Is using beer on your hair something that only Birkenstock-wearing nature enthusiasts and barefoot hippies do during their once-weekly baths, or could it be an accessible, affordable hair remedy for the rest of us? Beer hair is actually not a bad look. I know first-hand from a college party long ago, when my head got a spontaneous keg shower. The next morning, I awoke to find shiny, healthy-looking hair...far from the sticky, hard mess that accompanies an inadvertent hair dip in my cocktail. What is it about beer that may benefit your hair?
Besides getting compliments on your luscious locks from beer goggle-wearing guys in bars, there might be much more that beer can do for the well-being of your hair. As we discovered with the effects of beer on skin, there are special components within beer that are better for your body than any old carbonated beverage. When you soak, rinse, or spritz your hair with beer, its natural ingredients coat each strand and lend hair-nourishing benefits. In addition to B vitamins, the proteins found in malt and hops are said to repair damaged hair and boost overall body. Meanwhile, the maltose and sucrose sugars in beer tighten the hair's cuticles for enhanced shine.
Although it is debatable whether the corn, rice, or wheat protein in beer can actually deposit on your hair to form a strengthening film, there is no question that it makes hair seem thicker. This effect may be attributed to the proteins left on the hair fiber, though beer also seems to slightly swell the hair shaft. Ideal for fine hair, an at-home beer solution is an economical alternative to the $20-40 thickening tonics on the market, since it kills two birds with one stone- adding extra volume while at the same time coating the cuticles with shine. When experimenting with beer as a hair product, it is recommended to use traditional brewed beer made from hops to maximize nutrients and minimize chemicals (since most commercial beers are loaded with stuff you probably shouldn't be putting in your body, let alone your hair).
If you'd prefer to pay someone else to package your beer in a hair preparation, there are more than enough products to choose from in the haircare market. Lush makes an entirely vegan Cynthia Sylvia shampoo composed of organic Irish stout and lemons for smoothing cuticles and boosting volume. British Linco Beer Shampoo & Conditioner is developed with natural hops to lend hair healthy-looking body and shine. Formulated for fine or fragile hair, Logona Volume Honey Beer Shampoo touts beer as its second ingredient. The South Korean Skinfood Hop Beer Hair Wash & Conditioner combines beer ingredients with copper peptide, vitamin-H, and herbal extracts to clarify the hair and prevent hair loss.
As you can see from the mixed bag of promises boasted by these beer-wielding hair products, there is no single function that beer performs. Its benefits depend on hair type and condition. If you feel a kinship with the back-to-nature hair washing types or just want to get some use out of undrinkable beer, have a go with one of the following recipes for beer-based hair treatments:
Beer Shampoo: 1 cup mild shampoo, 1/4 cup boiled beer- Start with 1.5 cup beer before boiling and let it cool to room temperature. Though the alcohol in beer has cleansing properties, combining it with shampoo goes beyond just removing dirt and grease to improve the hair's overall status.
Beer Conditioner: 1 cup warm beer (preferably mildly scented), 1 tsp jojoba oil- Follow up your regular shampoo with this natural, non-greasy conditioner. The beer adds body while jojoba oil adds shine.
Beer & Cider Vinegar Rinse: 1 oz water, 2 tsp cider vinegar, 1 oz flat beer, 5 drops rosemary essential oil- Rub this solution through your hair after shampooing to remove build-up from hair products.
Last night, I put the Beer & Cider Vinegar Rinse to the test. Though I feared that my head would reek of stale beer afterward, I instead woke up to find shiny, bouncy tresses with barely a tinge of scent (which came from the rosemary). Over the past few weeks, I had noticed the presence of something weighing down my hair and leaving a cap of grease. This treatment banished all traces of that mysterious something, though I probably have to thank the cider vinegar just as much as the beer.
If you've ever come across a skunky six pack in the back of your fridge or accidentally opened a warm beer, now you know what to do with it. Beer treatments are better suited for oily hair than color-treated or moisture-sapped hair, since they tend to leave a dry but healthy feeling. Beer is no substitute for traditional shampoo and conditioner, and it certainly won't win you any friends when used alone. But as an occasional clarifying rinse for fine or limp hair, beer can hold its liquor.