Epsom salt has quickly gained popularity for its many uses in the home, from health and beauty to cleaning and gardening.
These inorganic salt crystals contain pure elements of magnesium and sulfur, which give Epsom salt its scientific name: magnesium sulfate.
In the beauty realm, magnesium sulfate is a traditional ingredient in mineral baths. By extension, it’s also incorporated into some hair care regimens.
Today, many people use Epsom salt in their hair, mostly as a hair volumizer.
Does science support Epsom salt for hair?
There’s no specific research yet either proving or disproving that Epsom salt works for hair. People still swear by it and use it all the same.
Epsom salt may add volume to hair
One idea behind putting Epsom salt in hair is to add volume. The science of how this might work suggests it removes oils from hair strands.
Doing this may prevent a “slick,” oily, or lifeless appearance to hair. It may also add more volume and buoyancy.
There’s no studies proving this works, however — only anecdotal and empirical evidence from beauticians and others who use it.
Epsom salt may enhance hair and scalp health
Again, there’s no research showing topical Epsom improves scalp or hair health.
In fact, studies have shown that applying magnesium to your skin or hair is not an effective way to absorb it and experience any benefits.
On the other hand, other studies suggest that areas of skin with lots of hair follicles, like the scalp, may better absorb magnesium. Still, more research is needed.
Steps for using Epsom salt on your hair
Despite mixed research, Epsom salts are an enduring and popular hair care treatment. Many people will attest to its success. It’s also affordable, safe, and easy to use.
There’s a number of ways you can use it. The best methods may depend on your specific hair type.
For oily hair
People with oilier hair may see the best results if they mix Epsom salt with their shampoo. It may mildly enhance the amount of oils removed with each hair washing, while also adding volume. Here’s how to use this method:
Mix equal parts Epsom salt to a dollop of shampoo before you wash your hair. You can also directly mix Epsom salt into your shampoo bottle. To do this, start by adding about two tablespoons per 16 oz of shampoo. Make sure to shake the bottle well after adding the salt and before applying to your hair.
Apply the Epsom salt-infused shampoo as you would any regular shampoo.
Take care to apply it thoroughly, evenly, and deeply to your scalp and hair roots, especially in the oiliest areas.
If desired, wash your hair with the Epsom salt shampoo again immediately afterward — shampooing two times in a row.
Some people believe that the magnesium sulfate absorbs better into the scalp during the second washing, while the first washing removes oils and dead skin cells.
Only use Epsom salt with shampoo, or Epsom salt-infused shampoos, with every other shampooing over the long-term.
This will help reduce chances of hair becoming too dried out from the salt.
For dry, brittle hair
People with dry hair should avoid using Epsom salt in their shampoos. Doing so may be too drying and damaging — but in conditioners, it could strike the perfect balance. The results may give you better volume and more defined curls, if you have curlier hair.
Mix equal parts Epsom salts with a dollop of hair conditioner. Create this mixture on an individual basis for each separate conditioning.
Some people recommend mixing Epsom salts thoroughly in a small microwavable bowl beforehand, then slightly warming the mixture up in a microwave before applying.
Microwave the mixture until it feels warm — but not too hot to touch — to the fingertips.
Shampoo your hair as usual, then apply the Epsom salt conditioner.
Take extra effort to apply infused conditioner as evenly and thoroughly as possible. This includes:
- working it deeply into the scalp
- coating all the roots of your hair
- spreading it all the way down to the very tips of your hair
Leave the conditioner mixture in your hair for about 20 minutes without rinsing.
Rinse out the conditioner as usual, but only after the 20 minutes are up.
As with Epsom salt-infused shampoo, limit your use to every other conditioning. There’s a risk it could dry out already brittle hair, though this may vary from person to person.
The bottom line
Epsom salt may be a good addition to your hair care routine.
It may add volume to oily hair types, and definition to dry hair types. Its magnesium might also nourish and strengthen your hair and scalp.
However, there isn’t research to support these benefits quite yet. Still, many people use, enjoy, and highly recommend Epsom salt for their hair.
Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, is safe to use on your hair. It’s an affordable alternative to expensive volumizers or other hair care products. Pampering yourself in the shower can be good selfcare.
Though studies haven’t proven Epsom salt works for hair health and beauty, the best way to find out is to try it yourself.
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