Lady finger for silky smooth hair? Here’s what an expert says

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While browsing through Facebook, we chanced upon a video that detailed how one can do chemical-free keratin treatment at home to get silky, straight hair. Intrigued, we watched the video, which has over 24 million views, only to be told that the key to smooth hair lies in lady finger or bhindi!

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Take a look at the video below:

Ingredients

8 – Lady fingers
Water
1 tbsp – Corn flour
1 tbsp – Coconut oil
1 tbsp – Almond oil

Method

*Chop the lady finger into small pieces and boil it in water for 10 minutes. Let it cool down completely.
*Blend the mixture in an electric mixer, and then strain it with the help of a muslin cloth.
*In another bowl, mix a tablespoon of corn flour with some water.
*Add this mixture to the okra mixture, and transfer into a saucepan.
*Let it boil over low flame. Stir continuously. When you get a creamy mixture, turn off the stove. Let it cool down.
*Add coconut oil and almond oil to the mixture.

How to apply?

*Divide your hair into sections and apply the mixture. Cover your hair with a shower cap. Let it sit for two hours.
*Wash your hair with water without applying any shampoo.

The video mentions that using the concoction twice a week will give you straight and silky hair. Not just that, according to the video, okra helps strengthen and lengthen the hair. It stops hair loss and also helps aid hair growth if applied over bald patches.

Is it possible have straight hair with okra? (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

What is keratin?

Keratin is the natural protein of the hair, which is present in the cortex and cuticle, explained Dr Gulhima Arora, senior consultant dermatologist, Mehektagul Dermaclinic, New Delhi. “It gets depleted with age, environmental abuses, styling, poor diet, smoking etc,. leading to frizzy and unmanageable hair. Replenishing it helps make the hair smoother, shinier, and more manageable,” said Dr Arora.

So, can okra be applied on the hair?

While as a vegetable, okra is not typically associated with haircare, it is said to be a natural conditioner. Dr Arora told indianexpress.com, “It is an interesting recipe for shinier and smoother hair, but will likely last for only a couple of washes. It will do the work of a conditioner and mask for a while to temporarily get rid of the frizz.”

How?

Okra is rich in phytokeratin (plant-based keratin), micronutrients and vitamins. However, according to Dr Arora, consuming it orally may be worthwhile in improving the micro-environment of the hair, “but, expecting keratin and other nutrients to seep into the hair by applying a concoction may be a bit too far-fetched,” she said.

Why? 

According to Dr Batra,

*Plant-based keratins, like those present in lady finger, are known to be — in some cases — better than those sourced conventionally from animal tissues like hooves, horns, hair or feathers, but their composition of amino acids is different and it may not necessarily suit human hair.

*Keratin is a large molecule and needs to be hydrolysed for it to be absorbed by the cuticle and cortical cells of the hair. Just applying it topically may cause a run-off in a wash or two, giving only a smoother and shinier texture for a while. Hydrolysation helps in penetration by breaking down the large keratin molecule, but this process requires a proper laboratory setting with the use of enzymes and other chemicals. Just heating okra and adding cornflour and oils to the concoction cannot do this. The hydrosylation process itself comes at the cost of sacrificing few amino acids. The substantivity of the topical product has to be right in terms of molecular weight and pH for it to be attracted to the damaged hair site.

*When this paste of okra and other additives is applied to the hair, it seals the cracks in damaged hair. The cuticular cells which are raised and not positioned flat due to damage, are made to properly align with this hair mask acting as a cement. But there is no permanent chemical bond being created here.

*Strengthening the production of keratin from within by consuming a protein-rich diet will, in the true sense, help replenish lost keratin. Topical application needs a properly formulated technology for keratin to penetrate the hair which is not possible with DIYs (do-it-yourself)!

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