Amla, known in America as Indian gooseberry, has long been used in India for a variety of health and beauty effects. It’s one of the best-kept secrets of Indian beauty, and it’s one of the ways women there keep their hair so shiny and strong (aside from fabulous genetics, of course). It’s packed with vitamin C, so it also helps break up dead skin cells to reveal a smooth, bright complexion.
The Henna for Hair website, which recommends adding amla to your henna mixture if you want cooler-toned results, describes amla as a tan powder with an acidic astringent smell “like a combination of raw cranberries and oak tree bark”. It’s available both as a powder, and dissolved in oil.
The fruit of this plant is believed to enhance hair growth by stimulating the scalp, so it’s often recommended for women suffering from thinning hair. It’s also said to enhance wave and curl. For use as a scalp massage oil or deep conditioner, mix powdered amla with coconut or sesame oil. To add volume, mix the powder with enough water to make a paste the consistency of yogurt and let it sit for about 15 minutes to allow the powder to dissolve. Apply it to your hair, let it soak in for a few minutes and then rinse.
For use as an exfoliating face scrub, simply mix some of the powder with enough hot water to form a paste and let it sit for 15 minutes. Scrub your skin with the paste, let it sit for a minute and then rinse.
There are many amla hair oils available, but they usually have unnecessary additives like harsh fragrances added to mask the natural scent of the amla. If you’d prefer oil to powder, FromNatureWithLove.com has a nice unscented version.