The word “spirulina” first hit my ears while I was working as an editor for the Kardashian sisters’ Official Apps™. Kourtney emailed in the recipe for Spirulina Popcorn, a healthy snack she regularly makes for her kids. (Spoiler alert: The recipe involves sprinkling spirulina powder on top of popcorn. That’s it.) I rolled my eyes and moved onto the next very important thing on my desk: ranking Khloé’s most prominent red carpet camel toes.
But once I’d heard about it, spirulina seemed to pop up everywhere. I read it in Instagram captions detailing the contents of a picture-perfect smoothie, saw it on the supplement shelves of Whole Foods, and yes, even spotted it in haircare products.
To back up a bit: Spirulina is a “superfood,” a blue-green algae that can be taken in powder or capsule form. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and studies have shown that it can lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, control blood sugar, and detoxify the body from heavy metals. Some, uh, alternative sites even claim it has anti-cancer benefits. On top of that, a single spoonful of spirulina delivers heaping helpings of protein; vitamins B1, B2, and B3; copper; and iron. But the thing that really sold me on spirulina? It’s also supposed to give you longer, stronger hair — whether you put it in your smoothie or on your scalp.
“While in university, I started playing with spirulina by adding it to my haircare and I loved the results: strong, shiny hair,” Nadine Artemis, the founder of natural beauty brand Living Libations, tells Mane Addicts. According to Artemis, the high-protein algae is “a pure powerhouse that protects your magnificent mane with a forcefield of nature’s most fortifying compounds.” Translation: It increases the strength of your strands, adds volume, and can even soothe a dry, flaky scalp. “Brimming with botanical treasures, it can bring balance to your scalp and hair,” the founder says (very poetically, I might add). The ingredient has since become the star of Living Libations True Blue Spirulina Shampoo and Conditioner.
For these reasons, spirulina haircare is a must-try for “unruly tresses,” as Artemis calls them: “split ends; dry, damaged, and fine hair; and scalps that need some TLC.” The ingredient poses no major risks, and it’s safe for even the finest hair types to use. The one exception? If you’re dealing with low-porosity hair, you might not need all the protein spirulina provides.
The founder recommends shampooing and conditioning with spirulina-infused products one to three times a week for best results. “You can also give your hair a hand by adding spirulina to your diet,” Artemis says. “I like to add a few teaspoons to smoothies and homemade mint ice crème.” Or, you know, Spirulina Popcorn works, too.
Ahead, discover eight ways to treat your tresses to a serving of beauty’s buzziest superfood.