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Are Ayurvedic cosmetics better for hair?

Weronika wants to know…Are Ayurvedic cosmetics like Sesa Oil working better?

The Beauty Brains respond:

For those of you not familiar with Ayurvedic medicine, it is an Indian practice based on the principle that a person’s health is the result of the balance (or imbalance) of three elemental substances which are collectively known as the Dosha.  I can’t comment on the validity of this practice from a medical perspective but I can review this Ayurvedic product from a cosmetic science point of view.

What is sesa oil?

I’d never heard of “sesa oil” before and I just assumed it was the oil of the sesa plant. It turns out there is no sesa plant, the oil is actually a blend of a BUNCH of other plant oils:

Eclipta alba (Bhrungraj) 3.00% w/v
Centella asiatica ( Brahmi) 1.00% w/v
Jasminum officinale (Chameli Pan) 1.00% w/v
Abrus precatorius (Chanothi) 0.50% w/v
Datura metel (Dhaturo) 2.00% w/v
Elettaria cardamomum (Elaychi) 0.50% w/v
Indigofera tinctoria (Gali Pan) 1.00% w/v
Citrullus colocynthis (Indravarna) 1.00% w/v
Nardostachys jatamansi (Jatamansi) 0.50% w/v
Pongamia glabra (Karanj Beej) 0.50% w/v
Azadirachta indica (Limbodi) 0.50% w/v
Lawsonia alba (Mahendi Pan) 0.50% w/v
Ferri peroxi dumrubrum (Mandur) 4.00%w/v
Berberis aristata (Rasvanti) 0.50% w/v
Trifala 3.00% w/v
Anacyclus pyrethrum (Akkal Kara) 0.50% w/v
Acorus calamus (Vaj) 0.50% w/v
Glycyrrhiza glabra (Yashti Madhu) 0.50% w/v
Triticum aestivum (Wheat Germ Oil) 1.00% v/v
Citrus medica (Lemon Oil) 1.00% v/v
Nilibhrungandi Oil 8.00% v/v
Sesamum indicum (Til Oil) 25.00%v/v (This might account for the name.)
Sugandhit Dravya 2.00%v/v
Coconut Oil Q.S. to 100% v/v
Colour: Quinazarine Green SS

Sesa oil is composed of approximately 60% coconut oil, 25% sesame oil, and 15% of a mixture of over a dozen different oils and botanical substances.

Is sesa oil good for hair?

Since the product consists primarily of coconut oil it will be very beneficial to hair if allowed to penetrate where it can strengthen from within.  But while I couldn’t find any data on what else this specific blend might do for hair, I did find some interesting tidbits: 

  • One study indicated that creams containing either 2% or 5% Eclipta alba increase hair growth better than 2% Minoxidil.
  • While the leaves of Abrus precatorius are used in tea, the seeds are highly toxic. They have a beautiful lady bug appearance and are used to make jewelry – but apparently people have died while poking themselves with a needle while stringing these seeds.
  • Lawsonia alba is henna extract which is useful for staining hair and skin (although the 0.5% contained in sesa oil won’t impart much color.)
  • Citrullus colocynthis is purportedly a cure for lycanthropy (werewolf-ism) and one study shows that it can increase hair growth on rats. I don’t know why it would remove hair from a werewolf and grow hair on rats, but that’s what Wikipedia says.
  • Technically this product is not allowed in the US because the colorant is not labeled correctly. Quinazarine Green SS is not allowed in cosmetics unless each batch has been analyzed to ensure it complies with safety standards for synthetic organic dyes. If it has been properly certified it should be labeled as D&C Green No. 6.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eileen January 23, 2014, 11:02 am

    So, does this mean the next time we have a full moon there will be a run on citrullus colocynthis? LOL

    • Randy Schueller January 23, 2014, 2:34 pm

      I think if they should throw a little garlic in the formula as well so both of the basic monster groups are covered.

