Homemade conditioners have been popular for some time, and as more women look to approaching their hair care needs from a health perspective first, I assume that the popularity will not subside.  There are several popular DIY conditioning recipes and common everyday kitchen ingredients naturally curly women use from avocado, honey, and of course, the often raved about mayonnaise. Our recipe for How To Do a Mayonnaise is one of the most popular articles on NaturallyCurly, and has been for years. We know women love doing them, but do mayonnaise treatments actually work?

Does mayonnaise work as a protein treatment?

No. Though the eggs and mayonnaise combination has been touted as a quick homemade protein treatment to strengthen the hair and prevent breakage, this is a false claim. This combination does not work as a protein treatment because the protein in eggs is too large to fit into the cuticle. In order for these amino acids to make it into your hair shaft, they must be hydrolyzed. Hydrolyzed proteins can be found in protein treatments and deep conditioners, read here for a list of the proteins that will work. Unfortunately, an egg or mayonnaise treatment is not going to do the job.

Does mayonnaise make your hair softer and shinier?

Yes it can. Anecdotally, many of our readers have noted that their hair was softer and shinier after using a mayonnaise treatment, but to validate this claim let's take a closer look at what is actually in mayonnaise and how those ingredients affect the hair.

Ingredients of mayonnaise

We looked at the label of a regular jar of Hellmann's Mayonnaise and found that it contains:
  • Soybean oil
  • Water
  • Whole eggs and egg yolks
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Calcium disodium EDTA
  • Natural flavors

The benefits

Soybean oil
Soybean oil is a vegetable oil made from extracting the seeds of the soybean. It has nutrients such as vitamin K and lipids that helps to fight against breakage, split ends, and dryness. With one of the highest amounts of omega 6 fatty acids than any other oil, according to the University of Maryland soybean oil also helps to stimulate skin and hair growth. The most obvious benefit of soybean oil is its ability to provide amazing and unparalleled shine, another reason why it is a popular ingredient in the hair industry. Soybean oil is not as greasy as other oils and for this reason is commonly used in shampoos and conditioners to keep the moisture balance and add softness. 
Women love to use eggs on our hair and for good reason, as there are numerous qualities about this common kitchen ingredient.  Although the proteins in eggs are too large to attach to the hair’s cuticle, the array of vitamins found in eggs makes up for that loss and both the egg white and the yolk are beneficial to use on the hair. Vitamin A helps with hair loss and to prevent dandruff by increasing your natural sebum production.  Vitamin B found in the yolk of the egg supplies oxygen to the hair and improve blood circulation.  Lack of vitamin B can lead to malnourished hair and has the potential to stunt hair growth, making the hair brittle.  Eggs also contain vitamin D and E as well as fatty acids, which all help with healthy hair growth, flaky scalp and shine. 
Eggs work so well with mayonnaise because it is said both work together to seal the cuticle and lock in moisture for longer lasting results. Since both the egg white and yolk have benefits, there’s no need to choose in order to reap the full benefits. 
Although white vinegar is sometimes used as a common household cleaner and apple cider vinegar is more popular among curlies, the actual process of making both are similar.  White vinegar is made from fermenting grains and apple cider vinegar from fermenting fruit such as apples. Distilled white vinegar usually has a pH around 2.4, while apple cider vinegar will have a pH of about 4.25 to 5.0. A lower pH means the solution is more acidic. Since apple cider vinegar is closer to the natural pH healthy hair, it is more popular among naturally curly women and used for clarifying and restoring pH balance to the hair. Overall, due to the low pH of white vinegar it has the potential to play a role in mayonnaise to further help seal the hair cuticle to retain moisture. 
Lemon juice

Lemon juice is amazing because it contains high amounts of folic acid, vitamin B, and calcium. It is commonly used to treat dry, itchy scalp when combined with olive oil and honey as a pre-poo treatment, it is also extremely drying due to the citric acid. Always combine lemon juice with another carrier oil for added moisture. Another option is combining lemon juice and coconut water for another quick homemade conditioning mix. Lemon juice is also commonly known to be a safe way to lighten your hair.

Similar to apple cider vinegar, use lemon juice diluted with water to remove product buildup from the scalp followed by shampoo and deep conditioning.

Calcium Disodium EDTA

According to the FDA, calcium disodium EDTA is a food additive used as a preservative in certain foods and use to promote color retention. EDTA in hair products, however, is used to bind metal ions and prevent metals from being deposited onto the hair, scalp and skin. EDTA is very popular in chelating shampoos, which are of great use if you live in a hard water area. Hard water is water with high mineral content, specifically magnesium and calcium, so the EDTA ingredient helps to remove those metals and create softer, tangle-free hair. Just in case you are suspicious about EDTA, CosmeticsInfo.org also notes this ingredient is widely used and can be found in moisturizers, skin care and cleansing products, personal cleanliness products, bath soaps, shampoos and conditioners, hair dyes, hair bleaches, and many other product types.

Homemade mayonnaise

Interested in making a DIY mayo treatment instead?  Here’s a quick homemade recipe that only requires 4 natural ingredients: 

What you’ll need:

  • 3-4 Egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • ⅔ cup of olive oil
  • ⅔ cup of warmed coconut oil

For consumption purposes mustard, salt and pepper are suggested to add to the recipe, but that is not necessary for the hair treatment.

Overall, mayonnaise treatments do work and are great for adding shine and softness to the hair. But if you prefer to not waste your kitchen ingredients, you can achieve similar results by doing traditional pre-poo or hot oil treatments and deep conditioning. Whether you prefer to purchase Hellmann's Mayonnaise or make your own, as you can see the core ingredients and benefits are just about the same.  

What are your thoughts about mayonnaise for the hair? Does it work for you?