Within the beauty community, using ingredients frequently found in the kitchen within your skin or hair care regimens have become so commonplace. But, the uses for wasabi (aka Japanese horseradish) are becoming more and more popular. The newest beauty-boosting way to use the spicy sauce: to grow thicker, fuller hair. If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, don’t worry—the application is topical, not oral, meaning you won’t have to taste it to get more luscious locks.
Kinin, a leading wasabi manufacturer, found that the chemical isosaponarin (taken from the leaves of the wasabi plant) could stimulate papilla cella (commonly known as hair-formation cells) in the human scalp. Research also found that the chemical garnered an effect “three times greater” than the popular hair-thickening chemical minoxidil, found in products like Rogaine and Nioxin, and that the 6-MSITC found in the edible part of the wasabi plant also stimulates papilla cells. However, the wasabi used in this research was pure Japanese wasabi, meaning it was untouched by outside chemicals or preservatives, and the options available to us on shelves might not do the trick. However, according to the experts, using the ingredient topically may not be as effective as the internet is claiming it to be.
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New York hair restoration specialist Carlos K. Wesley, MD, says that wasabi isn’t the first “dietary stimulant” that’s been demonstrated to promote hair preservation and follicle growth, noting that one of the most well-known stimulants with a real beneficial effect on hair is caffeine. On the subject of wasabi, Dr. Wesley says that though the ingredient has been around the beauty arena before, the duration of its benefits is still unknown. “While there certainly can be an initial burst of positive hair response, that grow may not last.”
Dr. Wesley also explains that results in a lab are much different than results you’d expect to see in your bathroom. “There is a difference between an observation of increased dermal papilla cells in a petri dish and the actual realization of hair growth on the human scalp. With each discovery of a new method of hair growth, we (as a field) will hopefully discover the ideal combination of stimulation and continued promotion of hair growth.”
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