If you’ve read any of my other posts or follow us on social media then you know that normally I write all about horses. So this is my first time where I’m going to talk about you instead! Today I’m going to answer the question: can I use horse shampoo to make my hair longer and thicker?
I figured I should mix it up a little bit. Plus, I keep hearing about this rumour over and over again.
So is it true?
Can horse shampoo make your hair grow faster and thicker?
Note that since I wrote this article over three years ago, I’ve put a little update at the bottom!
Rumour has it horse shampoo works miracles – Is it true?
I’ve done some research into the matter and I’ve also explored some horse shampoos myself. I’ll bet you can already guess which brands they are…
But before we get into nitty gritty details – I’m going to save you a whole lot of hassle and tell you right now what I found. NO — horse shampoo cannot magically make your hair grow faster or thicker. Since there’s no medicinal or steroidal chemicals in it, it’s just not possible.
Generally, if you’re looking for a miracle unicorn product then it’s simply not out there.
Personally I hate articles that ramble on for a million years and then finally tell you what you came there to find out. So I thought I’d save you the hassle; however, at the same time there are some advantages to horse shampoo so keep reading if you’re curious about the subject.
Similarly, if you are curious on how to actually help your hair naturally achieve its maximum thickness and growing potential then I can tell you. Read on!
Everyone knows about Mane n’ Tail
Whether from television or from your experience with horses — even just because a friend told you to start using it, you’ve probably heard of this product.
So of course I decided to start using it because:
- Why not? Who doesn’t want longer, thicker, hair?
- It’s made for horses so that’s kind of a reason too, right?
So before I tell you exactly what I noticed and my experience with the product, I’m going to talk about the product in some detail. I’ll also let you know what research I did before using it.
The low down on Mane n’ Tail
This brand is known for their horse shampoo and conditioner. They make a variety of offshoot products as well, including shampoos and conditioners especially for humans.
I didn’t use these! I only wanted to evaluate the one that was originally made for horses.
The original shampoo contains sodium chloride, fragrance and a concoction of proteins, among other things. The sodium chloride means that you shouldn’t use it on keratin treated hair. If that’s you, steer clear for now. Also don’t be alarmed at its blue colour.
Here’s the full ingredients list:
At first I was impressed because I’m not to seeing ingredient lists so short. I don’t know about you, but normally when I look at the back of my shampoo bottle, there’s at least 30 or more of things I can’t pronounce, much less understand.
I was also happy to see water, collagen and cocamide MEA. Water because I know what it is and it’s natural (obviously! haha). Collagen because I also know quite a bit about it in terms of arthritic supplements. Collagon is also also natural – the body’s extracellular matrix (the space between all of your cells) is full of it. If you’re interested, you can check out my post on equine joint supplements here.
And finally, I liked cocamide MEA because it’s a natural fatty acid found in coconuts. Again, it’s natural and it’s a fatty acid! Keep reading and I’ll tell you why that’s so important in a bit 🙂
Just because it happened to be the ingredient with the longest name one in the list, I decided to haphazardly do some research into Methylisothiazolinone. Unfortunately, this ingredient I was not quite as impressed with.
Basically it’s a preservative ingredient and it’s used in a lot of other shampoos and cosmetics to protect them from fungus and bacteria. This is of course important because you don’t want fungus on your scalp – EW!
There are, however, some papers saying that it can be an allergen. This isn’t actually that bad though (think of peanut butter – if you’re not allergic you can eat as much as you like). So just make sure you spot test a little bit on your skin before you wash your whole head with it.
The bigger deal that I found was one research paper published some (albeit pretty unconvincing and unrelated) evidence that this can be toxic to neuronal cells, which are cells of your nervous system. However, remember that your cells aren’t in direct contact with the shampoo – so there’s a disconnect there. Also, the paper was published in 2006 and tons of products on the market have Methylisothiazolinone in them.
I concluded from all of this that although it’s not the best ingredient, it’s necessary. It gets rid of all the gross stuff that might grow in your shampoo otherwise. Also, it’s present in such small concentrations that it’s not going to affect your nervous system. As long as you’re not drinking your shampoo (should be pretty obvious) and you’re not allergic to it, you should be just fine.
