According to one survey, the average woman spends more than $50,000 on hair over her lifetime! That breaks down to a staggering $1,130 per month on hair care.
The figure might even be lowballing it for some people. A Huffington Post article asked women how much they spend on their hair each year and many of them reported well over $3,000 per year. One woman reportedly spends more than $10k per year to maintain her “crown” of “vintage lace.”
While I personally understand the drive to have great hair, I’m truly shocked that people are shelling out so much money for fancy hair care products.
Because they could easily make their hair stronger and shinier with a cheap, readily-available product: gelatin.
How Hair Grows
In order to understand how gelatin improves hair, you’ve got to understand how hair grows.
- Follicles: Hair grows out of follicles in the skin. Follicles are basically sheaths of collagen which hold the hair in place and nurture them.
- Papilla: The papilla is what links the follicle to the rest of the body. It is also made from collagen.
- Hair Bulb: The hair bulb is located right above the papilla. The papilla provides the hair with nutrients to make new hair cells.
Here is how it works:
Your hair starts growing from the matrix. Protein cells divide and are pushed up through the hair shaft. The papilla provides nutrients for the cells.
As the protein cells are pushed upwards, they go through a process called keratinization. The hair cells are filled with fibrous proteins and lose their nucleus (which is why we say hair is dead).
As the dead hair cells stack up, the hair is pushed out of the follicle and our hair “grows.” The hair that exits the skin is just a strand of woven keratin proteins – about 91% proteins to be exact.
How Gelatin Supports Hair Growth
If you want to have strong, thick hair, it is really important that your hair follicle and papilla are healthy. And what are the follicle and papilla made of? Collagen.
Collagen is a type of protein that primarily consists of the amino acids glycine and proline.
What else is collagen? Yes, gelatin.
Gelatin is just boiled-down collagen which has been dried and pulverized into a powder for easier use. In the past, people used to naturally eat a lot of gelatin in the form of bone broth. Today, we no longer consume the parts of the animals which are rich in collagen. As a result, we are getting too many of the amino acids which are found in muscle meat and not enough collagen amino acids. This is not only bad news for our hair, but for our entire health!
By consuming gelatin, you will be giving yourself a much-needed source of collagen. The extra collagen supports your hair follicles and papilla. The larger and stronger they are, the stronger and healthier your hair will be. (Source 1, 2)
You Need to EAT the Gelatin
You’ll note that I said you need to consume gelatin if you want to make your hair stronger and healthier.
While there are benefits of using a gelatin hair mask (more on that below), you can’t just rub collagen into your scalp and expect your follicle and papilla to get stronger. Some nutrients do get absorbed through the skin (such as zinc) but collagen isn’t one of them.
I like the analogy used at Smart Skincare:
“Imagine you live in a brick house and your neighbor is throwing bricks at it. Will your walls become stronger or smoother? Of course not: those bricks will simply lay scattered on the ground.”
Unfortunately, it will take a long time before you see results from eating gelatin – especially since hair takes so long to grow.
However, while you are eating all that gelatin for your hair, you’ll also be doing a lot of other good for your body.
- Gelatin is a source of protein: Not only is this good for your muscles, but since hair is made from protein, the extra protein will ultimately help your hair too.
- Gelatin is good for your skin: As a source of collagen, gelatin can even help you fight wrinkles!
- Gelatin improves mental health: The neurotransmitter glycine in gelatin is calming and fights anxiety.
- Gelatin is great for bones and joints: Considering that gelatin is made from bones and connective tissues, it shouldn’t be surprising that it is good for your bones and joints.
- Gelatin helps your digestive health: This is the most important benefit because health starts in the digestive tract. You can read more about this here.
To learn more about the health benefits of gelatin, read The Gelatin Secret. You’ll get lots of information about gelatin, how to use it, and dozens of great recipes too!
Gelatin Hair Mask Recipe
Again, you can’t just rub gelatin onto your hair and expect your hair health to improve. You must eat gelatin to get real benefits. In this sense, beauty really does come from within!
However, gelatin hair masks skill can help your hair (and are a lot cheaper than those expensive salon treatments).
The reason that the gelatin hair mask works so well is because gelatin is a protein (remember, your hair is 91% protein). Collagen also remarkably resembles keratin in that they are both types of fibrous proteins. They even share some of the same amino acids. (Source)
After doing this gelatin hair mask a few times, you’ll notice that your hair is softer and shinier without being greasy.
- 1 Tbsp gelatin powder: I use this brand of gelatin.
- ½ cup cool water
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- Mix the gelatin powder with the cool water
- Then add the warm water and mix
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix
- Apply to your hair and let sit at least 5 minutes
- If your hair is really lackluster, you might need to do this 3x a week for starters
Note: you can also make your own hair gel out of gelatin! Mix ¼ tsp gelatin with ½ cup hot water. Let it set and add essential oils if you want. Now you’re ready to go! Just remember to keep it stored in the refrigerator and it will last about 2 weeks.
Have you tried gelatin for your hair? How did it work? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!