Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hair care from the pantry

So this is my Miranda's surprise for me. UGH!
She created this tangled masterpiece by using one of these,

(SIGH) Thank you toy manufacturers, really. . .

So, I sit down with a comb and some detangling solution and begin to work on the mass of knots in her hair. Thirty minutes later, the knot is unphased and I am beginning to think I am going to have to cut this monster out (sniff). Then I remember hearing about mayonnaise being used as a detangler for tough knots.Willing to sacrifice my daughter smelling like salad dressing over cutting her hair, I visit the refrigerator.

 I try about a tablespoon on the knotted mess. I massaged the mass for five minutes and the knots began to relax. I combed the knots out and washed my daughter's hair. The tangle crisis over! Huzzah!! Now I want to know why mayonnaise (a food product) worked better than a detangler solution (a hair product). So I go researching and this is what I discovered.

When hair is dry (as in, without moisture), the cuticle layers (the outside part of the hair) lift up and can get stuck to other hair cuticles, making tangles. When hair is twisted and knotted together (by certain "toys"), the cuticles cling to each other making a very nasty knot. Mayonnaise has oil and eggs in it, which are lipids (or fat) and protein. When these are applied to dry hair, the protein in the mayonnaise nourishes the dry cuticle and the lipids smooth the cuticle making them less likely to stick to each other. Each hair becomes slippery from the lipids and they loosen from each other. The detangling solution was water based, and therefore not as good to smooth the cuticle and nourish the dry hair.

Mayonnaise is also rumored to be a great intensive moisturizing conditioner, although there are mixed reviews.  Do you remember Julia Roberts in the movie Dying Young? Her whole of head was slathered in mayonnaise. It may work in extreme cases of dry hair, however I would only use mayonnaise as a spot detangler, rather than whole head application. It is very heavy with oil and is difficult to remove the residue completely. Plus, if you don't get it completely washed out, it may sour. After all, it is a food product.

Mayonnaise has also been used as a home remedy for lice, rather than using the harsh chemicals. The mayonnaise suffocates the nymphs and lice themselves, although it does not kill or remove the nits (eggs). The recommendation for this application is to thoroughly saturate the head and hair with mayonnaise, the full fat kind, (or olive oil) and wrap tightly with a plastic shower cap or plastic wrap and leave in place for 2-3 hours. Comb hair well, then wash thoroughly with shampoo and comb wet hair with a lice comb. To remove the nits, a vinegar rinse will dissolve the sticky substance that adheres the nits to the hair shaft. Then another good combing with a lice comb. This vinegar rinse should be repeated for 2-3 days to insure complete removal. I have not tried this remedy and do not know if it is effective, but it does provide an alternative to the harsher insecticides you would be putting on you or your child's hair.

While I was being studious, I researched why peanut butter removes chewing/bubble gum so well from hair. It is because the oils in the the peanut butter are attracted to the oils in the gum substance used to making chewing/bubble gum. This is why water does not work to remove gum from hair, because as we all know, oil and water repel each other. The gum will seek to stick to the dry hair shaft to repel itself from water. The oils in peanut butter, however, will bind to the gum and help loosen it from the hair shaft. Thus, making peanut butter a wonderful home remedy for removing gum from hair.

Well, I hope this little bit of information is helpful to you in some application. Do you have any tested and true hair remedies using pantry items? We would love to hear about them. Happy Tuesday to you,


  1. This is very good to know. I have to deal with little tangles a lot. I have been using a spray of mostly essential oils and water, but for extreme cases I will try the mayo next time (before the scissors). Thanks.

  2. Not a pantry product but did you know that straight oily hair conditioner is great for tangles - use like mayo and that if your child comes home with head lice (YUCK!!!) if you smother their head in cheap conditioner and wrap it up in a towel for 30 minutes then comb through with a lice comb it works just as well as the nasty chemical stuff - the conditioner suffocates the lice and then they are easy to comb out.

  3. Both of my teens came home from school with lice when they were young. I did the mayo treatment on both of them with great success. My daughter had (has) very thick and very long hair. I was worried it would have to be cut, but the mayo did the trick - no cutting needed! Our local health department recommends the mayo treatment now.

  4. My children are in there 30's but I sure do remember the times I had this problem,, i used peanut butter but never mayo.Good hint and I have a 19 month old grand baby,, I'll keep this in mind,,thankyou for sharing this,, I'm a newbie and just found you today,, so glad I did.

  5. Thank you for the additional tip, Mhairi. I like to have an arsenal of detangling options. With three girls, we have ALOT of hair issues. ;o)

  6. Bethalice, I am glad the mayo trick worked for headlice. I am excited to hear that your local health department endorses the use of the mayo instead of the insecticides. Putting such harsh poisons near our precious babies is scary and can't be healthy. Thank you for posting!

  7. Good to meet you Laurie. Peanut butter is certainly a wonderful tool. Glad you found Make it Lovely!

  8. GTK! I have also tried Apple Cider Vinegar on my LO with decent results. BUT that really smells!

  9. Megan, thanks for the tip about Apple Cider Vinegar. I bet your Littel had soft, shiny hair afterward ;o)

  10. Thank you for this post. I have two daughters with thick wavy hair prone to lots of knots and that means tears. I will definitely try the mayo.
    I do not like to use harsh products on their hair either so your head lice advice was brilliant.


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