When you hear kale, you likely imagine a crunchy salad or those trendy sweatshirts that are designed to look like Yale’s logo. What you likely don’t think about is your hair. But as it turns out, kale (specifically its extract) can be just as good for your hair and scalp as it is for your gut and health.
With that in mind, keep reading to learn what a trichologist, dermatologist, and cosmetic chemist have to say about how the clean ingredient is being utilized in the haircare industry.
Kale Extract for Hair
Type of ingredient: Hydrator, strengthener, and detoxifier
Main benefits: Hydrates and strengthens hair, boosts cellular turnover, and promotes growth.
Who should use it: In general, kale extract is an exemplary ingredient for anyone with a sensitive, flaky scalp, as well as for those struggling with thinning hair.
How often can you use it: Daily—unless in mask form, in which case weekly.
Works well with: Just about any ingredient, but especially with scalp-stimulating ingredients like rosemary, ginseng, and aloe vera.
Don’t use with: Because it is absorbed better when used in conjunction with more acidic ingredients, BosleyMD-certified trichologist Gretchen Friese says that you may want to stay away from anything that is more alkaline (like avocado and cucumber) for better results.
Benefits of Kale Extract for Hair
- Aids in cellular turnover
- Strengthens strands
- Hydrates the scalp and strands
- Eliminates toxins from scalp and strands
- Soothes irritation
- Boosts hair growth
Just like fresh kale is a nutritious addition to any diet, kale extract is a beneficial ingredient for just about any haircare routine. According to cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, MD, kale extract contains a variety of healthy nutrients and antioxidants that aid in cellular turnover to improve scalp health. “Kale is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, in addition to beta carotene, potassium, magnesium, calcium, omega-3s, and folate,” she says. As a result, when kale extract is applied topically to the scalp, Green says that it facilitates scalp health, keeps the scalp hydrated, and eliminates toxins, which present as dry patches and irritation.
Additionally, Green points out that these vitamins stimulate capillary growth in the scalp, which boosts oxygen to hair follicles and effectively promotes elasticity and hair growth as a whole.
While there aren’t a lot of clinical studies proving such, clean cosmetic chemist and KKT Consultants founder Krupa Koestline, says that “based on the biochemical composition of kale—namely it’s high in quercetin, vitamin C, folates, and other minerals—it can be deduced that kale extract can potentially help promote hair growth.”
And due to these properties, Green adds that topical kale extract can also help protect against hair loss by reducing oxidative stress and damage done by free radicals in the environment.
What’s more, Friese points out that, thanks to kale extract’s omega-3 fatty acids, the ingredient is able to transform the texture of hair and promote silky-smooth strands in its wake.
In other words, kale extract could very well be the answer to your biggest hair concerns.
Hair Type Considerations
While all hair types can benefit from using kale extract, Friese says that those with sensitive scalps and weakened strands will see the biggest difference.
“Because it helps detox the scalp and control sebum it is a great option for people with issues like dandruff and a dry, flaky scalp,” she says. “The iron in kale will also help strengthen weak strands. So people with fragile, damaged hair, split ends, or thin, frizzy, or dry hair will benefit.”
How to Use Kale Extract for Hair
You have options. For starters, you can get hands-on with a DIY mix.
Banana & Kale Hair Mask
“This combination is the ultimate hair revitalizer as both contain high amounts of potassium and B vitamins, which will provide the hair follicles with nutrients that strengthen the hair and promote healthy hair growth,” Green says, applauding the mixture.
- ½ cup pure kale juice
- Shower cap
“Combine one banana with ½ cup of pure kale juice,” Green instructs, noting that this can be combined in a food processor or blender. “Massage the mixture onto your hair and scalp, and cover with a heat cap or shower cap. Leave the mixture on for 30 minutes, then rinse hair with warm water.”
The Best Products With Kale Extract
Of course, if you don’t have the time to DIY, pre-made kale extract–infused products exist. Take your pick from our list of faves, below.
Designed to boost moisture and shine and increase hair's resilience, ColorWow's Dream Cocktail Kale-Infused Leave-In Treatment offers a quick and easy way to transform the look and feel of your strands. Simply smooth one to three pumps through hair and let it work its magic without rinsing.
Prefer a rinse-out product? Briogeo's Kale + Apple conditioner from their cult-favorite Be Gentle, Be Kind collection not only smells divine but also leaves hair feeling soft and looking hydrated and strong after each use. (P.S. It makes a coordinating shampoo, too.)
Dull, deflated curls have you down? This kale extract–infused curl salve can help. It's designed to deeply hydrate hair while promoting strength and elasticity. Simply apply it to towel-dried curls and let it work its coil-repairing magic for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing it out.
For a more affordable kale extract–infused product, check out Not Your Mother's Blue Sea Kale & Pure Coconut Water Shampoo. As you may have guessed, this shampoo smells absolutely divine. More than that, though, it works well to promote healthy-looking and -feeling hair. (And, yes, there's a conditioner that goes with it, too. And if you want to take your kale extract haircare a step further, there's even a masque.)
Did you know that hair is most fragile when it's wet? As a result, it helps to use products designed to strengthen and protect hair directly out of the shower. One such product—which just so happens to be infused with kale extract—is OUAI's Air Dry Foam. It's designed to deliver perfect beachy waves without any of the crunch (or heat damage associated with manually creating the texture). All you have to do is massage it into your damp hair, scrunch to your liking, et voilà.