Experiments with Amla

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If you’ve read my Henna and Me HairStory, you know that I used amla in my henna mixture for a few months last year in an attempt to try to preserve my curl pattern. You also know that it was an epic FAIL! It wasn’t a fail in regard to preserving my curl pattern … I really don’t even know if it worked or not. It just made my head itch horribly and I charge it as being responsible for excessive shedding and uncustomary scalp itching for months on end. So, I stopped using it after a couple of months (should have stopped a lot sooner).

Now, I regularly get asked about the curl loosening side effect of henna by concerned fine-haired curlies with looser curl patterns. They really want to try henna because of the unquestionable benefits in regard to strength and shine. But, they don’t want to sacrifice their curls. I completely understand their apprehension. So, I always let them know that I definitely experienced significant curl loosening with repeated applications of henna. I also let them know that I now only apply a full strength henna treatment on my roots for about three applications. If I can remember, I tell them about Cassia (so called, “clear” henna) as another option that give similar conditioning benefits as henna, but without the curl loosening (or as long lasting benefits). Finally, I tell them about amla, but with the caveat that they should immediately discontinue use if it irritates their scalp. Most recently, I’ve  begun to suggest applying amla to the ends of hair that have been loosened by henna to see if it restores curl. However, I never tried that last recommendation. That is, I hadn’t until this past Sunday.

On Sunday morning, I applied a Vatika oil pre-poo to my length and lightly finger detangled. I worked my head in quarters, twisting each section as I completed it. I then applied JBCO to the ends of the twists and applied my essential oil mix to my scalp, massaging it in for a few minutes. I threw on a plastic cap, warmed a damp hand towel in the microwave for 30 seconds and swathed my head in it. I repeated the heated towel application about 3 or 4 times. Then, I sat for about another hour or so with a winter hat on top of the plastic cap.

Once I was done marinating, I mixed some amla powder with hot water in a plastic container to the consistency of yogurt (I didn’t measure the powder or the water. I just poured an amount that I thought would be enough to cover the bottom half of my hair). I removed the plastic cap and began applying the amla to the lower half of my hair, on top of the pre-poo, twist by unravelled twist. Amla is a lot thinner then henna, but it is still like applying mud to your hair (just wetter mud), so I applied it carefully. Next, I folded my amla covered ends up towards my head and secured them with a jaw clip, ensuring that the amla was not making contact with my scalp. I immediately put the plastic cap back over my hair (you can NOT let amla dry on  your hair … it would not end well) and went about my business.

After about an hour, I hopped in the shower and rinsed the amla and pre-poo with a couple rounds of HE HH. I then washed my scalp with DevaCare No Poo and co-washed and detangled with HE HH. Finally, I deep conditioned with Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner for an hour or so, applied DevaCare One Conditioner as my leave-in, put my hair back into four twists and hit the sack. I wore my hair in those same twists today, pulled back with a Goody Comfort Flex and adorned with a flower. I plan on wearing them for the next couple of days (not fancy, but easy and all I feel like doing right now).

I'm just showing this pic because of those grey roots! This is how I KNOW that my hair grows a 1/2 inch a month! Henna time!!

So far, I can’t tell if amla has restored any curl to my hair. It didn’t look too much curlier when it was wet. However, I must say, it looked very shiny and sleek! From what I’ve read, it may take a few applications of amla to restore curl (it purportedly acts like an astringent, so the curl restoration and enhanced volume claims appear to be related to its ability to work similar to a clarifying shampoo). As it wasn’t a big deal to apply and rinse and I didn’t experience any adverse effects using it, I’ll probably repeat this process a couple more times to determine if amla has any curl restoring capabilities for me. I’ll keep you guys posted!

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Have you ever used amla to restore curl or enhance volume?  If so, what was your experience? Did it work for you?  Please expound!

