I may have dry skin, dark circles under my eyes and be paranoid about hyperpigmentation, but the one thing I can safely say I am truly happy with and lucky to have is good hair. Now, good is good – but why not strive for great?

It all started when my sister came home from college nearly four weeks ago. Her normally shiny, dark hair was strangely frizzy, dry, dull and just plain unhealthy looking. She claimed that her hair hadn’t grown in three months, since the last time she had it cut. Surely a lot of this has to do with the college lifestyle – too much alcohol, stress and greasy food coupled with too little sleep and exercise can wreak havoc on skin and hair.

Our hairdresser suggested heading to a local Indian grocery store and picking up a bottle of Dabur Vatika Enriched Coconut Hair Oil, which she guaranteed would solve my sister’s problem for the nominal cost of $5. Eager to try anything, she  picked up a bottle. Three weeks later, she’s addicted. And I’m pretty impressed myself.

My sister has been applying Vatika to her hair 3 times each week, anywhere between 1 hour and overnight. The results have been quite drastic; her hair is shinier and completely free of frizz. She’s also convinced that her tresses feel much stronger and healthier. They certainly look it.

All of her results are in line with what Vatika claims; apparently, my sister owes her new crowning glory to “8 magical ingredients:” triphala, brahmi, henna, neem, lemon, rosemary oil, kapur kachri and soya extracts.

Triphala is an ayurvedic formulation consisting of three equal parts of Indian gooseberry, beleric and haritaki. All three are fruits from trees, which together form an antioxidant.  Brahmi, also known as bacopa monnieri, is an herb that is commonly found in India. Supposedly, it can do everything from treating epilepsy to improving memory function. But for our purposes, know that it has also been used in hair and on skin as an antioxidant. Kapur Kachri, more commonly known as Hedychium, is a genus of plants that grows in the Himalayas; it contains a high level of phenolics (antioxidants) and alpha tocopherol (a form of vitamin E). Neem, a tree native to India, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has popped up in products that have been very well reviewed on TIA.

Rosemary oil, which is one of the more familiar ingredients in Vatika, is often used to stimulate hair growth and treat “eczema of the scalp.” Lemon oil is often used to promote shiny hair and is even speculated to help with hair loss. Most people know henna as a safe, natural hair dye, but the plant is also a natural conditioner, allowing it to soften and smooth hair.

I’m not as religious with my usage of Vatika as my sister is; I distribute the oil generously throughout my scalp and hair twice each week for about 3 or 4 hours each time. While I was lucky enough to have good hair before testing Vatika, I can still see improvement (though not as drastic as the progress my sister has made with her hair).

My absolute favorite result of using Vatika has been the disappearance of my dry scalp problems. No more itching or flakes. This oil has also kept my dandruff at bay, something that no other product, oil or other, has ever done. In addition, my hair is incredibly soft – so soft, in fact, that I now only brush it once every other day before washing my hair. There’s no need to brush it any more than that since I don’t have tangles or knots. Of course, my hair is quite straight – I wouldn’t recommend not brushing for everyone. But before using Vatika, my hair wasn’t nearly silky enough to even contemplate not brushing at least once each day. The other fantastic benefit of using Vatika is that I don’t seem to shed as much hair as I used to. Gone are the days that I had to clean massive amounts of hair out of my clogged shower drain.

I do have one major qualm about using Vatika, and that is its inclusion of tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). The FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have deemed that TBHQ is safe enough to actually consume in foods – though that doesn’t mean much. After all, there are plenty of ingredients that shouldn’t be allowed in our products that are. Several studies have shown that “chronic exposure to TBHQ may induce carcinogenicity.” However, the EFSA doesn’t consider TBHQ to be carcinogenic (and Vatika is made in the UK). While I understand why Vatika uses TBHQ – it is a stellar preservative, and there are a lot of things that could go rancid in this oil – I would still much rather that it not be included as an ingredient.

Ingredients: Coconut oil (Cocos Nucifera Oil), Neem (Azadirachta Indica Leaf Extract), Brahmi (Centella Asiatica Plant Extract), Fruit Extracts of Amla, Bahera and Harar Extracts of Emblica officinalis, Terminalia belerica and Terminalia chebula, Kapur kachri (Hedychium spicatum rhizome extract), Henna (Lawsonia inermis leaf extract), Milk, Rosemary Oil (Rosmarinus  officinalis oil), Lemon Oil (Citrus limonum oil), TBHQ (t-Butyl Hydroquinone), Fragrance.