By Christina of The Mane Objective
I’m a huge fan of DIY when it comes to hair care. Not only does it allow you to save tremendous amounts of money, but you have more control over what ingredients go in (or on) to your hair. Plus to me, it’s fun to experiment, blend, and test out. If you peruse the web, you can find tons of recipes for everything from deep conditioners to styling gels. And for the most part, they’re pretty awesome. But there are those recipes (especially for deep conditioning and repairing) that make some claims that can seem pretty lofty…at least for food. We’re going to explore four of the most popular food masks here.
Oat flour masks, conditioner mix-ins, and more are touted across the interwebs as an instant hair thickener.
How it’s Done: Mix in a few tablespoons of oat flour (I tried Bob’s Red Mill) into your favorite conditioner, or make a pre-poo mask with oat flour, and some of your favorite oils (or water).
What it’s Supposed to Do: Allegedly, the lipids and the protein in oat flour bind to the keratin in your hair, making it thicker and shiny.
Does it Work?: Sounds good, right? Simple, inexpensive, and miraculous. Unfortunately, this food additive works in theory only. On the molecular level, the particles of protein within oat flour are too large to penetrate the cuticle of hair. Translation: the protein won’t stick to or thicken your hair. All the good stuff goes down the drain. However, a product with hydrolyzed oat flour or oat protein has an altered molecular structure that allows for penetration and promotes thickening of hair. Spare yourself, and leave the oat flour in the kitchen.
If You’re Going to Try it: Be prepared to do at least two or three washes or co-washes. Walking around with little brownish-white granules in your hair probably isn’t such a great idea.
Even Dr. Oz’ fan site promotes the banana hair mask as the miracle that will moisturize and reverse damage to hair. And let’s face it, who doesn’t at least trust Dr. Oz a smidge? Besides, how terrible could a banana be?
How it’s Done: Pulverize a banana in a mixer, magic bullet, food processor, whatever. It is recommended to mix in supporting ingredients like honey, oils, and/or yogurt.
What it’s Supposed to Do: Moisturize, nourish, impart shine, soften hair, and control scalp issues like dandruff.
Does it Work?: In theory, I could understand how all of the vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes could work to nourish and soften hair. In all of my research, I found no evidence to refute any of the claims made. For now, I’ll file this one under yes. However, it may not be worth the hassle.
If You’re Going to Try it: You may be better off with something pre-mixed, like baby food bananas. In my experience (and there are a plethora of people on the web who share the same story), what seemed like a great idea became an impossible task. Despite how well whipped my banana mask was, I ended up with bits of banana stuck all up and through my hair. Like, hopelessly stuck. Stuck as in even a fine-tooth comb and fingernails couldn’t help. Stuck as in I had to wash my hair several times over the course of two days to get all of it out. Of course after so much post-washing, any benefits I might have gained had long gone down the drain.
This creamy green fruit has found its way onto many a head of hair over the years, and is a touted ingredient in tons of moisturizing hair products.
How it’s Done: Mash an avocado into a paste, and add enough water (or anything you like, really) to make a creamy mask.
What it’s Supposed to Do: Moisturize, soften and shine hair.
Does it Work?: In one word — YES. The oils in avocados are one of the few that can penetrate the cuticle and actually moisturize hair. Therefore, the ability to soften and moisturize hair doesn’t rest only on how avocado coats the hair, but the moisture will remain after the mask is rinsed down the drain.
If You’re Going to Try it: Make sure to use a soft, ripe avocado. They are easier to work with in terms of making a paste for a mask. Alternatively, if you’re a bit concerned about mashing avocados in your hair, you can opt for avocado oil and reap similar benefits.
Eggs are famously high in protein, sulfur and biotin. Protein and sulfur are the building blocks of hair, and we all know the role biotin plays in hair growth, health, and strength. Knowing this, why wouldn’t you scramble a few eggs on your scalp?
How it’s Done: Whip up a few eggs, and apply to scalp. Alternatively, you can combine with other ingredients to potentially pack a bigger punch. A common mix-in is avocado.
What it’s Supposed to Do: Strengthen, shine, and prevent breakage.
Does it Work?: Remember what we said about oat protein? Just because you slather it on your hair doesn’t mean your hair is going to soak it up like a sponge. You can swaddle your strands in slabs of beef, and get no protein out of it. If the protein doesn’t have the necessary molecular weight, your hair can’t use it. As far as the sulfur content goes, there may be a little benefit there. Lastly, there is no scientific evidence to support that the hair or scalp can absorb biotin. In my opinion, you’d be better off eating the egg than making a mask of it.
If You’re Going to Try it: Be sure to rinse your egg mask with cool water – not warm or hot. I’d hate for you to have to walk around looking like a toddler threw their breakfast eggs in your hair.
What hair mask recipes have worked wonders for you…or fallen short of their promises?