Discover The Incredible Benefits Of Shikakai And Its Uses

Discover The Incredible Benefits Of Shikakai And Its Uses 2

Shikakai, also known as shikakhai or shikayaki, is a natural hair cleanser and hair care ingredient that has been used in India for centuries. The name shikakai translates to “fruit for hair” in Hindi, referring to its traditional use as a natural shampoo and hair cleansing agent.

Shikakai comes from the pods of the Acacia concinna tree, which grows in the warm, dry plains of central India. When the pods are dried and ground into a powder, the resulting shikakai powder has gentle cleansing properties that make it an excellent alternative to harsher modern shampoos.

In Ayurvedic medicine, shikakai is revered for its medicinal properties not just for hair, but for promoting good health in general. In this article, we’ll explore the many ways shikakai can benefit hair, skin and overall wellbeing.

The synonyms of Shikakai 

Some common alternate names include:

  1. Shikakhai
  2. Shikyakai
  3. Shikakayi
  4. Shikakkaai
  5. Kadukkai
  6. Soap pod

Benefits of Shikakai for Hair

Promotes Hair Growth 

The mild pH level of shikakai makes it gentle enough to use on a regular basis without stripping away natural oils. Regular use can help strengthen hair follicles at the root to stimulate faster, healthier new growth. The vitamins and antioxidants in shikakai nourish the scalp to create ideal conditions for new hair.

Reduces Hair Fall 

The rich nutrients in shikakai may help reduce hair loss and thinning. The vitamins, antioxidants and minerals strengthen fragile strands to reduce hair fall-out, while the mild cleansers remove oil, dirt and impurities that can clog follicles and inhibit growth. Using a shikakai hair wash helps create the optimal scalp environment for healthy, full hair.

Boosts Hair Shine and Softness 

Unlike harsh detergents, shikakai has mild saponins that gently cleanse hair without stripping away natural oils. This helps leave hair looking shiny, soft and smooth after washing. Shikakai also helps detangle for easier combing and styling.

Helps Get Rid of Lice and Dandruff 

One of the traditional uses of shikakai was as a natural remedy for head lice. (1) The powder’s cleansing action can help remove nits and lice from the scalp without using harsh pediculicides. Shikakai is also an effective dandruff treatment. (2)

Strengthens Hair 

Nutrients like silica, antioxidants, vitamins A, D, E and K in shikakai nourish hair follicles to accelerate growth. These vitamins strengthen each strand, reducing split ends and breakage over time. Stronger hair is more resistant to damage from styling, environmental pollution and UV rays.

How Shikakai Can Help Heal Infections 

The antioxidants and vitamins in shikakai provide anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory benefits. (3) This makes shikakai powder an effective topical treatment for certain skin conditions like eczema, acne and rashes. Applying a shikakai paste can help soothe and heal infected patches on the scalp.

How Shikakai Slows Down Greying 

Premature greying of hair is often caused by the build-up of hydrogen peroxide in the follicles or lack of sufficient catalase to break this compound down. Catalase is an enzyme found naturally in the scalp. The antioxidants and vitamins in shikakai protect catalase activity, which helps optimise hydrogen peroxide breakdown. This anti-greying action helps delay the onset of grey hairs.

4 Medicinal Benefits of Shikakai 

In Ayurvedic medicine, shikakai powder is valued for its wide range of health benefits beyond haircare. Traditional uses of shikakai include:

  1. Preventing Constipation: The high fibre content in shikakai has a mild laxative effect that helps prevent and relieve constipation.
  2. Healing Gum Infections: Shikakai has antimicrobial tannins that make it an effective home remedy for treating painful gum infections like gingivitis.
  3. Detoxifying the Liver: Antioxidants like flavonoids in shikakai powder (4) help boost liver health and support natural detoxification processes.
  4. Treating Jaundice: Shikakai roots and leaves contain alkaloids that stimulate bile production to provide a natural cure for jaundice.

How Shikakai Helps In Skin Care 

In addition to the scalp and hair, shikakai offers several skin health benefits:

  1. Fights Acne: Contains antioxidants and vitamins (5) that inhibit bacteria causing acne outbreaks
  2. Natural Exfoliant: Gently removes dead skin cells and impurities without harsh chemicals
  3. Brightens Complexion: Antioxidants prevent free radical damage that can darken skin over time
  4. Moisturises Skin: Nourishes skin with essential vitamins and lipids for smooth, youthful radiance
  5. Fades Scars: Promotes new skin cell growth to lighten post-acne or injury scars over time

Recommended Dosage 

To enjoy the many health and hair benefits of shikakai, most natural haircare experts recommend using a shikakai hair wash 1 to 2 times per week. When using shikakai powder on its own, the ideal ratio is 2 tablespoons of powder per 1 cup of water. The powder can also be conveniently incorporated into hair oils, pastes, face masks and other DIY beauty recipes.

Side Effects Of Shikakai

When used externally as directed, shikakai powder is generally very safe with minimal risk of side effects. However there is a small chance of suffering adverse skin reactions in those with very sensitive skin. Allergic reactions can include:

  1. Redness
  2. Itching
  3. Rashes
  4. Hives


With increasing awareness of the hazards posed by chemicals in our personal care products, traditional alternatives like shikakai are soaring in popularity. This ancient Indian hair cleanser offers a safe, economical and effective way to care for hair and scalp health naturally.

Beyond hair benefits, emerging research is uncovering even more wellness perks offered by humble shikakai powder. From healing skin to detoxifying the body, science is revealing what Indians have known for ages – shikakai certainly lives up to its name as the “fruit for hair” and the whole body!


The content provided above is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a health condition.


Can I use shikakai daily?

Yes, the gentle cleansing properties of shikakai make it safe to use on hair daily without the risk of over-washing. Using a mild shikakai hair wash 1-2 times per week is ideal for most people to remove oil and product buildup while retaining natural moisture.

What is shikakai powder?

Shikakai powder is made from the dried pods of the Acacia concinna tree native to warmer climates of Asia. The pods are dried in the sun, roasted, ground into a powder and sifted to make the popular natural hair wash product.

Is shikakai good for skin whitening?

Shikakai may offer mild skin-lightening benefits. Traditional uses as a skin exfoliator can provide additional brightening effects by sloughing off dull surface skin cells. However more research is still needed on shikai’s efficacy for skin whitening or bleaching.

What precautions should I take with shikakai?

Conduct a patch test before first use to check for uncommon allergic reactions. Very rarely, people may experience hair dryness or a temporary increase in shedding when first using shikakai. Start slowly with 1-2 uses per week and discontinue use if any irritation occurs.

How do I apply shikakai to hair?

Most people wash hair by creating a paste with shikakai powder and water and massaging it onto the scalp for a few minutes before rinsing it out. For added hair conditioning, the paste can be left on for 20 minutes before rinsing. Mix the powder with yoghurt or oil to boost moisturising benefits.


1. One of the traditional uses of shikakai was as a natural remedy for head lice. (

2. Shikakai is also an effective dandruff treatment. (

3. The antioxidants and vitamins in shikakai provide anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory benefits. (

4. Antioxidants like flavonoids in shikakai powder ( Contains antioxidants and vitamins (


Livayur Ayurvedic Team

The LivAyur Team includes more than 10 Ayurveda specialists, with more than 20 years of experience. They have a deep understanding of Ayurveda and are committed to sharing their expertise through our blogs, videos, live sessions, and consultations. Our experts also stay updated & monitor on the latest developments in health and wellness.


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