Whether you spend most of your time indoors or outside, your hair and scalp suffer the effects of a dry climate, salty sea breezes, chemical-laden shampoo, or the dehydrating effect of constant air conditioning.
Layer on the impacts caused by exposing the very tippy top of your body to the beating sun, and you have a perfect recipe for dry, brittle hair and an itchy, flaky scalp.
But there is a solution, most likely one that you’ve never even considered: Quark.
Similar to cottage cheese or yogurt but with a creamier, silkier texture, Quark is a European cheese that originated around the 15th century.
But, unlike yogurt, Quark is fermented with different strains of beneficial bacteria (Mesophilic Lactococcus) that may aid the body in a number of ways.
Protein rich, high in vitamins like B2, B6, and B12 and elevated calcium and phosphorus, Quark is indubitably one of the unsung superfoods in your shopping cart.
The hair up there
As you know, hair strands are made up primarily of proteins, so as hair is exposed to the variety of environmental stresses, it is the proteins that begin to break down and show wear.
These strains on the strands reveal themselves as dry, limp locks, frizzy fronds, and broken, split ends. Doesn’t sound terribly attractive.
But living in a dry, mountain climate, my scalp really takes a beating from the dry air and frequent exposure to high mountain sunshine.
It’s a constant battle to keep my head adequately moisturized, nourished, and comfortable, even when I wear a hat (which we all should do when venturing outside!).
Additionally, hair care products full of synthetic and harsh ingredients do a number on your head, stripping the hair and scalp of their natural moisture while attempting to replace the natural ecosystem in your scalp with a man-made alternative.
Add sculpting products like gels and hair sprays (and silicone,) and it is a veritable chemical onslaught up there that needs a more natural, gentle touch to remain comfortable and vibrant.
A scalp mask – like a hat, but cooler!
While people around the world have been eating Quark straight out of the container and adding it to recipes for generations, not many people are likely aware of another quirky but effective use as a natural hair and scalp moisturizing solution.
To start, this is the simplest recipe for a Quark-based scalp mask in the world, containing only two ingredients, both of which may be found in your refrigerator right this minute – an egg and some quark:
- 1 egg yolk (a rich source of protein and fat to strengthen and moisturize)
- 6 tablespoons of Quark
Simply mix the egg yolk and Quark together in a small bowl, then glop it on your hair and scalp, massaging it in to your hair gently and deeply, especially paying attention to the ends and tips.
Chill out and wait for 20 minutes or so, ideally covering your hair and scalp in a shower cap, which will aid the penetration of the mix into your hair, then gently rinse completely with plain water. Afterwards, wash your hair with both shampoo and conditioner, as you normally would.
Pro tip: Be mindful when you first start to rinse, paying special attention to the temperature of the water. If it is too hot, you may inadvertently cook the egg, making it chunky and sticky in your hair. Keep it slightly cool until you are sure the mixture is out before you crank up the heat.
Prone to dandruff? This is the recipe for you! In a bowl, mix together:
- 1 cup of Quark
- 5 cups of fenugreek seed powder (available on Amazon or possibly the seeds and nuts aisle of the grocery store)
- 1 cup of lemon juice
Brush the mixture into your scalp, then cover with a shower cap for about 45 minutes or so. Wash (with shampoo) and rinse as you normally would at least twice a week for a month for quick results!
For really damaged hair, break out the avocado!
- ½ medium avocado mashed into a smooth paste in a bowl
- 1 cup of Quark
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of honey
Mix all ingredients together, then apply to hair and scalp. Again, pay special attention to the tips and ends. Cover with a shower cap and wait 20 minutes (read a magazine, listen to some soft music, you get it…)
Rinse and wash with shampoo as normal. Do this once a week for a noticeable improvement to both the shine and silky feel of your hair and scalp.
From the inside
Aside from treatments to apply to your head, hair and scalp care is one area where you can treat your body nicely from the inside as well.
As Quark is a great part of your external moisturizing practice, using it to support your inner health is smart too.
The multitude of benefits stated above (low fat, high protein, lots of vitamins and minerals) makes Quark a great substitute for less healthy foods, such as cream cheese.
The protein content alone has a direct benefit (as your hair is mostly proteins) supported by the B vitamins and other minerals.
So while Quark is widely known around the world as a tasty, nutritious, and widely available ingredient for many mealtime treats, it also does a body good by keeping your hair and scalp moist, vibrant, and silky smooth at the same time.
Hats off to that!