I've never been much of a DIYer.
Though I love the idea of creating my own all-natural cosmetics and beauty products, the fact of the matter is, I'm lazy.
I find it much easier to spend my money on overpriced products than to sit in my kitchen whipping up some weird concoction that may or may not leave me covered in a pimple-like rash.
But, here's the thing: I'm also, like most adults my age, f*cking poor. Spending $50 on a deep conditioning mask, though worth it, is not in my best interest (and my landlord would agree).
Recently, there's been a lot of talk in the beauty world about the supposed benefits of pouring Coca-Cola in your hair.
While I'm never going to succumb to this — something about soda in my hair makes me think about my clumsy middle school days in the worst way — there is another DIY hair treatment I've always been sort of intrigued by: the beer rinse.
According to beauty folklore, beer makes an amazing strengthening and shine treatment. It's believed the proteins in the beer can fill in and smooth cracked, damaged cuticles while the natural sugars and B vitamins add shine.
While I can't help but think pouring beer over my head seems like a waste of perfectly good beer, the potential payoff is too appealing not to try.
So last night, in the sake of beauty and financial security, I finally decided to give the beer rinse a go.
What the hell am I doing?
First, I had to do some research. Was there a certain type of beer I should use? Was I supposed to wash my hair first or just dump it in? Would I smell like a bad decision until my next shower?
My questions were all kindly laid out for me in a detailed How Stuff Works article. First: Any beer will do.
Since it's the sugar and proteins doing the work, I figured a full-bodied beer would be best — nothing watered down, thus, nothing “lite.”
The instructions indicated I should dilute the beer with a small amount of apple cider vinegar and water to reduce the frat-house smell, but I decided against doing so, wanting instead to harness the full effects of the bubbly stuff (even if it did smell strongly of a bar floor).
As to the process: I'd wash my hair first, as usual. After rinsing out the shampoo, I'd just pour my brew of choice onto my wet head and let it do its magic for the rest of my shower, approximately 20 minutes. Then, I'd rinse it out, condition if desired, et voilà: hair perfection.
I alerted my live-in butler boyfriend to the impending experiment and requested he buy me some beer -- one for my head and one to drink.
He presented me with two bottles: Coors Light and one Pacifico, my favorite. Since I'd decided against using light beer, I was resigned to drinking the Coors and using the Pacifico for my treatment.
After taking a few “before” pictures of my parched strands, I hopped in the shower and lathered up with my go-to Redken shampoo. I was ready to take the plunge.
It was the first time I'd ever wished for a warm beer.
Though I'd read it's best to warm the beer to room temperature prior to dumping it all over my head (and, as I'd soon learn, body), my laziness won out, and I skipped the warming session.
I didn't think it'd make much of a difference. The bottle wasn't chilled -- it was just slightly cool to the touch.
After I opened the bottle and released the fizzy contents on my head, I realized why the directions recommended warming the beer first.
There is nothing like pouring cold liquid on your head and body to make you regret every single decision you've ever made.
As I stood there, shivering, with cold beer dripping down my back, I momentarily considered giving up and sticking my head back under the increasingly inviting stream of hot water. But beauty prevailed.
Because hair tends to drip when it's wet, I gathered my strands into a top knot in an attempt to keep the beer in my hair while I continued my shower.
It seemed to work, and although some of the brew definitely escaped my tresses, a good amount managed to stay put. Success.
After 15 minutes or so, I undid the bun and rinsed out my newly-treated locks. To my dismay, my hair did not feel, as I'd hoped, perfectly smooth and silk-like but rather slightly rougher than usual.
It almost felt gritty, similar to the way hair feels straight after a dip in the ocean or after using a texturizer.
I hoped I didn't f*ck anything up and again wished I just drank the beer instead of, literally, pouring it down the drain.
Because my “before” picture was on day-old, air-dried hair, I decided to try and recreate the same circumstances before examining my newly treated hair to ensure an even playing field.
So I combed it, braided it and went to sleep as normal.
Drunk in love
I woke up this morning half-excited and half-terrified. As I studied my still-braided strands, I noticed no damage (but also no miracles).
But as I unwound the braids, feeling defeated by my experiment, I noticed something: My hair felt a lot softer than it normally does -- and it felt lighter.
Combing my fingers through my hair confirmed: It was definitely softer.
Later, at work, a coworker commented my hair looked "really shiny,” another success.
Though throughout the course of the day, my natural frizziness kicked in and killed my dreams of newly smoothed hair, my strands did remain noticeably softer and shinier than usual, even if it wasn't by epic proportions.
One of my biggest fears prior to the treatment was the beer would leave me smelling like an alcoholic's wet dream, but fortunately, that was not the case.
In fact, I couldn't smell it at all, even when I ungracefully stuck my hair up against my nose.
By all accounts, the beer rinse was a success.
As to whether I'll ever try it again, perhaps.
Part of me (OK, all of me) still prefers the luxe conditioners and oils I can't afford and shouldn't buy.
And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm much more likely to just complain about the state of my hair than I am to actually gather up the energy to actually do something about it.
That said, if I were to be hit with a sudden surge of determined energy (or more likely, a last-minute hair disaster), I feel confident knowing I could do a beer rinse again and emerge triumphant and delightfully shiny.