Amla oil has a very good reputation in Asia, and now worldwide too. Its medicinal and beauty properties are well-known for centuries. The oil can help improve the aspect of your skin and hair in ways you need to know more about.
In this post, you’ll be reading about:
- What makes Amla oil so beneficial and sought after in the beauty department.
- The benefits and uses of Amla for hair, with tips on how to use and recipes.
- The benefits and uses of Amla for skin; again with some tips and recipes.
- A few safety tips to help you make the best of your new beauty oil.
- Interesting facts about the oil and the amla fruit.
- How to make your own (DIY) Amla macerate for your daily/weekly beauty routine.
Amla Oil or Macerate? Benefits for Hair and Skin, Safety Tips and Recipes
Botanical name: Emblica officinalis Gaertn or Phyllanthus emblica Linn
Aroma: strong and musky, with some tart notes. The base oil in which it’s infused influences this aroma.
Color: yellow, brown or greenish. It depends on the oil used for infusion.
Viscosity: depends on the base oil used for infusion.
Other names: Indian gooseberry, emblic myrobalan, emblic, and amalaki. It’s also known as dhatrik, nellikai, amla gooseberry, and probably others more.
Amla has so many names because it’s a very old and popular traditional medicine in Southern Asia. Each dialect gave the same remedy different names.
Amla is the Sanskrit interpretation of the word for acid. The taste of amla fruit increases salivation, which is usually caused by bitter and astringent tastes. Think about lemons and you’ll see what I mean. In Sanskrit, gooseberry is āmalaka.
Amla is a tree native to India and Sri Lanka, where it’s considered sacred. The Hindus believe Vishnu dwells in this tree. For commercial purposes, it grows in many other regions too (e.g.: Middle East).
All the parts of the amla tree are used for medical purposes. It’s the amla fruits, though, that are the most popular.
What is Amla oil? Amla is not an essential oil, that’s for sure. Back in the days, people used to infuse the dried amla fruit in a base oil for days. The latter extracted some of the compounds of the fruit that gave the oil enhanced benefits.
The base oil can be Sesame, Coconut, Jojoba, Argan, Castor, etc. Amla oil is in fact, an infusion or macerate of dried fruits into a carrier.
What Makes Amla Oil such a Popular Beauty Ingredient?
Amla fruits are commonly dried and pulverized into powder. This powder retains all the fruits’ properties and compounds. We can enjoy the fruits’ beneficial effects in infusions, macerates or raw.
When we infuse the dried fruits, many of its chemical compounds don’t release into the base oil. That is because they’re water-soluble.
For example, the Indian gooseberry is a very rich source of vitamin C, which doesn’t mix with the oil. Therefore, this vitamin will not be present in the Amla-infused oil.
The Amla powder contains both oil and water-soluble compounds. This is why the powder dissolves best in water and not in oil. The powder makes it a bit difficult to make an Amla oil at home.
Still, I will tell you how to make your own Amla infused oil, in the last part of the article. Amla powder contains important fatty acids, phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins among others. It makes the infused oil a lot more potent than the fruit.
Amla powder can:
- Scavenge for free radicals and counter their damaging effects on cells. In other words, the powder is a great antioxidant and anti-aging ingredient.
- Act as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Boost collagen production in the skin and scalp.
- Kill bacteria and microbes on the skin. This helps clear out dandruff and other infections.
- Strengthen the hair roots, follicles, and the skin barrier.
- Make the hair shine and the skin glow.
- Darken the hair color.
Pure Amla oil extracts contain polyphenols such as gallic and ellagic acids. These acids have an antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effect.
They also contain minerals and vitamins, flavonoids and amino acids. Like I said, these goodies give the powder important anti-aging properties.
All these substances hydrate and feed the hair and skin important nutrients. On a long-term, the gallic acid in the Amla powder can also darken the hair color. Back in the days, gallic acid was a major component of the ink.
The Amla oil is, in fact, an herbal infusion in another base oil. The base oil basically determines the major benefits of the end product for hair and skin. The infusion will be a lot weaker than the powder because most of its compounds are not oil-soluble.
Still, the seeds of the fruit can also be used to extract pure oils. But it seems that not many make Amla oil this way, which is understandable. It would take hundreds of kilos/tons of seeds to produce smaller amounts of oil.
This method of extraction would make the oil very potent though. Infusions are easier to produce, but they are weaker for the skin and hair. It’s not really a problem, because they are usually enough to get good results. Years of anecdotal evidence support this statement.
