In the vibrant tapestry of India, where culture, tradition and diversity coalesce, so do the myriad hair concerns of its people. The Indian subcontinent is known for its climatic variations, and these fluctuations often translate into common hair woes like dryness, hairfall and dandruff. However, what many might not realise is that the quality of water, lifestyle choices and daily haircare routines also play significant roles in exacerbating these issues. We sat down with Shaily Kataruka, the founder of The Earth Collective, a homegrown, holistic haircare brand, to delve deeper into the most common Indian hair concerns and explore effective ways to address them.
Understanding Common Hair Concerns in India
Shaily Kataruka shared her insights into the most prevalent hair concerns among Indians, emphasising how environmental factors and lifestyles contribute to these issues. She noted, “Some of the most common hair concerns that I have come across are dryness, hairfall and dandruff. Most of it has to do with the diversity in our own country, along with lifestyles that people tend to follow.” India’s diverse geography leads to extreme weather conditions in different regions, making haircare challenging.
Kataruka also highlighted an often-overlooked factor: the quality of water. “Not everyone has access to soft water or tools to help with the same, but it is a major reason for many hair concerns which goes absolutely unrecognised,” she explained. Additionally, she pointed out that individual habits, workout schedules and haircare routines contribute to these prevalent issues.
However, when it comes to hair fall, there can be specific underlying causes such as postpartum hair loss, hormonal imbalances, genetic conditions and stress, which can be the root cause of hair loss and hair re-growth concerns.
At the core of the founder’s haircare philosophy is science and Ayurveda-backed holistic beauty, which Shaily defined as “taking care of your hair from root to tip.” She likened the relationship between hair and scalp to that of soil and a plant, emphasising that proper scalp care is essential for achieving healthy, beautiful, and nourished hair. Without adequate scalp care, temporary results may be achieved, but true hair health remains elusive.
Identifying Your Hair and Scalp Type
Understanding one’s hair and scalp type is crucial for effective hair care. Kataruka provided guidance on how to correctly identify them. She stressed the importance of identifying the scalp type first, as it often plays a pivotal role in hair issues.
“On a regular day, on dry hair, just take your fingers and rub them in small circles around your scalp,” she advised. “If you notice a slight greasy feel in your fingers, then it would mean that your scalp is oily or combination. If you notice tiny, almost minuscule white flakes, it might be a sign of a dry scalp. In the case of dandruff, you will see that the flakes are slightly larger and towards a more yellowish tinge.”
After understanding your scalp type, identifying your hair type and texture is the next step. Shaily recommended a simple method: “Roll a single strand of hair around your finger to understand if you have fine, medium, or coarse hair. If you do not feel the strand wrapped around your finger, you have fine hair. If you feel it slightly, then it’s medium. And, if you feel the strand fully wrapped around your finger, then you have coarse hair.”
Next, in order to understand your hair formation, i.e the shape or pattern of your mane, Shaily suggested, “Identify this by allowing your hair to air-dry without any product. If it dries without any bends or curls, then it’s straight. If it dries with bends or an “S‘’ shape, it’s categorised as wavy. When it dries and you see curls/loops, it’s curly. If it dries and looks like spirals, it’s coily.”
“With these insights, you can understand your hair type and texture and go for products accordingly. Thin, straight hair would need more volumising products that add shine. Wavy hair would need hydrating products that keep the waves nice and soft. Curly and coily hair would usually need intense moisturisation and strengthening products for their hair,” she further advised.
Unlocking the Importance of Hair Porosity
Shaily elucidated the concept of hair porosity and its crucial role in hair care. Hair porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. “The cuticle which is the outermost part of the hair shaft—has overlapping layers that form scales to strengthen and protect the inner part of the shaft. Your hair porosity is determined by how tightly these layers are bound together. Hair is either high, medium or low porosity,” she said.
Kataruka provided a simple test to determine hair porosity by placing a strand of hair in water. “To find out your hair porosity, just wash your hair thoroughly to remove any product build-up and cleanse your scalp. Then gently comb or detangle with your fingers to remove loose hairs and drop them in a glass of water. High-porosity hair will quickly fall to the bottom of the glass, while low-porosity hair will float. Medium-porosity hair will float at first before gradually sinking,” she revealed.
