Shikakai: How To Use Powder as Hair Shampoo and Conditioner?

The Acacia Concinna tree produces shikakai, a traditional powder utilized in India, made from its seed pods. People typically employ it in ayurvedic hair and scalp care treatments. Users believe shikakai reduces hair loss and dandruff, strengthens hair roots, and promotes hair growth. It serves as a shampoo and mixes well with other natural ingredients like amla, reetha, and henna powder to form a hair mask. Shikakai, a shrub indigenous to India and parts of Asia, has been integral to Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It features prominently in India’s hair care products and earns the moniker “fruit for the hair.” Recognized for its cleansing, conditioning, and detangling properties, shikakai is celebrated for fostering healthy hair growth.

Shikakai In India and Ayurveda

The main part used is pod or seeds of the plant. This tree is very popular in India with many medicinal uses and grows widely in south part of India. It is a great hair tonic and vitalizer. Here are some shikakai benefits other than hair and some DIY preparations – homemade mouthwash, body wash, hair shampoo, hair oil, hair growth formula.

  • Scientific Binomial: Acacia concinna
  • Common English: Soap-pod
  • Ayurvedic: Saptalaa / Shitalaa / Saatalaa / Shrivalli / Kantvalli
  • Unani: Shikaakaai / Kharunb Nabti
  • Sanskrit: Saptala / Bahuphenarasa / Bhuriphena / Charmakansa / Charmakasa / Phenila
  • Hindi / Urdu: Shikakai / Ritha / Kochi / Ban-Reethaa
  • Bengali: Ban-ritha
  • Marathi: Reetha
  • Telugu: Shiika / Cheekaya / Chikaya / Gogu
  • Tamil: Cikkay / Shikai / Shika / Sheekay / Chikaikkai / Seekai / Sigakai
  • Gujarati
  • Kannada: Sheegae / Shige kayi / Sigeballi
  • Malayalam: Cheeyakayi / Cheenikka
  • Oriya
  • Punjabi / Sindhi
  • Assamese
  • Kashmiri
  • Konkani
  • Manipuri
  • Dogri
  • Bhojpuri

Shikakai Powder Everyday Uses

Flowers used as vegetable. In the treatment of malarial fever leaves infusion is a folk remedy. Leaves taste acidic and are used in recipes such as chutneys. A decoction of pods relieves biliousness and acts as a purgative.

1. Natural Body Wash

Try making shikakai body wash that offers your luxury bath with antiseptic action against infection. Mix together shikakai, green gram, lemon peel, and Indian sarsaparilla root (anantamool). Remember to take all in same quantity and all in dried fine powder form. Keep this mixture ready in dry jar. Before each bath mix this powder and milk together to form a nice smooth paste. Take powder and milk in 1:10 proportion. This is the best homemade body soap.

2. Homemade Mouthwash

Decoction made with pods is very useful to treat halitosis. Its easy to make shikakai decoction. To make this homemade mouthwash add shikakai in a boiling water. Consider ratio of 1:50 for best results. It fights way bad breath by acting on bacteria that causes foul odor.

3. Rug Cleaning Detergent

Shikakai extensively used as a detergent as the bark is high on saponins which is considered as a good cleaning agent. Combined with other herbs (honey and water) and chemical (sodium stearate or urea or industrial methylated spirit) shikakai works great as a rug cleaner detergent. In Indian homes, it used in combination with reetha to clean simple or brocaded silk and woolen clothes.

4. Effective Dandruff Treatment

Washing hair with shikakai solution is good for hair in the treatment of dandruff. This solution is nothing but the pods and seeds decoction. If oily dandruff is troubling you then this remedy is very effective. Soak 2 spoons of fenugreek seeds in water overnight. Make a paste in the morning and apply on the head. Leave it for at least half an hour and the wash hair with shikakai water. Follow this routine twice a week to get dandruff free hair for long time.

5. For Dry Damaged Hair

Best traditional way to store shikakai is that sun dry the pods and powder them. Store it in clean, dry jar as use every time to wash your hair. It results in soft, silky, nice smelling and dandruff free hair. In olden days when chemical shampoo was not invented, people were using this natural hair shampoo. For dry and damaged hair mix 1 teaspoon of shikakai powder with 1 cup coconut milk. Apply this mixture on scalp and massage gently. Rinse it after 5 minutes. Wash your hair this way at least once a week.

6. DIY Herbal Shampoo

For washing your hair, use a shampoo that includes the herb shikakai. This routine will help you to keep hair healthy, glowing, and beautiful. As shikakai is low in pH, it does not disturb the natural oil level of hairs. Here is how to make your own shikakai hair wash at home.

Recipe 1
  1. Take in equal quantity shikakai pods, green grams, dried amla, dried curry leaves, dried lime peels, and fenugreek seeds.
  2. All should be in well dried and powdered form.
  3. Mix and store in dry place.
  4. For each use take a required quantity of powder and mix with sufficient amount of water to form a nice paste.
  5. Wash hair and get natural silky feel after each wash.
Recipe 2
  1. Take 2 teaspoon of shikakai powder, 1 teaspoon of green gram flour and 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed powder.
  2. Mix all the ingredients.
  3. Before using take a white of an egg and mix with powders to make a paste.
  4. It is a good hair cleanser than any other herbal shampoo.

