How to Use Reetha or Soap Nuts for Washing Hair
What is reetha?
Reetha is the Hindi name of the fruit of the soap nut tree. The soap nut tree is a member of the Sapindus genus, belonging to the Lychee family, Sapindaceae. The trees are native to countries with a warm, temperate to tropical climate and are commonly found in India. The word "Sapindus" is derived from two Latin words, namely, "saponis" meaning "soap" and "indicus" meaning India.
The soap nut is small and round in size and may contain one to three seeds. Called by different names, including Indian soapberry and washing nuts, reetha or aritha contains saponins which are natural surfactants. This is why soap nuts can be used for cleaning anything.
You can use it to wash your clothes, clean your ornaments, or as a household cleaner. It is a gentle, economical, and completely natural alternative to the commonly used chemical detergents.
Reetha for washing hair
While you can use reetha for washing practically anything, its most popular use is for washing hair. It is a common ingredient in most Ayurvedic and herbal shampoos sold in India.
Washing your hair regularly with this shampoo makes it shinier and softer. Reetha is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. So, it will cure any scalp infections that you may have as well as prevent them from occurring. It will also keep your scalp free from dandruff, stop hair loss, and promote the growth of new hair.
The best part is that it is a completely natural way of shampooing your hair. So, you can rest assured that there will be no side-effects. Since it is mild in nature, you can use it to wash your hair on a daily basis without any fear of dryness or hair fall.
How to make your reetha shampoo
You can easily buy your reetha shampoo online. However, if you have the patience and want to know exactly what goes into your reetha shampoo, make it by yourself right at home.
For this, you need to two things.
- A pack of 100% natural soap nuts - You can easily order this online.
- An iron vessel - This is not a necessity. However, soaking your reetha in an iron vessel gives your hair an extra black shine.
Take about 15 to 16 soap nuts and remove the seeds. Crush it thoroughly and place it in your iron vessel. Add about 6 cups of water. Allow the soap nuts to soak overnight or for around 8 hours.
Soaking the reetha throughout the night ensures that all the saponin is extracted. You can also boil the liquid before letting it steep overnight. Once it starts to boil, allow it to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the more you simmer the liquid, the more concentrated it will become. Take it off the gas and allow it soak overnight.
You can also add dried amla (Indian gooseberry) and shikakai (Acacia Concinna) to your homemade shampoo.
Strain the mixture in the morning to remove the soap nuts. Your reetha shampoo is ready for use! Store it in an airtight container and use it whenever you want to wash your hair.
How to wash your hair with reetha
Now your shampoo is ready for use. You may want to apply a little bit of coconut oil in your hair if it is too dry. Leaving the oil overnight will make it softer and shinier. However, you can also apply the oil in the morning. Leave it on for about 30 minutes.
Wet your hair thoroughly with plain water. Never use hot water to wash your hair since it damages the roots. Take a little bit of the ritha shampoo and use it to massage your scalp and hair just like you would use a shampoo.
The shampoo produces very little lather. So, don't get worried. It doesn't mean that you are using too little of the product. Excessive use of your homemade shampoo may just leave your hair stiffer. It may take a few days for you to figure out how much shampoo is enough for you.
Just make sure to massage it thoroughly for about 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse it off. If you had applied oil in your hair, you may need to repeat the process.
How to use reetha powder for your hair
Often, it is easier to get your hands on a pack of reetha powder rather than the real soap nuts. Don't worry. While you can use it as a shampoo too by allowing it soak in warm water for about 10 minutes, the best thing to do is to use it as a hair pack.
Reetha powder can be used to make a hair pack. Mix the powder with plain water and make a pack for your hair. You can add amla powder and shikakai powder to this mixture too. A little bit of curd added to the mix will further condition your hair and leave it shinier and softer.
Apply this pack thoroughly on your hair. Leave it on for about 60 minutes. Wash it off with plain water. Don't use shampoo the same day. If you feel that your hair is not clean, wait for at least two days and then use the shampoo of your choice. You may actually skip the shampooing part completely as well.
Go completely natural with the homemade reetha shampoo
Your homemade reetha shampoo is completely natural and free from chemicals. Reetha shampoo is a mild cleanser and can be used daily. It will leave your hair silky and soft and your scalp clean and free from dandruff and infections. So, if you are a fan of everything organic, it is time to switch to soap nuts for washing your hair!
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