Debunking the egg myth

Does applying an egg to your hair/scalp have any real effect? I read that the vitamins and minerals are good for your scalp, but are they penetrable? Are the protein molecules too large to have an effect on your hair?

Comments

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    If you post yourself smashing an egg onto your head on TicToc it might have a real effect :smiley: .
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    What effect is it supposed to have?

    Protein is water soluble and unless you don't rinse, it is washed away without doing anything.
  • Well, this question is rather interesting. The previous day I had my roommate swearing in the effect that eggs had on his hair.

    The thing is, egg does have some rather interesting compounds such as bunch amino acid (with sulphur predominantly) largely in peptide form, minerals such as selen and zink and cholesterol and other lipid compounds. The thing is that you can readily find papers that state the egg compounds induce VEGF (vascular endothel growth factor) and bind to IGP-1 (insulin growth factor 1), both which have proven effect on revitalising hair folicules. The question is, can they penetrate into deeper layers of epidermis and dermis? 🤔

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29583066/
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Papers like these are similar to the vast array of papers you can find about compounds that kill cancer or viruses. Lots of things can work in the lab under highly controlled (or contrived) conditions. But in practice they don't work for whatever reason. That's why the most useful data is real life use conditions. 

    If putting an egg on your head had some consumer noticeable benefit, it would have been done much more frequently by many more people. Scientists would have isolated the ingredient that made hair grow and would have filed an NDA already. The fact that it is still just a novel, home remedy demonstrates that it doesn't actually work to any significant extent.

    And as far as reports from people who have used it and reported positive results, I think from a scientific perspective we can discount anecdotal evidence as far as proof of anything. Someone who puts egg on their head would certainly be motivated to notice some improvement & say positive things. The alternative would be to admit that they were being fooled...and no one wants to admit that. 
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    I'm going to start selling Cosmetics Eggs injected with Polyquat-10 in the hair care section of the supermarket ... great idea!
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • Perry said:
    What effect is it supposed to have?

    Protein is water soluble and unless you don't rinse, it is washed away without doing anything.

    Are you saying then that deep conditioning treatments (usually with hydrolyzed keratin) don't work? Is there no way to infuse the hair with protein so that it can't wash away?
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited October 2021
    @DaveStone - Deep conditioning treatments work to make hair feel smoother, look shinier, and comb more easily. But the protein in them has little to do with it. They work because of cationic surfactants, cationic polymers and silicones.

    Hydrolyzed keratin is water soluble and rinses down the drain when hair is rinsed. The tiny bit of protein that might be left behind has no proven beneficial effect.

    But it makes for a better story to tell people protein is improving the condition of your hair rather than synthetic silicones or cationic surfactants.

  • Perry said:
    @DaveStone - Deep conditioning treatments work to make hair feel smoother, look shinier, and comb more easily. But the protein in them has little to do with it. They work because of cationic surfactants, cationic polymers and silicones.

    Hydrolyzed keratin is water soluble and rinses down the drain when hair is rinsed. The tiny bit of protein that might be left behind has no proven beneficial effect.

    But it makes for a better story to tell people protein is improving the condition of your hair rather than synthetic silicones or cationic surfactants.

    What about those keratin straightening systems? Is it really just formaldehyde doing the job? I suppose, like you said, it's better to tell people that protein is straightening their hair rather than embalming fluid.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I believe it is mostly the result of formaldehyde causing chemical bonding within the protein chains in the hair. The formaldehyde may also be able to attach some of the product keratin to hair through the same bonding process. However, the keratin doesn't actually do much and if you made a product with just a high level of formaldehyde, you could get the same results without the keratin.  But like you said, telling people it's the formaldehyde straightening system is not nearly as appealing as calling it a keratin straightening system.
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