Reetha water hair wash for Sustainable living, the Indian way

reetha water (1)

Even as kids, each Sunday morning was reserved for a mustard oil head massage and reetha water hair wash. The oil came from a local oil-pressing machine, Sahu Kolhu to be precise in Narhi, Lucknow. The reetha came from the nearest grocery shop, Chander ki dukan near 3 Butler Road, Lucknow. There was never a bad hair day :) It was a time tested family tradition, mustard oil and reetha. Sometimes shikakai was hand-pounded and added to the reetha water. Ayurveda is deeply entrenched in Indian traditions.

The Recipe

After years of store bought shampoos, going back to reetha feels good. It is easy to use.

  1. Soaking the reetha nuts in water for 24 hours begins the process.
  2. Mashing it a bit or not makes a difference in lather but it is not needed to improve the quality of the hair wash.
  3. Strain the water and apply to well-oiled hair. Rinse. (Any hair oil that you like to use will do.)
  4. One more time, put some reetha water on the head. Massage it in. Hair will appear to be all  tangled, but will be silky soft after rinsing and drying.
  5. The remaining reetha nuts can be soaked in water again for the next hair wash. Over repeated use, just a papery inner skin and black seeds remain of the original soapnut. Time to start a new batch!

What is Reetha?

Reetha is commonly known as the soapnut and grows on a tree in India, Nepal, China. The Lucknow zoo has a reetha tree too. This year i will sprout some reetha seeds saved from the hair wash and nurture saplings. These trees are somewhat drought resistant too. The Saponins in reetha clean away grime. Reetha is as old as silk or older, perhaps. Silk was traditionally washed in reetha, especially the fine Mooga silk of Assam. Reetha has several medicinal uses in Ayurveda, the science of life.

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