Egg protein and hair
When you crack open a raw egg, you reveal two distinct parts: the yellow egg yolk and egg white (albumen). While the yolk contains all the fat in the egg, the egg white contains most of the protein.
Egg whites are complete proteins containing all the essential amino acids. You need protein in your diet to build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body — including your hair.
Protein for healthy hair
The hair shaft has three layers:
- Medulla. This is the soft, inner layer of the hair shaft, only seen in large and thick hairs.
- Cortex. This middle layer of the hair shaft provides the hair’s strength, color, and texture.
- Cuticle. This is the thin, colorless outer layer of the hair shaft that protects the cortex.
Your hair shaft is largely keratin, a fibrous protein that is also the main structural component of your nails. When your diet includes the proper amount of protein, you’re giving your body what it needs to produce stronger, healthier hair.
The benefits include:
- a stronger cortex, which makes your hair less likely to form split ends and break
- a strengthened, smoother cuticle to make your hair shinier
Proper intake of protein is critical to healthy hair. Research shows that women who don’t consume enough protein can experience hair thinning, fragility, and loss. Chemical treatments, heated styling techniques, and environmental oxidation also contribute to protein loss in your hair.
How to use egg whites for hair
While proper intake of protein has been shown to promote healthy hair, some people also use egg white as a hair mask on their scalp and locks to repair damage and reverse hair loss.
Some claim that using an egg white hair mask cleanses the scalp of excess oils, strengthens hair, promotes growth, and fights dandruff. You can use the egg white alone as a mask or combine it with other nutrient-rich ingredients such as coconut oil.
To make and apply an egg white hair mask:
- Over a small bowl, separate the whites from the yolks of two eggs, reserving the yolks for another use.
- Add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to the egg whites.
- Whisk the egg whites and oil together.
- Apply the egg/oil mixture to damp hair.
- Distribute the mixture from hair roots to tips using your fingers.
- Comb the mixture through your hair with a wide-toothed comb, making sure it coats every strand.
- Let the mixture soak in for 20 minutes.
- Shampoo your hair with cool water — warm or hot water could "cook" the mixture in your hair.
- Dry your hair as usual.
Although there is no scientific support for the direct application of egg whites contributing to the health of your hair, many people believe that the high protein of egg whites alone can make hair stronger. They also suggest that egg whites combined with other ingredients — such as castor oil, lemon juice, yogurt, honey, banana, and apple cider vinegar — will address conditions such as dry scalp, split ends, and dandruff.
Potential risks of using egg whites
There are few risks in using egg whites as a protein source. However, egg whites should be cooked before you eat them to avoid potential food poisoning from the bacteria Salmonella.
If you’re allergic to eggs, you shouldn’t apply this ingredient to any part of your body, including your hair. Same goes for the other ingredients suggested for hair masks.
Egg whites provide necessary dietary protein for you to build, repair, and maintain your body — including your hair. Using egg whites directly on your hair is considered by many to be a low-cost way to improve the appearance and promote the growth of hair.
While there are some success stories in using this home treatment, more research needs to be done to determine its effectiveness.
Before trying this home remedy, ask your doctor about alternative treatments for hair loss, breakage, or a dry scalp.
If you experience irregular symptoms from using an egg white hair mask, stop use immediately.