  • rozy January 23, 2014, 1:54 pm

    “I can’t comment on the validity of this practice from a medical perspective” yes you can! Even a layperson can tell you its pseudo science. Alt medicine is bunk. There is no ‘western ‘medicine’ there is evidence based medicine and it is world standard.

    • Randy Schueller January 23, 2014, 2:36 pm

      LOL. I guess I was just being polite when I wrote that.

  • rozy January 23, 2014, 1:59 pm

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ayurvedic_medicine People defend this with the argument from antiquity which is flawed logic. Don’t waste your money on it.

    • Randy Schueller January 23, 2014, 7:17 pm

      Rozy I love when you quote logical fallacies!

  • rozy January 28, 2014, 7:48 pm


  • Dr.K October 16, 2014, 10:41 am

    Rozy and Randy: Alternative medicine is not a pseudoscience. Many scientists and medical doctors research herbs, methods, claims, etc. based on alternative medicine and have published valid findings in clinical and non-clinical studies. Furthermore, many doctors implement integrative medicine in their practice. Both of you are making comments stemming from a lack of basic research of the field and more so from prejudice. Rozy, your rants on other posts support the observation that you are completely illogical and have zero authority in the fields of science, medicine, and pharmacology. Additionally, your reference states “there are also well-founded [ayurvedic] therapies accepted by western medicine”.

    Randy, your support of comments posted by Rozy and contradictions you have made between posts on this site regarding natural products invalidate your authority in the field of cosmetics science and are, bottom line, egregious. Unfortunately, you are putatively clueless as to what I mean by “contradictions” and cannot make the link between them and alternative medicine or Ayurveda.

    • admin October 16, 2014, 11:19 am

      There is no such thing as “alternative” medicine. There is just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t work. If an “alternative” treatment worked, it would be called medicine. Many of the drugs we use now have come from plants, thus they aren’t alternative medicine, they are just medicine.

      • Dr.K October 16, 2014, 3:11 pm

        Use whichever term you like, we are referring to the same practice. Your comment is ineffectual in attenuating the fatuous banter by Rozy and Randy. Also, using plants as drugs is nothing new and hardly a breakthrough. Educating yourself on the history of science and medicine will obviate misleading your non-scientist readers. An alternative: don’t talk about subjects you don’t know about.

        • admin October 16, 2014, 4:45 pm

          We avoid talking about topics we don’t know about. However, it doesn’t take much research to discover that nearly everything labeled “alternative medicine” is BS.

          We are more interested in helping people avoid scams then to propagate the myths of non-working medicine. Perhaps you would benefit from reading the book Do You Believe in Magic. If after reading this anyone still believes in the nonsense of non-working medicine there really is little hope of convincing you to look at the subject rationally. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-facts-of-the-alternative-medicine-industry/

    • Randy Schueller October 16, 2014, 5:34 pm

      Dr. K. Thanks for your comments (I see that Perry has already responded to some of them.)

      Clearly we disagree on the issue of alternative medicine but even if, for the sake of argument, I concede that you’re right and I’m wrong, how does that invalidate my “authority in the field of cosmetics science?” Are you saying that because I’m wrong about natural products that means that I don’t know how to formulate a shampoo or a skin lotion? Or that I don’t understand the causes of dry skin or damaged hair? That really makes no sense and, in my opinion, such a personal attack doesn’t really help you make your case.

      If you’d care to provide links to credible sources that validate what you say about alternative medicine we’d be happy to share them with our readers.

  • Dr.K October 18, 2014, 11:16 am

    For Citrullus colocynthis Randy said that it’s used for werewolf-ism and claimed he found nothing except for the Wikipedia article citation for hair growth on rats.  Your readers should know that reputable scientists do not use Wikipedia as a credible source of scientific data.  Regarding werewolf-ism, you used information from a 1563 book written by a purported demonologist and call yourself a valid cosmetic scientist?  Here are a few citations for Citrillus colocynthus and it’s many uses, including alopecia. Note that none of them are from the 1500’s.
    1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19764005
    Nat Prod Res. 2011 Sep. Effect of Citrullus colocynthis Schrad fruits on testosterone-induced alopecia.
    2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22784342
    J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun.  A review on Citrullus colocynthis Schrad.: from traditional Iranian medicine to modern phytotherapy.
    3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24936768
    J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Aug. Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad (bitter apple fruit): a review of its phytochemistry, pharmacology, traditional uses and nutritional potential.

