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If You Don’t Already Oil Cleanse Your Hair, Start Now

January 1 | 7 minute read

Woman runs fingers through dark hair next to a river.

Words by Arabella Roden

Originally published on | December 20

We’re all familiar with the art of the double cleanse: the two-step routine that leaves faces perfectly purified by using an oil-based formula to remove pollution, makeup and product build-up, followed by a gel or foaming cleanser to whisk away any other impurities.

What you may not know is that the same principle can also be applied to hair – and the technique of 'hair oiling' or 'hair oil cleansing' has been used for millennia to both balance and nourish the scalp, and also promote longer, stronger, shinier hair.

We tapped Abhati Suisse Co-Founders – and mother-daughter duo – Anju Doerig-Rupal and Shirin Doerig to explain how it works, and its ancient origins.

Growing up in an Indian family, Anju has been hair oiling since her childhood: “In all honesty, I never really enjoyed it as a kid – I only saw the benefits much later!” she tells The MECCA Memo. “I’m Punjabi and our hair is our jewellery; even Punjabi men oil and keep their hair long. My grandma or mum would, every Sunday, oil my hair and then braid it.”

She adds, “Oiling is a weekly ritual which I continue with my daughters. It’s bonding, storytelling, connection, touch.”

While hair oiling is practised across many cultures, in the Ayurveda tradition, it's known as a “rejuvenation tool”: “Oiling the scalp helps extract any excess doshas that accumulate in the head, the seat of all decision-making, thinking and stress – thereby restoring balance,” Anju explains.

In modern haircare, the benefits are twofold: first, the oils themselves – which help to keep the scalp hydrated, protected and balanced – and second, scalp massage, which not only helps to distribute the product evenly, but also encourages blood flow to the area (and is the type of feel-good moment we all deserve).

Memo Guide To Hair Oiling 16x9 2
Your scalp ages up to six times faster than your face
Shirin Doerig

“This may surprise you, but your scalp ages up to six times faster than your face, and becomes less efficient at delivering the nutrients your hair needs to thrive,” says Shirin. “So, the best way to prevent hair damage and loss is by caring for your scalp.”

She adds, “In the West, hair masks are done when we feel our hair is brittle, weak. The Indian way of taking care of hair is to prevent damage from happening in the first place by strengthening the hair at the root.”

Paying homage to Ayurvedic haircare, Abhati Suisse’s Chambal Sacred Hair Oil blends cold-pressed moringa, coconut and Himalayan wild cherry oils from high-altitude farms with soothing Swiss chamomile and calendula extracts.

“It’s great for so many concerns, from hair thinning, loss and breakage to dandruff and an oily or dry and itchy scalp,” says Shirin.

Oiling is a weekly ritual which I continue with my daughters. It’s bonding, storytelling, connection, touch
Anju Doerig-Rupal

Adds Anju, “Primarily, it’s inspired by my daughters. My daughters are Swiss-Indian and they have finer hair, like their dad. Chambal is formulated for all hair types, with beautiful properties and vital nutrients, and is a sensorial journey at the same time.”

Both Anju and Shirin “love a multifunctional product”, and recommend using the Chambal Sacred Hair Oil as not only a pre-shampoo treatment, but also a smoothing, colour-protecting hair serum, luxurious weekly mask (mixed into conditioner), moisturising beard oil and bath oil.

How to start hair oiling

“How often you should oil your hair depends on your personal preferences,” says Shirin. “Typically, once a week is a good starting point – we tend to do it before every hair wash when we can make the time.”

Hair oiling is suitable for all hair types and textures, including those with "finer or oilier hair": “As long as you double cleanse with a good shampoo which doesn’t strip your hair of its natural oils but thoroughly cleanses the excess oil, you don’t have anything to worry about,” Shirin explains.

Start by “massaging a few pipettes of oil into your scalp and throughout your hair. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes or overnight, then double cleanse with a sulphate-free shampoo.”

Finish with conditioner, then rinse and air dry or style your hair as desired. For best results, Shirin recommends sticking to the hair oiling ritual consistently for “at least three to six months”.

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