The main claims
On another note, I also wanted to tell you that the product’s makes three claims for what it can do for your horse’s (and maybe your) hair:
- cleans the hair thoroughly right down to the scalp without stripping essential oils of the hair
- repairs damage
- helps hair grow longer & thicker
So doesn’t that mean longer, thicker hair for us?
The short answer is potentially.
You’re probably thinking – wait a second, didn’t she just say at the beginning of the article that the shampoo doesn’t make your hair longer and thicker? And you’d be right. I did say that.
But here’s the fine line. The product won’t magically make your hair longer and thicker but it might help your hair keep its natural thickness and length.
You probably already know that your hair naturally grows in at a specific rate. It also naturally grows in at a specific thickness.
No shampoo that you use (unless it has steroids or some medicinal ingredients in it) will change this.
The clincher is that the shampoo and conditioner that you use does have an effect on how your hair behaves after that point. And so do a lot of other things. Do you style your hair often? Add a bunch of different products to it? Do you use heat on it often? Do you blow dry everyday?
All of these things break, stretch out, erode at and dry out your hair. Hair that breaks often and is stretched out too much is hair that won’t “grow as quickly”. Although it’s growing in at a certain rate it’s also breaking consistently. This means it’s shortening on one side while it’s growing on the other.
Similarly, hair that’s eroded and dried out will appear thinner, frizzier and duller.
This probably makes a whole lot of sense now but you might not have thought about quite that way. I know I didn’t before I took the time to actually write this and think about it more.
So now back to Mane N’ Tail. This product delivers a whole lot in terms of what it can do.
Whenever I read about shampoo reviews, I find that people and companies talk in very abstract terms so I’m going to make an effort to be as concrete as possible.
Note that when I used the product, I did not use any other products, I let my hair air dry and did not style it with a blowdryer or any heat. Also I have fairly curly, frizzy hair prone to dryness and breakage and I shampoo/condition it 2x a week.
This is what I found:
- Cleans hair and scalp extremely well – your head will feel cleaner than it has in a while!
- Does not dry out your scalp – if you have dandruff then this will do just as good a job, if not better, than another product specifically for dandruff and dry scalps.
- Your hair will come out SOFT and I mean soft.
- You’ll notice some shine that wasn’t there before – not as much as you’ll get with keratin products, but some.
- Your hair will be slightly less frizzy, as you can see in the picture (if you have frizz like me that is!).
- You will notice less hair breakage when you’re brushing your hair.
- You’ll experience an increase in energy and a burning desire to gallop around and start jumping fences (just kidding).
As you can see, this shampoo and conditioner has all the makings of something that could help you grow out your hair and keep its natural thickness intact.
So, what method actually works then?
Okay so now we know – use Mane N’ Tail and don’t use too much heat and random products on your hair. Also don’t pull at it, brush it too vigorously or rub it with a rough towel.
Basically treat it nicely so it the protective layers won’t wear off and it won’t break. That’s pretty obvious.
But now what? The question remains – how do you actually make your hair MORE thick and grow MORE quickly?
As soon as I tell you the answer you’re going to realize it was so obvious the whole time. It’s all in your diet!
You really are what you eat. Your entire body functions and grows on the fuel you give it – aka food!
So in order to make your hair grow in thicker and faster, you’ve got to make sure you’re eating foods that will allow your body to more efficiently produce hair.
And here I’m going to return to the little comment I made about fatty acids. Fatty acids are KEY to thicker, healthier and faster growing hair. Except you don’t just want them in your shampoo, you want them in your FOOD!
Think omega 3 fatty acids: fish and eggs (the yolk in particular) and chia seeds. The entire family of omega fatty acids (3, 6, and 9s) are even better. Generally I recommend getting the fish-based liquid capsules and take those as directed on the bottle.
I do this myself. I started doing it because of a dog I owned when I was young. Her name was Rica and she was the runt of the litter. When I first brought her home, all her fur was falling out and she was extremely sickly.
