One of the most common recommendations for hair care is not regular showers, use of shampoo or conditioner, or taking a vitamin supplement. What is it? It's eggs!
Eggs have been recommended in pretty much every possible way for hair health. Some people recommend eating them, while others give you instructions on how to use them as a shampoo or conditioner replacement.
How can eggs help your hair, can they prevent hair loss, and how can you put their benefits into use? Read on to find out.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Before you can know why eggs may or may not be beneficial to your hair, you need to know what causes hair loss. There are actually only a few root causes of hair loss, so don't worry; while this will be educational, it won't be tedious.
Genetics. A family history of hair loss means you're fairly likely to get hair loss as well. Genetic hair loss tends to come in the form of pattern baldness, either male-pattern or female-pattern, gendered as appropriate. Women tend to have hair that thins out over time, while men have hairlines that recede and patches that go bald more completely. Genetics, unfortunately, aren't something that can be changed with a few eggs.
Medical conditions. There are a lot of different medical conditions that can cause hair loss. Hormonal changes in particular can lead to hair loss, so this includes large bodily changes like pregnancy, or conditions like hypothyroidism. Some of these conditions are temporary, while others may be chronic and require lifelong treatments to combat. Illnesses like ringworm can be temporary and treated, while mental disorders like trichotillomania may require careful management.
Medical treatments. In addition to medical conditions, there are medical treatments that can cause hair loss. The most well-known among these is radiation/chemotherapy as a cancer treatment. There are some other medications, such as those for high blood pressure and depression, which can also lead to hair loss as a side effect.
Stress. Your body reacts to stress, and some of those stress reactions might not actually be evident right away. A major stressful event, ranging from giving birth to a large auto accident or injury, delivers a huge jolt of stress hormones and other chemicals to the body. You won't lose hair right away, but weeks or months later, you may start losing hair as your body returns to normal. Luckily, this kind of hair loss is temporary, so long as the source of stress is temporary as well.
Hair treatments. Some harsh treatments like bleaches and dyes, heat treatments, and very tight braids like cornrows, can all lead to hair loss. In part, this is due to damage to the hair itself. Heat, for example, strips your hair of natural protective oils, making it stringy and thin and more likely to break or fall out. Hot oil treatments can damage the scalp, which leads to reduced or damaged hair follicles, which can be permanent.
Imbalanced Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a common additive to many hair and skin treatments, as well as a nutrient that's present in many foods. If you have too little vitamin A in your system, your body will struggle to produce hair, and you may lose hair or have thin hair. Conversely, too much vitamin A can also lead to hair loss. You need to strike the right balance for healthy hair.
Among all of these causes of hair loss, only a few of them are impacted by eggs. Eggs aren't going to change your genetic makeup, they aren't going to counteract a stressful event, and they aren't going to prevent scarring of the scalp. On the other hand, they can help counteract damaging hair treatments, might help with balancing hormone levels, and can restore natural oils to protect your existing hair.
The Many Benefits of Eggs
Eggs have a few different benefits, in whole and in part, for your hair. Some of those benefits only come if you eat the eggs, while others are more evident if you use the eggs as a topical treatment. Don't worry; there's more to it than just smearing an egg over your head and calling it a day. We'll get to that.
Eggs are rich in nutrients. Eggs are basically just sacks of nutrients waiting to be fertilized to produce an entire living creature. That means they're packed with a wide variety of nutrients to use as building blocks for development. Many of those nutrients are the same nutrients your body uses to stay healthy. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, and various nutritional compounds are all present.
Eggs contain vitamin A, which as mentioned above, can be great for hair in the right balance. You don't want to be eating two dozen eggs every day, but eating an egg or two for breakfast can be a great way to get more vitamin A for hair health. Just make sure to look at your diet for other sources of the vitamin to make sure you aren't getting too much more than the daily recommended dosage.
Eggs also have vitamin E, which is a natural antioxidant and nutrient that helps promote hair follicle health. Getting enough vitamin E helps keep your scalp healthy, and a healthy scalp promotes hair growth. You may not be able to reverse hair loss with this vitamin alone, but it's still a great nutrient.
Eggs are also full of biotin. Biotin is the common name for another vitamin, which is sometimes known as a B vitamin, B7, and is also occasionally known as vitamin H. Your body needs it to convert nutrients into energy, and it's also crucial for healthy skin and hair.
Another powerful nutrient in eggs is folate. Folate, or folic acid, is another nutrient that your body needs to produce healthy skin. Since your scalp is part of your skin, getting enough folate is crucial for healthy hair.
