Health & Beauty

A hair saga : Thine silken mane

My silken locks

Lustrous, luxurious, soft, shiny, glossy, slippery, and rich, a single look at silk brings these words to the mind. I have been fortunate to be wearing silk throughout my life since teens. My mother loved luxurious cloths and only choose natural fabrics, cotton, wool or silk. My sister and I were not allowed to wear polyesters in any form or apparel. We would dress up on festival days in rich almost fluorescent shades of brilliant emerald green, fuchsia, magenta and blood red.

We were taught to take good care of the delicate festival fancy attire and make sure to sit properly and not indulge in any hooliganism or wild behaviour whilst wearing the silk dresses. Cooking and cleaning had to be done before the festival, or in other plain clothes. I felt very lucky that belonging to one of the main countries on the Ancient Silk road for millenia we had access to every type of silk, you name it and I have worn it, raw silk, satin silk, cotton silk, pure velvet, crepe silk, banarasi silk saree, jamawar silk, the list goes on.

I had a bright red dress of satin silk with a weightless shawl made of silk chiffon, I wore it at a festival, at a wedding and on a hot and sweaty day to a relative’s party. The dress had to be washed and so whilst doing laundry I took the dress and dipped it into a full bucket of water containing Ariel washing powder… what ensued next was one of the most guilt-inducing experiences of my life.

To my utmost horror, the water turned blood red, as if I had murdered the dress. I immediately took it out and the silk had turned pink and the colour faded like blood dripping from a wound. I had killed my delicate outfit…. I was only 14 years old at that time and I was surprised that my mom wasn’t as mad at me as I had expected. She told me the washing powder had a bleaching agent and was meant exclusively for white clothes. We took the dress to the cloth and dye shop from where we had bought it and got it dyed back to a bright red. I learnt a lesson that day to value precious items. There is a reason silk is expensive and must be treated with utmost care, it isn’t the same as jute!

Silk is made from the natural fibres of the cocoon of the silk worm of the silk moth. It spins it all itself, similar to the web of a spider. Silken fibres are produced all over the animal kingdom, even the lotus plant produces a silk, so fine, light and rare, it is difficult to harvest and produce even a single scarf. Natural products have to be used with utmost care and high maintenance comes along with it.

There is another silken fibre which no one speaks about often… Our hair, specifically our heavy silken mane and tuft on our heads. Hair is also a natural fibre made of keratin which is made from blood. Our hair is treated far worse than any silk apparel. How barbarously our hair gets bleached , chemically exploited, broken by sharp brushing and combing, and overwashed by harsh harmful detergents in shampoos.

Yesterday I bought a toilet cleaner for my bathroom and the second ingredient was Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate aka SLES. I was flabbergasted beyond belief…. The chemical detergent used to wipe that goopy bathroom floor was in shampoos! I had already started no poo for two months and everyday I see better results. I will write about that in my next blog, it was a long struggle and there is too much detail to fit here. But I felt glad that I had given my hair two months to regain their lustre and I realized the natural homeostatic state of hair was to be silky, smooth and shiny, coated with natural hair sebum as its wax, the same way leaves are coated with a waxy cuticle. My hair is my natural silk which my body is making from keratin from blood. All the nutrients I put in my mouth end up making my hair, and my body is hard at work creating that silken mane. I cannot butcher my hair with harsh detergents. It would be the same as drowning silk in a bucket of bleaching detergent. I realize now how essential it is to eat all my oils and fats for hair instead of simply slathering them on my head and suffocating my hair in them.

You don’t iron silk on high heat, there is a special setting for silk on every iron. There are particular instructions on each silk apparel on how to wash, gentle with cold water, no tumble dry, no machine wash, there is a special washing solution for it. Then why do we treat our silken hair in such an extremely harsh way? Why all the 100 brushes a day breaking our hair, overwashing, over moisturizing, over heating, chemically destroying the silk which out body produces for us?

My hair is healthier than ever since I started treating it with care. As I stood combing my locks this morning in front of my bathroom mirror, and found how soft and silky it was, I realized I must be even more gentle whilst combing through: hair is that priceless silk which Mother Nature has blessed us and it is worth more than any silk in the world.

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