Adding flaxseed to your morning smoothie or açaí bowl is great and all, but there is so much more to flax than just aiding in digestion. Flaxseed comes in two main varieties, brown and golden, both of which are known for their powerful digestion-regulating properties. Often sold in bulk, whole and ground flaxseed have gotten a reputation in health communities for enhancing recipes like smoothies, salads, granola, and even working as a thickening agent in place of eggs. (Ever seen a flaxseed “egg” in the co-op or heard of a flaxseed “egg wash?”)
But flaxseed is more than just trendy. It has so many delicious benefits for both the internal and external body. The alpha-linolenic acid in flaxseed helps reduce inflammation that can cause arthritis, asthma, chronic heart issues, diabetes, and even breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
So, is eating flaxseed the only way to reap its benefits? Of course not! Flaxseed does great things for our internal body, but it can also be used on our faces, hair, and skin. So, PSA: Flaxseed is no longer just for eating. Sure, it tastes good and has a whole lot of benefits when digested, but flaxseed can also de-frizz frizzy hair, treat acne, and so much more.
Keep reading for seven zero-waste ways to use flaxseed at home!
Calm down frizzy hair
Flaxseed hair gel is the newest beauty craze amongst curly-haired people. A mixture of 1/3 cup whole flaxseeds, 2 cups water, a few drops of rosemary essential oil, and a few drops of rose oil works to smooth frizzy hair and add shine. The flaxseed gel not only manages the frizz of curly hair, but it defines curls and waves a lot like a traditional gel (just without the nasty additives and chemicals). Click here for the blog Little DIY's full flaxseed hair gel recipe.
Use as butter and oil substitute
We all know we can eat flaxseed and cook with it. But did you know it makes a healthier substitute for butter and oil while baking? For every 1 tablespoon of butter or oil, substitute 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds.
Ingesting flaxseed in the place of butter and oil may improve digestion, lower cholesterol, reduce your cravings for sugar, balance hormones, prevent cancer, and promote weight loss.
Promotes hair growth
Not only does regular use of flaxseed gel on the hair prevent your hair from falling out, but it can actually promote hair growth. Because flaxseed is so full of vitamin E, using it on your hair prevents breakage (which eventually causes fallout), and causes your hair to grow strong.
Vitamin E reduces free radical damage of the hair, promoting a healthier scalp. It improves circulation in your head, which also slows the hair from suffering breakage.
To use flaxseed gel for the promotion of hair growth, mix flaxseeds, filtered water, and aloe vera gel with the essential oil of your choice. Bring the mixture of water and flaxseeds to a boil while stirring constantly; then add the gel and essential oils. You can apply the gel to your hair once daily. Click here for a full recipe from the blog Cool Things I Love.
Restore elasticity and erase wrinkles to skin
Yes, you can reap the benefits of flaxseed on your face. Flaxseed can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, combat free radical damage in your skin, and restore elasticity, all thanks to its high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
Want to reduce fine lines and wrinkles? Eat a tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily. (You can buy ground flaxseed, or if you only have whole flaxseeds, you can easily grind them yourself with a coffee grinder.)
Or maybe you’re looking to even out your skin tone and achieve a more radiant glow. Try a face mask of 1 tablespoon flaxseed, 1 teaspoon blue clay, and 2-4 drops of rose water, according to StyleCraze.
Alternatively, rejuvenate dry skin with a face mask of 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder, and 1 tablespoon yogurt. Mix into a paste, apply, and leave for 15 minutes. Wash it off and pat dry.
Because flaxseed is so rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, they cause our bodies to bounce back and heal quicker. Yep, flaxseeds actually cause speedier recoveries.
This holds true for bouts of skin inflammation, like we sometimes see in rashes. The good news is you can treat a rash (and most types of skin irritation or inflammation) with a concoction of ground flaxseed and either coconut or olive oil. Mix into a paste, then apply to the affected area. Keep applying until you see results.
If topical treatments don’t immediately do the trick, you can add a bit of ground flaxseed to your water and gulp it down the anti-inflammatory benefits that way.
Alleviate symptoms of dandruff
Speaking of the anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 fatty acids, that’s exactly what you need if you’re trying to get rid of dandruff. Flaxseed has proven effective in treating skin conditions like acne, eczema, and scalp conditions, but it is also thought to put a stop to dandruff. Flaxseeds stimulate the production of sebum in the scalp; this hydrates the scalp, therefore preventing it from flaking, what we call dandruff.
To combat dandruff, mix 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Massage the mixture into your scalp, covering hair from root all the way to tip. Next, wrap your hair in a towel while the mixture seeps in for an hour. Wash off with shampoo.
Clear up acne
Yes, flaxseed can work wonders for treating and preventing acne, too. Flaxseed stimulates and manages the production of sebum, the oil responsible for most acne on our face. Sebum is an oil, so it has a lot of moisture. As we all know, too much moisture or oil on the face can lead to acne breakouts. If this sebum is not properly managed, it can bind to dirt and other impurities, making our faces susceptible to acne.
To treat and fight off acne, make a mixture of 2 tablespoons of flaxseed, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of organic honey (if you are vegan or don't use use honey for any other reason, try maple syrup). Soak the flaxseeds in water overnight, then the following morning, mash up the mixture, and add lemon juice and honey. Apply the paste evenly to the face, and let it sit for a half an hour. Wash it off and pat dry. Repeat this mask twice weekly to see results.