We’re mostly familiar with yogurt as a delicious and nutritious food item. It’s loaded with important nutrients as well as probiotics and protein.

But did you know this fermented milk product is also a traditional Middle Eastern treatment for hair growth and restoration?

Keep reading to learn more about how yogurt may benefit your hair and scalp, and how to use it.

The benefits of applying yogurt to your hair and scalp haven’t been proven in clinical research. However, anecdotal evidence and cultural traditions support its use in this manner.

One of the most popular direct applications is the hair mask, also called a deep conditioner.

Proponents of yogurt-based hair masks suggest that the protein in yogurt promotes strong and healthy hair. They also believe that the lactic acid in yogurt:

  • cleanses the scalp
  • clears away dead skin cells
  • helps hair follicle growth

People use yogurt hair masks to address hair damage caused by:

  • the environment, such as from the sun, air pollution, and changes of season
  • styling tools, such as hairbrushes, straightening irons, and blow-dryers
  • hair products, such as those used for styling, coloring, straightening, and curling

Advocates of using yogurt on your hair and scalp suggest applying it as follows:

  1. Start with dry hair.
  2. Apply the yogurt mask to the roots of your hair and work it in along the length of your hair.
  3. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes. Some suggest covering your hair with a shower cap.
  4. Rinse out the mask with warm water. Some suggest shampooing with a mild shampoo after rinsing out the mask.

Although not specifically supported by science, anecdotal evidence suggests that some hair mask ingredients benefit certain hair conditions. These hair conditions and beneficial ingredients include:

Hair conditionBeneficial ingredients
damaged hairyogurt for softness; strawberries for shine; coconut oil to stimulate hair growth; egg for vitamin and mineral recovery
dandruffyogurt and lemon to treat dandruff; honey to moisturize the scalp
dry hairyogurt for softness; honey for hydration
dull hairyogurt for softness; honey for hydration; coconut oil for moisturizing
frizzy hairyogurt for moisturizing; banana for volumizing; honey for hydration
oily hairyogurt for cleansing; lemon for degreasing; baking soda to balance pH level
thinning hairyogurt for clearing hair follicles; aloe vera to nourish hair follicles
weak hairyogurt for protein; olive oil for conditioning; egg for vitamins and minerals

If you’re considering adding a yogurt hair mask to your hair care routine, ask your dermatologist or hairstylist for their opinion. They might have a different product or recipe that they feel will be best for you, your hair, and your scalp.

Before trying a yogurt hair mask, check ingredients for potential allergens, like a milk allergy.

If you’re unsure of other potential allergies, do a skin patch test before applying the ingredient to your hair.

To do this, rub a small amount of the ingredient onto your forearm and wait 30 minutes.

If your skin shows no signs of allergic reaction (itchiness, redness, stinging), chances are it should be all right to use on your hair and scalp.

According to a 2017 study of 60 healthy men aged 18 to 60 years, eating yogurt significantly reduced the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe dandruff.

The study suggested that the positive effects were potentially attributable to the yogurt’s probiotics and their impact on the skin immune system and skin barrier.

Although the benefits of using yogurt as a hair care product aren’t supported by clinical research, many people believe the anecdotal evidence and cultural traditions suggesting yogurt’s benefits for hair and scalp.

Rich in protein, important nutrients, and probiotics, yogurt is often used as an ingredient in hair masks that many believe to have a cosmetic and restorative impact on hair.