Fact or Fiction: Hair can benefit from a weekly mayonnaise hair treatment.

Written by Melissa Picoli-Phillips, L.E., founder of Skin + Sky

Try as they might, there are often times when even the most brilliant, well-funded product developers get a run for their money by inexpensive, food-based products. Hair masks are an example of this conundrum. A stroll through any well-stocked hair aisle will provide dozens of masks promising shine, bounce, health, and manageability of even the most bleached-out, porous hair. Many of those products actually do what they say they will.

Once rinsed, the hair feels soft, is beautifully fragranced and might even seem shinier and more manageable.

Hair is comprised of 90 percent keratin, which can only be synthesized by what is consumed and the vitamins and nutrients the body is able to utilize. Once the hair pushes through the scalp, what is consumed no longer matters. It becomes entirely about how it is treated. If each strand of hair is thought of as a fiber, it becomes easier to understand how it is dependent on both moisture from water and a barrier, such as an oil, to remain pliable and strong. Any fiber will begin to split and break if it dries out or is not well cared for.

A classic go-to hair mask, which costs a fraction of any salon product, is mayonnaise. Classic mayonnaise is made of only three ingredients: oil, eggs, and vinegar. The misunderstanding about mayonnaise hair masks is that people confuse it with a protein mask because it contains eggs. The protein in mayonnaise is not hydrolyzed, meaning that the molecule size is too large to fill gaps in the keratin hair fibers. Mayonnaise will not add protein to the hair shaft simply because it contains proteins. It can, however, be used as a weekly product to maintain the hair's integrity, strength, and shine.jar

Mayonnaise works in a couple different ways to benefit the hair's appearance. One of the most interesting attributes is its ability to help break down hard water and product build-up. Almost everyone deals with some kind of mineral deposits in their water or an over-use of styling products. Vinegar, one of the primary ingredients in mayonnaise, is an acid, which helps scrub away alkaline deposits left behind from minerals and products on the
hair shaft.

Lecithin, which is abundant in egg yolks, is amphiphilic. It has the rare ability to attract and bind both moisture and fat molecules. The hair shaft needs water on the inside and a fatty barrier on the outside in order to prevent breakage. Lecithin provides both, especially when coupled with the last active ingredient in mayonnaise, oil. A good-quality oil is potentially the most important ingredient in skin, hair, and possibly overall health.

While using a mayonnaise hair mask, the vinegar removes build-up, the lecithin helps the hair shaft retain moisture, and the oil coats each strand for protection. Each ingredient serves a distinct purpose. As a protein treatment, mayonnaise really does not provide much. Its real star power is as an overall preparative treatment.

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