Eats roots and leaves
Ritu Gehani creates oils and hair marinades from plants and flowers from her own balcony. We sign up at The Hair Kitchen for a session
Ritu Gehani picks an aloe vera leaf from her balcony for the concoction. Pics/Poonam Bathija
Let's start with an honest admission. This writer has never been able to run her fingers through her hair without it getting entangled in the curls. As much as our friends with straight tresses would like to empathise, curly hair is a phenomenon that can’t be understood unless you have them. So, when we walk into Ritu Gehani’s The Hair Kitchen, her salon in Khar on a Wednesday morning, we are already thinking about how our messy mop will take to the new treatment.
Gehani’s The Hair Kitchen, as she likes to put it, is “for hungry hair that craves the right food to make it grow healthy from within.” The former Jean Claude Biguine employee, who comes with 18 years of experience, launched her venture in May this year, where she creates oils, hair marinades, deep conditioning masks, hair sun blocks and leave-ons using plant extracts, herbs and flowers that she has grown in her balcony garden. The concoctions are made in her compact kitchen once she’s done examining her client’s hair type, the damage it has undergone and the treatment required. “What we eat, is what we reap. So hair is also a result of what we feed the scalp. While we have no control over the air we breathe, food intake is something we can handle,” she says.
As we exchange pleasantries, we notice Gehani’s eyes closely scanning our hair. “Your hair talks to you. You’ll see it losing sheen when you don’t take care of it,” she says. We plead guilty. Wasting no time, Gehani leads us to the cushioned chair for a hair spa.
A jadibuti treat
Heading to her balcony, she has picked the choicest of herbs to create the oil for us – methi, fresh aloe vera, kadi patta, jata mashi, amala in dried form, tulsi and akhrod khaal (walnut skin). Blending these in a mixer, she uses pure coconut oil and virgin olive oil as base. A pleasant aroma has already filled the air. “You have natural waves that are lovely, but the hair is dehydrated. However, it’s not breaking which is a good sign,” she tells us, as she runs a wide toothed comb to detangle the knots. “The idea is to pamper and nourish your hair and scalp using ingredients that have no side effects,” adds Gehani, who worked as a stylist in Spain for a decade before retuning to Mumbai.
She applies the warm oil on our scalp and gives us a sleep-inducing head and shoulder massage. “I’ve always recommended using oil for all my clients. The frequency and amount depends on whether you have a dry or a greasy scalp. But you need to wash it off completely because the scalp needs to breathe,” she says. Gehani, who has been trained in using Ayurvedic supplements by a vaidya in Rajasthan, also gives us Reiki in the meanwhile to heal our tresses. By now, we’re already in a happy spot. Next up comes, the avocado hair mask, which she uniformly applies to our strands. This is followed by a relaxing 10-minute session under a hair steamer. She concludes it with a hair wash and followed by the application of the leave-in sun block.
The hair is already smelling good with a fragrance that has no hint of any artificial add-ons. Twirling the strands, she dries the hair using low heat. “Using a blow dry or an iron is the worst damage you can do to your hair. So, treasure your curls,” she smiles. We comply.
Where: 49 Soneji House, 202 A 5th Khar Road, Opposite Jain Mandir, Khar
Entry: Between Rs 700 – Rs 2,000
A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli