Why Scalp oiling is what’s missing from your hair routine

One of my favourite parts about being a beauty journalist is having access to the newest products and techniques. Back in the fall, I was invited to the launch of Havah, a female-founded brand centred around the Ayurvedic hair oiling tradition called Champi. Champi is a massage technique that has been practiced for thousands of years and uses herbal oils that are massaged into the head starting at the crown, working your way through the roots of the hair in a rhythmic motion using your fingertips to create friction with the scalp. If you’re unfamiliar with Ayurveda as I was, it’s a 5000-year-old system of natural healing and is specially formulated from ethically-sourced pure plant extracts and resins.

Now if you’re unsure about slathering your scalp in rich oils, know that I was at first as well. It took me a long time to finally embrace face oils and as someone with an oily scalp most of the time, I was definitely skeptical. However, after I tried the Champi massage technique for the first time, I was a total convert. Even though it feels like we as a society are busier than ever, it’s never been a better time to embrace those seemingly ‘extra’ self-care steps that put a little spring in our step.

I had the chance to chat with Havah’s founders Shikha Kasal and Sakshi Nabh to get the lowdown on how Champi massage is done and what the process of launching the brand was like.

How is exactly champi massage done and how often one should do it?

Champi is the traditional Indian art of head massage that is at the core of Ayurvedic hair care and HAVAH. The ancient Ayurvedic massage technique which is over 4,000 years old – entails massaging the hair with a specially made formula of oils and herbs into the head starting at the crown then working your way through the roots of the hair in a rhythmic motion and using your fingertips to create friction with the scalp to stimulate the follicles of the hair and encourage hair growth. Regular practice stimulates blood circulation and healthy hair growth, as well as drains away accumulated toxins and heals irritation. The Champi allows you to harness the powerful impact of Ayurvedic herbs which include improving sleep quality, releasing stress and increasing relaxation. A simple Champi can be done in a short 10-minute session pre-shampoo or a longer 30 to 40-minute experience. The longer the massage, the deeper the oil is able to penetrate the scalp tissue and transform it from a beauty routine to a self-care ritual that relaxes the face, body and mind. It is a powerful practice that can be done once or twice a week or even on a daily basis. Being consistent is instrumental to maintaining the balance and benefits of nutrients in the hair.

How is hair oiling different from other hair oils in the market?

Hair oiling, typically practiced before taking a shower or before going to bed at night consists of using the regenerative powers of natural herbs by working them into the scalp and hair for moisture and nourishment. Most hair oils on the market are meant to be applied topically – they just sit on the hair and don’t actually do much in terms of long-term results.  They are also usually packed with silicones and synthetic fragrances to give them their smooth feel and luxurious scents.

HAVAH addresses hair health at the roots.  Our hair oils are unique in that they are intended to be applied on the scalp and are inextricably tied to a sensory experience: The Champi.  The Champi allows the ingredients to sink into the scalp and hair follicles (where your hair starts growing!).  Our oils are lightweight, non-toxic, vegan and proudly bear their natural scent.

How did you decide to create your own line of Ayurvedic hair oils?

HAVAH was born out of a desire to amplify one of the best-kept Indian beauty secrets and honour some of our fondest childhood memories: hair oiling. While it’s based in Ayurveda and used to encourage hair health, it’s deeply rooted in South Asian culture.

Hair oiling has always been an intuitive part of our beauty regimen growing up and it’s still an essential hair care practice we embrace today. Yet, we would struggle to recreate the Ayurvedic oil recipes that we found in India simply because the ingredients, formulations and preparation methods were not readily available locally. Instead, we would resort to hand-pounding whatever herbs we had in our kitchen pantry or savour the few bottles of oils that our friends and family managed to bring back from India, all of which resulted in poor quality oils with unpleasant scents, textures and an overall messy experience. This led us back to India a few years ago and motivated us to replicate our grandmother’s oil concoctions and find a solution in Ayurveda – the indigenous medical system of India. Our exploration of Ayurveda inspired us to build a purist mindset around the Indian art of hair care that informs every aspect of our brand. Hair oiling is a comforting memory for many of us and is a bond formed between many generations. It is one of the most beneficial hair-care and self-care rituals. We are so privileged to be able to bring these deeply respected Indian traditions and formulations directly from India to doorsteps across Canada and beyond.

There are three different oils to choose from, how would you advise someone to pick the best one for their hair?

Our bestselling hair oil, Bhringraj Ka Tel’s hero ingredient of the thickening Bhringraj herb promotes hair growth and strengthens hair to prevent shedding and follicle miniaturization.    

Our three-ingredient Brahmi Ka Tel is a lightweight, minimalist formulation where its star ingredient of Bhrami, Gotu Kola and Seasame oil promise hydration and shine to revive dry, damaged hair. It’s intensely moisturizing and helps to cool the scalp so is the perfect remedy for dandruff and leaves your hair visibly soft and supple. For those looking to streamline their hair care routines as a preventative or restorative measure, our Tel Ka Mishran (which translates to “blend of oils” in Hindi) combines nine Ayurvedic herbs into a black sesame oil base that is s superfood for ultimate hair health.

Featured Image: @scrunchiee.sisters

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