Hair oil massages are a staple beauty ritual in South Asian families. Shikha and Sakshi’s brand HAVAH celebrates this Indian beauty tradition. “Hair-oiling was such an intuitive part of our beauty regimen growing up and one that we’ve held on to closely even today,” say the friend duo. “Indians are obsessed with hair and have an in-depth understanding of hair care that dates back thousands of years.”
Ayurvedic Hair Oil Roots
Sourcing Ayurvedic hair growth oils in Canada was challenging. “We resorted to hand-pounding whatever herbs were in our kitchen pantry or savoured the few bottles our relatives managed to bring back from India.”
This messy experience led them to India where they explored Ayurveda. “HAVAH means ‘wind’ or ‘air” in Hindi.”
Hair Oil with Family
Both Shikha and Sakshi’s Mothers and Grandmothers emphasized inner beauty. “Their approach to beauty was shaped by their Indian where diet, lifestyle and beauty are inherently interconnected. Using natural Indian heritage ingredients is prioritised.”
Hair oil is one of the first childhood memories. “We would sit on the ground at the feet of our elders while they applied warm oil to our hair, telling stories while vigorously massaging our heads and drinking chai. Our hair gleamed with various concoctions of hair oils. We worked any extras into our hands and feet for extra hydration. Each treatment would end by braiding our hair in a low, tight plait, our locks absorbing the oils, preventing any breakage or tangling. HAVAH’s hair oil range is an homage to this familiar comfort of hair oil massages with our elders.”
Champi with Hair Oil
Champi is the traditional Indian art of head massage at the core of Ayurvedic hair care and HAVAH. “The Ayurvedic massage technique practiced for thousands of years uses herbal oils massaged into the head starting at the crown, working your way through the roots of the hair in a rhythmic motion using your fingertips and palms to create friction with the scalp. Regular practice stimulates blood circulation, healthy hair growth and drains away accumulated toxins.. The Founders of HAVAH say a champi can last from 10 minutes to even longer, helping the oils penetrate deeper into the scalp.
Small batches of the hair oil comes from India with ethically sourced raw ingredients. “Each of our hair oils are infused with a selection of nutrient dense herbs that address specific hair concerns and are slow-cooked into a base of black sesame oil, which is naturally heavy and warming.”
Bhrami ka Tel is known for its soothing qualities, while the Bhringraj ka Tel is growth-stimulating. While Tel ka Mishran is basically an all-in-one hair oil that is packed with a blend of herbs prized in Ayurveda, including thickening Gudhal (hibiscus) and conditioning Amlaki (Indian Gooseberry). None of their products include parabens, sulfates or fragrances.
The idea of an Ayurvedic hair oil is still relatively new in the western markets. Shikha and Sakshi created HAVAH because they wanted to bring a sustainable brand to the Canadian market. “We use clean ingredients and take action on environmental and ethical issues. Our Ayurvedic experts, artisans and suppliers in Indian help us perfect our formulations. Countless hours are spent researching Indian hair care and testing products. Launching in the midst of a global pandemic was challenging since we couldn’t engage with our customers in person. Instead, we had to pivot to the digital world. We operate a direct-to-customer brand so we are constantly listening and responding to everything our customers are saying.”
Shikha and Sakshi were both born in Canada, but they continued to embrace their rich culture even when they moved to Canada. “We always maintained a keen awareness of Indian art, culture and language,” say the brand owners. “We can’t think of any other place as diverse as Toronto, allowing us to truly embrace both our Indian and Canadian identities.”