Is This Onion Water Hack the Secret to Healthy Hair?

Is This Onion Water Hack the Secret to Healthy Hair?

Hair professionals offer their opinions on this novel beautification technique promoted by singer Cardi B.

Don’t throw away your conditioner just yet; some people contend that this appliance from the kitchen can encourage better hair.

Cardi B recently ignited social media when she posted on Instagram to reveal an unorthodox method for maintaining healthy hair: onion water. The artist claims the do-it-yourself, at-home procedure has made her hair shinier after just two treatments, and the purported before-and-after photos she shared to Instagram are unquestionably compelling.

Although, according to Paper Magazine, she is the first female rapper to receive three platinum single awards from the Recording Industry Association of America, she was not the first to use the at-home hair treatment. Many fans who flocked to Cardi B’s comments section applauded the performer for using the natural treatment because it is firmly ingrained in Dominican culture and ayurvedic practices (although it is uncertain where the practice began). And according to William Gaunitz, a trained trichologist and owner of Advanced Trichology in Phoenix, Arizona, his patients who are experiencing hair loss have been talking about using this natural remedy for years.

According to Gaunitz, statements about onion water’s advantages for hair “hold validity to some extent.” He does, nonetheless, express some reservations about the practice because “it’s subject to a random recipe” with a “variety of variables” that may or may not be effective. While Cardi B’s workaround involved boiling onions and using the resulting water, Gaunitz adds that he has come across patients who have blended onions to create a juice-like liquid, which they then apply to their scalps and wash off in the bathtub.

Others mince the veggie and incorporate it into their wash. For PureWow writer Angie Martinez-Tejada, who heard about the alleged ruse from her Dominican mother, this is the situation. She first used an onion shampoo, which she claims covers any residual onion smell, and then she used another shampoo. But what does science have to say about this scandalous trick? Before you soak your tresses in onion water, we break down everything you need to know.

What Are the Health Benefits of Onion Water for Hair?

The health benefits of onions suggest the food may provide a variety of advantages for the tresses. Kerry Yates, a trichologist and the creator of Dallas-based Color Collective, claims that onions have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties because they are high in vitamins and flavonoids. These characteristics make it a possible treatment for dandruff-causing fungal diseases, she continues. The antifungal and antimicrobial potential of onion extract and onion essential oils was mentioned in a review article released in 2020 in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences, despite the dearth of high-quality study on how these qualities affect your scalp.

While there is little research on the practical uses of onions for hair, a previous study found that individuals with the hair-loss disease alopecia areata may benefit from using onion water to encourage hair regrowth. For two months, 38 women and men in the research applied onion juice or stream water twice daily to their scalps. By six weeks into the study, 20 of the 23 individuals who consumed onion juice (or 87 percent) had experienced regrowth, compared to just two in the tap water group. However, because of the study’s small sample size, more analysis is required to completely comprehend this possible impact. One explanation why onion juice might benefit your tresses is? According to Gaunitz, onion water has a very high acid concentration. According to prior studies, you can also find high amounts of sulfur in other meals like meat, eggs, cruciferous vegetables, and other alliaceous vegetables like garlic. After chopping scallions, this vitamin makes you cry, according to The New York Times. But it can also have other effects, according to Gaunitz: “Sulfur works for many people who have inflammatory hair loss issues because it is a common OTC treatment for inflammatory skin conditions when applied to the scalp.”

Be aware, however, that not all kinds of hair loss, such as androgenetic alopecia and hair loss brought on by nutrient deficits, will respond favorably to onion water, according to Gaunitz. There is no evidence to support the idea that onion juice could reduce amounts of dihydrotestosterone to ward off androgenetic baldness. Additionally, it hasn’t been demonstrated to increase vitamin D or protein levels at the root of hair follicles, which could contribute to nutrient-related hair loss.

It’s best to seek advice from a licensed physician or trichologist in either of those situations.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Onion Water for Hair?

Yates cautions against using scallions directly if you have an onion allergy. This includes using onion water.

In order to avoid irritation, make sure to completely wash the onion water out of your hair, even if you are not sensitive to onions. (The Environmental Working Group says it’s rare but not impossible that it could irritate your epidermis.) Even though smelling like onions isn’t a negative health impact, it’s definitely not the scent you’re going for. The good news, according to Gaunitz, is that when shampoo is used, “the onion smell should come right out” after washing.

How to Use Onion Water for Healthy Hair?

Gaunitz recommends against heating or boiling them if you’re interested in trying the onion water hair cure. The fresh onion itself contains the [theoretical] therapeutic qualities, he says.

Instead, the New Jersey Hair Restoration Center suggests the following alternative approach:

  • Peel and chop three to four onions into small pieces.
  • Extract the juice by squeezing or blending them.
  • Apply the juice to your scalp using a cotton pad. Optionally, adds Yates, you can add a little lemon juice if you want to offset the smell of the onion.
  • Massage it into the scalp, let it sit for an hour, and then rinse. Follow with a second cleanse of your usual shampoo.

Yates advises choosing an external haircare therapy like shampoo, conditioner, or oil containing onion juice if you’re hesitant to make your own onion water solution.

Hair-Healthy Alternatives to Onion Water

Not every expert supports the onion water fad. While onions can be a potent antioxidant, William Yates, MD, a hair loss physician in Chicago, advises against putting too much faith in the newest social media craze or a product that celebs swear by. The reality is that a large portion of your hair growth (or absence thereof) is predetermined by your genes. Your hair density is largely set based on genetic characteristics from your parents, with the exception of illness, which we saw happen very frequently with COVID, and hormonal imbalances.

The emphasis should be on “getting enough nutrients by avoiding processed foods and choosing a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals,” he recommends. Similar recommendations are made by The Cleveland Clinic to stop hair loss, adding that a Mediterranean diet and foods high in protein may be particularly helpful. As for your hair-care routine: “Remove any harsh chemicals such as phthalates, sulfates, and alcohol,” Dr. Yates recommends.

The Takeaway 

It’s not a novel idea to use onion water to enhance the health of your skin and the look of your hair; this practice has roots in both Dominican and Ayurvedic traditions. Overall, there is not enough scientific proof to back the general use of onion treatments for scalp and hair problems, despite some claims that they can reduce dandruff, stop hair loss, and increase shine. Consult a dermatologist or trichologist before attempting the DIY therapy because not all hair issues can benefit from it, even though the potential risk and expense are low.

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