By Hadassah Agbaps - October 24, 2013

Hi peeps, what's been on?
My post today will be about a method I incorporated into my regimen to help me retain length. This post took a long time coming but I had to be sure!
My hair has been growing longer and I noticed that the older parts got dryer and were prone to breaking off easily.
Usually at this point, I'll trim my hair but since I decided to challenge myself to grow my hair waist length...just because....I decided it was time to adapt a length retention routine into my regimen.
The henna and protein treatments has helped strengthen my hair and make it less porous but it doesn't stop my ends from getting dry.
The LOC mix has proved effective in providing daily moisture but I felt I still needed more to reinforce my fine hair and make it stronger to withstand manipulation.

I decided to research on the cultural hair practices of people known to have the longest hair.......Indians!
Indians have such beautiful thick long glossy hair. With hair that long, it is naturally supposed to be prone to breakage but something in their routine must be doing a good job to preserve the length of their hair.

I've felt the hair of an Indian friend and if I remember correctly, it's coarser than Caucasian hair. I think the coarseness (thickness) of the strands play a role in length retention but I know a lot of people with coarse hair who struggle to retain length.

So I perused Indian hair sites and from the info I got from different Indian and Malay bloggers about cultural hair care practices, the 'oiling' method was a recurring practice.
I have dubbed it 'The Indian Oiling Method'.

Here's an article revealing Indian haircare practices and products used.
"Generally using herbs for healthy hair maintenance (in India) involves some kind of oiling and an herbal wash.
You may also add an herbal rinse. The wash and rinse can be one mixture, or used separately, but together they should contain at least one cleansing agent (such as shikakai or aritha/reetha and one conditioning agent such as amla).
Some Indians also use rice starch as a type of natural emulsifier to bind the herb powders together and make them easier to apply and rinse out.
Indian women tend to oil their hair daily or every other day, and to wear their hair in a single braid or a bun. Very rarely do they wear their hair down.

Why oiling?
Oils are used as a protective conditioner and for treating problems of hair growth and both hair and scalp condition. They can be used daily to protect hair from the elements.

Herbal oils are applied to the scalp daily or pre-wash to treat scalp conditions. More thorough scalp and length oiling is done pre-wash as a conditioner to protect the hair from the drying effects of the cleansing herbs and water.

Herbal oils are chosen depending on condition of the scalp and used either together or separately.
They are applied on non wash days in the evening or at least 30 minutes before washing to let the herb act on the scalp.

Pre-wash oiling is done on dry hair at least 30 minutes before washing. Non- wash day oiling can be done on dry or damp (misted) hair depending on how hair reacts to oiling.
Amount used depends on hair length and how much oil the hair absorbs. Start with small amounts and increase as needed.

Post wash oiling is done on dry or damp hair depending on the hair reaction to oils. Only a small amount is used. It helps in detangling and shine, similar to a leave-in conditioner.

Which oils might be right for you?

- Coconut oil
Prevents protein loss from hair during washing.Applied both pre-wash and on the days between washing.
For dry or damaged ends: Wet/ mist the ends of the hair and liberally apply coconut oil, then braid. Let the oil soak in for at least a day.

-Sesame oil
Can be applied between washing but, referred as a pre-wash oil as it has a stronger scent than coconut.

-Mustard oil
It is used more in Northern India, for the scalp and for medicinal body massages. It brings circulation to the scalp due to its mild irritating properties, similar to cayenne pepper. It has anti-bacterial properties.
Do not try to infuse herbs in this by heating as it produces noxious fumes. Applied pre-wash to scalp only. Has a strong scent.

-Amla Oil
Conditioning astringent. Used for hair loss, premature graying, strengthens the roots, reduces dandruff.
Prevents split ends. A small amount is applied to hair and scalp after washing or massaged in pre-wash.


So, the general steps are:

- Daily oiling of the scalp and length with little oil preferably coconut oil. Some also use castor oil or Vatika oil.

