Happy St. Patrick's Day! To celebrate, grab two bottles of Guinness: One for yourself, and one for your hair and skin. It's St. Patty's DIY Day!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ST. PATRICK'S DAY – IT'S ABOUT MORE THAN BEER
Though March 17th was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century, over time and through the Irish diaspora, St. Patrick's Day has become a celebration of Irish heritage and culture that is celebrated in more countries than any other festival.1 There are parades, shamrocks (an Irish symbol of the holy trinity2), lots of green (please, please stop dying rivers green), soda bread, corned beef and cabbage, and – of course – lots and lots of Guinness.
There's a common misconception that St. Patrick's Day is associated with heavy drinking because of racist stereotypes of the Irish. In fact, the origin of the shenanigans is closer to that of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday, which is the last hurrah before the Christian season of Lent, traditionally a time of temperance. Though St. Patrick's day falls during Lent, historically, restrictions on food and drink were lifted for the feast day, and voila, a trend of over the top partying was born.2
GUINNESS IS GOOD FOR YOU(R HAIR AND SKIN)
It may sound like a stretch, but there's some truth to the company's 1920's slogan, "Guinness is good for you." Made with barley, roasted malt, hops, and brewer's yeast, Guinness contains protein, a whole slew of B vitamins, silicon (one of the most important and most basic building blocks of the human body, not to be confused with silicone), sugars, antioxidants, iron, fiber, calcium, folate, and more (phew!).3,4 While it's true that the nutrients found in Guinness do more for your body when consumed (bioavailability, yadda, yadda), there are still benefits to applying the quaff topically to hair and skin.
So, in honor of Guinness, which is as good for you as any beer can be (not very),*(Nutritional Aside about Guinness) I decided to do what any normal adult would do, and go to the store, buy a six pack of Guinness, and come home and put it on my face and in my hair.
WHY BEER IN YOUR HAIR IS A GOOD IDEA.
I know you don't believe me, but I swear, in moderation, it's true. A simple Guinness hair rinse is an easy, festive, effective way of making limp, dull, lifeless hair (I'm listening) voluminous, thick, and shiny (yas!). Of course, let's moderate expectations and acknowledge that these are modest changes, not magic (but, just in case, accio, gorgeous hair!).
As mentioned above, Guinness contains all sorts hair-boosting nutrients, but we need to understand a bit about hair to appreciate them. When we talk about topical hair treatments, we're really talking about the cuticle, the outermost layer of the hair shaft, which consists of several layers of overlapping cells, like roofing shingles. When hair is happy, these cells of the cuticle lie flat and smooth. When they're unhappy, because they've been damaged by heat styling, harsh weather, pollution, or hair treatments, they stick up and cause hair to be rough, dry, and breakage prone. Plainly, it looks and feels bad.
The proteins from the barley and hops battle hair damage by binding to and smoothing the cuticle, providing strength, and restoring body. Improving the cuticle health also adds shine by providing a smoother surface off of which to reflect light. Components like yeast, B vitamins, silicon, and sugars help hair out by swelling the hair shaft, adding thickness, and tightening the cuticle to create volume and shine. Beer is also said to stimulate circulation in the scalp, which is excellent for hair health and growth. Plus, Guinness is a pH of 4.5 (yes, I tested it with a pH strip. You're welcome.), which means it supports the natural pH of hair, which is critical for keeping the cuticle happy (more on pH and hair another time).
THE GUINNESS HAIR RINSE RECIPE
Admit it, you're curious. So, how do you do it?
- Get yourself some Guinness. (No, this is not a sponsored post, but Guinnesss, if you're reading, please send more beer.)
- Pour out a glass and leave it out to go flat. This step is critical if you've bought Guinness Extra Stout because it's carbonated with Carbon Dioxide like an average beer. When CO2 interacts with water, it creates hard water, which can make rinsing a total pain. On the other hand, one of the things that makes the original Guinness Draught special is that it's carbonated with Nitrogen (so cool). To be honest, I have no idea what chemical reactions might occur when it hits water, so might as well play it safe and let it fizzle out too. I left mine out overnight.
