Never has there been more talk about the health benefits of beer, which is great news for brew lovers who enjoy nothing better than this refreshing drink after a long hard day, on a lazy summer afternoon, at a ball game, and almost anywhere else, other than behind the wheel, of course.
According to scientists, it’s the flowers in the hops plants we have to thank. Hops are used in beer recipes to balance flavor by adding bitter notes to the sweet, malty flavor of the beer, and they apparently pack a nutritional boost too. When consumed moderately, some studies have shown that it’s actually good for the muscles and bones, lowers the risk of heart disease and is rich in B vitamins as well as containing fiber.
But beer not only can be consumed to enjoy its benefits, it can be used aesthetically as well. And, with more and more people hearing about it through the grapevine, odds are, you may have wondered if you should be bathing in it too.
Bathing in beer dates back to ancient times…
Although you might think it’s simply a novelty, the history of soaking in beer actually stems all the way back to ancient times, with beer baths enjoyed more than 2,000 years ago.
Ancient Egyptian and Roman women were said to have used it regularly as part of their beauty routine for helping to keep their skin silky smooth and to enjoy a more even skin tone. Perhaps inspired by this ancient wisdom, there are even some cosmetic companies today who are adding brewer’s yeast to their products, claiming that it helps the skin maintain a healthy pH balance and to combat acne.
Beer spas have been popping up across Europe, and more recently, in the U.S. too…
Taking this trend a step further, beer spas have been gaining in popularity. They started in Europe, in countries like the Czech Republic, Germany and Australia, many of which are housed in breweries. They offer a menu of beer-inspired treatments such as healing baths, facials, wraps, and massages, like the Beer Spa in Prague, which allows guests to have a dip in a bath filled with the all-natural ingredients used for beer brewing, including barley, hops, and yeast, all kept at a steady 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and continuously bubbling to “promote dissolution of ingredients,” releasing vitamins, carbohydrates, and proteins, according to the business. Plus, during a 30-minute bar and bath session, spa-goers can pour as much of the company’s home-brewed offerings as they can consume from a tub-side tap, before concluding their session with a 20-minute massage, or by relaxing on a heated bed.
America has beer spas now too, in fact, the first one opened up in early 2016 in Sisters, Oregon. Hop in the Spa is similar to the European model, offering baths in pure beer with taps on the walls to drink as you soak. Visitors start out with a pint of beer before enjoying a 25-minute microbrew soak, or perhaps the “hops on the body” treatment where they’re wrapped up in a sheet that’s been steeped in herbs and hops. There are all sorts of other options too, like the “ale foot soak” and the “brew and renew body polish,” which is said to give the skin a gorgeous glow.
The hops are also known to help calm the nerves and moisturize the skin, which is why a beer spa is especially recommended for those who are suffering from dry skin or other skin conditions, as well as those who are battling anxiety or insomnia.
But does it really work? Should you be bathing in a tub of beer?
So far, there hasn’t been much scientific research conducted on the effects of bathing in beer, although those who have done it have reported not only feelings of “blissful relaxation,” but smoother, clearer skin.
There are, however, some health benefits, whether you’re drinking or bathing in it, that have been confirmed in scientific studies. For example, University of Idaho researchers presented findings at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in January 2016 that showed a key ingredient in beer may be used in the fight against cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Acids referred to as humulones and lupulones, which are found in hops, have the ability to halt bacterial growth and disease, and experts say they hope to find a way to extract these compounds or synthesize them in a lab in order to develop active agents for cancer-treating pharmaceuticals. There have been other studies that show beer can reduce the chances of kidney stones, lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks, and decrease the chance of developing brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
What the believers say
Given all of that, it doesn’t seem a far stretch to say that beer can benefit one’s skin. Dr. Roman Vokaty even partnered with the Czech Republic beer spa at Chodovar brewery as he says he believes that the beer baths “have curative effects on the complexion and hair, relieves muscle tension, warms up joints and supports (the) immune system.”
Other believers have noted that each and every ingredient in a beer bath has a purpose, underlining just why so many people who try them, return again and again. The warm, soothing water helps to open up the pores, draw out toxins and stimulate the circulatory system. The hops help to exfoliate the skin by sloughing off the dead upper layer. The yeast in beer is also considered to be quite healing, containing both saccharides and B vitamins that are believed to help improve skin elasticity and acne by slowing the production of sebum and eradicating zit-causing bacteria. The bubbling carbonated water further helps by infusing the bath with minerals and inviting soakers to slip into deep relaxation – and, that alone, we think makes it well-worth it!
Using beer for its beautifying benefits at home:
If you don’t happen to live near a beer spa, you can take advantage of its benefits right at home.
Make a beer bubble bath.
While you may not want to simply immerse yourself in a tub of beer, this homemade beer bath recipe is a great one for taking advantage of its beneficial properties. All you need is an olive oil-based soap or castile soap and some beer. Add it underneath the bath water while it’s running, and simply adjust the level of ingredients to your own particular preference.
Rinse your hair with it.
Rinsing your hair with beer helps to give it more shine and body – in fact, it was the late First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, who brought this idea into the mainstream in the 1960s. You can also use it by adding it to your favorite shampoo for extra volume and shine at the fraction of the price of a salon treatment. All you need to do is mix a cup of beer into a half-cup of shampoo. As your hair dries, the beer smell will fade.
Soothe tired feet with a beer foot bath.
To soothe your tired feet, combine a cup of whole milk, 2 tablespoons raw honey and a bottle of beer into 6 cups of hot water in a large tub. Soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes and then gently pat dry with a towel. They’ll be soft and energized afterward!