As a beauty writer, it's not uncommon for me to hear constantly about new trends, new ingredients, things that are just begging to be called The Next Big Thing. While I love searching for "game-changers" when it comes to my beauty routine, I am proudly also a skeptic when it comes to breaking down the how and why of it all. When my regular juice place started putting out teal blue smoothies, and I saw major brands like Vital Proteins and Juice Generation doing the same thing, that's when I learned about spirulina.
Meet the Expert
Spirulina is a microalgae superfood that is packed with nutrients like protein, iron, amino acids, fatty acids, and various vitamins. It contains a wide range of nutrients including zinc, B vitamins, vitamin E, various antioxidants, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, and chlorophyll, and is also full of antioxidants and high in protein, so it's good for your insides and outside. Spirulina can be found in supplement and powder form as well in skin and hair care products, which intrigued me. How can spirulina be good for your hair? I asked a few experts to get to the bottom of the sea (that's an algae joke).
Spirulina for Hair
- Type of ingredient: antioxidant
- Main benefits: Promotes hair growth, fights dandruff, and purifies and cleanses the scalp
- Who should use it: In general, spirulina works for anyone with thin or damaged hair.
- Works well with: Spirulina has a synergistic effect with vitamin C.
Benefits of Spirulina for Hair
- Promotes hair growth: Spirulina is made up of 70% protein, fatty acids, and iron, all nutrients needed to promote hair growth.
- Treats hair loss/facilitates hair renewal: Oxidative stress, or an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body, can lead to aging. Spirulina is full of antioxidants, which help to counteract oxidative stress as well as keep your blood sugar levels regular, which can help those experiencing hair loss.
- Fights dandruff: Due to antimicrobial properties as well as the presence of zinc content, spirulina is great at fighting dandruff.
- Moisturizes and hydrates the scalp: The hygroscopic molecules in microalgae take water particles from the environment and deliver them to the scalp and skin.
- Soothes the scalp: All of the sugars, proteins, and amino acids in spirulina are excellent for soothing and rebalancing the scalp, while also helping the scalp's barrier function work properly.
- Controls sebum production: The proteins, polysaccharides, and fibers in spirulina are also natural polymers that can create protective film on the scalp, leading to hydration, which can also help control sebum production.
- Slows down the appearance of gray/white hairs: Because of spirulina's high content of iron, amino acids, as well as its pigments, it can help disguise those pesky grays.
- Supports glossy, shiny hair: The antioxidant compounds of spiriulina can help make your hair more glossy, stronger, and shinier.
Hair Type Considerations
"Spirulina is generally recognized as a safe ingredient—barring rare allergies or individual adverse reactions—so I would not caution any specific hair or skin type against taking spirulina," says Engelman. "This ingredient is great for anyone who wants to promote healthy hair growth and get a dose of antioxidants and vitamins." Spirulina is not recommended for someone with existing allergies, especially to seafood, seaweed, or other sea vegetables. Those with low-porosity hair might want to avoid spirulina—the protein might be a little too much for your hair.
How to Use Spirulina for Hair
You can take spirulina supplements or powder to gain its benefits for your hair, and it's also becoming incredibly popular in hair products, as well. Williams suggests adding spirulina to your shampoo and conditioner, or into your favorite hair mask. "Allow the conditioner or mask to sit on the hair as you would during a normal haircare routine, and rinse completely," Williams says. She also adds that it can be good for scalp massage: "Spirulina can also be blended into a hair oil and massaged into the hair and scalp."
The Best Hair Products With Spirulina
Engelman loves Prose because they offer high-quality haircare products customized for your individual hair and scalp needs. "Their Pre-Shampoo Scalp Mask and Custom Shampoo can be formulated with spirulina and are packed with other nourishing ingredients to strengthen, rebalance, and hydrate the hair and scalp," she explains.
IGK's Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Anti-Frizz Smoothing Spray is a heat-protective blowout spray that helps to combat heat, UV damage, and humidity, with spirulina protein to strengthen the hair. This spray also uses innovative bonding polymers to give your blowout a high-shine, keratin-smooth look when activated with heat.
How Can I Add Spirulina to My Hair Care Routine?
Along with taking supplements and incorporating spirulina powders inoto your diet, you can also add spirulina to your shampoo and conditioner or into your favorite hair mask.
Is There Anyone Who Should Skip Spirulina in Their Hair Routine?
Those with low-porosity hair might want to avoid spirulina—the protein might be a little too much for your hair.
Deng R, Chow T-J. Hypolipidemic, antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities of microalgae spirulina. Cardiovasc Ther. 2010;28(4):e33-e45.
Karkos PD, Leong SC, Karkos CD, Sivaji N, Assimakopoulos DA. Spirulina in clinical practice: evidence-based human applications. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:531053.
Trüeb RM. Oxidative stress in ageing of hair. Int J Trichology. 2009;1(1):6-14.