11 responses »

  1. I don’t know about the actual powder, but I can tell you that the Almond Amla hair oil I got can be drying to the hair. I plan on using the rest of it just because I have it. Although it was only $2.99 at the local Indian Grocery store, I still can’t push myself to throw it away. I mean, it’s not a total bust! I use to use it all the time when I first bought it, but to me it just does not do what EVOO does. I still have my twist in and have 4 more weeks to go, so I think I will use it on those for the next few weeks.

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  2. I have used the powder in mixes like:
    4 tbs Hibiscus Petal Powder
    4 tbs Marshmallow Root Powder
    3 tbsp Amla Powder
    In a medium size bowl, mix all ingredients together with enough spring water to make a thick paste. Gently section your hair, and use an applicator brush to generously apply the mixture starting at the scalp, and working your way down the hair shaft. Cover with a plastic cap and allow mixture to sit on head for about 45minutes-hour.

    or the oil as a pre-poo or like this:

    1oz Shealoe Butter
    3 tbs Brahmi Oil
    3 tbs Amla Oil
    Mix all ingredients well

    I didn’t like this at all. It was suppose to be used for twisting the hair because the ingredients give great hold, but ooooo, that Amla oil stinks bad to me. I like the way you used the powder, I am going to give it a try.

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  3. Miche’al, what was the first mix supposed to do and did you like the results?

    Trisha, I actually made my own amla oil one time. You melt coconut oil in a pan with low heat, mix in the powder and heat for a little while. Then, you pour it in glass jar and you have to let it sit for, like, 2 weeks!! But, you have to shake it up daily. Then, after two weeks, you drain the amla enriched coconut oil from the powder. After all that, I didn’t notice anything special about it and never did it again. And oh yeah, amla can be drying. Again, it acts like an astringent and I think the “stripping” nature of it is what enhances curls and volume, because it removes product build up and maybe even a little henna (I read on the henna site that mixing it in olive oil and applying for an hour or more and repeating the process may help remove some henna). Anywho, I think that it being so stripping is what made my scalp and skin react badly, hence why I keep it far from my scalp! LOL! Anywho, I figure between coconut oil pre-poo and the post-amla DC, I am counteracting the drying effects of the amla.

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  4. Shelli,
    The first one was suppose to be a deep conditioning mask.

    Michelle,
    My curls are waves now too, but I love henna. I guess we will have to wait on Shelli’s feedback. LOL!

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      • I told you missy … I can’t tell right now … I put it in those big chunky twists, so I don’t know if it’s curlier. LOL! I didn’t notice too much of anything while it was wet. I think I need to do it a couple more times. I did notice something else though. I’ll post about it soon;-). Like, maybe after I finish writing this, I’ll write up a post 1st amla review;-).

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  5. I too am very interested in the turn out on the restored curls from amla! Im currently torn between doing another treatment and walking away, the benefits I reaped were awesome but unfortunately after only 2 henna treatments i was left with a significantly loose curl pattern. Shelli, do you think CN’s henna gloss method where you put the conditioner into henna would have the same loosening affect as a normal henna treatment??

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  6. Hey Ashley, yes, Nikki’s henna gloss method does have the same loosening effects as that’s how I did my first several hennas. See, the thing is, using her method, you are still getting full dye release. The deposit of the dye is what weighs the hair down. However, if you do the standard gloss (i.e. couple of tablespoons of henna powder in conditioner and apply for an hour … you don’t wait for dye release), you probably won’t have the loosening problem. However, as the dye is what provides most of the strengthening and conditioning benefits, you won’t get the full benefit. However, it will provide deep conditioning (though not as long lasting as a full strength treatment). You could try cassia (so called “clear henna”). I haven’t tried it, but everything that I’ve read indicates that it also acts as a deep conditioner, imparting shine and strength. But again, as there is no dye in cassia, the effects are far more fleeting than henna (If I remember correctly, it’ll last a couple of weeks versus a month or more like henna). Hope that helps and I’ll definitely keep everyone updated on my amla experiment!

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