You might have heard it before: if you want to get rid of dandruff, don’t drink beer. What’s the theory behind this, and does it actually work?
The internet can be a strange place. For those looking to cure their ailments, it will present exactly the advice you’d most like to hear – as well as its opposite.
So, it is with curing dandruff. A plethora of websites advocate avoiding beer to help treat the condition.
On the other side of the aisle, a host of websites proclaim it as cure, saying that washing your hair with beer is the way to flake-free hair.
In search of the truth, let’s break down the assumed relationship between dandruff and beer.
What causes dandruff?
First, it’s always helpful to understand what dandruff actually is.
Your scalp is home to a yeast- a simple, single-cell fungus called Malassezia globosa (don’t worry, it’s present on everybody’s scalp!). This otherwise harmless microbe feeds off your scalp’s natural oils, leaving oleic acid behind.
But for 3 billion people in the world, the build-up of oleic acid causes irritation.
When this happens, you start to produce excess skin cells on your scalp, leading to:
- white flakes in your hair
But what does this have to do with beer?
Beer and dandruff
Beer seems to be linked in two major ways to dandruff, according to the internet-at-large.
The first camp claims that washing your hair with beer will cure dandruff.
The theory seems to be that since beer is made using yeast and is high in Vitamin B, it makes an excellent dandruff cure.
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no scientific basis for this – the best way to get rid of dandruff in the shower is still a good shampoo.
The second, and more prevalent link between beer and dandruff claims that your favorite IPA is the cause of your scalp’s flakiness.
The link is generally made between the yeast content of beer and the fact that Malassezia globosa is also a yeast. And again, it’s a bit off.
How to cure dandruff
The fact that beer has yeast in it does not mean it causes dandruff. Only one yeast- Malassezia globosa - causes dandruff, and it’s not used in beer brewing.
It triggers dandruff by living on your skin’s surface, not in your gut- and the yeast from beer that you drink pretty much stays in the digestive system.
In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever linking the two. So, while limiting the amount you drink is a good idea, it won’t help much if you have dandruff.
Much like the ‘beer as a dandruff cure’ myth, the best way to get rid of dandruff and keep it away is still a scientifically formulated and tested anti-dandruff shampoo1.
There really is no substitute.
1 visible flakes with regular use