Though it may have found its glory as a breakfast staple, yogurt has been a part of women’s beauty routines for centuries. Women in ancient Greece harnessed its benefits by slathering it on their skin and hair, and its since become a staple in many beauty aisle offerings. But instead of hitting your local retailer to try it for yourself, you can treat a number of different hair concerns with your very own DIY yogurt hair masks… and then use some of the leftover mixtures to soothe and soften skin.
“Yogurt is a powerful probiotic, but additionally it’s high in natural fats and proteins, which will leave your hair super shiny and will create maximum moisture,” says Ricardo Rojas, celebrity hair stylist and founder of Ricardo Rojas Hair Care. It’s also got lactic acid to help with skin exfoliation, and calcium to help with the function of your skin barrier, which means its just as good for your scalp as it is for your strands. And the best part? You’ve likely already got some in your fridge.
What type of yogurt is best for yogurt hair masks?
One look at the dairy aisle of your local grocery store makes it clear that there are a lot of options out there if you want to add yogurt to your diet. But when it comes to yogurt hair masks, not all are created equally. “The best yogurt for all hair types, is natural plain yogurt,” says Rojas. According to board-certified dermatologist Serkan Aygin, MD, yogurt from a cow is the highest in shine-inducing protein, and is jam-packed with calcium to help stimulate hair growth.
The benefits of using a yogurt hair mask
1. Moisturizes strands
Dry hair, just like dry skin, comes from a lack of moisture in your hair shaft. “Yogurt will work on increasing the moisture of your hair, and work towards closing the cuticles to seal it in,” says Rojas. He suggests using a yogurt hair mask on hair that’s been color treated or damaged by heat tools like blow dryers and curling irons.
2. Strengthens the hair shaft
Yogurt is packed with protein, which makes it just as good for your strands as it is for your diet. “Protein, which is present in yogurt, helps strengthen the hair shaft, which prevents split ends and hair damage,” says Dr. Aygin. Applying a yogurt hair mask can help keep strands strong and healthy throughout their lifespan (and may even help you delay a cut).
3. Hydrates your skin aka scalp
Scalp care is skin care, which means that slathering yogurt on your roots can help you reap some of the skin-boosting benefits of the stuff, too. “When your skin is lacking nutrients it acts out—it can look dull, dehydrated, dry, rough. and irritated,” says Sam Archer, the product marketing director at yogurt-based skin-care line KORRES. “Having yogurt as an ingredient in your skincare products is so beneficial because it’s a superfood that’s packed with vital skin-nutrients, like collagen building protein, that help restore skin to a healthier state.”
4. De-gunks your scalp
Greasy hair is caused by excess oil, which can be exacerbated by a buildup of dead skin cells on your scalp. Using a yogurt hair mask can help, thanks to the lightly exfoliating properties of lactic acid. “The lactic acid in yogurt hydrates the hair to be hydrated, and when rinsing, the yogurt helps to clear away dead skin cells,” says Archer. So in addition to slapping some yogurt on your strands, be sure to apply your yogurt hair mask to your roots, too.
3 Yogurt hair mask options to try
1. For dull hair: Yogurt, Egg, Olive Oil Hair Mask
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons yogurt
“Olive oil helps condition the hair and fatty acids are responsible for strengthening hair follicles, and the sulphur in eggs helps promote hair growth and balances oil secretion, which will soften your hair,” says Dr.Aygın. Mix all of the ingredients in a blender until the consistency is smooth, apply the mixture to wet hair and massage gently. Cover it with a shower cap for 15 minutes, then wash your hair using cold water.
2. For damaged hair: Avocado and yogurt mask
1 cup natural yogurt
1/2 of an avocado
3 teaspoons of honey
1 squeeze of lemon
This mask combines yogurt with avocado, which is rich in fats, proteins, natural oils, and vitamins that coat and soften hair, honey that acts as a moisture-drawing humectant, and lemon which helps tame frizz. Section clean hair into five parts, and apply yogurt section by section from the bottom to the top. Massage the scalp wt the top of each section, then twist it into a mini bun and clip it. When you’ve finished applying the mask to all five sections, remove the buns and brush through your hair, then put it into a French twist and cover it with a shower cap. Wait 15 minutes, then rinse your hair thoroughly and wash it with something like Ricardo Rojas Yerba Mate Shampoo ($34). Your hair will be so soft, you won’t even need a conditioner.
3. For dandruff or itchy scalp: Yogurt and honey mask
½ cup of Greek Yoghurt
¼ cup of Thyme Honey
2 tablespoons of Pure Greek Olive Oil
“Incorporating all the most nutrient rich foods of the Mediterranean diet will nourish hair back to its most healthy looking, hydrated, flexible state to help it grow stronger and longer,” says Archer. Honey is known to have anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help calm down an angry scalp, especially when mixed with ultra-soothing yogurt. Apply this mask throughout freshly cleaned hair, taking care to massage it into the roots and scalp. Put on a shower cap and let it sit for 30 minutes, then rinse.
Hair hasn’t been cut in a while? Here’s how to deal if you can’t make it into a salon. Plus, why peppermint oil is another great natural ingredients for keeping strands feeling fresh.