Eggs are high in iron as well, and iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world. If you aren't getting enough iron, you'll have a whole host of different problems, including anemia. Egg yolks contain plenty of iron for your diet.
While all of the above is dietary, you don't necessarily have to eat the eggs to get benefits for your hair. While it might sound strange, eggs can make a great topical treatment. There's some evidence to suggest that using egg yolks as a scalp treatment can promote the growth of new hair and the production of natural oils to protect your existing hair.
How to Use Eggs for Healthy Hair
The first and most common way to gain the benefits of eggs is to eat them. This tends to apply more if you're eating eggs directly, rather than foods that include eggs, like baked goods. Baked goods include many chemical reactions that might consume or transform the nutrients in the eggs and thus won't provide as much benefit.
Our favorite ways to eat eggs include:
- Soft-boil eggs to get a nicely cooked white but a creamy, runny yolk. Eat with some toast, or mix with a bit of ham and cheese, for a delicious breakfast.
- Hard-boil your eggs for a quick and easy snack throughout the day. Top them with a bit of salt, or cut them open and mix up the yolks with a few ingredients to make deviled eggs.
- Fried eggs are trivially easy to make with a good non-stick pan, and can form the core of a great breakfast. You can fry them with a runny yolk and dip some toast in them – or put them on toast with a little avocado – or you can fry up the yolk as well and make it part of a sandwich.
- Lightly scrambling and adding other healthy ingredients to eggs, like spinach, a protein, a bit of cheese, and some broccoli, can make a delicious omelet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- A single raw egg can be a hearty addition to a smoothie. You want to make sure you're getting eggs with clean, pasteurized shells to minimize the chances of any foodborne illnesses, though.
There are, of course, dozens upon dozens of different ways to just eat the eggs. Just adding 1-3 eggs to your diet daily will give you a ton of benefits, to your hair and to other bodily processes.
The second way to get hair benefits out of eggs is to create a hair mask. A hair mask is just a fancy way of saying “make an egg concoction to put on your head.” It doesn't sound glamorous, and it's pretty weird the first few times you try it, but it's not that much different from some of the other kinds of health treatments we've all tried.
There are several kinds of hair masks you can create.
Whole egg hair masks. Take a single whole egg – or two, if you have very long hair – and a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix them up until combined, but don't over-beat them into a meringue. Apply this mixture to your hair, both on your scalp and on the tips of your hair. Try to get as complete coverage as possible without getting too messy. Let this hair mask sit for at least 20 minutes, or as long as an hour.
Once the egg mask has sat for a while, it's time to wash it out. Wash out the mask with cool water. Don't use hot water, or you'll cook the egg, and then you're stuck with a hair omelet, and nobody wants that. Don't use shampoo when washing out the egg either, or you're just stripping all the benefits you put in. Use conditioner if you like, though it's not always necessary, and let your hair air dry. Remember, heat treatments – including hair dryers – can damage hair.
Apply this treatment about once or twice a week for best effect. More often and you'll just be treating your hair for no reason, and less often won't give you consistent benefits long enough to heal your scalp and refresh your hair.
Half egg hair masks. There are two kinds of hair masks here, each using only part of the egg. The process is exactly the same as the whole egg hair mask; take your partial egg, mix it with a tablespoon of olive oil, and beat it until smooth and combined. Apply this mixture to your hair and scalp, let it sit for 20+ minutes, and wash it out with cool water. Condition if desired, and repeat once or twice a week for best effect.
If you typically have dry hair, use an egg yolk mask. Instead of a whole egg, take 2-3 egg yolks. You can cook up the whites to eat, or save them for a meringue project later. Using just egg yolks helps rejuvenate the oils in your hair without stripping your hair of natural oils.
Conversely, if your hair is naturally oily, use an egg white mask. While many of the nutrients in an egg are in the yolk, that's more for dietary consumption than for topical treatments. Use two egg whites for each egg you would use in a mask, and follow the same process with the olive oil, beating, and treatment. Egg whites help control your natural hair oils without adding more fuel to the fire, so to speak.
Additive egg masks. In addition to just eggs and oil, you can add other ingredients to provide other benefits to your hair and scalp.
- Adding 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel to your hair masks adds in a variety of amino acids, lipids, and vitamins to help nourish and rejuvenate your scalp.
- Adding in some fenugreek and henna powder – let the fenugreek soak overnight before applying – has cooling properties and can help address a damaged scalp, such as from sun damage.
- Switching the olive oil for coconut oil gives you a range of different benefits to keep your scalp healthy.
There are other additives as well, so browse through common treatments and find one that addresses your specific concerns. With luck, a nice egg mask and a few eggs for breakfast will cure your hair loss concerns.