- The night before washing, saturate the hair and scalp with coconut oil (use an old pillow case for oil spills).

- On wash day, a mix of herbal hair cleansers such as shikakai and amla powder is used to wash the scalp and hair,  followed by an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, then more oiling and protective styling....rinse and repeat.

Now since I had no idea where I could get shikakai and amla powder in Nigeria, I had to make do with dilute shampoo.

I have pure coconut oil and decided to include palm kernel oil in the mix too. This is because both coconut oil and palm kernel oil have high lauric acid content which is antimicrobial and coconut oil is one of the few oils that are absorbed by the hair.

I doubted if this method will work on African kinky hair but I decided to try it out for two months...going on three now....and I'm thrilled with the results.
Iceing on the cake was when the Keracare Cleansing Cream I was gifted by had Neem, Amla and Shikakai as the first three ingredients after water. I also had Apple Cider Vinegar courtesy of a new oily skin regimen I was trying and voila my Indian hair regimen was complete....almost...
Okay, I think I've gisted enough.....

So here's my Indian Oiling Method adapted for Nigerian natural hair.

-I started with clean hair. I shampooed my hair with diluted Aussie Moist Shampoo (this was before Keracare).

-Then I rinsed my hair with three tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in 75 cl of water (used Aquafina Bottled Water to measure).
Left it in for about 15 mins. I noticed the tangles melted away but my hair felt a bit weird...kinda crispy clean but not dry...good weird.

- I let my hair airdry until it was a little damp. Then I divided my hair into four sections and applied 2 capsful of coconut oil (equivalent to 3 tablespoon) to my hair and scalp in each section.
It felt icky because I don't really oil my scalp or have so much oil on my hair.
At some point the oil was running down my face and neck. I had to blot off the excess with a towel.

- Then just because, I applied my LOC mix to my ends and braided my hair in two to stretch.

- From then on, I applied a little coconut oil each day to my hair alone and massaged my scalp.

I noticed my hair getting a bit crispy...not the good kind...which scared me...but on further investigation found out it was normal...just coconut oil binding with keratin... and the solution was to dilute the coconut oil. I used castor oil and palm kernel oil. Problem solved.

- The day before washday, I loaded up on pure undiluted coconut oil and bunned my hair. I left grease marks on my pillows and bonnet the first time.
To avoid this, I place a shower cap on my head, then a bonnet, then a scarf. Problem solved.


- My individual strands felt stronger when I pulled a strand between my fingers.

- I noticed less shedding and breakage on wash day (every two to three weeks). In fact one washday, I lost just three strands. No breakage.

- I gave myself a blowdry on the second month and was so shocked at how long my hair was that I pasted the pictures all over the internet...and then!

Braided each section as soon as I was done blowdrying to slow down shrinkage

- I got an outbreak of zits on my nape. Most likely due to the coconut oil. So I'm careful not to apply so much that it pours down my neck and also not to style my hair to touch my face....the Indian Oiling Method still stays.

- I've not had any scalp issues from the oiling and also no build up. I don't apply oil to my scalp daily, anyway....only to my hair.

- Though the oiling has strengthened my ends, I still follow up with the LOC mix for added moisture.

Update: October 2014


From the results I'm getting, the Indians got it right!

I've included this method into my regimen and hope to get the real shikakai and amla powder some day.

At the moment I don't know if I'll ditch Aussie Moist Shampoo in favor of Keracare Cleansing Cream....because Aussie smells better. I'm a sucker for fruity scents.....but the shikakai......

Also, just so I don't go around smelling like coconut oil, I mixed in a little vanilla.

So that's it....a long post I know, but how else could I spill?

More Update: 2015/16
I've been consistently using this method and my hair game has changed. I have even developed an oil that works perfectly for natural hair health along the way by marrying ayurveda with science!
Here's a link to my improved current method 
Till I spill again,
Live Beautifully.Naturally.

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