- Hop in the shower and shampoo your hair. While still in the shower, pour your flat Guinness through your hair, from roots to ends, massage it in, and let sit for 1-3 minutes. (Guinness Draught is 4.3% ABV. While this is quite low alcohol, alcohol is drying, so if your hair is fine, dry, or delicate, leave it on for less time.)
- Rinse it out!
- Let hair air dry.
- Enjoy! That's it!
A FEW IMPORTANT NOTES
1) Beer may interact with color-treated hair. If you've colored your hair in the last six months, skip this and scroll down to the face mask.
2) The modest beer scent evaporates as it dries, so I wouldn't recommend doing anything important like picking up your kid from daycare right after rinsing.
3) This treatment is probably best for folks with thin, fine hair. If you have hair that's thicker than Gollum's, I'd put conditioner in your ends as a detangling strategy, otherwise you might be a bit miserable.
I have to admit to being super skeptical when I got out of the shower with my wet, tangly, not conditioner-smoothed hair, but once it dried, my hair felt thicker and more voluminous with a bit more texture. It's also surprisingly soft. When I do this again, I'll try mixing in a cap of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for extra shine and residue removal, and maybe a couple drops of Rosemary Essential Oil for extra scalp stimulation. I'll also throw conditioner on my ends. For this first round, though, I wanted to see what beer would do on its own.
THE GUINNESS, OAT, AND HONEY FACE MASK
The most compelling reason to put beer on your face is because of the unicellular micro-organism called saccaromyces cereviseae that make up brewer's yeast. Because they proliferate so quickly, these tiny organisms overpower and hinder the reproduction of acne-friendly bacteria. Essentially, it's a case of probiotics for your skin. Brewer's yeast has also been found to slow sebum (the skin's natural oil) production and to help the skin to maintain its proper pH balance. The B vitamins and panthothenic acid found in beer also help to sooth dryness, and leave skin soft and smooth.
Because I was concerned with the potential drying effects of the alcohol in this lovely Guinness, I decided to craft a mask that would also sooth and moisturize my skin. Et, voila – Guinness with oats and honey. It also sounds delicious, if I do say so myself.
Oats are awesome for the skin. They contain antioxidants and natural cleansers called saponins, they're anti-inflammatory, and gently exfoliate.
Honey also happens to be great for acne, as it's antibacterial, and is also full of antioxidants, helps to lighten age spots, is a humectant (draws moisture to the skin), and is soothing.
THE GUINNESS, OATS, AND HONEY FACE MASK RECIPE
- Get regular old Organic Rolled Oats. Pulverize said oats to a flour in a blender or food processor of your choosing. The finer you get it, the less chunky your mask will be. I suppose you could also use oat flour for this, but I didn't have that on hand. If you're gluten sensitive, make sure you have a gluten-free variety.
- Put 2 TBSP of ground oats in your mini mixing bowl of choice.
- Add 1 TBSP of Organic, Raw, Unfiltered Honey.
- Add 1 TBSP of Guinness.
- Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the oats to absorb the Guinness. This helps with gloopiness. (I believe that's a technical term.)
- Mix, mix, mix! Spread an even layer on clean face, avoiding eyes (I would say mouth, but worse things have happened than some of this getting in your mouth).
- Leave mask on for 15 minutes and rinse over a drain catch of some sort so you're not washing the oats down your drain.
- Enjoy your smooth, glowing skin!
I liked this mask so much, I did it two days in a row, and will continue to steal a tablespoon whenever there's an open beer to do this again. My skin also felt plump, lightly exfoliated with a fresh finish, and the warmth of stimulated circulation lingered for a healthy amount of time (good for skin health). It's seriously excellent.
Have you tried beer in your hair or on your skin before?