Shikakai (Acacia Concinna)
The fruits of this plant are rich in Saponins that act as foaming agents to create lather when
used to shampoo hair.
Shikakai is shrub that looks like a small tree. The dry hot weather of South India is best suited for these
trees or tree like shrubs. The plant is now cultivated commercially to meet the high demand in hair care and
The fruit looks like a pod and resembles the Tamarind fruit pod. The leaves have a sour taste, sort of like
Tamarind pulp. In South India, the leaves are used to make Chutney.
Latin name: Acacia Concinna
Sanskrit / Ayurveda name: Shikakai
- Rasa: Astringent
- Virya: Cooling
- Vipaka: Pungent
- Guna: Heavy Dry
- The fruit pod, bark and leaves are dried and ground together to make a 'Shikakai Powder'. The powder is
used to make shampoo. It is slightly acidic and helps to cleanse scalp without stripping it of the natural
oils. Removes dandruff, dead cell build-up and dirt stuck at the root of hair. The lather produced by Shikakai
is not very sudsy. Reetha powder may be added to increase the amount of suds. It is astringent and used to
tone-up. Amla powder may be added to restore natural dark hair color and add more nutrients
- Shikakai powder mixed with Reetha powder may be mixed together and decocted to make soap to wash delicate
fabrics such as silk.
- Shikakai leaves may be made as a tea and used to cleanse skin, wash face. Neem leaves may be added to making
this tea. Neem add antibiotic properties.
- Traditional Home Shampoo
Mix about 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Shikakai powder (Ground pods leaves and bark) with same amount of water to
make a runny paste. Let the paste rest overnight. In the morning, wet your hair and apply the paste working it
into scalp with fingers. This will help break the dandruff and other stuff stuck to the roots of hair. Let the
paste stay in the hair for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, work the scalp again with fingers. Wash and
rinse hair till water runs clear. Traditionally, after the shampoo one would apply virgin coconut oil to the
strands of hair.
- Classic Ayurveda Shampoo
Equal amounts (by weight) of Shikakai powder, Amla powder (Dried fruit without seed), and Reetha powder (shell
of the nut) are mixed to form a dry powder. Add 3 parts of water to one part of mixed dry powder. Bring it to
a boil. Turn down heat and cook on low heat for about 4 hours. Shut-off heat. Let it cool down. Dilute with water.
One may add small amount of Neem leaves, Hibiscus leaves and flower petals, Gotu Kola extract, and ground Fenugreek seeds