A quick Google search for DIY hair treatments reveals endless YouTube videos of beauty vloggers putting pretty much anything you can find in your fridge or pantry on their hair. While watching someone dump a honey and cayenne mixture on their strands as they calmly talk through the step-by-step process is fun and all, will following their lead actually give your hair a better look? Or should we just take all those ingredients and eat 'em the old fashioned way if we want shiny, healthy hair?
We decided to check in with the experts on what we should eat and what we should actually put on our hair for it to be its healthiest. Their answers probably include a few of your diet staples, and maybe a few surprises.
Every dietitian we spoke to was enthusiastic about including eggs in your diet for a healthy head of hair.
“When it comes to shiny hair, eggs are your friend. Eggs contain sulfur, which helps produce collagen and keratin, two important proteins for creating and maintaining healthy, shiny hair,” Los Angeles–based nutritionist Shira Lenchewski explained.
“Eggs, in particular, contain biotin which can improve hair growth and strengthen nails,” said Melissa Rifkin, a New York City-based registered dietician.
“Omega-rich oils via salmon, nuts, and seeds are also important for keeping your scalp nourished,” explains Lenchewski.
Rifkin adds, “Almond butter contains vitamin E, which has been shown to promote long, lustrous locks…I think a balanced diet is essential in order to keep hair thick, shiny and avoid brittle hairs breaking.”
Alternatively, a supplement with the right balance of vitamins can help you achieve a nourished scalp, which can contribute to hair (plus nail!) growth. "One study showed that taking a vitamin E supplement daily improved hair growth by 42 percent,” says Rifkin.
Look for a formula made for hair, skin, and nails with ingredients like biotin, vitamins C, and E, iron, and omega-3.
Cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos cautions against creating a food mask, explaining “Natural fats and oils found in eggs and avocado can coat the hair shaft making it feel softer and adding shine. You could certainly use these as a hair mask. But why waste your expensive avocados on your hair or having your hair smell like raw eggs when science has developed great conditioning agents that are truly more effective?”
However, if you still want to go the natural route (or you have too many avocados on hand), Rifkin has a few suggestions for masks. “Mashing avocado and applying it to your hair can lead to shiny, lustrous locks as well as nourishing the ends of your hair with coconut oils to prevent split ends, strengthen your hair, and add shine,” she told us.
We’re pretty sure washing your hair with beer was a hair hack most of us heard from an older sister while in middle school, and it felt a little dangerous because…beer. Does it work? Not so much, according to Dobos.
“Some claim that the alcohol in beer aids in cleansing or that its low pH helps tighten the cuticle to give hair shine,” she says, which sounds reasonable.
"In reality," she explains, “beer really doesn't deliver on either of these because the concentration of alcohol really isn't that high and the pH is not really low enough. I'd save the beer for drinking.”