In recent years, microbreweries and their handcrafted beers have increased in popularity across the United States, with the number of microbreweries growing from 370 in 2006 to 1,854 in 2020. While people clearly enjoy drinking beer, a few have touted the positive effects of beer on their hair.
You can find many online sources suggesting that beer applied as a shampoo, hair mask, or rinse can result in healthy, shiny locks and even promote hair growth. But to date, there’s no clinical evidence that beer is beneficial for your hair — whether applied topically or ingested.
In this article, we take a closer look at the primary ingredients in beer and explore how these ingredients might benefit your hair. We also explain how to use beer on your hair, in case you want to try it yourself.
In recent years, a number of shampoos and conditioners have come on the market that include beer as one of their ingredients. It’s thought that two proteins in beer — malt and hops — may help nourish and strengthen your hair follicles.
However, there’s no scientific evidence that proves the hops and malt proteins can bind to and benefit your hair if applied topically.
Even though claims that beer is good for hair are largely unproven in clinical research, there are some ingredients in beer that do provide certain health benefits. The justifications for these ingredients, however, are based primarily on diet, not the direct application on the hair and scalp.
Even so, users often swear by this method, and it may be worth a try, especially if you happen to have an extra bottle already on tap.
There are almost as many beer flavors as there are beer drinkers. All beers start with a few simple ingredients, such as water, a starch source like malted barley, brewer’s yeast for fermentation, and a flavoring such as hops.
Beer also contains trace amounts of nutrients, such as:
- Calcium. You may already know how important calcium is for healthy bones, but did you know it’s also essential for healthy hair growth? Of course, it’s more important to get calcium from your diet than it is from a shampoo, but calcium does help with the absorption of iron, an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy hair growth.
Research from 2016indicated that dietary calcium is needed for hair maintenance, especially for menopausal women. Calcium intake can also be beneficial for women who are still menstruating.
- Iron. Iron deficiency can lead to hair loss, due to its impact on hemoglobin production. Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the bloodstream, making it essential for hair cell growth and repair. In fact, a
2009 studyfound that iron deficiency was linked to telogen effluvium (temporary hair loss).
- Protein. Hair follicles are mostly made of keratin, a fibrous protein. Without enough protein, your hair follicles can become dormant and stop producing hair. A proper amount of protein in your diet is good for hair follicle growth and health. A
2016 studyindicated women with diets low in protein can experience hair thinning and hair loss. If beer isn’t your thing, another way to infuse your scalp with protein is by applying an egg yolk mask.
- Selenium. A
2007 studyof infants indicated that a selenium deficiency could lead to complications like alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. Selenium is also used as an ingredient in many dandruff shampoos, and a 2006 studyfound selenium to have benefits for reducing this common condition.
- Vitamin D. You may get most of your vitamin D through sun exposure. This all-important nutrient helps your body absorb calcium. It may also be essential for healthy hair growth. The role of vitamin D in the hair follicle cycle is
not completely understood. However, this nutrient appears to be highly beneficial for supporting follicle stimulation and hair growth. In fact, a 2012 studyindicated that vitamin D deficiency is a common clinical finding for people with alopecia.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E contains tocotrienols. Tocotrienols are potent antioxidants that, according to a
2010 study, support hair growth and scalp health. Vitamin E may be beneficial for supporting blood circulation in the scalp as well as healthy, shiny hair. It may also reduce hair loss. The 2010 study also indicated that vitamin E taken orally resulted in significant hair growth for people with alopecia.
- Zinc. If you’re experiencing hair loss, too little zinc in your diet may be to blame.
Research from 2019suggests that alopecia is a sign of zinc deficiency.
This research from 2019 also suggests that more studies are needed to establish any association between hair loss and the lack of vitamins and minerals.
Proponents of using beer topically for healthy locks suggest trying a simple beer rinse once a week. Here’s how to do it:
- Pour 8 oz. of beer in an uncovered cup, then wait until it becomes flat.
- Wash and condition your hair as you usually do.
- Massage the flat beer through your hair and into your scalp.
- Leave the beer in your hair for about 15 minutes.
- Use cool water to rinse the beer out of your hair.
Some proponents of beer hair treatments suggest adding other ingredients to the rinse, such as apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or jojoba oil.
Beer hair mask
To address damaged, dull, or weak hair, some proponents also suggest using beer as a base for a hair mask. In addition to beer, they suggest adding the following ingredients to the mask:
- Avocado oil. Avocados are a significant source of biotin, a B vitamin that supports hair growth.
- Banana. Bananas are full of beneficial oils, potassium, and silica, a mineral that may help hair absorb collagen.
- Coconut oil. Coconut oil is highly moisturizing, plus it’s beneficial for reducing protein loss in hair.
- Egg. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, plus they contain biotin and hair-healthy vitamins, such as A and E.
There are many beer hair mask recipes online. You may have to play around with the ingredients before you find one that you like best. But here’s a recipe to get you started:
- Start with a half cup of flat beer.
- Add 2 or 3 tbsp. of oil, such as coconut oil or avocado oil.
- Fold in 1 lightly mixed egg.
- Mix all the ingredients together. If your mixture is too runny, try adding a bulking ingredient, such as a small, mashed, ripe banana or half of an avocado.
- Apply to your hair and scalp.
- Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap and leave in for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Rinse thoroughly and shampoo as usual.
Although there are claims that using beer on your hair will improve hair growth and result in healthier-looking hair, there’s a lack of clinical evidence to prove these claims.
If you’re considering adding beer to your hair care routine, consider discussing possible positive and negative effects with a doctor, dermatologist, or pharmacist.