The woman who sold her to me told me I could come back and exchange her for a healthier dog in the litter. But there was NO way I was doing that! She was part of the family now.
So, naturally I did all the research I possibly could on hair growth and fur growth. This is the perfect example of how health and hair growth are very closely linked. The healthier you are the better your hair will grow – end of story.
I found out that you could boost overall health (and hair growth!) by taking omega 3 fatty acids. So I bought a big bottle of the capsules and broke one open over her food twice a day.
Within a month, her coat was probably thicker and shinier than any of the other dogs in the litter or that I knew. Since then I do this for all my animals AND myself! And it works like a charm every time.
In case you were wondering which supplement I use – my favourite is from Krill fish oil.
Of course you are not limited to this. You may also have come across Wild Growth Hair Oil, Lipogaine, Infinite Growth and many other products as a way to re-grow your hair. You can use any source of omega 3 including just eating more foods rich with it. Just make sure you eat enough to see an effect!
Good habits will never fail you or your horse
This was a learning process for me, but one that I really enjoyed. I hope that we can keep up the habits together to get thicker, longer and healthier hair 🙂
To finish off, here’s a summary list of what you need to do:
- Use a great shampoo and conditioner combo like Mane N’ Tail.
- Don’t over-wash your hair (2x is week is good!) as it will dry it out.
- Avoid heat and other products – the more natural you leave it the better.
- Let your hair air dry whenever possible.
- Do not be aggressive when brushing your hair out – I like using a wide toothed comb.
- Don’t be aggressive rubbing your hair to towel dry – try using a t-shirt and just squeeze excess water out.
- Incorporate omega 3 (or even better 3, 6 and 9) fatty acids into your daily diet!
- If you have pets – horses included! – all these rules apply just as well 🙂
Hopefully you’ve found what you’re looking for in this post! Don’t be shy to comment below and let me know what you think. If you decide to try out the strategies I use, let me know how you like them and if they’ve worked for you!
Just wanted to add some updates to this post as it’s been a little while since I wrote it.
I did really like Mane N Tail, but over time I wanted something that smelled a little bit better to be completely honest. I don’t know what it was but I just wasn’t loving the smell of it in the morning.
So I actually went back to a shampoo and conditioner I used to use a long time ago. You’ve probably heard of it before – it’s called Biolage. Most drug stores unfortunately don’t sell it but sometimes you can buy it at bigger department stores. Luckily for me, you can also get it online since I’m not that close to a store.
Below are the shampoo ingredients – unfortunately a little bit more hefty of a list which I’m not the biggest fan of. I actually did look into Lush for this exact reason about 2 or 3 years ago. Lush’s shampoo and conditioners smell pretty good for the most part and they are all natural but they’re almost too natural for me. For me, they “thickened” my hair by physically coating the strands with some sort of waxy material. This made my hair less frizzy but overall heavier and actually over time caused it to thin.
This is my hair a 1 year later after using Biolage, eating well (which maybe wasn’t so great for my hips!) and getting lots of omega 3s.
Eating well is also one thing that will do wonders for your hair. But there’s a fine balance between eating well and eating so much that your figure suffers. Obviously, we’d all like to eat well and exercise enough to compensate but busy lifestyles can make that super tricky.
If you are interested in trying Biolage, here are links to the products I personally use:
As a last resort, if you’ve got hormone issues or your hair has been falling out and you’re not sure why, make sure that you see your family doctor about it. Sometimes hair falling out in chunks can be a sign of an underlying hormonal or endocrine problem that’s important for the doctor to check out for you.
Some oral birth control pills also work miracles for skin, hair and nails because of the regular estrogen that your body is getting. I understand that a lot of people don’t like the idea of exogenous hormones but “naturally” women were meant to start getting pregnant around age 16-17 before any form of birth control existed. That’s how we all evolved as a species. With pregnancy comes a lot of hormones so now that women aren’t getting pregnant until late 20s, early 30s, it’s not necessarily “natural” either to just keep on normal period patterns that whole time.
Something to keep in mind!