From scalp serums to hair masks and prescription medications, many hair loss treatments promise to stimulate hair growth. But did you know that you may already have a natural remedy for thinning strands right in your kitchen? Believe it or not, onions aren’t just an ingredient to add to salads and sandwiches. This vegetable, especially its juice, could actually make hair look fuller. Onion juice, especially when made at home, is believed to help reduce hair loss by rejuvenating scalp cells and hair follicles. While this antioxidant-rich vegetable is already known to support bone health, heart health, and gut health, its benefits may spill over into the beauty space, too.
To get to the bottom of this fascinating method, we asked trichologists and doctors to help us understand exactly how onion juice can impact hair health. For starters, does onion juice really reduce hair loss? The short answer: Yes, it is possible! As for the long answer: you will only see potential regrowth after topical application of onion juice to your scalp if your hair loss is caused by a few specific issues. The experts have broken it down for us; find their ideas and suggestions below.
Why does onion juice prevent or reduce hair loss?
“Onion juice has the potential to help stimulate hair follicles and thereby encourage hair growth,” says Tiffany Young, certified trichologist and CEO and founder of ThinHairThick. “It is also a natural antiseptic. Hair loss caused by inflammatory disease, poor blood circulation and poor diet could see a benefit. Adds Andrea Paul, MD, the medical advisor for Illuminate Labs, “At least one medical trial has found raw onion juice applied topically to be effective in treating hair loss caused by alopecia areata.” Dr. Paul explains that this atypical pattern of hair loss is often caused by autoimmune diseases. Posted in the Journal of Dermatology, the study Dr. Paul mentioned found that participants with these conditions saw hair regrowth after two weeks of onion juice treatment. Four weeks later, 73.9% of patients saw their hair grow back. Six weeks later, 89.6% of patients saw their hair grow back.
The high sulfur content is what gives onion juice its anti-inflammatory properties to potentially treat alopecia areata, but it’s not enough to effectively treat other types of baldness. “Most hair loss is due to androgenetic alopecia, such as male or female pattern baldness, and there is no research to suggest that onion juice offers any benefit for this common genetic condition,” says Dr. Alan Bauman, ABHRS certified hair restoration surgeon. The reason? Both male and female pattern baldness are caused by a genetic sensitivity to a sex hormone, and there’s “no evidence that onion juice will help reduce this sensitivity” when applied topically, Dr. Bauman notes. . But if your hair loss is related to the aforementioned causes, Dr. Paul suggests trying onion juice, especially since there’s no real health risk.
What is the science behind this ingredient?
We’ve established that sulfur is the chemical that helps onion juice reduce hair loss, but how does this ingredient make our hair grow? It all boils down to giving your cells and hair follicles a boost. “Hair is made from a protein called keratin,” Young explains, “and the main building blocks of protein are amino acids.” Because onions have high levels of amino acids due to all that sulfur, topical application of onion juice to the scalp provides the necessary amino acids and B vitamins that aid in cell regeneration (which, in turn, results in the restoration of hair follicles).
Beyond cell regeneration, onion juice also contributes to overall scalp health. Specifically, these high levels of sulfur help cleanse the scalp, which can unclog follicles and jump-start their growth, says Dr. Cheryl Rosen, director of dermatology at BowTied Life. Onions also exhibit high levels of antioxidants, as well as antifungal and antibacterial properties, adds Dr. Bauman. This means that onion juice can both help protect hair from environmental damage and prevent scalp infections. Although this agent is safe to use and has notable benefits, Dr. Rosen emphasizes that it is not a medically approved treatment, so it should not be used as a replacement for prescribed treatments.
How can you incorporate onion juice into your hair care routine?
“There are a few hair products that contain onion juice as an ingredient for hair loss,” says Dr. Rosen. However, since the previously referenced study from the Journal of Dermatology based its findings on raw onion juice, our experts suggest following the DIY methods for optimal results. “Sulfur compounds work best when they’re fresh,” says Young. “Store products tend to include preservatives that would minimize the potency of onion juice.” To follow the exact methods employed in the medical study, you’ll need Australian brown onions and a blender, says Dr. Paul. “The onions were cut into small pieces and pressed using a blender. No additives were used in the study, so it seems logical to avoid additives when creating the solution,” she explains. The study specifies applying raw onion juice to the scalp twice a day, although it does not specify any time beyond that. “For convenience, it probably makes sense to apply the treatment before showers, as it will be quite pungent,” adds Dr. Paul.
Young recommends another DIY method with a few extra steps: First, boil two cups of water and add a chopped medium onion. Then let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat (Young says this improves the sulfur compounds). Next, strain the onion water and let it sit for five minutes. Add a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, which can stimulate blood circulation and help the scalp absorb the juice, notes Young. Next, add a tablespoon of honey for its natural antibacterial properties; it also thickens the solution. Young recommends pouring the mixture into an applicator bottle before using the solution on a dry, unwashed scalp. Once applied, put on a shower cap and leave the onion juice on your scalp for two hours. When the time is up, just rinse it off. “Neutralize the smell by using an apple cider vinegar rinse with water,” adds Young. Bonus: You can refrigerate leftovers for up to five days.
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