Photo: Common Health Myths

What does mayo do to your hair as a conditioner?

Mayonnaise as we know it is a thick, white condiment for food uses. Through magazines, grandma’s passed down beauty tricks and out of sheer curiosity, mayonnaise has also become something of a side beauty aid.

It has often been used (successfully and unsuccessfully) as an inexpensive way to make hair soft and shiny.

This leaves us with several common unanswered questions such as what does mayo do to your hair? Does mayo really help damaged hair? Can mayonnaise make your hair grow? Can I leave mayonnaise in my hair overnight?

Let’s get down to answering those questions.

First of all, you need to understand what mayonnaise is made of. When whipped together, the eggs, oil and acidic liquid, usually of vinegar or lemon juice, produce what is referred to as mayo.

To answer the question what does mayo do to your hair? As a treatment, mayonnaise is lathered into the hair and left for hair to absorb it’s natural ingredients, which is supposed to produce soft, shiny hair.

Since mayonnaise consists of a handful of natural ingredients, it can be left in overnight the same as any purchased or homemade hair treatment.

The oil, in particular, is suppose to penetrate the hair shaft to create this soft, shiny hair that many expect to be the result from using mayonnaise as an at-home hair treatment, however, that does not always happen.

The reason that does not always happen is due to the type of oil with which the mayo is made. Regardless if it’s store bought or homemade, mayo made with low-grade oils unable to penetrate the hair shaft will not produce soft, shiny hair, at least not for very long. The reason is because commonly used oils such as vegetable, canola, soybean or a mixture of such oils, cannot be absorbed by the hair shaft.

At best, those types of oils will coat the hair shaft and may help a little with moisture retention, but the effects will be lost after a wash or two.

Using a high-grade oil product such as olive oil, on the other hand, will produce a much more favorable outcome since human hair can absorb olive oil. There are several oils that the hair shaft can absorb, but those are not used to make mayonnaise.

When you buy a less expensive store brand of mayonnaise for example, you are purchasing mayo that is most likely made with a low grade vegetable or combination oil, oils that the hair shaft cannot absorb.

Buying a higher priced mayonnaise brand that uses olive oil is not only better for you when used as a food product, but will also produce more favorable soft hair results. Olive oil has the ability to not only coast the hair shaft to add shine, it also penetrates the hair shaft and adds nourishment.

It is for these reasons that sometimes mayo works, and sometimes it does not. It’s all in the oil the manufacturer uses to make the mayonnaise you’ve chosen as a hair treatment.

You need to keep in mind that manufacturers make mayo to be consumed as a food product, not a hair product, so finding mayo made with other oils such as avocado, for example, is much better for you health-wise, but won’t work for you hair-wise, since avocado oil cannot penetrate the hair shaft.

What does mayo do to your hair as a hair conditioner?

If you’re wondering can mayonnaise can make your hair grow, the answer is no. According to PubMed.gov, hair growth is built into our genes. It’s those genetic factors that determine our hair thickness, color, texture and length.

A simple solution to the mayo hair treatment conundrum would be to skip the mayo-mess all together and use an oil that the hair can absorb. Natural oils such as olive, castor and coconut are great conditioners that can be left on overnight if applied as a treatment or just simply finger-applied every day or two to wet or damp hair after washing.

In order for these oils to work well, they need to be on your hair for at least 20 minutes.