If you have dry, frizzy hair and feel like you’ve tried everything, a new trend gaining steam may be the solution you’ve been searching for — and it’s tinier than your pinky nail. Flaxseed is one of the oldest crops in the world and has long been touted for all its nutritional benefits. And lately the buzz about flaxseeds is less about all the ways eating the tiny seeds can make you feel great and more about how applying them topically in gel form can help strengthen, repair and even grow your hair and soothe an inflamed and itchy scalp. Keep scrolling to learn more about the benefits of flaxseed gel for hair.
What are flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds, also called linseed, come from the flax plant. Flaxseeds are tiny, oily seeds chock-full of healthy fats, antioxidants and fiber. “These small but mighty seeds are considered a superfood as they have many health-promoting benefits, are nutrient-rich and have several bioactive components,” says Esteffany Erskine, lead esthetician at Virgin Hotels NYC exhale spa. When ingested, flaxseeds have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, autoimmune and neurological disorders.
They have also been touted as a natural form of Botox when used on skin. In fact, one study published in the Journal Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry showed that when applied topically, flaxseed oil reduced fine wrinkles and provided a soft and smooth surface while keeping the skin hydrated for 8-10 hours after application. (Click through to learn more about flaxseed benefits for skin.)
What are the benefits of flaxseed gel for hair?
Doctors say that when made into a gel and applied to hair, they can be a magic recipe for hydrating parched strands for a fraction of the cost of pricy hair masks. Studies have shown that flaxseeds are a consistent source of vitamin B, a recognized nutrient for helping make hair stronger and healthier. Flaxseeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids (which encourage circulation in the scalp and promote hair growth) and lignans (which inhibit bacterial growth and reduce hair loss).
“Flaxseed is a versatile natural product that can benefit various hair types, especially when used regularly,” says Alan J. Bauman, MD, ABHRS, IAHRS, FISHRS, founder, CEO and medical director of Bauman Medical Hair Transplant & Hair Loss Treatment Center. “Its natural properties make it an excellent option for those looking to improve hair health using natural remedies,” he explains.
Flaxseeds help your hair grow longer and thicker
“Flaxseeds are packed with vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for healthy hair growth,” explains Dr. Bauman. “These omega-3 fatty acids nourish the hair follicles at the root, promoting healthy hair growth.”
Flaxseeds can nourish and soothe a dry scalp
While a dry scalp can cause an unbearable itch and white flakes to fall, unlike dandruff, which is caused by excess sebum production in the scalp, a dry scalp happens when the skin has lost its moisture barrier. Women over 50 can see an even larger occurrence of the condition because of the lack of estrogen that occurs during menopause. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for sebum production in the scalp. The natural oils in flaxseed oil can battle help to moisturize and hydrate the scalp and reduce scalp inflammation, says Dr. Bauman.
Flaxseeds can prevent hair breakage and reverse damage
“Regular use of flaxseed gel on the hair can seal the hair’s cuticle and make it more elastic and less prone to breakage,” explains Dr. Bauman. The vitamin E in the flaxseed also nourishes and improves blood flow to the scalp, promoting the development of new hair growth and preventing breakage in the process.
How can I make a flaxseed gel mask for hair?
The best part about this natural remedy is it’s cheap and easy! Dr. Bauman breaks down this deep conditioning treatment for damaged hair step-by-step:
You’ll need whole flaxseeds (you can purchase at most grocery stores or on Amazon), plain tap water and optional ingredients like essential oils (we like rosemary oil which has many benefits to hair and is especially helpful for thinning hair) and honey (for an extra boost of hydration). You can also add two tablespoons of rice water, which we know can help add shine and reverse hair thinning.
- Boil 3 Tbs. flaxseeds in 4 cups of water on medium heat and simmer until the liquid thickens to a gel-like consistency. Strain the gel and let it cool. Mix in other ingredients if desired.
- Dampen your hair, and using your hands, apply the flaxseed gel to your scalp and hair (the gel clings better to wet strands). Massage it in gently, being sure to saturate the hair thoroughly.
- Leave it on for about 30 minutes to an hour. You can put it up in a clip or under a shower cap.
- Rinse off with lukewarm water and follow with your regular shampoo and conditioner.
Since regular use is critical to reap its benefits, you can do this once a week or more if you’re prone to dry, brittle hair and breakage.
This YouTube video shows how to make and use the mask:
Can you get the flaxseed benefits for hair without the DIY gel?
If you don’t want to go DIY, Dr. Bauman says simply add flaxseeds to your diet and get the same hair-healthy benefits. You can add a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal, make a smoothie, add it to the mayo on your sandwich, mix it into some yogurt or bake it in muffins or cookies, says the Mayo Clinic. You don’t need more than 4-5 tablespoons per day. You can also buy hair products containing flaxseeds:
- A flaxseed bonnet: Heat Cap for Deep Conditioning & Oil Treatments, a heated conditioning bonnet which has flaxseed built right into its fibers (Buy from Amazon, $29.95) and can be used in conjunction with the conditioning treatment of your choice. “These bonnets contain flaxseed oil or are designed to work with flaxseed treatments. They help in overnight deep conditioning, retaining moisture and enhancing the effectiveness of the flaxseed mask,” says Dr. Bauman.
- A pre-made gel: Organic Netra has done the work for you with this flaxseed gel in a jar (Buy from Amazon, $12.89) that can also be used on the face and body (Dr. Bauman advises doing a patch test first).
- Shampoos: Flaxseeds can also be found in many haircare products but may not be as strong as the gel. “Shampoos, conditioners and hair gels with flaxseed extract can provide similar benefits but may have varying effectiveness based on their formulation,” adds Dr. Bauman.
And when in doubt, consult a professional. “It’s important to remember that while natural remedies can be beneficial, professional guidance is invaluable in ensuring they align with your needs and underlying health conditions,” advises Dr. Bauman. “Consulting a trichologist is a proactive step towards maintaining healthy hair and scalp. They can provide personalized advice based on your hair type and condition, ensuring that treatments like flaxseed masks are beneficial and not counterproductive.”
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