Growing Shikakai Tree

Shikakai is a sustainable crop that can be cultivated in India using organic practices. It can be grown in various soil types, including rocky and sandy soils, and can be irrigated with low amounts of water. The crop can be harvested three to four times a year, with the peak harvest season being during the monsoon months. The plant has a number of benefits for those who cultivate it. It requires little maintenance, and is resistant to most pests and diseases. It also provides a steady source of income for farmers, as its demand is steadily increasing due to its popularity in hair care products. Shikakai cultivation in India is an important part of sustainable agriculture, and is becoming increasingly popular among farmers. Its benefits are numerous, and its popularity is sure to increase as its use in hair care products continues to rise.

  1. Select a sunny, sheltered location with well-drained soil for your shikakai tree.
  2. Dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the pot your shikakai tree came in.
  3. Mix some compost into the soil from the hole.
  4. Gently remove the shikakai tree from its pot and place it in the hole.
  5. Backfill the hole with soil and lightly tamp down.
  6. Water the shikakai tree thoroughly, allowing the water to run off.
  7. Spread a thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree to help keep the soil moist and suppress weeds.
  8. Prune the tree in the winter or early spring to shape it and encourage new growth.
  9. Fertilize the tree in the spring and summer with a balanced fertilizer.
  10. Water the tree regularly during dry spells and provide supplemental water during periods of extreme heat.
Q. How to grow shikakai plant from seed?

Shikakai is a tropical plant, so it requires warm temperatures, plenty of humidity, and plenty of light. It thrives best in temperatures between 70-85°F (21-29°C). Plant needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, and prefers a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. It also needs to be well-drained, as it does not tolerate sitting in water. It should also be watered regularly and kept consistently moist, but not soggy.

  1. Start by soaking the shikakai seeds in water overnight. This will help to soften the hard seed coat and make germination easier.
  2. Fill a seed tray with a soil-less potting mix.
  3. Sow the seeds about 2-3 cm apart, and cover with a light layer of soil.
  4. Water the soil gently and keep it moist but not soggy.
  5. Place the seed tray in a warm, sunny spot and wait for the seeds to germinate. This should take between 7-14 days.
  6. As soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle, transplant them into individual pots or into the garden.
  7. Water regularly, and feed the plants with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks.
  8. Prune any dead or damaged branches and leaves to encourage healthy growth.
  9. Harvest the pod when it is ripe.


Q. How can I use reetha and shikakai to wash my hair?

Reetha (soapnut) and shikakai are popular natural alternatives to commercial shampoos. Here’s how you can use them together to wash your hair:

  • Prepare the solution: Take a handful of dried reetha and shikakai berries or powder and soak them in water overnight or for a few hours until they soften.
  • Boil the mixture: Once soaked, boil the reetha and shikakai in the same water until it reduces to half its original quantity. Let it cool down.
  • Strain the mixture: Strain the liquid using a muslin cloth or a fine sieve to remove any solid particles.
  • Wash your hair: Use this strained liquid as you would use shampoo. Apply it to wet hair, massage gently into the scalp, and then rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Condition (optional): You may follow up with a natural conditioner like a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse or aloe vera gel to soften and detangle your hair.
Q. Does Shikakai cause hair fall in the initial days? I experienced hair fall since switching to Shikakai.

It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience a transition period when switching from commercial shampoos to natural alternatives like shikakai. Give your hair some time to adjust to the new routine. If you continue to experience excessive hair fall or if it persists for an extended period, consider consulting a dermatologist or a hair care specialist to rule out any underlying issues. Here are some reasons why you might be experiencing hair fall initially:

  • Scalp Adjustment: Your scalp may need time to adjust to the new cleansing routine. Shikakai gently cleanses the scalp and hair, which may initially loosen weak or damaged hair strands.
  • Residual Buildup: If you’ve been using commercial hair care products containing silicones or other synthetic ingredients, there may be a buildup on your hair that shikakai is gradually removing. As this buildup is removed, it may seem like you’re experiencing more hair fall than usual.
  • Detoxification: Shikakai has detoxifying properties, and during the initial days of use, it may be removing toxins and impurities from your scalp and hair follicles. This process can sometimes lead to increased hair fall temporarily.
  • Application Technique: Ensure you’re using shikakai correctly. Avoid using it in excessive amounts or leaving it on your hair for too long, as this can potentially lead to dryness and breakage.
Q. How do I use shikakai powder as shampoo?

