“Those were core memories for me; it felt like a fun sleepover!” she says, noting that oiling her hair was another way of connecting with new classmates after changing schools when she was young. “I wanted to create a brand that evokes that sense of camaraderie and happiness while honoring my heritage.”
That’s where Squigs’ hero product comes in: the Gooseberry Delight Hair Oil was created to take the best of Charuza’s family ritual and modernize it for the masses. The formula was even inspired by the custom homemade hair oil blend her family made every weekend, which contained amla, coconut, castor, kalonji and orange peel oils.
“I wanted to create a durable version that was lightweight, easy to wash off and safe for sensitive skin as many of my family members struggle with severe eczema,” she explains. To avoid synthetic fragrances that could cause irritation, orange peel and apricot kernel oil give the products a citrusy scent. When blended together, this combination of traditional ingredients packs an indulgent punch.
Alma oil, extracted from the Indian gooseberry, is effective for treating both the scalp and strands, says cosmetic chemist Ginger King. “It is known for its antioxidant properties to help strengthen hair. There are studies in skin care [that show its benefits] for skin lightening,” she says.
Audrey Kunin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Kansas City, Missouri, agrees that Alma oil is a powerhouse with many benefits. “It’s high in vitamins C and E, as well as antioxidants, which make it both nourishing and moisturizing for the scalp,” she says. “These vitamins help fight free radical damage and support a healthy scalp. It is also thought to have both soothing and antiseptic benefits.”
The rest of the ingredient list is equally impressive: King says coconut oil has antimicrobial properties for the scalp to help balance it, and is one of the few oils that can actually penetrate the hair shaft to deliver moisture. She adds that kalonji (aka black seed oil) can help stimulate hair growth, while apricot oil can help add shine.
Potency aside, however, Gooseberry Delight is all about paying homage to South Asian culture. If you’ve watched any of TikTok’s many “hair slugging” tutorials — a term that’s reminiscent of petroleum jelly and dish soap, if you ask me — you’ve seen the adoption of a ritual important to families like Charuzas.