The beauty benefits of bathing with beer (yes, seriously!)
Rinsing the hair with beer isn't anything new. Generations have been rinsing their hair with the brew in Europe, while Jackie Kennedy brought the idea mainstream to the U.S. in the 1960s. In an interview for the Worcester Evening Gazette her hairdresser told the press, "I rinse it with beer to give it more body." If Jackie did it, everyone followed. In fact, that was the birth of Broo, a company that uses beer as the main ingredient in their body and hair care line. Co-founder Brad Pearsall (he owns the company with his wife Sarah) was on the phone lamenting about the poor performance of natural shampoos. His mother replied with "You should do what I did in college and lather your hair in beer." Brad and his wife tried the beer rinse, were hooked and decided to start a company that blended this beer remedy with salon hair care.
Over the years, other companies have used beer in their products. LUSH came out with Cynthia Sylvia Stout, a shampoo for dry hair. Duffy's Brew is another company focused solely on shampoo and conditioner formulated with beer.
With St. Patrick's Day just past, this had us wondering-would beer be better off on our hair than in our stomach? We tracked down Broo owners Brad and Sarah as well as Amanda Sipenock, the LUSH Cosmetics Brand and Product Trainer, on the benefits of bathing with beer.
What ingredients in beer make it such a great conditioning agent for hair?
Beer may be recognized for its alcohol content and high concentration of carbohydrates, but there's more to it than that. Barley and hops (the main ingredients in beer) "are brimming with B vitamins and natural proteins which strengthen the hair follicle and hold onto the hair shaft," says Pearsall. "Hair is at its shiniest when the cuticle, or outer layer of the hair, is closed and beer is perfect for the job," says Sipenock.
Is the whole beer used in the products?
"The very first ingredient in the shampoo is straight Organic Irish Stout that we buy from a local microbrewery in British Columbia called Crannóg Ales. The particular stout that we use is called Backhand of God and comes to our kitchens in big 55kg kegs," says Sipenock. Beer is also the number one ingredient used in Broo's formulas. Depending on the type of hair-thick, dry, coarse-they used different types of beer.
Is the alcohol in beer included? Or would it dry out the hair like it does with the skin?
"The alcohol has a cleansing effect on the hair and scalp and to help create a balanced product, we add a yeast infusion to improve the condition of the hair," says Sipenock.
Pearsall confirms that only a small amount of alcohol is included in the products, used as a preservative to keep the shampoos and conditioners from going bad. "Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water so it evaporates when the ingredients are heated during development," says Pearsall.
What effects does beer have on the hair?
Because the proteins, found in the malt and hops, attach to the hair cuticle, it makes the hair stronger and appear thicker. Plus, the hair is softer and shinier because the beer's alcohol contains B vitamins and natural sugars.
What about the skin?
Broo also sells a body wash. "In Germany and other european countries there is a tradition of soaking in a hot tub filled with real beer," says Pearsall. The proteins and vitamin B are also super nourishing on the skin. Like their hair products, the body washes are all natural and created with handcrafted Ashville, NC beer. (The city was recently voted Beer City USA because of its large number of micro breweries in the area).
Our Test Drive
We just had to try the brew ourselves. Both suffering from fine hair, Fashion editor Taylor Davies added the Broo Volumizing Pale Ale Shampoo and Conditioner to her routine while I tried the Smoothing IPA Shampoo and Conditioner.
"I was surprised by how much I loved the Broo products," said Davies. "My hair looks glossy and voluminous and is soft to the touch. Had I known beer would be so good to my hair, college could have been so different!"
Not only is my hair fine, but it also gets oily in as little as 12 hours. Very few shampoos keep my hair slick-free, and I've tried hundreds. After using the IPA combo, I skipped a wash and my hair was fuller with little oil residue even 48 hours later. I also tried the traditional beer rinse by soaking my hair with Guinness in the shower. My hair was instantly shinier, softer and fuller. And surprisingly, my hair didn't smell like beer after-even while skipping the shampoo and conditioner. All in all, we're both pretty hooked with the benefits of beer. Guinness may not become our go-to hair conditioner (the thick tastes too good to waste on our hair), shampoos formulated with beer may just become a staple in our haircare routine.
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