Should Your Shampoo Have Beer in It?

 Courtesy of Carlsberg

A beer rinse for shiny hair has long been an old wives' tale, but now a few brands are taking the idea seriously. Carlsberg, in collaboration with cosmetic company Urtegaarden, wants you to shower with their Beer Beauty shampoo, conditioner, and body wash — all of which include half a liter of powdered brew in every bottle. It promises to be the organic antidote for bad hair days, but can a microbrew really give you a healthier head of hair?

"There's not a lot of research out there behind it — at all," says Dr. Apple Bodemer, dermatologist and faculty member at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "And in this arena, it appears the only research that has been done is by the companies making the products." But that's not to say that a little beer in your hair can't help.

Tossing a beer over your head for better hair is an old home remedy, and Carlsberg isn't the first to take the idea into stores. Redken released Clean Brew Shampoo that includes malt, brewer's yeast, and orange zest in the makeup. BROO, an artisanal grooming company, sells three shampoo/conditioner combinations based on different hops — Hydrating Oatmeal Porter, Smoothing IPA, and Volumizing Pale Ale. Though we don't recommend drinking from the mahogany bottles, they give a much different meaning to the recent shower beer trend. 

Brewer's yeast, malt, and hops are loaded with B vitamins and other essential minerals (this is why vegan's love the stuff.) Carlsberg's concept ­— and the idea behind Redken and BROO's versions — is to provide a topical Vitamin B treatment, which could result in shinier hair. Bodemer notes that applying products, even generic shampoos or expensive oils, with Vitamin B compounds isn't always successful since hair is a dead structure. Think of it like a fingernail — once it grows out, there isn't too much you can do to alter its state.

Hair does have a cuticle though — a waxy coating responsible for shine and hydration — and it works by locking in oils so your hair stays flexible, strong, and shiny. Cuticles can also absorb hydration from new sources, which is why there are thousands of conditioning products to choose from. Shampoo removes dirt and oil from the cuticle, and so can other highly acidic substances. This is where home remedies like beer and vinegar come in.

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"A beer or vinegar rinse will strip hair of oil, essentially providing you with a clean slate," Bodemer says. After, apply conditioner to bring all the moisture back, and so you don't smell like you just poured a stout all over yourself.

The bottom line — a real vitamin B deficiency will turn out hair that is dry and brittle. In this case, you probably need a multivitamin instead of a topical treatment. But if you are just looking for something new, Beauty Beer can't hurt. We haven't smelled it, but we bet it's more pleasant than bathing in pilsner.