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Amla (Indian gooseberry) is the common name for an herb used in the traditional Indian health-care system know as Ayurveda. Traditional South Asian cultures use amla as a hair tonic and as an additive to hair oils and hair-care preparations. You also can take amla fruit and amla extract as a dietary supplement for general skin and hair health. Scientific studies show that amla has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help maintain healthy hair. Other studies conclude that topically applied amla has exfoliating and anti-bacterial properties and may help maintain a healthy scalp and promote hair growth.

Mix about 1/2 cup of pure amla (Indian gooseberry) powder with enough warm water to make a paste. The paste should be about as thick as a cup of stirred yogurt. Let the mixture stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

Apply the paste to dry, clean hair using your hands (rubber gloves are recommended but not absolutely necessary; amla does not stain), starting close to your scalp and working toward the ends of your hair. Be gentle and do not rub the mixture into your scalp.

Let the paste sit on your head, uncovered, for three to five minutes. The amla mixture should be thick enough that it doesn't drip. Rinse the paste out with lukewarm water. Do not apply your regular conditioner or shampoo for a few hours.

Treat your hair with the amla powder mixture about once every two weeks. Between treatments, try using a shampoo and conditioner containing amla. You also can use amla oil on your hair between treatments for extra shine and softness.


Amla paste can also increase curliness and waviness in hair if left on longer than a few minutes. For curly, fluffy hair, leave amla on for 15 to 20 minutes.


Amla does not dye or stain hair, but it should be used with caution if you have dyed your hair with commercial hair color. Amla mixes well with pure henna hair color, but do not use with henna that contains metallic salts (a frequent additive in commercial henna preparations).

About the Author

Rebecca Sims

Rebecca Sims is a librarian and educator, specializing in law, health sciences and education. She teaches classes in legal research, information technology, patient education, cataloging and digital asset management. Sims holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Academy of Art College and a Masters in library and information science.