Hair Oiling is More Than Just a Beauty Routine for Me and My Mom

It’s a connection to my Ayurvedic roots.


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My mother and I had a weekly ritual growing up. She would make a steaming pot of chai, play one of our favorite Bollywood movies that we have watched countless times, while tenderly applying oil in my hair every Sunday. She would move her fingers meticulously, yet expertly, trained to take out knots and secure my mane in a tight braid once the oiling has concluded.

Hair oiling has been an important part of my family’s customs and an important way for me to connect with my roots- literally. However, the practice is deeply ingrained in South Asian traditions and has been an Ayurvedic treatment for centuries; it’s not just a beauty routine, but a therapeutic process that promotes relaxation and rejuvenation.

Today, I have moved across the pond, so our weekly practice has also shifted. We no longer use store-bought coconut oil, but thanks to indē wild's new hair oil “Champi” (which in Hindi translates to hair oiling), we have found a way to bridge the distance and keep our tradition going over FaceTime. This simple act of oiling hair, which has been all the rage on Tikok, not only nourishes our locks but also nourishes our souls.

What Is Hair Oiling?

Oil slugging or hair oiling, is a popular hair care practice where oil is applied to the hair and scalp to provide hydration and a calming sensation through the massaging of the hair strands.  Similar to skin slugging, the goal is to lock in moisture. Especially for those with dry or frizzy hair, hair oils can offer a number of benefits. In fact, many women who have postpartum hair loss have used Ranavat’s widely popular fortifying hair serum, combined with a hair oil, to restore scalp health and hair shine.

What Is Champi Made of?

Dermatologist Sangitha Khosla, the maker of this elixir, grew up in Chennai, India, in a family of Ayurvedic doctors where her knowledge of traditional medicine and herbal remedies came to fruition. Sangita's journey to create this hair oil began in her family's garden, where she sourced the initial versions of the recipe. Over time, she combined her education in science with her inherited knowledge to create a blend of the finest Ayurvedic herbs, flowers, seeds, roots, and fruits for optimal hair growth and volume, and has dedicated her life to perfecting the recipe.

The hair oil's secret lies in its 11 active ingredients, each with a specific purpose. For example, Bhringraj extract strengthens hair and adds volume, while marigold extract soothes the scalp and nourishes it with its anti-inflammatory properties. Rosemary extract, another active ingredient, reduces breakage and helps stimulate hair growth. My personal favorite is the licorice root extract, which softens hair and reduces fallout; thanks to the colder London climate and harder water compared to my hometown in New York City, this ingredient makes a huge difference in my hair regimen.

How to Oil Your Hair

But the true magic of this hair oil lies in how it makes you feel, as both my mother and I discovered virtually. The key is the ritual, which we each perform on our respective hair, while exchanging stories and jokes across continents. First we warm the hair oil in our hands, either by placing it in warm water or microwaving it for a few seconds. Then, it’s important to separate the hair into different parts for easier application. As someone with medium hair, two pipettes are sufficient, but Khosla recommends using more for those with more volume or longer hair length.

As I apply the oil through my strands, a sense of relaxation overcomes me as the ingredients seep into my scalp and hair follicles and release built up tension that I wasn’t even aware was there. To further enhance the benefits of the ritual, it is recommended to use four fingers to stimulate the back of the neck to awaken the chakras in that region of the body and manifest a sense of balance and harmony. Khosla also recommends taking the tips of your fingers and placing them on the hairline, slowly rotating them to increase blood flow to the scalp. “This practice is the ultimate self-care and opportunity to engage in a deep meditative state to set the tone for a calm and centered day ahead,” she says.

Despite the miles between us, my mom and I have found a way to stay close that is representative of our culture, but is accessible to anyone looking to strengthen their hand—and maybe their bond—with a special person in their life. 

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