Understanding hair porosity is vital because it informs the choice of hair care products and routines. Kataruka offered recommendations for each porosity type:
For High-porosity Hair: “This type of hair takes in moisture easily but loses it just as quickly. UV exposure, and damage from heat styling or chemical processing can all result in high-porosity hair. This type of hair is generally dry and frizzy, dries easily, and is also prone to breakage. High porosity hair requires moisture in their haircare routine. Never skip a conditioner, opt for deeply hydrating hair masks and spas, use leave-in serums and limit your hair’s exposure to heat styling.”
For Medium Porosity Hair: “This type holds moisture the best for a longer period. Medium porosity hair will hold colour and styles the best. It takes to products very well and has a shine too! As this type of hair is almost a blessing because it is so easy to manage. All you need to do is shop for products that are formulated to address other hair concerns, if at all you have any. Otherwise a nourishing hair routine is good to go.”
For Low-porosity Hair: “This type of hair doesn’t absorb moisture well, leading to flat-looking hair that’s easily weighed down by products. Low porosity locks generally take longer to get wet or to dry. When choosing products for low porosity hair, make sure to create a routine that has light-weight formulas that will not weigh your hair down. The wrong products can cause a build-up that could affect your hair and scalp health. Make sure you cleanse your hair regularly with products suited to your hair type.”
Effective Strategies to Reduce Hair Fall
Hair fall is a concern that many of us grapple with at some point in our lives. Shaily Kataruka offers practical tips and strategies to tackle hair fall effectively. Understanding the nature of your hair fall and tailoring your approach accordingly is key to achieving positive results. Here are some valuable insights:
Identify the Type of Hair Fall:
To address hair fall, it’s essential to distinguish between hair fall and hair breakage, as the treatments differ:
Hair fall from the roots: If your hair is falling from the roots, it signifies hair fall. In such cases, focus on using hair care products that work at the scalp level to strengthen your hair follicles and promote new hair growth.
Hair breakage from the middle: When your hair is breaking off from the middle and falling, it indicates hair breakage. In this scenario, opt for hair products that help strengthen existing hair strands to prevent breakage.
Identify the Timing and Cause:
Understanding when and why you are experiencing hair fall is crucial for effective treatment:
Seasonal hair loss: If your hair loss is mild and related to seasonal changes, look for products that work throughout the year to minimise this concern.
Specific reasons: Hair fall due to factors like hormonal changes, stress, infections, or other specific reasons requires treatment-based products tailored to address the underlying cause.
Lifestyle-related hair fall: Some individuals experience hair fall due to certain activities or lifestyle choices. For example, swimmers often face hair fall due to frequent washing to remove chlorine exposure. In such cases, seek products that complement your lifestyle while safeguarding your hair.
Determine the Severity:
Assessing the extent of your hair fall is crucial in selecting the right approach:
Mild hair loss (less than 100 strands a day): If you lose fewer than 100 strands of hair a day, opt for products that focus on nurturing and nourishing your hair to address hair loss.
Severe hair Loss (more than 100 strands a day): If you experience extreme hair loss, characterised by losing more than 100 strands daily and noticing substantial hair thinning, a treatment-based approach becomes essential.
Lifestyle Factors Matter:
Lastly, Kataruka underscores the significance of your daily habits, lifestyle choices, diet, and overall well-being in influencing the health of your hair and scalp. She recommends maintaining a balanced lifestyle by:
- Ensuring a protein-enriched diet to support hair growth.
- Regular physical exercise, which contributes to overall well-being.
- Managing stress levels, as excessive stress can exacerbate hair fall.
- Cultivating a healthy balance in all aspects of your life, including mental and physical health.
In summary, combating hair fall effectively involves a holistic approach that considers all things, from the type of your hair, to what causes hairfall and the lifestyle factors. By understanding your unique situation and tailoring your hair care regimen accordingly, you can take significant steps towards achieving healthier and more resilient locks.