In the search for smooth, shiny hair, one term pops up over and over again: keratin. While most people are referring to keratin treatments (popularly referred to as Brazilian blowouts), keratin itself is a fibrous protein that makes up about 90% of the hair strand. In lieu of the harsh chemicals found in salon keratin treatments, many seek out at-home and natural treatments that repair and boost the keratin in hair. Enter: nasturtium extract.
Meet the Expert
Found in gardens across the globe, nasturtiums are an annual plant with bright flowers that range in color from yellow to red, including many in a striking orange hue. The extract is typically taken from the stems and leaves of the plant and is rich in many nutrients, including sulfur. Nasturtium extract is reported to have benefits for the skin, scalp, and especially hair. Could the solution to brittle hair be growing in your garden? We turned to two hair experts for the full scoop.
Nasturtium Extract for Hair
Type of ingredient: Strengthener and potent antioxidant
Main benefits: Strengthens hair, protects the scalp and hair, and boosts scalp health
Who should use it: In general, anyone with thinning hair or those with dull and difficult-to-manage hair can benefit from nasturtium extract. It may also serve as a natural clarifier, making it beneficial for oily scalps.
How often can you use it: Nasturtium extract can be safely used one or two times per week. More frequent use may depend on application method and your personal tolerance for this ingredient.
Works well with: In combination with watercress, the extract has been shown to keep hair strong and protected.
Don’t use with: There are no known ingredients that interfere with nasturtium extract.
Benefits of Nasturtium Extract for Hair
Nasturtium extract contains important plant compounds for hair strength and skin and scalp health, particularly minerals, vitamins A, C, and E, flavonoids, and sulfur, dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman, MD, explains. "These superhero compounds work to protect and strengthen the hair," she says. Trichologist Gretchen Friese agrees, adding that its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may be helpful with hair-thinning issues.
The sulfur content of nasturtium extract is particularly beneficial to keratin in hair and skin, as keratin is a fibrous protein rich in sulfur proteins, minerals, and oligo-elements. Engelman explains that hair strength depends on its structure, which is defined by bonds formed between sulfur atoms. Nasturtium extract is loaded with sulfur and, when combined with minerals like zinc and magnesium, the extract works to reinforce keratin and make sure that each strand is resilient and healthy, making hair stronger.
- Repairs and strengthens hair: The primary benefit of nasturtium extract for hair is its ability to repair the keratin sulfur bonds and strengthen dry, damaged, or brittle hair. Engelman says it's important to remember that keratin makes up more than 90% of a strand of hair, which shows just how significant the introduction of a keratin-boosting ingredient can be.
- Reduces scalp inflammation: Friese highlights the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of nasturtium extract for the scalp. She also adds that it is "kind of like a clarifier that comes from nature," which can cleanse the scalp of bacteria and fungus that may cause inflammation.
- Protects the scalp and hair: Nasturtium contains compounds that are important to skin and scalp health, like vitamins A, C, and E and flavonoids. Friese says that these compounds can protect the skin, scalp, and hair from the damage of the sun’s rays, pollution, and other environmental risks.
- Can prevent hair thinning: Hair breakage is one of the leading causes of hair thinning and the appearance of hair loss. By strengthening the hair's keratin and preventing breakage, nasturtium extract can minimize future thinning.
- May promote new hair growth: Hair growth starts with a healthy scalp. In reducing inflammation and providing necessary nutrients, nasturtium extract can help promote new hair growth.
Hair Type Considerations
Our experts agree that nasturtium extract is safe for all hair types, especially for damaged, colored, or thin hair, as these types would likely see the biggest benefit. In general, anyone experiencing breakage can benefit from the strengthening factors found in the extract. Friese also mentions that this naturally clarifying extract may provide added benefit to those with oily scalps or dandruff.
Nasturtium extract is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, or children. If you are experiencing hair loss, both experts recommend seeking help from a medical professional to determine the cause before starting a treatment. Friese further cautions those prone to allergic reactions or those who are allergic to certain plants/herbs that nasturtium extract may cause irritation.
How to Use Nasturtium Extract for Hair
Nasturtium extract can be applied to the hair in a few different methodologies, including adding it to shampoo and using it as a treatment. If you are looking to target both the hair and the scalp, it should be applied from roots to ends. Though nasturtium extract is a natural ingredient, it does have the potential to cause sensitivity or an allergic reaction, so Friese recommends always rinsing it out following use to avoid possible irritation. Frequency of use will depend on your application method, as shampoos that contain nasturtium extract can be used daily, while masks should be used only once or twice a week.
- Make it a part of your cleansing routine: The added clarifying benefit of nasturtium extract makes it a great addition to any shampoo. Mix two to three drops of nasturtium extract with your current favorite shampoo to take advantage of its benefits, or try a shampoo that is already formulated with it. Engelman recommends the Prose Custom Shampoo, which combines nasturtium extract with other hair-strengthening ingredients.
- Use it as a pre-shampoo mask: Both experts recommend using nasturtium extract as a pre-shampoo mask in order to take advantage of its benefits, but be sure to rinse it out to avoid potential irritation. You can create your own mask by combining the extract with hydrating ingredients such as coconut or almond oils, adding a few drops to an existing hair mask you like, or trying a new mask that contains nasturtium extract, like the Prose Custom Pre-Shampoo Scalp Mask, which Engelman recommends.
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