Using shikakai powder as a shampoo is a natural and effective way to clean your hair. Using shikakai regularly can promote healthy hair and scalp, reduce dandruff, and add shine to your hair. Follow these steps for optimal results:

  • Prepare the shikakai paste: Mix shikakai powder with water to create a thick paste. You can adjust the consistency based on your preference.
  • Wet your hair: Before applying the shikakai paste, wet your hair thoroughly.
  • Apply the paste: Section your hair and apply the shikakai paste evenly to your scalp and hair. Massage gently to create lather.
  • Leave it on: Allow the shikakai paste to sit on your hair and scalp for a few minutes. This gives it time to cleanse and nourish your hair.
  • Rinse thoroughly: Rinse your hair thoroughly with water until the paste is completely washed out. Follow up with a natural conditioner if needed.
Q. Which Shikakai brand can I use?

Choosing a reputable shikakai brand is essential for ensuring product quality. Look for brands that offer pure and organic shikakai without additives or synthetic chemicals. Always check product labels for certifications and reviews to ensure the authenticity and purity of it. Some popular and trusted brands include:

  • Khadi Natural
  • Patanjali
  • Forest Essentials
  • Jiva Organics
  • Organic India
Q. Is shikakai paste definitely useful for me to reduce hair loss problem?

Shikakai is renowned for its hair care benefits, and many individuals find it helpful in reducing hair loss. While shikakai can be beneficial for many, individual responses vary. It’s advisable to perform a patch test before regular use and consult with a dermatologist if you have specific concerns about hair loss or scalp conditions. Here’s why shikakai paste can be beneficial:

  • Natural Cleanser: Shikakai acts as a gentle cleanser, removing impurities and excess oil from the scalp without stripping it of natural oils.
  • Strengthens Hair Roots: Regular use of shikakai is believed to strengthen hair roots, preventing hair fall due to weak follicles.
  • Rich in Nutrients: Shikakai is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, promoting overall hair health and reducing the risk of breakage.
  • Reduces Dandruff: Its anti-fungal properties help control dandruff, contributing to a healthier scalp environment.
Q. Can I wash my hair twice in a week with shikakai?

Yes, you can wash your hair twice a week with shikakai, but it’s essential to consider your hair type and scalp condition. Shikakai is a gentle cleanser that effectively removes dirt, excess oil, and buildup from the scalp without stripping away natural oils. Monitor how your hair and scalp respond to frequent washing with shikakai. Adjust the frequency based on your hair’s needs and preferences to maintain a healthy balance.

  • Oily Hair: If you have oily hair, washing twice a week may help control oiliness and maintain a clean scalp.
  • Dry Hair: If you have dry hair, washing twice a week may be too frequent and could potentially strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness and brittleness.
Q. How do I make shampoo with Shikakai, Reetha, and Amla powders?

Making shampoo with shikakai, reetha, and amla powders is a natural and effective way to cleanse your hair. Here’s a simple recipe to create your own herbal shampoo. To use the shampoo, wet your hair thoroughly, apply the shampoo to your scalp and hair, massage gently, and rinse thoroughly with water. Adjust the quantity of ingredients based on your hair length and thickness. This herbal shampoo is free from harsh chemicals and suitable for regular use.

  • Ingredients
    • Shikakai powder: 2 tablespoons
    • Reetha (soapnut) powder: 2 tablespoons
    • Amla (Indian gooseberry) powder: 1 tablespoon
    • Water: 4 cups
  • Instructions
    • In a saucepan, add water and bring it to a boil.
    • Once the water boils, add shikakai, reetha, and amla powders to the water.
    • Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it reduces to half its original quantity.
    • Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the mixture to cool down.
    • Once cooled, strain the liquid using a muslin cloth or fine sieve to separate the liquid from the solid particles.
    • Transfer the liquid into a clean container or bottle. Your herbal shampoo is ready to use.
Q. Can I use a conditioner after applying Shikakai?

Yes, you can use a conditioner after applying Shikakai shampoo, especially if you have dry or damaged hair. While Shikakai is a natural cleanser and conditioner, it may not provide enough conditioning for some hair types, particularly if your hair tends to be dry or frizzy. Using a conditioner after Shikakai shampoo can help to moisturize and soften your hair, leaving it smooth, manageable, and hydrated.

  • How to Use Conditioner: After rinsing out the Shikakai shampoo thoroughly, apply a natural conditioner to the lengths and ends of your hair. Leave the conditioner on for a few minutes to allow it to penetrate the hair shaft and then rinse it out thoroughly with water.
  • Types of Conditioners: Opt for conditioners that are free from harsh chemicals and contain nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, or argan oil. Alternatively, you can also use diluted apple cider vinegar as a natural hair rinse to restore the pH balance of your scalp and hair.
Q. Does homemade shampoo with amla, reetha, and shikakai make hair fall stop?

Homemade shampoo made with amla, reetha, and shikakai can contribute to reducing hair fall and improving hair health, but its effectiveness may vary depending on individual factors such as the cause of hair fall and the condition of your scalp and hair. While homemade shampoo can be beneficial, it may not completely stop hair fall on its own. It’s essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, address any underlying health issues, and use a holistic approach to hair care, including proper nutrition, hydration, and stress management, to achieve optimal results. If you experience excessive hair fall, consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment options.

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