But what is Amla oil used for? Well, it depends on how the oil is made. One can use a good quality oil both in skin and hair care.
Or it could be used internally, though it’s not concentrated enough for that. I never recommend taking any supplements or natural remedies orally. Not without consulting with a doctor first.
Now let’s see what the Indian Amla oil is good for in hair care, and then in skin care.
What are the Benefits of Amla Oil for Hair?
First, I need to make it clear: Amla powder can darken hair. Therefore, this beauty product is mostly for dark colored hairs.
Amla oil is weaker though and can be used by those with light colored hair too. Keep in mind though that used on a long-term and often, it can too start to darken your hair color.
Also, if you use Amla-infused oil, the base carrier matters in deciding what hair type it’s good for. Thick oils like Castor or Olive, are best for normal to dry hair types. Lighter oils like Macadamia and Coconut, are best for (very) thin hair types.
What does Amla oil do for your hair? The Nellikai or Amla gooseberry oil benefits:
- Relieves the itching of the scalp.
- Reduces inflammation caused by rashes or even dandruff.
- Revitalizes the hair and gives it luster.
- Helps heal wounds caused by excessive scratching. This can be done by stimulating collagen production.
- Reduces the harmful effects of the free radicals (antioxidant).
- Strengthens the protective barrier of the scalp and hair roots.
- Strengthens the hair as well.
- Promotes hair growth by inhibiting the activity of 5alpha-reductase. This enzyme in its turn inhibits the hair growth process. Male baldness medicines also inhibit the 5a-reductase.
- Darkens the hair color.
- Slows down the progression of hair loss.
We don’t have much scientific proof to back up all the oil’s benefits. But we do have a few that suggest great potential. All the findings so far are encouraging, but more testing is needed to know for sure what its exact benefits are.
Also, all tests so far used only animals. For example, one experiment used rabbits and sheep to determine whether Amla oil stimulates hair growth or not. For sheep, it didn’t work. That was due to some physiological differences in their skin.
For rabbits, Amla oil managed to be effective after the 2nd week of treatment. The hair growth continued until the 4th week.
This study also showed that Coconut oil can promote hair growth for 3 weeks. The results start to show at the end of the 2nd week and last less than Amla’s effects.
This suggests that infusing dry amla fruit in Coconut oil makes a great combination for hair care.
How to Use Amla Macerate Oil for Hair
Whether you buy your Amla oil or you infuse it yourself, there are a few ways to use it. The most effective and simple method is, of course, topical application.
The oil will penetrate the scalp and feed it nutrients, stimulate blood circulation, etc. Amla oil is very good for hair growth or to darken its color. This is one of the main reasons for which Asian women use it.
For topical application, warm a moderate amount of Amla (infused) oil. This amount depends on the length of your hair.
Usually, 2 full tablespoons are enough for medium to long hairs. Apply it with your fingers on the scalp and hair roots before bath time.
Keep the mask on for 30 minutes – an hour and then rinse well with shampoo. It works best if you keep the hair in a shower cap, so all the warmth stays trapped in there. Heat promotes hair growth too.
That is why, in the summer, hair grows much longer than in the winter. Warm oil hair masks should not be used more than twice a week, in the beginning. You can then go on using it once a week only.
You could leave it on overnight but only occasionally. Otherwise, the oil will saturate the hair and it will weigh heavy and look dull. I’ve tried it and I had to wash my hair at least twice during that day.
Another way to use Amla oil for its hair benefits is to apply it directly to the ends. After you wash your hair, you can apply a very small amount of product on your palms.
Distribute it gently on the ends of your hair. Make sure you do so only with the second half of your hair length. If your scalp is really dry, you can apply the oil there too.
You can mix Amla oil with your usual shampoo and even conditioner. Plus, men can use Amla oil to grow beards too. The oil can also help with eyebrow growth.
You can also use Amla powder, which is a lot more powerful than the infused oil. It needs to be dissolved into the water first, so all its goodies can activate. Mix the amla powder with purified water or hydrosol (floral water).
You can mix it with yogurt or ghee as well. Leave the mixture to rest for a few hours or even overnight. You can also add some Amla oil into the paste or you can use it as it is. Apply the paste on the scalp and cover it with a shower cap/warm towel.
I do suggest adding some carrier oil to the paste for two reasons. One, without it, the paste can leave the scalp too dry. Two, it’ll help apply the paste easier, without making a mess.
