If you care about your health, appearance and natural solutions, applying a banana hair mask may be a good way to spend a Saturday. They’re a healthy choice for your hair and scalp if only because they don’t contain some of the harmful additives that other hair treatments might; according to a flood of health blogs and personal stories, they leave your hair soft and smooth; and if you’re an environmentalist, they’re a more peaceful alternative to traditional conditioners as a banana hair mask won’t flush toxins or chemicals down the drain down and into the water system—just a banana!
Is there Any Truth to This?
And while I, personally, am all for organic and gentle health solutions, I am not as psyched about false advertising. Similarly, if you’re looking for hair growth or scientific support that banana hair masks promote hair health, you may be out of luck.
While there is little to be said by scientists about bananas health benefits on the hair, if applied directly to the hair; there are indeed a load of benefits (including hair benefits) if ingested. They certainly play a role in health from the inside out, for a more holistic approach, after all they are packed with vitamins and healthy goodness. The George Mateljan Foundation maps bananas as a good source of:
- vitamin B6 manganese
- vitamin C (Also check out potato juice for this vitamin)
- dietary fiber
And, yes, many of these are linked with hair health when ingested, they are not necessarily as clear when applied topically in a hair mask and they certainly do not gaurantee that using the banana for hair growth promises any results.
Bananas: what’s inside
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, B complex vitamins not only contribute to, but also are necessary to achieve healthy skin, eyes, and yes, hair. Dr. Melissa Piliang, in her contribution to the Huffington Post, claims B complex vitamins “restore shine and thickness to strands.” And while they are linked with hair health and appearance, they are not necessarily linked with accelerated hair growth, even when ingested. But some studies by have shown that it may slow down hair loss.
Joy Bauer, the health expert for NBC’s Today Show, lists many contributions of Vitamin C for hair health and appearance. She reminds us of Vitamin C’s role in forming the collagen necessary for optimal hair growth. She also points out Vitamin C’s vital assistance in making sure red blood cells have enough iron to get oxygen to our hair follicles.
When you think of banana, you probably think first of potassium. And you should. Banana’s pack a potassium punch. One medium sized banana has 422 mg of potassium or 13% of your daily (recommended) dose, according to the Chiquita Banana factsheet. And while bananas seem great for lowering blood pressure and stroke risk as well as keeping muscles, nerves and even brain cells stimulated, there is less scientifically published hype on potassium’s clear benefits for hair health.
Biotin, another B vitamin, is one you may see bragged about on shampoo and conditioner labels or even when marketed in a new supplement for hair health. And it’s true; it is essential for hair and scalp health (especially to avoid hair loss). But it is found in many foods and not many people find themselves deficient of it. Joy Bauer reassures us that, while it is certainly important, maintaining a generally healthy diet is probably enough and only in a few cases would biotin supplements be necessary or useful in improving hair health.
Bananas contain almost 75% water and water hydrates, right? Which is why many blogs and articles claim a banana hair mask will hydrate hair. While this is certainly boasted in anecdote, there is still little scientific evidence that the moisture from a banana provides any sustained moisture to hair when applied to your tendrils. However, if this moisture transfer is so simple, we could also apply cantaloupe (90% water) masks, blueberry (85% water) masks, or merely a 100% water mask!
Other vitamins for hair health
And while it’s all healthy and great to fill up on the vitamins and benefits of a banana, Dr. Piliang tells us other vitamins (meaning, other foods more rich than them) may do more for your hair health.
But they told me…
So while some of the connections and ‘proof’ may almost seem logical (e.g., If we need B6 for healthy hair and bananas have B6, then if we smear bananas and their B6 benefits all over our dry locks we’ll have healthy hair, right?) We see now, that this is not necessarily the case. But then, what’s to make of the thousands of personal stories of people’s success with banana hair masks some claiming they are using the banana for hair growth?
Blogs and health boards are enjoyable to read and perhaps should not be completely tossed aside. Maybe we’re just waiting for science to catch up with what many health do-it-yourselfers have already discovered?
Nikki Walton, author of the book Better Than Good Hair shared her banana hair mask recipe, which also includes avocado, oil and mayo. She prefers a homemade banana hair mask to buying expensive biotin pills, which makes a good financial point. She also only uses half a banana for the mask, which means you could eat the other half—ensuring the vitamins reach your hair from the outside and the inside!
How to make a banana hair mask:
The recipes vary from a very appetizing potion (bananas and honey) to the more smelly and adventurous concoctions (including mayo). A fan of simple, sweet-smelling organic options I chose to share Hubpages Going Bananas : Banana Homemade Hair Mask. And while I’m not sure of their weak nutritional reasoning and I wouldn’t depend on it to use bananas for hair growth; it is a simple, organic hair application to substitute for conditioner every now and again. It goes like this:
- Two overripe bananas
- I tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 table spoon olive oil
- A tablespoon of honey
- Blend bananas until completely smooth.
- Add the all other ingredients to the blended bananas and blend again.
- Slather the mixture into your scalp and hair (down to the tips).
- Let it sit for at least five minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly well with warm water. You should allow for time to comb any remaining banana chunks from your hair.
- As with any new health products, practice caution. If you have a dietary aversion to any of the ingredients, you could have a reaction when they’re applied topically.
- Practice the mask on a small piece of your scalp/hair first, to observe any reactions
- Always consult your dermatologist or physician before making drastic product and/or diet changes
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