This Ancient Grain Could Seriously Strengthen Your Hair

Photo: Stocksy/Good Vibrations Images

The ancient grain you know and love as quinoa is basically OG superfood status at this point. It's undoubtedly in your go-to salad, lunch bowl, or dinner recipe due to its nutritional prowess—so, at a time when beauty labels are starting to be as clean as (healthy) nutrition labels, it comes as no surprise that the power grain is making its way to your personal care regimen. One way to incorporate it? In your hair-care routine.

At a time when beauty labels are starting to be as clean as (healthy) nutrition labels, it comes as no surprise that the power grain is making its way to your personal care regimen.

Take it from Boyce Clark, Ph.D., a biogeochemist-slash-single parent with a 12-year-old daughter who constantly struggled with frizzy hair. "A friend suggested a keratin straightening treatment, but when I saw it uses formaldehyde, that wasn't something I was comfortable putting on my daughter," he says.

So he did what any chemistry-savvy dad would do: Concocted a solution himself (which then became a brand of hair-care products called Lubricity Labs). Turns out the key ingredient for smooth, healthy hair was the power grain you know and love as quinoa. Makes sense, when you think about it (it's a protein, after all).

Keep reading to see how the superfood helps your locks.

quinoa for hair
Photo: Stocksy/Lucas Ottone

The power of quinoa

Protein is a key factor in your own hair's strength. Your strands are made out of keratin, which is a protein (in case you missed that in science class) so reinforcing it with another protein helps keep it strong.

"Quinoa is strengthening and moisturizing due to the amino acids content," says Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist. "Amino acids are the building blocks of cells, so it's essential for both skin and hair to function. It's like nutritional supplements."

Dr. Clark discovered it's beneficial for hair once he saw how well it smoothed his daughter's hair. "What I learned is that hair frizzes because moisture absorbs into the strands and then they swell," he says. So he zeroed in on the power duo of quinoa and glycolic acid (the latter prevents your keratin from being able to absorb water and stave off the swell).

"Quinoa proteins add strength and protection to your hair."

"Quinoa proteins add strength and protection to your hair," says Dr. Clark. "Since the grain has the highest concentration of protein than any other grain, and it has [some of the] essential amino acids that your body can't make on its own. When you walk around and let sunlight and oxygen interact with your strands, the outer layer of your hair becomes damaged—and the amino acids of quinoa match the natural keratin and fill in the gaps from that damage."

He adds that the quinoa in his products are hydrolyzed, which means they've been chemically cut into smaller pieces via enzymes. "The quinoa's chopped up to the point where it matches perfectly with the keratin in your hair," Dr. Clark explains. "So it's really efficient when it comes to repair."

Not only is it a superstar strengthener and smoothing VIP, but it's good for your color as well. "Quinoa's an antioxidant, which could help prevent your color from fading," says King. Well, I don't know about you, but the grain is no longer going to only be found in my lunch.

By the way, it's not your imagination—you do shed more this time of year. But these two healthy home devices could save your hair this winter

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