Hair Care Recipes with Amla Oil
Now, for the most useful and pleasant part, some Amla oil recipes for a beautiful hair. But first, here are some ideas of synergies to use for various purposes:
To strengthen and nourish the hair, Amla oil blends well with:
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Argan oil
- Jojoba oil
- Mango butter
To promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, Amla oil blends well with:
- Mustard oil
- Coconut oil
- Nigella (Black seed) oil
- Pomegranate CO2 extract
- Peppermint essential oil
- Hinoki essential oil
- Atlas Cedarwood essential oil
- Clary Sage essential oil
- Ginger essential oil
- Rosemary (ct. cineole) essential oil
As a side note, Rosemary can also help darken the hair color. It makes the Amla – Rosemary combo great for all dark hair colors.
To clear dandruff, Amla oil blends well with:
- Neem oil
- Tea Tree essential oil
- Palmarosa essential oil
- Rose Geranium essential oil
Amla Oil Hair Growth Mask Recipe
- Amla macerate (oil): 1 Oz (30ml)
- Coconut oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Pomegranate extract: 15 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 15 drops
Mix all the ingredients together, stirring really well. If the Coconut is solid, store the blend in a small glass jar. If the Coconut oil is fractionated, you can store it in a pump glass bottle.
Use a moderate amount, insisting on the scalp and the ends of your hair. Keep it on for 30 – 60 minutes and then rinse well with shampoo.
Darker and Stronger Hair with Amla Powder
- Amla powder: 2 teaspoons
- Lavender hydrosol
- Amla macerate/oil
- Rosemary ct. Cineole essential oil: 5 drops
Mix the powder with some hydrosol. Add enough hydrosol to make a solid paste and leave it to rest for a few hours. If you leave it like that overnight, keep it in the fridge. When you’re ready to use it, add some Amla oil and then warm the mixture slightly.
Adjust your quantities as needed, until the paste is good to spread. Keep it on just like the above-mentioned warm oil mask.
If you’re still wondering whether Amla is good for hair growth or not, this is your chance to find out. The results should start showing in the 2nd through the 4th week.
Amla Oil Recipe for Frizzy and Dry Hair
- Amla infused oil (macerate): 1 tablespoon
- Avocado oil: 1 tablespoon
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 10 drops
Store this blend in a glass spray bottle and use very small amounts on your frizzy and dry hair. It’s best if it’s applied to damp hair (after washing it). Stick to using it on the ends. In case of a very dry hair, apply onto the whole length and maybe the scalp too.
Amla Oil for Skin Benefits
So, that was it for the benefits of Amla oil for hair. But what about its benefits for skin care? Well, you can use Amla oil for skin whenever you need it. If you make it yourself, you’ll have to use a base oil good for your skin type.
If you buy it, the base oil needs to be suited for your skin type too. Light or “dry” oils like Hazelnut or Macadamia are great for oily skin. Avocado, Olive or Argan are great for normal to dry and/or mature skin types.
You can read more about it here:
What does Amla oil do for your skin? Here are the main benefits of the Indian gooseberry oil:
- Soothes the skin and keeps it soft.
- Hydrates and nourishes the skin.
- Keeps it supple and firm.
- Fights off the damaging effects of free radicals and prevents premature aging.
- Prevents the growth of dermatophytes. They are fungi that feed on the nutrients of the skin, hair, and nails. They can cause various skin infections like athlete’s foot and ringworm. In an experiment, Amla oil was found to be very toxic to many of these fungi.
- The oil of Amla can also boost collagen production. This process speeds up the healing of wounds and minimizes the effects of aging.
- It can also soothe itching and prevent dandruff.
- Give the skin a healthy glow.
- Protect from infections and inflammations (e.g.: acne).
How to Use Amla Macerate Oil for Skin
So the oil can be very beneficial for your skin, especially if it’s more concentrated. The latter depends on how the manufacturers produce the oil.
Like I said, you can make your own Amla oil at home. This allows you to control, to some extent, how concentrated it’ll be.
Uses of Amla oil for the skin:
- Soothe burns and/or irritation.
- Maintain the skin hydrated and nourished.
- Strengthen the protective skin barrier.
- Prevent skin infections or speed up their healing.
- Help the skin heal faster from scars.
For all these benefits, you can apply the oil of Amla directly to the affected area. You could also add a few essential oil drops, to enhance the effects of the blend.
