, but then when I clicked on the post, I was a trifle confused because I didn't know what 75% of them were, how they're used and what their benefits are. I know there's at least someone out there who's in the same boat, so for the next how many weeks, I shall focus on all the herbs posted, so that we can learn a thing or two.

Last week, we were introduced to Amla. Today, I'm going over a quite popular one: Shikakai

Its scientific name is Acacia concina, and it is a climbing shrub native to Asia (very common in India). Indians have been using Shikakai for hair care for a veeeeeeery long time, and the name, Shikakai, literally means "Hair fruit."

Wikipedia states that in order to prepare it the fruit pods, leaves and bark of the plant are dried, ground into a powder, then made into a paste. While this traditional shampoo does not produce the normal amount of lather that a sulfate-containing shampoo would, it is considered a good cleanser. Usually no conditioner is needed, for shikakai also acts as a detangler. An infusion of the leaves has been used in anti-dandruff preparations. A. concinna extracts are used in natural shampoos or hair powders and the tree is now grown commercially in India and Far East Asia. The plant parts used for the dry powder or the extract are the bark, leaves or pods. The bark contains high levels of saponins, which are foaming agents found in several other plant species used as shampoos or soaps.

You mainly use shikakai as a natural shampoo, but I've also read that you can use it to pre-poo. As stated above, mix the shikakai powder with water, enough to make a paste. Massage the paste in your hair from the roots to tips and leave on for about 15 minutes or so, before rinsing off. Remember that it doesn't really lather up like the shampoos you're used to. It is mild, having a naturally low pH, and doesn't strip hair of natural oils.

You can mix Shikakai with other powders, such as Neem, Amla, etc for use on your hair. Remember that we have a variety of these at the African Naturalistas Store. Some of them are actually selling out, so hurry up!

Have a nice weekend!
Berry Dakara


  1. Okay. I'm sad that there's just one big pack left in the store. I should have taken it since, lol.

  2. Very helpful posts, Berry. I used shikakai mixed with reetha and amla to shampoo my hair. At first it felt hard and my hair even tangled up. The trick is to just leave the paste in for 5-10mins then rinse. On rinsing, my hair literally untangled.
    Massaging from root to tips can actually damage fragile hair. It's best to use the decanted liquid instead of paste if you want to massage,rub or scrub.
    Good as a facewash too.

    1. Oooh, thanks for the points you raised.

      I also forgot to add that if anyone is going to try it for the first time, they should try it on a small section of hair first.


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