In our kitchen we can find a little treasure for the care of our hair, corn starch! Oh yes, in fact cornstarch is not only useful for making cakes and pastries, giving them softness, but also for preparing hair masks and even emergency dry shampoos. But let's try to understand better.
Corn starch, benefits
Corn starch is obtained by grinding the grain of corn and the result is a very fine powder. Beyond its use in the kitchen, corn starch is actually also a precious cosmetic, which can appear as an ingredient in face creams but also hair products. Its action is absorbent, useful for capturing excess oil but also excessive humidity, which would favor the growth of fungi and yeasts (Leyden et al, Pediatric Dermatology, 1984). In this sense, its properties are similar to those of talc, but unlike the latter, corn starch is considered absolutely safe (Gunt et al, J Drugs Dermatol, 2018 - Whysner et al, Am J Obstet Gynecol, 2000 ). Not only that, corn starch strengthens the skin barrier, is emollient and helps retain water in the tissues with a deep moisturizing action. Thanks to these characteristics, corn starch reduces the risk of dermatitis and the damage caused by friction, which instead weakens the hair (Gunt et al, J Drugs Dermatol, 2018).
Cornstarch for dry shampoo
Thanks to its absorbent properties you can use cornstarch as an emergency dry shampoo. Simply distribute a spoonful of cornstarch powder on the roots, massage quickly, leave to act for a couple of minutes and then brush well. In the case of dark hair you can also add a teaspoon of cocoa powder to the cornstarch, which will help camouflage any whitish halo. In any case, this is an emergency remedy and it is always important to take care of the hygiene of your head, ensuring regular washing, which is also useful for removing traces of pollution that can increase inflammation, the levels of free radicals and may alter the hair growth (Jun et al, Ann Dermatol, 2020).
Cornstarch also lends itself to making a very special gel, an excellent base for hair masks. In a saucepan, pour 200 ml of water and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Mix well to avoid the formation of lumps. Place the saucepan on the stove over low heat and let it cook, stirring constantly. After 5 minutes the liquid will begin to thicken, remove from heat and leave to cool. Although the gel will be a little fluid at first, it will thicken as it returns to room temperature. That is why it is important to remove the saucepan from the heat in time and not want to immediately get a product with a gel consistency. In this case the final result could really become too thick, difficult both to apply and to remove. The cornstarch gel thus obtained is an excellent hair mask, especially for oily hair but also for dry and dull hair. Apply the product to damp hair, going from roots to ends. Cover with transparent film, so that the gel does not dry out, and leave it on for 20-30 minutes, then proceed with shampoo and conditioner. It is also possible to use this mask as a post-shampoo product, especially in the case of very oily or even very dry hair, but, in any case, it must always be rinsed and then conditioner should be applied. Finally, a couple of recommendations. Leftover gel can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than two days, then thrown away. Do not freeze cornstarch gel in the freezer as it will become unusable.
Recipes for making cornstarch gel-based hair masks and dyes
In the previous paragraph we saw how to use cornstarch gel as a hair mask. In addition, this product lends itself to interesting customizations. For example, cornstarch gel is the perfect base to add a couple of tablespoons of henna, as the dyeing power of the herb is not affected by the gel. Indeed, the gel added to the dye will help make it easier to spread, avoid annoying drips and will help nourish the hair. Cornstarch gel can also replace the watery part in masks prepared with powders and herbs, such as amla, which is useful for combating hair loss. Three tablespoons of amla can be mixed with the gel to obtain a creamy mixture to be applied to clean, damp hair. There are those who also use cornstarch gel as a styling gel, but in this case it must be said that it is important to use it in very small quantities to prevent the hair strands from hardening. Finally, here are some more ideas. To make the hair mask prepared with cornstarch even richer and more nourishing, you can replace the water with coconut milk, the doses are the same. Coconut milk, thanks to its oils, helps counteract free radical damage and inflammation, strengthens the skin's natural protective barrier, fights skin infections, is moisturizing, emollient and reduces protein loss by hair (Varma et al, J Tradit Complement Med, 2019). As an alternative to coconut milk, you can use an infusion, such as hibiscus tea, which is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, or even rosemary tea, which has a stimulating effect on microcirculation and hair growth (Murata et al, Phytother res, 2013). In the latter case, just consider that the rosemary infusion tends to slightly darken the hair. Then, to the already finished gel you can add 1-2 drops of an essential oil, such as lavender oil, which promotes hair growth and soothes irritations. But you can also add pure vegetable oils such as a teaspoon of coconut or argan oil to the cornstarch gel, which nourish the hair. In this case, however, it is better to make a pre-shampoo pack so as not to make the hair oily.