Leading trichologist Philip Kingsley explains whether bizarre old wives’ tales hair treatments really work.
Bizarre hair treatment 1: BEER
This is an extremely old-fashioned method, but when all the liquid evaporates from the hair as it dries, a residue of hops and barley from the beer is left.
This coating does give the hair more body and weight, but you’ll be walking around smelling like a brewery. It’s also quite expensive – though I’m sure Michael Winner can afford it.
Bizarre hair treatment 2: RAIN WATER
Rain water is soft, it has no hardness like the water you get through your tap in many areas. Before modern shampoos, it would have helped hair to stay soft and shiny. But now good shampoos work regardless of hard water, so this is only for the eco-warriors.
Bizarre hair treatment 3: OLIVE OIL
I’m afraid that all the olive groves in Italy won’t counteract dryness unless it’s mixed with water into a creamy emulsion, so it can penetrate the hair and do some good. Olive Oil straight from the bottle will just sit on the hair and make it look like you’ve been caught in a rain storm.
Bizarre hair treatment 4: VINEGAR
Far from removing the grease, vinegar just lifts it and redistributes it along the hair – not an appetising thought. However the more acidic your hair, the smoother it looks, so it could help with shine. But as with beer, you will have the unpleasant smell issue.
Bizarre hair treatment 5: EGG
Lecithin, a protein in the yolk, will coat the hair, but it won’t penetrate it. It’s not bad, but it won’t compete with even a relatively cheap conditioner. If you do try it, don’t rinse it out with hot water as your hair will smell like an English breakfast.
Bizarre hair treatment 6: MAYONNAISE
The combination of oil, water and waxes in the product means that, theoretically, it could help to moisturise the hair cells although it’s probably more expensive than most standard conditioners.
Bizarre hair treatment 7: GREEN TEA
The antioxidants in the tea can help keep hair in good condition, but its most surprising benefit is that it can help men hold on to their hair for a bit longer.
It does this by blocking an enzyme which helps convert the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, a chemical which encourages hair loss.
Bizarre hair treatment 8: LEMON JUICE
The citric acid in the lemon acts like a bleach to lift the colour of blonde or fair hair. But no hair salon would use lemon to lighten hair as you can’t control the level of acid.
Bizarre hair treatment 9: CHAMOMILE TEA
Used since ancient Egyptian times, the natural dyes in chamomile colour the hair yellow, in the same way that henna turns hair red but it’s impossible to control the outcome and the result can be rather brassy.
Bizarre hair treatment 10: WITCH HAZEL
It’s a really good way of lessening oil flow to the scalp. Witch hazel is soothing but also an astringent, which means it tightens up the cells and reduces the size of blood vessels. You have to leave it on for a while to have an effect, but this is a pretty good one and, unlike most of the others, it does work.
Bizarre hair treatment 11: COCA-COLA
This does work to an extent as it will leave a residue that would give body and volume, as the sugar coats the hair. But you still risk stickiness and I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive scalps.
Bizarre hair treatment 12: BANANA
This might smell rather nice but that’s about it. According to UKHairdressers.com:
“For a brilliant deep conditioning treatment liquidise a banana, add some wheatgerm oil, and a few drops of aromatherapy oil (to counteract the banana smell) spread through middle to end of hair lengths and leave for a while. Wash and condition hair as normal after, and Voila!”
In our view, it will not penetrate the hair and, therefore, will have no effect at all. You’d be far better off eating it.
Bizarre hair treatment 13: FABRIC SOFTENER
Hair is not like cotton, and I would never recommend people use this. Many people have a slight allergy to the chemicals in fabric softener, so putting it on your head is not a good idea.
Bizarre hair treatment 14: TOMATO KETCHUP
Every blonde who likes a swim has experienced that horrible green tinge after spending too long in the pool. This is not actually caused by chlorine as many believe, but by copper sulphate, put in the pool to kill algae. If this happens, you could reach for the tomato ketchup. As red and green are opposites on the colour spectrum, it seems that ketchup can neutralise the copper sulphate’s colour after an hour or so. A warning, though – it doesn’t always work.
Bizarre hair treatment 15: VODKA
As a pure alcohol, it will strip oil from the hair but this sort of alcohol is hygroscopic, which means it draws in moisture. While it could make hair cleaner, it would leave it dehydrated.
Bizarre hair treatment 16: ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER
I know top hairdressers who put a packet of it into the hair dye as they mix it to help avoid a reaction with the dye, but I couldn’t tell you why, it’s something of a scientific mystery.
Michael Winner: Why I start every day with a Heineken
Michael Winner revealed that he washes his hair every day in beer. Here he explains why.
“Hair is a diminishing asset. Most men start with it, then watch it deplete. It’s a case of hair today and gone tomorrow.”
“Not me. A few years ago, I’d look in the mirror in the morning and carefully arranged six strands of hair across my forehead in a pathetic attempt to make them look like 600.”
“I went to a tricologist, a very famous one. He grabbed my hair, pulled at it and displayed in his hand many strands of hair. ‘See!’ he said. ‘You need treatment.’ Since he’d nearly scalped me, I decided against it.”
“Then, 15 years ago I stumbled on a hair tonic, Regaine, which I thought would be a waste of time. I rubbed it in each morning. Lo and behold, hair began to grow.”
“My denuded forehead became robust. My scalp was alive with the sound of hair growing. (And no, I don’t get Regaine for free. I buy it at my local chemist – actually Regaine Extra Strength, which is even better.) I’ve recommended it to many big movie stars. It’s worked on all of them.”
“Now that I actually had some hair, the question was how to make it look – as they say on the telly – lustrous, rich and full of texture.”
“There’s an old wives’ tale that beer enhances the thickness of hair. Ten years ago, I decided to try it. It worked. Any beer will do, but I prefer Heineken lager, which always works well.”
“What you do is this: immediately after washing your hair, pour the lager onto it. In order to keep the shock at bay, first place the can of lager in a sink of hot water until it’s warmed, then pour. (One can is sufficient.)”
“Do not rinse the beer out of your hair. When your head is fully soaked, dab off the drops that fall around your face, and let it dry naturally. My assistant and hairdresser, Dinah May, sometimes does this for me, but I mostly do it myself. Then I rub in the Regaine.”
“Thanks to this routine, not only did my hair grow back, it was also thicker. It was lustrous. But it was yellowish (nothing to do with the beer; it just sometimes happens to people with white hair).”
“To stop the yellowing effect, my adorable fiance Geraldine Lynton-Edwards recommended L’Oreal Expert. This is a radiant dark blue shampoo which, supposedly, turns yellow hair back to white. Amazingly, it did. It’s so powerful you have to be careful not to become like the ladies with a blue rinse.”
“So after a couple of goes using just the anti-yellow stuff, mix it with another shampoo: about one-quarter L’Oreal Expert and three quarters the other. And, hey presto, the yellow tinge disappeared.”
“You should always wash your hair every day. Ignore those who say that doing so washes out all the natural oils. Because – wait for it – after the hair wash with the blue stuff, after the beer rinse, after the Regaine, you take any good hair conditioner, distribute it onto the palms of your hands and put that onto your scalp.”
“Do not rinse it off. That will provide the final touch. Your straggly, disappearing hair will look beautiful beyond belief. I’m not kidding. Do it.”