What is it?
Amla powder is made from the ground-up leaves of the Indian gooseberry. It’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat everything from diarrhea to jaundice.
The powder has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, leading some
people to chalk it up as the next big thing in beauty.
But can using amla really lead to a healthier scalp and luscious locks? Here’s what the research says, how to make your own hair mask, and more.
How is it supposed to benefit your hair?
Anecdotal reports suggest amla can:
- condition your scalp
- promote healthy hair growth
- improve the tone of henna hair dyes
- minimize grays
- boost volume
- reduce dandruff
- treat head lice
Many of these claims have yet to be studied through clinical research, so its overall efficacy is unclear.
What the research says
Research into the effects of amla powder on hair health is limited.
An older animal study found that topical application of amla oil slightly increased the rate of hair growth in rabbits. The researchers suspect this benefit is tied to amla’s high concentration of vitamin E.
Vitamin E supports healthy circulation. Applying it topically may promote healing and cell regeneration in the given area.
Another 2009 animal study produced similar results. The researchers found that topical application of an herbal solution containing amla powder was more effective than minoxidil (Rogaine) at stimulating hair growth in Wistar rats.
A 2017 preliminary study on mice found that a patented herbal mixture containing amla powder might stimulate hair growth among people who experience hair loss.
Although these results are promising, more research is needed to assess how amla powder affects human hair.
Amla is rich in:
- vitamin C
- phosphorus iron
Topical application delivers these nutrients directly to your hair. This potentially results in healthier locks.
It’s also worth noting that vitamin C and other antioxidants can help skin cells regenerate. This may promote a healthier scalp, subsequently minimizing dandruff and resulting in healthier hair.
A 2014 study found that an herbal solution containing amla was more effective than several over-the-counter (OTC) chemical solutions at treating head lice.
How to use it
Amla powder is typically used to create a topically applied paste or hair mask. If you’d like to try amla powder for your hair, you can prepare your own mix or purchase a premade solution.
Making the mix
If you’d like to make your own amla paste, you’ll need to choose another ingredient to mix it with.
Popular choices include:
- vegetable oils
- plant oils eggsmilk
If you want to use an oil base, consider coconut. Some research suggests it may be absorbed into the hair shaft more easily than mineral and sunflower oils.
If you use an oil as your base, follow these steps:
- Pour 4 to 5 tablespoons of oil into a shallow pan.
- With the burner set to low heat, warm the oil until it turns slightly brown.
- Stir in 1 tablespoon of amla powder, and bring the mix to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.
- Strain out any lingering powder and discard.
- When the oil is warm — not hot — to the touch, gently massage it into your scalp and hair.
If you’re not keen on an oil and powder combo, you can use whole milk or water to make a thicker paste.
Simply mix 1 tablespoon of amla powder with 4 tablespoons of liquid and apply. You can adjust the ratio as needed to get a consistency you’re comfortable with.
Some people beat eggs together with amla powder to make a hair mask that’s rich in proteins. To do this, mix 1/2 cup of amla powder with two eggs and apply.
Many henna hair dyes already include amla. If your dye doesn’t include amla and you want to add it in, talk to an experienced colorist. There are many factors to consider, including your current hair color and texture, desired color, and chosen products.
Always do a patch test before performing a full application. This can help you assess your skin’s sensitivity and identify any adverse effects.
To do this:
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon of amla powder with equal parts warm water. Allow the powder to dissolve.
- Apply your mixture, or a dime-sized amount of OTC solution, to the inside of your forearm.
- Cover the spot with a bandage and wait 24 hours.
- If you experience redness, hives, or other signs of irritation, wash the area and discontinue use.
- If you don’t experience any side effects within 24 hours, it should be safe to apply elsewhere.
Application methods will vary according to how you’re using amla. Be careful to follow the label directions of any product that you use.
General guidelines suggest you:
- Apply the solution to your entire head. Make sure you coat your scalp and the ends of your hair.
- Let the mixture sit for 45 minutes.
- Rinse your hair with lukewarm water. Make sure the solution is completely rinsed out.
You can apply an amla hair mask two or three times per week.
Possible side effects and risks
There have been cases of amla allergies, which can result in hives and irritation. Performing a patch test can help you determine how your skin will react.
People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to a doctor before use. Don’t use amla powder on infants or children.
The bottom line
More research is needed to truly determine how amla powder affects overall scalp and hair health.
While it may be safe to try as a general booster, speak with your doctor or other healthcare provider before using amla to treat hair loss, hair lice, or any other underlying condition.
They may recommend using more established OTC and prescription treatments.
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