- Broo is one of several companies selling shampoo, conditioner, and other personal-care products made with the main ingredients in beer: water, hops, yeast, and barley.
- Broo’s co-founder told Insider the ingredients are great for shiny, healthy hair, and that women have been using “beer rinses” for that purpose for ages.
- A dermatologist said some of the ingredients in beer could theoretically benefit hair, but other ingredients lack an evidence base.
- The best kind of shampoos and conditioners tend to be marketed for color-treated hair since they have gentle ingredients.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more.
Beer enthusiasts either have another way to celebrate suds or an occasion to mourn alcohol getting washed down the drain.
A company called Broo is selling shampoo, conditioner, and other personal-care products made with barley, hops, water, and yeast – also known as the four essential ingredients in beer.
“It’s the B vitamins, the minerals that are in the beer from barley, from the hops, from the wheat … that make hair look great,” Broo co-founder Brad Pearsall told Insider at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.
Taking beer “from the saloon to the salon,” as Pearsall says, isn’t entirely new, and Broo isn’t the only company selling beer-infused hair products. But a dermatologist told Insider that while some ingredients in beer could theoretically benefit your coif, they’re not proven to treat conditions like hair loss.
The best hair-care products, dermatologists say, tend to be those sold at salons and products meant for color-treated hair, since they have fewer harsh ingredients.
‘Beer rinses’ have a rich history
The idea for Broo started around 2010, when Pearsall’s wife Sarah began buying new natural shampoos after reading the chemicals in more mainstream products could affect their teenage daughter’s development.
“If you want be natural with your hair, why don’t you just do what we did in college and rinse your hair with beer?” Pearsall remembered his mom asking. Sarah’s mom confirmed she had done the same. They both said they had wanted to look like Jackie Kennedy, who reportedly used the method.
“If Budweiser was good enough for my mom back in the day, how much better would craft beer be?” Pearsall said. After all, the couple lived in Asheville, North Carolina, home of the most craft breweries per capita in the country at the time.
Broo launched in 2012, but it’s not the only product that can give your hair a buzz.
Duffy’s Brew makes a craft IPA shampoo and conditioner, and the German company Logona sells a honey beer shampoo in which beer (actual beer, not deconstructed) is an ingredient. Lush sells a “pub-inspired” shampoo “made with organic vegan stout from a local brewery.”
There’s even a beer spa set to open in Denver, complete with beer tubs and a hop- and barley-infused saunas. The spa’s co-founder told the Denver Post his grandparents doused their tresses with beer in France in the 1960s.
Just this month, nuns partnering with the monks behind the Westmalle Trappist Brewery announced they’d make a shampoo with one of the ales, according to Food and Wine.
- Anna Medaris Miller
Some ingredients in beer could benefit hair, but the substance can’t treat medical conditions
B vitamins, proteins, and minerals are commonly cited beer nutrients that double as hair beautifiers, and experts say there’s some truth to the claims.
“Because beer is rich in proteins and vitamins, through the natural barley and hops, it does contain nutrients for helping to develop healthy hair,” Dr. Ryan Welter, a Massachusetts-based hair restoration surgeon, told Fox News in 2017. “Many people have thus seen the benefits of fuller, thicker and more bodied hair through the use of a beer rinse.”
Not all proteins are created equal. In order for them to effectively strengthen hair, the molecules need to be small, Dr. Kristen Lo Sicco, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, said.
“It turns out the [barley] grain does contain multiple proteins, but unfortunately I can’t comment on whether or not their sizes are small enough to deeply penetrate the hair shaft to provide more strength,” she told Insider.
When it comes to B vitamins and particularly biotin, which is often promoted as a hair- and nail-strengthening supplement, “there isn’t any science to prove it helps with hair growth or to cure any hair loss,” Lo Sicco said.
- Radu Bercan/Shutterstock
Look for color-treated options or salon-grade products
A good rule of thumb for shampoo purchases is to look for products marketed for color-treated hair, even if your hair isn’t dyed. “They tend to have ingredients that are less harsh cleansers,” Lo Sicco said, adding that you should never shampoo without conditioning in order to replace the sebum, or the scalp’s oily secretions, that shampoo strips away.
Oscar Blandi, owner of New York’s Oscar Blandi Salon, previously told Insider another safe bet when shopping for hair-care products is to stick to the salon. While drugstore products seem like a better deal, they’re often diluted with water and made with poorer-quality ingredients, he said.
Still, there’s no harm in using a beer-infused hair product. “I don’t think there’s a huge risk involved,” she said. “It would be worth shot if you wanted to adventure out to try new products, and especially if you have passion for beer.”