You can also use Amla oil to remove makeup, maintain your cuticles healthy and hydrate your lips.
The Amla powder can also be used for skin care. You can mix it with water, hydrosols, yogurt, honey, and ghee. Other ingredients you can use to mix with amla powder are Aloe Vera gel and even butter.
Apply it as a face mask, after you’ve left it to dissolve for a few hours. Or you can use it right away, as a gentle exfoliator.
Safety Tips for Using Amla Oil
Moderation is the key to using all natural beauty ingredients safely. If you use them on a long-term and in large enough amounts, some side effects may occur. Here are the possible side effects of Amla oil/ powder:
- Avoid taking any Amla extract internally, especially without consulting with your doctor first. It could interact with certain medications.
- Always test the powder and oil infusion on a small skin patch for allergic reactions. If you are allergic to any of its components, redness, irritation and/or itching should show up within a few hours.
- It seems that Amla oil can trigger a rare skin disease called Lichen planus pigmentosus (LPP). It affects mostly dark-skinned people.
Where to Buy Amla Oil?
Unfortunately, some commercial Amla infused oils contain paraffin. No need to despair, though. There are a few reputable brands that sell pure Amla oil. You can find the oil online and in food or natural products stores.
It’s very hard to find pure Amla oil (that has not been infused). It would have to be cold pressed from the amla fruit seeds. I, personally, haven’t found any available.
There are lots of infused Amla oils though, which is totally fine. Many like to use Jojoba oil as a base.
If stored properly, Jojoba has a very long shelf life (10 – 20 years). It is also good for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone. These oils are also pure. If the base oil is organic then the Amla oil is organic too.
Beware of some popular brands that infuse Amla into paraffin (mineral oil)! These oils are neither pure nor natural. They can clog the pores and cause a buildup of toxic compounds. Read the label well before buying and ask around for honest reviews.
Facts plus How to Make Your Own Amla Infused Oil at Home
Traditionally, dried amla fruits are macerated in Coconut oil. People would also use Sesame or even mineral oil. The latter is obviously very low quality and unhealthy.
The fruit needs to be well-dried and dehydrated until there’s no more water left. When it’s macerated, water increases the risk of mold growth and spoilage.
The maceration process involves soaking the fruit into some base oil. It is then left in a warm, sunny place for a few days and shaken regularly.
The base oil extracts some of the beneficial oil-soluble nutrients and compounds from the fruit. After a few days, the oil needs to be strained/filtered. The resulting product is what everybody calls Amla oil.
One can control the potency of the product thus obtained. You can either add more fruit into the jar or simply re-use the filtered, infused oil for a new infusion.
The certainty of using pure and organic Amla oil comes only from you. You can make it yourself, thus you’ll know exactly what and how much you’ve used.
Why would you want to make your own Amla infused oil? Because:
- You know the ingredients are pure and organic.
- Depending on what you’ll be using it for, you can control how potent you want it to be.
- You can choose your favorite base oil (carrier). If you want, you can make an Amla oil for face and body. Or you can make one just for hair care.
- Depending on preference, you can also add other beneficial herbs to your macerate.
- You can also choose the method you want to use to extract the benefits of the fruit.
If I convinced you of the benefits of a DIY Amla-infused oil, here is an idea of a homemade one.
- Amla powder: 2 tbsp.
- Coconut oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Dark colored glass bottle
- Cheesecloth or strainer.
- Soak the Amla powder in a bit of water (just enough to make a paste).
- Gently, heat the Coconut oil in the saucepan using the lowest flame. Heat will evaporate the water and activate almost all the compounds in the paste.
- Add the amla paste over the oil. Continue to stir until the mixture turns brown and it stops to sizzle. This could take anywhere between 10 – 20 minutes, depending on how low the flame is.
- Let the oil cool down and then strain it through a cheesecloth into the glass jar.
- Keep your new homemade Amla infused oil stored in a dark colored glass bottle, in a dark cabinet.
That said, if you have any, you can also use dried fruits. The powder is a lot more accessible, even where the fruit doesn’t grow.
Now you know what the fuss is all about Amla oil and powder. You know how to make your own homemade beauty product too. Slowly but surely, it seems that tradition and experience start to be backed up by science.
The benefits of Amla oil for hair and skin care are many and diverse. Among its most significant ones, there is the ability to stimulate hair growth and darken the hair.
Would you give it a try? Or maybe you already have and would like to share some of your opinions? Either way, I’d like to hear more from you.