Make Your Own Sindoor

How To Make Your Own Sindoor (Recipe)

I wear sindoor everyday, I love it, but lately I have started to have concerns. What is in that scarlet power I wear on my head everyday made of? Synthetic dyes can cause hair loss, I have seen a couple of aunties with sindoor bald patches, and someone like me, who already has a high forehead, really doesn’t need that! More worryingly, some commercial brands of sindoor contain lead oxide (a dangerous neurotoxin) and mercury sulphate (which can cause skin cancer). These things can not only be harmful for the women wearing the sindoor, if she falls pregnant, these chemicals can also harm her unborn child.

No, I am not pregnant, but it is something to be aware of. Whilst I know that there are trusted brands of sindoor available, I thought it would be a lovely idea to start making my own. I have found several recipes and with some trial and error, I have produced my own (with a little fragrant twist).

Rose sindoor…

You will need:

  • 1 part turmeric
  • 1 part calcium hydroxide (a white powder), also known as pickling lime or chuna, available in India and overseas.
  • Rose water (alternatively, you can just use water)
  • Rose petals (optional)

Mix the turmeric and calcium hydroxide together, then add the rose water until the colour changes from orange to brick red. As simple as that, your homemade sindoor is ready to apply! 

The more calcium hydroxide you use, the deeper the red colour. I didn’t use too much of it because whilst it is non toxic when applied externally, it can cause skin irritation if it is too concentrated, so please be careful and wash off immediately if it becomes too itchy!

Once the paste dries it does return to it’s turmeric orange colour. You can simply mix it with a little more rose water (or water) and it will return to the natural red colour and will be ready to apply again.

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58 thoughts on “Make Your Own Sindoor

  1. A lot of sindoor apparently has mercury in it. There is the liquid sin door available to buy from most good outlets. If you fancy that, look out for ‘lotus’, it’s herbal.

    But well done on making it yourself!

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  2. Awesome recipe! My sister in law was looking for a homemade sindoor recipe but didn’t end up using any of them because when it dried it turned back to orange like you said. Does does it turn to orange on your head or does it all just rub off by that time?

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  3. I use Lakme Jewel Sindoor sometimes and a red lip stain at others, depending on the color I want that day. The only time I use the powder anymore is for special occasions like Durga Puja. It is all chemicals anyway, so I figure I will use the ones I know to be cosmetic grade 🙂

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    • Hey Andrea!
      Yeah, you are right… make up is always a good option! I am planning on getting some herbal sindoor from online for days when I want briggght red 😀 xxx

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  4. OMG Lauren I was cracking up at the “sindoor bald spot”! I really like how it looks on you, its beautiful. Good job at finding a recipe so that its a safe product, so you cant keep your beautiful hair!

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  5. A lot of hindu women wear only bottu (dot) on forehead just above eye brows.(not high in the parting). You also have a mangal sutra around your neck. Sindur is not a must in my opinion, it maybe for some like maratis. A lot of hindu women just put on a bottu sticker in the west, just as my wife does. Cheers.

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  6. Calcium hydroxide is comparatively non-toxic to other chemicals present in commercial sindoor, but can cause severe skin irritation, and blindness (if gets into the eyes). Can calcium carbonate be used instead? Just a thought…..

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    • Hey Deo,
      How are you? I don’t think calcium carbonate would work but I will try it! Yess, it can be an irritant so I have suggested to only use a small amount, like you said definitely better than what is used commercially. I am going to continue with this recipe and see if I can make a 100% safe one.

      Thank you so much for your comment! Have a great day

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  7. Thanks Lauren. You may need a natural oil-based binder because of lack of solubility in water for most other relatively harmless while substitutes for “Chuna” or slaked lime. It’s interesting quest for “Green” sindoor. Keep it up.

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  8. I will definitely keep this in mind, dear. I’m actually glad you covered the topic. I knew it was bad for you, but I have never thought to look into a recipe. Partially because I’m not quite married yet. Working on it. 😉

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  9. Inspired by your post, I’ve been experimenting also. I saved the (scrubbed clean) beet peels from a subji I was making, blended them with a little water, squeezed out the juice from the pulp through a cotton cloth into a small pot, and then boiled the water out until I had a residue at the bottom of the pot. I then put this in a stainless cup and the residue is dried and with a Qtip that is cut in half, I discovered that a lovely red bindi can be created, larger or smaller, depending upon which end is of the Qtip (moistened before dipping into the beet residue) is used.

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  10. Lauren, just a quick update in case you are interested: the beet juice residue had dried nicely, and I’ve been using it daily since day one, simply moistening the Q tip applicator to apply. So far there is no color change and no sign of the residue going bad, even though I haven’t refrigerated it and have kept it in the open, near a mirror to easily apply.

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  11. I don’t wear sindoor (and no pressure to do so as my MIL and SIL do not either), but I’ve read about the cancer agents in some of the sindoors and worry about some of the women who cannot afford to make their own or do not realize these “cheap” cuts companies make, and putting them at risk! I am glad you are wearing a safe one!

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  12. Hi Lauren,
    First of all, thanks for your amazing blog and sharing so many traditions and rituals from India. I am getting married in a few months with my fiance from Kerala. We both live in Europe but are planning to have a hindu ceremony over there.
    I have what may sound like a stupid question but I hope you can help me anyways! I know that applying the sindoor is part of the wedding ceremony in India and although I do think it is a beautiful symbol, I would like to know if it is easy to wash it off if I plan to wear it only on special occasions (mainly when I will be visiting India, especially due to the concerns I have heard about it being toxic).
    I am very pale and blond and so I think if I wear sindoor in Europe on my forehead and partition of my hair, people will indeed wonder if I am seriously injured 🙂

    can you tell me if it can simply be remove it with water or shampoo or does it last several days?

    Hope my question doesn’t sound too stupid but I thought I would better ask anyways:)
    Thanks for all your input and keep the blog going 🙂

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    • Hey Helene,
      Aww I am so glad you enjoy reading my blog! Thank you so much!
      Good luck with your marriage!!! Sending lots of love!!

      It is easy to wash off with shampoo! The sindoor used in the ceremony will be the real stuff but during those special occasions you can always use a red lip pencil so you know it’s safe and removeable. You can also use the pencil to make a very nice shape so it looks less like an injury haha!

      I hope you are well, I personally feel that sindoor looks spectacular on blonde hair!!! Lots of marriage wishes! xxxx

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    • Hey,

      Well, you would need some water so you could mix the ingredients together. I don’t see any harm adding some dried rose petals into the mix as well!

      I hope you are well! Take care

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  13. Thank you so much for this, I only just discovered how harmful my own sindoor liquid I’m using is! I had no idea it was the reason for so much of my hair falling out till I googled it (sadly, been using this sindoor liquid for a year now) I’m living with my husband in India also, it’s amazing to see someone else in a similar situation .. I don’t feel so alone now 🙂

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  14. Me thinks you need to reduce the amount you are applying. Just a dash is OK. Remember heavy sindoor is scary stuff used by scary priestess.

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