I was introduced to shikakai and ritha as a fancy of my mom who had grown up washing her hair with rithas which fell from the tree in her backyard.
My sisters too tried it in early teens where it was mostly mom who made the liquid and gave us. However, i think i always had that DIY and herbal gene in me because i am still stuck to it while my sisters promptly abandoned it once my mom asked them to soak and mash the rithas for their use.Well, i suspect they also abandoned it because it burns the eyes and makes them red for some time
Shampoos came in picture i think during my 12th std where i didn't have pre-planning time to soak the aritha, shikakai and amla in water the night before and then boil and mash them ,separate the liquid and then sit to wash my hair. While my mom shifted to Swastik Shikakai soap [all of us had been using that earlier for in hurry days] ,we shifted to Nyle, Ayur. For me using shampoos has always been about convenience , just open the bottle ,wash and go. After i started working i started using Ultra doux - i use to get those 400ml huge bottles. I remember Garnier was pretty expensive that time. I especially loved Olive shampoo of Ultra doux range. I think that's been the best shampoo i have used till date. And i think Garnier should bring back Ultra doux shampoos.
Once i finished my last bottle of Ultra Doux i had to choose something else now......and since then its been a mess. The so called creamy and gentle ones make my hair oily in 2 days and itchy. I have tried the popular ones, the expensive ones and the not so expensive ones but its been the same -no dandruff but itchy scalp in 2 days. So , i have abandoned all of them in last 2 years and i use Biotique soap [ yes those Biotique soaps- and they are great for hair too] followed by vinegar/lemon rinse in hurry and shikakai mix when i have time.
Here s my shikakai recipe:
I use whole shikakai, ritha and amla and powder of jatamansi, jaswand, maka and brahmi.I use these powders in random quantities depending on what i have at home at that time. I have used just ritha to wash my hair when i had nothing else and that has been fine too. So, don't rush to the market and hoard all these powders !
You can either powder the whole herbs or buy the powder. mix them and keep in dry container which has a decent lid.Use dry spoons to remove the powders.
There is no rocket science to this. Oil your hair the night before [ this is not an hard and fast rule- i have this habit - the moment i don't oil my hair at least once in ten days prior to hair wash - i feel something is missing]
Soak whole rithas, shikakai and bits of amla- the amounts will depend on your hair length, the kind of aritha you are using. There are 2 varieties the big brown berries and the small black ones. You'll need less of the big ones and more of the small ones. i get my reetha from my baniya - they are really good large sized berries. I have tried reetha from many places and from gujarat too but i think the variety i found from my baniya i'll stick to that.And yeah, i bought 2 kilos which should last me atleast 3-4 years.
Many a times i just use reetha alone about 2-3 and a tsp of methi seeds and pressure cook with 2 cups water.once it cools down mash and strain and repeat with a little more water.The methi gives gelatinous feel and on cooling thickens the reetha liquid too. This is quick and easy. And i also use this as body and face wash.
Remember, both shikakai and ritha clean so for every 3 ritha berries throw in 2-3 shikakai pods, 2-3 bits of amla for a single wash.Soak it in 1 cup water[ 200ml] approx.
Next morning, boil it away merrily till your patience lasts and then cool and mash ,strain pour it in a squirt bottle.There your shampoo is ready. If you are using other herbs / herb powders soak them too along with your soapnuts !
On dry hair, drizzle this liquid and rub your scalp gently. I usually prepare a thick concentrate, coat my scalp and keep for 15 mins while I go about doing my chores. All i do is rinse it out later.
I mostly prepare for 2 uses. if you prepare for 3-4 uses or more don't forget to add sodium benzoate [ 1/4 tsp should be ok for 1 litre of ritha-shikakai liquid]and keep it in the fridge.You could also freeze it in the freezer in the same bottle .I also dry the strained ritha and shikakai pieces and reuse them the next time the same way.
You won't need a conditioner - even with just reetha ! I strongly recommend using this because - no itchy scalp, hair dries up super fast, it helps with dandruff too. I have never had dandruff [ Touch wood !] because i keep using herbs in one way or another and i have been using shikakai and ritha pretty much my whole life.
I still use a shampoo on days when i simply have no time for anything. But its limited to 10-15 times a year and while travelling !