Cardi B recently set the social media world ablaze when she shared an unorthodox secret to healthy hair on Instagram: onion water.

According to the rapper, the DIY at-home treatment made her hair shiner after only two washes. The supposed before-and-after photos she uploaded to Instagram prove that.

She may be the first female rapper with three single diamond certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America (Paper Magazine). Still, she is not the first to use at-home hair treatments. Cardi B received a lot of praise from her followers for using the natural remedy. It is deeply embedded in ayurvedic practices and Dominican culture (though it needs to be clarified where it originated). William Gaunitz is a certified hair and scalp specialist and founder of Advanced Trichology, Phoenix, Arizona. He says that hair loss patients have discussed this natural remedy for years.

Gaunitz claims that onion water’s hair benefits are valid to a certain extent. However, he doesn’t support it unconditionally because it is “subject to a random formula” that can or won’t work.

Cardi B’s method involved boiling the onions in water. Gaunitz notes that patients have made a juice-like mixture of onions that they then use for scalp treatment.

Others chop the vegetable and add it to their shampoo. Angie Martinez Tejada, a PureWow author, discovered the trick from her Dominican mom. After using the onion shampoo, she used a second shampoo which she claims masks any onion smells.

What does science have to say about this hair-raising trick? We break down everything you need before dipping your hair into onion water.

What are the Health Benefits Of Onion Water For Hair?

The health benefits of onions may mean that the vegetable could offer many hair benefits. Kerry Yates is a Dallas-based trichologist who founded Colour Collective. She says that onions are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids and have antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. She says these properties could be used to treat fungal infections like dandruff. Although there is little high-quality research about how these properties affect your scalp, a review published in 2020 in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences highlighted the antifungal and antibiotic potential of onion extract and onion oils.

While research is still limited on the practical applications of onions for hair, one past study showed that onion water might help to promote hair growth in people with hair loss conditions.

Thirty-eight participants were women and men who applied onion or tap water twice daily to their scalps for two months. Twenty-eight people, or 87 percent, experienced regrowth six weeks after the trial ended. Only two people in the tap water group saw the same effect. This study is small, so further research is required to understand the potential impact.

You may find onion juice beneficial for your hair. Gantz says that onion water has a very high sulfur content. High levels of sulfur can also be found in meats, eggs, and other alliaceous vegetables like garlic. According to The New York Times, this nutrient can make you weep after cutting onions. Gantz says that sulfur can also have side effects. “Sulfur is an OTC treatment for inflammatory skin conditions, applied to the scalp. It works well for many people with inflammatory hair loss issues.

Gantz says that onion water will not work for all hair types, including hair loss due to nutrient deficiency or androgenetic. Research has not shown that onion juice can reduce dihydrotestosterone levels, which could lead to androgenetic hair loss. It has not been proven to increase protein or Vitamin D levels in the hair follicles, which could lead to nutritional hair loss.

It is best to consult a dermatologist or trichologist in either one of these cases.

What are the potential side effects of Onion Water for hair?

Yates warns that onions can be allergic, so avoid applying them topically and in onion water.

Even if you aren’t allergic to onion water, it is essential to wash your scalp thoroughly to avoid irritation. According to the Environmental Working Group, it’s unlikely but not impossible that it could cause skin irritation.

Although onions are not a side effect, it is a familiar smell. Gantz says that the onion scent should be diluted with shampoo after washing.

How to Use Onion water for Healthy Hair

Gaunitz warns against boiling or cooking onion water hair remedies. He explains that the onion’s raw, uncooked nature has medicinal properties.

According to the New Jersey Hair Restoration Center, here’s an alternative method.

  1. Chop three to four onions into small pieces.
  2. You can extract the juice by either squeezing them or blending them.
  3. Use a cotton pad to apply the juice to your scalp. You can add Yates to the mixture if you wish to mask the onion smell.
  4. It should be massaged into your scalp. Let it sit for at least an hour before you rinse. Then rinse with your regular shampoo.

Yates recommends using a topically applied haircare product such as shampoo, conditioner, or oil that contains onion juice if you are hesitant about making your onion water solution.

Hair-Healthy Alternatives To Onion Water

Experts are not all in favor of the onion water trend. William Yates, MD, a Chicago-based surgeon for hair loss, says that onions are a powerful antioxidant. However, I would not invest too much in medically speaking in the latest social media trend or one celebrity swear to. The truth is that hair loss or lack thereof, is genetically determined. Besides the fact that you inherit certain traits from your parents, hair density is largely predetermined.

Instead, he recommends “getting enough nutrition by eliminating processed food and choosing a diet high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.” The Cleveland Clinic offers similar advice to prevent hair loss. They recommend that you eat protein-rich foods and a Mediterranean Diet.

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