This Under-Hyped Ingredient Is Pure Magic For Your Hair


Shiny new ingredients often get a lot of hype. That’s fair, but what about the old-school, tried-and-true ingredients that can work wonders for your skin and hair? Amla oil, which is derived from the vibrant Indian gooseberry tree, is the perfect example. It’s been used across the ages to help nourish scalps and stimulate hair growth. It can even condition your strands for ultra-shiny, healthy-looking locks.

Amla Oil: An Ayurvedic Haircare Hero

If you’re out of the loop, Ayurveda is a 3000-year-old system of holistic medicinal practices that originated in India. Over the centuries, and even notably in the last few decades, numerous Ayurvedic techniques and practices have migrated to the Western world. It’s a super complex art form, if you will, but a few examples you might already be familiar with include oil pulling, tongue scraping, and breathing exercises.

Source: Thasneem/ Shutterstock

Ayurveda also utilizes specific ingredients, which are used both topically and internally. Ginger, turmeric, ashwagandha, coconut oil, and – you guessed it – amla oil are examples.

“Amla has been used for centuries for wellness and lustrous hair [and considered] an incredibly effective healer in Ayurveda,” says Amber Makupson, a licensed aesthetician and the founder of Meraki Haircare. “Medical experts have referred to it as ‘the most important medicinal plant in the Indian traditional system of medicine.’”

Talk about high praise! But what, exactly, does amla oil *do* and what makes it so dang good? Turns out, it’s super high in vitamin C and a bunch of other potent antioxidants. That means it’s hella good at telling free radicals – responsible for causing oxidative stress and damage – to move along.

“For hair treatments, amla oil is used for strengthening and conditioning follicles from the roots down to the tips. It also contains high vitamin E concentrations, which contributes to cell turnover and promotes healthy blood circulation to the scalp,” explains Dr. Annie Gonzalez, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology. “Together, these properties are said to help ease hair growth and boost overall scalp health.”

She adds that the rich vitamins and nutrients that makeup alma oil also have antibacterial anti-inflammatory properties. This can help balance oil production where it’s applied, which in turn can help nix pesky dandruff and itchiness. All the while, the oil works as a nourishing conditioner for super shiny, healthy hair.

Scientific research on amla oil’s benefits is underway. For example, this preclinical study points to its efficacy regarding hair growth and scalp care. That said, more research is needed in order to get that concrete proof. For now, we rely on pre-data and centuries-old anecdotes!

Try Amla Oil Yourself

Curious to see how amla oil can work its magic on you? The below products are a great place to start.

Meraki Agave Citrine Pre-Shampoo Hydrating Masque, $35

This deeply nourishing pre-shampoo should be applied to your hair before you use your shampoo. It helps intensely hydrate curls and coils and can even help improve hair growth and length over time.

IGK Bad & Bougie Amla Oil Deep Repair Shampoo & Conditioner, $25 each

Leave it to IGK to craft not only the prettiest shampoo and conditioner duo, but one that repairs, strengthens, and softens. In addition to amla oil, it’s formulated with shea butter, coconut oil, and safflower seed oil.

Sun Bum Deep Conditioning Mask, $3.50

Sun Bum, purveyor of all things SPF, puts amla oil’s antioxidant powers to work via this deep conditioning hair mask. It’ll help smooth and soften hair that’s parched, sun-damaged, or over-processed.

M.S Skincare Amla Booster Oil, $28

The same properties and benefits possessed by the alma fruit and oil also apply in skincare, notes Dr. Gonzalez. Omega-3 fatty acid helps nourish and soothe the skin while antioxidants visibly counteract signs of aging. This is straight-up cold-pressed amla oil, which you can add to your fave skin cream or even go-to hair conditioner.

Have you ever tried amla oil? Or is this the first time you’re hearing about this super old hero of a haircare ingredient? Let’s chat in the comments!