The Secrets of Traditional Asian Beauty

We take a look at ancient natural beauty remedies that Asian women have been using for centuries.


Amla oil is a popular Ayurvedic treatment used to straighten hair and is also thought to prevent premature greying. Amla oil is obtained from the berry-like amla fruit, also known as the Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), which is sour and bitter tasting and rich in phytochemicals. To make amla oil, dried amla fruit are soaked in coconut oil for several days and then filtered and purified. The resulting oil is massaged into the scalp and rinsed out.

The high vitamin C and tannin content of fresh amla fruit has attracted the attention of scientists studying antioxidants, with a recent study published in the journal Toxicology International showing that amla extracts reversed arsenic-induced oxidative damage in mice.

However, a 2011 study of microbial contamination in traditional herbal products showed that both dried amla fruit and amla oil are frequently contaminated with various species of fungus, including those capable of producing toxic and carcinogenic aflatoxins, which suggests the need for caution when using the oil.

Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.

Rebecca did her PhD at the National University of Singapore where she studied how macrophages integrate multiple signals from the toll-like receptor system. She was formerly the editor-in-chief of Asian Scientist Magazine.

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