Fact: I love beer. It's my go-to drink at just about every outing, from sports games to concerts to birthday parties. My tastes have changed since I first started drinking the stuff in college, though. I now enjoy sipping flavorful craft beers in quiet bars rather than downing light beers during games of beer pong.
Beyond being a delicious beverage to enjoy while out, I've heard that beer, when applied to your hair, can have some serious benefits. I decided to do some research on the matter and learned it's actually true: Beer is good for your hair.
"The proteins found in beer are similar to the proteins found in hair," explains Burton Machen, stylist at the Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon in New York City. "It helps to smooth out the hair and adds shine by penetrating into the shaft of the hair and smoothing out to cuticle."
It makes sense, then, that there are a bunch of beer shampoos on the market now. Would beer make my particular hair (which is dry and coarse) look better, though? That's what I really wanted to know. Keep reading to see what happened when I washed my hair with beer shampoos and did a beer rinse.
Image via Waclaw Mostowski/EyeEm/Getty Images
Broo Moisturizing Shampoo, $5.61
This was the first beer shampoo I used in my experiment. In addition to beer, it's also formulated with shea butter, aloe leaf and caffeine. I chose this shampoo from Broo's line because I have very dry hair and it has moisturizing properties. I washed my hair with the shampoo, then followed up with the matching conditioner. I was feeling lazy that night, so I braided my hair and went to sleep. When I woke up, I took out my two braids and was pleasantly surprised that my waves were smooth and shiny. I was easily able to run a comb through my hair. Plus, my waves kept their shape all day and my hair didn't get pouffy, which is usually what happens when I air dry it.
What first drew me to this shampoo was the packaging: The bottle is very sleek and it's something I know my boyfriend wouldn't mind using if he saw it in the shower. (Here's what happened when my BF and I followed a gender neutral skin care routine for a week.) The shampoo is formulated with IPA from a small-batch brewer on the East Coast as well as a variety of botanical extracts including fennel seed, aloe leaf and acai. I used the shampoo and matching conditioner after an evening workout, then blow-dried my hair. My hair felt soft and it had good body at the roots and minimal frizz. I ended up getting my at-home blowout to last for four days.
I love a good stout beer when it's cold out because it's rich and warms me right up. Naturally, I was excited to try this shampoo, which is formulated with stout beer, sea salt and lemongrass oil. On a cold night, I sudsed up with this shampoo then followed up with a moisturizing conditioner. I blow-dried my hair and was impressed with the volume. (This shampoo gave me the most volume of all the ones I tried.) I finished by running a flat iron over my hair for a sleeker look that lasted for three days.
Finally, I decided to do what Machen recommends most: a beer rinse. That being said, Machen advises, "Beer can have a drying effect on hair if used too often, so you should really do it no more than once a week if you have oily hair or every other week if you have normal to dry hair." Unlike beer shampoos, which can be used every time you shower, straight-up beer rinses aren't something you should do on the regular.
Machen suggests mixing a quarter to half a cup of beer (depending on hair length) with an equal amount of water. Because I have long hair, I went for half a cup of beer and half a cup of water, and I added in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar at Machen's suggestion to help neutralize the beer smell.
"A beer rinse works best if the beer is room temperature," Machen says. "If the beer is cold, it automatically closes the hair follicle and prevents the proteins from penetrating into the shaft of the hair." So I let my beer concoction sit on the counter in a measuring glass for an hour (while I drank the rest of the bottle because I wasn't going to let good beer go to waste).
Once my beer was room temp, I hopped in the shower, shampooed my hair, then poured the beer mixture over my hair and made sure my hair was completely saturated. The concoction smelled strongly of beer (it was honestly pretty gross!) and didn't make for the most relaxing shower experience. I much preferred the beer shampoos, which each had fragrances to mask the scent of the beer.
I rinsed out the beer, then followed up with conditioner. After I got out of the shower, I applied a heat protectant and blow-dried my hair as usual. I thought my hair would feel really dry and sticky (and worse, that I would reek of beer) but I was pleasantly surprised: My hair actually felt very soft and the apple cider vinegar definitely did its job of curbing any odors on my hair.
When I was done blow-drying, I called it a night. My hair is super-thick and really wavy—usually, when I blow-dry my hair and then go to sleep on it, I wake up with seriously frizzy waves. But in the morning, my waves had some nice definition and shine without a ton of frizz (as you can see in the pic here).
Image via Gregory Leporati