Shikakai, Acacia concinna, also known as Soap Pod, is used as a powder that comes from de-shelled shikakai nuts. Shikakai, a common shrub or small tree found in jungles throughout India. The seed pods, leaves and bark of the tree contain high levels of saponins which are completely natural cleansers and have been used for hair care, dandruff, and skin disorders in India for centuries. Shikakai is referred to as "fruit for the hair" due to its high saponin content it helps clean and unclog hair follicles promoting an optimal environment for hair growth.
To produce our Shikakai Powder, premium quality shikakai fruit pods are dried and then ground into a fine powder. It has a naturally mild pH, gently cleans hair, and increases the bounce, body, and silkiness of hair without stripping it of natural oils.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, Shikakai has anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties and is often prescribed for an itchy scalp and dandruff. Its natural astringent properties help strengthen the hair roots, ease dandruff, soothe the scalp, and condition the hair while the saponins gently cleanse dirt and grime from the hair and scalp. Shikakai Powder can be used as a natural hair wash or incorporated into a natural shampoo for sensitive scalps.
Are Soapnuts and Shikakai the Same?
There is a lot of confusion between these two plants since they are both often called "soapberries."
While you may often find personal care companies, as well as suppliers, treating them as if they were the same plant, soapnuts and shikakai are not the same.
Soapnuts (aka aritha or reetha) are a member of the genus Sapindus in the family Sapindaceae, which consists of trees that grow in temperate and tropical regions of the world. The lychee tree is also part of this family.
Shikakai (aka soap pod), on the other hand, come from the genus Acacia, which is a climbing shrub that grows in the warm plains of central and southern India and is a member of the family Fabaceae which is the is also known as the pea or legume family. All members of the Fabaceae family have fruits that are legumes!
While these are completely different plants, both contain high levels of saponins and are traditionally used in Ayurvedic hair care. Saponins are very gentle natural surfactants that act as natural foaming and cleansing agents, making them great ingredients to include in natural shampoo bars or even natural soap.
Both of these Ayurvedic powders are often suggested to help with hair loss, dandruff, hair thinning, and irritated scalp conditions.