    For Arbus precatorius, Randy stated only that it is used as a tea and is toxic. However, a quick look at a review article will inform any real scientist that the many parts of this plant are used for different purposes, including graying hair and alopecia.  You did not find this relevant information to lend to your readers and specifically to the individual who asked about the hair oil containing this botanical?
    1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25183095
    Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2014 May.  Ethno botanical and Phytophrmacological potential of Abrus precatorius L.: A review.  

    If those two supportive arguments are not enough to invalidate the both of you as knowledgeable, unbiased, and reliable cosmetic scientists, well, here’s one more factor you asked for to support my “case”.  After looking over the citations below, Perry, why don’t you send your definition to the NIH and let them know that their National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicne is “BS”? Also, don’t forget to let Oxford Dictionaries, Merriam-Webster, and the World Health Organization know that their definitions are also incorrect as you are now the authority on defining medicine and science.
    1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24439638
    Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014 Feb. CAM use in dermatology. Is there a potential role for honey, green tea, and vitamin C?
    2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25316618
    Med Anthropol Q. 2014 Oct.  Is There a Role for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Preventive and Promotive Health? An Anthropological Assessment in the Context of U.S. Health Reform.
    3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24471735.  
    Int J Cosmet Sci. 2014 Jun.  Bakuchiol: a retinol-like functional compound revealed by gene expression profiling and clinically proven to have anti-aging effects.
    4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24049414
    Ayu. 2013 Jan.  Standardization of Shadbindu Taila: An Ayurvedic oil based medicine.
    J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Jul.  Review on some plants of Indian traditional medicine with antioxidant activity.
    6. http://nccam.nih.gov/. The NIH’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine  agency
    7. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternative%20medicine.  “Alternative medicine: any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as chiropractic, homeopathy, or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula of the United States and Britain”
    8. World Health Organization http://www.who.int/medicines/areas/traditional/definitions/en/
    Oxford Dictionaries: “Alternative Medicine: Any of a range of medical therapies that are not regarded as orthodox by the medical profession, such as herbalism, homeopathy, and acupuncture. See also complementary medicine.”
    10. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/functional-medicine
    “Functional medicine: Medical practice or treatments that focus on optimal functioning of the body and its organs, usually involving systems of holistic or alternative medicine: you don’t have to have a disease to benefit from functional medicine”

    Bottom line: Understand that this is not a “personal attack” as Randy stated, but merely a correction to egregious fallacies made by self-proclaimed authorities in cosmetics science.  Both of you are to be responsible to your readers and to the field of science, so using a prejudiced approach to answering their questions is a disservice to them and to the public.  The onus is on you to assiduously check facts and use sources that are unattainable or inscrutable  to your readers.  Randy, I do hope that you can “formulate shampoos and skin lotion” and “understand the cause of dry skin and damaged hair”.  However, due to the lack of basic scientific assessment that you have displayed here, it is highly unlikely that you perform your professional duties beyond that of a lab technician.  Wikipedia, really?

    • Randy Schueller October 18, 2014, 3:29 pm

      Dr. K: I appreciate you taking the time to share all these references on alternative medicine. Hopefully our readers will find them helpful. However, due to your continued personal attacks I won’t be responding to any more of your comments. Even though you say you’re not making personal attacks you’ve just told us that your comments “invalidate the both of you as knowledgeable, unbiased, and reliable cosmetic scientists” and that “it’s highly unlikely that you perform your professional duties beyond that of a lab technician.” That sounds pretty personal to me. This website is for the open discussion of beauty science, not for people to take pot shots at us. If you can’t play nice then go somewhere else.

      PS Just for the record, the reference I made to werewolf-ism was a JOKE.