If you get past the pungent smell and taste of onions, they may actually do you good. This nutrient-dense vegetable is packed with vitamins (C, B6, and B9) and minerals (potassium). However, it’s not just good for your insides. One lesser-known benefit of onions is for the hair. Onion juice for hair is popular in many parts of the world, but many people wonder if it truly works.
Is it worth the strong, lingering smell that will constantly make your eyes tear? Moreover, although you can find commercially-packed squeezed onion juice, most of the time, you’d have to go through the trouble of making the juice yourself because it’s hard to find. And that is no mean feat. So, let’s find out if it’s worth the hassle.
What Makes Onion Juice Good For Your Hair?
Onion is popular for its anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Together, these can help promote the growth of healthy and lustrous hair. Let’s find out how exactly it can boost hair growth.
High in Antioxidants
Throughout the day, our bodies produce free radicals either through the breakdown of food or through exposure to UV radiation from sunlight or tobacco smoke. These free radicals can cause damage to the DNA of the cells. Onions can neutralise the effects of free radicals in the body.
Containing around 25 different types of flavonoids (having antioxidative activity), onions can protect the hair from everyday stressors. Specifically, the red and yellow onions contain more antioxidants than white onions, which is why it’s better to extract juice from these.
It is also true that oxidative stress can result in greying hair. Therefore, the antioxidants in onion juice can prevent the hair from greying. However, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that onions can reverse greying. That’s because so far, no treatment is available that can actually do that.
The flavonoid quercetin has also exhibited anti-bacterial properties, which can fight off various scalp infections. Since the summer season provides the perfect conditions for the growth of fungi like ringworm, which can result in tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp), onion juice for hair may help.
Flavonoids also have a vasodilatory effect, which means that onion juice stimulates the scalp by dilating the blood vessels. The increased blood circulation means more nutrition for the hair roots, which will promote hair growth. You can combine this with a scalp massage. However, to avoid your hands from smelling like onions, it’s better to wear gloves.
High in Sulfur-Compounds
The protein keratin that makes up our hair is rich in sulfur in the form of cysteine. So, the sulfur in the onion is good for the structural composition of the hair. Onion juice helps boost hair growth, providing it with essential nutrients. Not just that, but it also increases the time for which the hair stays in the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, further promoting healthy hair growth and treating hair thinning.
According to one study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, sulfur has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It’s a reason why it has been used for the treatment of different skin problems in the past. Here it means that it may help with scalp infections such as seborrheic dermatitis, which develops due to Malassezia yeast.
In one study published in Cutis in 1987, together sulfur and salicylic acid were successfully used in treating dandruff. So, if you’re struggling with dandruff, you can consider applying onion juice to your scalp.
Does Onion Juice for Hair Treat Alopecia Areata?
There are different types of alopecia, and there’s only one type of alopecia for which there’s research on the effect of onion juice – alopecia areata. One study published in the Journal of Dermatology in 2002 investigated the effects of onion juice on 38 patients suffering from alopecia areata. This kind of hair loss occurs due to an autoimmune response, which results in the loss of hair follicles in circular patches on the scalp.
The study divided the participants into two groups. The first group had 23 patients (16 males and 7 females); all of them were treated with onion juice. The second group had 15 patients (8 males and 7 females) all of whom were given tap water. The groups applied onion juice and tap water on their scalp twice a day for 2 months.
Just 2 weeks after the application of onion juice, hair growth had started to take place. Four weeks into the study, 17 patients had improved hair growth, and by 6 weeks, 20 patients reported hair regrowth. It should also be noted that this effect was higher in males. In the control group, only two participants had their hair growing after 8 weeks.
Although applying onion juice helped in the growth of hair follicles, we cannot make definitive claims that it works for alopecia areata. That’s because the study sample is quite small. Alopecia areata is also irreversible, so hair growth can take place regardless of applying onion juice. More research is needed into investigating the effects of onion juice on hair growth.
Does Onion Juice for Hair Treat Pattern Baldness?
It is unlikely that onion juice can treat permanent hair thinning and loss due to pattern baldness. That’s because onion juice or onion oil, for that matter, does nothing to change the genetic makeup of cells that are affected by the hormones causing permanent hair loss. It may do well to keep your scalp healthy while promoting hair regrowth, but it cannot stimulate the dormant hair follicles.
How You Can Make & Use Onion Juice At Home For Your Hair?
To make onion juice for hair growth, you need to do the following:
- Depending on how long your hair is and for how long you intend to apply onion juice to your hair, take one, two or three onions and peel them.
- Next, chop it into little pieces using a knife and then put it into a blender to make a paste.
- Strain the juice using a muslin cloth or cheesecloth.
- You can use your fingers to gently massage the juice into the scalp or use a cotton pad. Be careful when applying it so that it doesn’t roll away into your eyes.
- Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, and then wash it off with a mild shampoo.
- If the smell still doesn’t go away, follow the shampoo with an apple cider vinegar rinse.
First-timers may struggle with the pungent smell quite a lot. To mitigate it, you can consider adding a few drops of lemon juice or rose water into it. Essential oils like tea tree oil, lavender and peppermint are also recommended. You can also boost the power of the onion by adding a few drops of olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil or aloe vera gel to the mix.
There are also combinations like potato juice and onion juice, ginger and onion juice and honey and onion juice that you can try out. And if you don’t mind the smell or the mess, you can leave it on your hair overnight.
When Is Onion Juice for Hair Not A Good Idea?
If you have sensitive skin, onion juice can cause itchiness, redness and irritation. So it’s better to avoid it. In addition, if you have sensitivity to smell, the smell of onions might not sit well with your nose.
Other than that, if you’re allergic to onions, you should avoid putting them on your scalp at all costs because they can cause contact dermatitis. If you’re not sure about this, you can do a patch test. Just put a small amount of onion juice behind the ear or on the inner elbow and let it dry. If you have any signs of an allergic reaction (redness, itchiness, swelling, and burning, etc.), you should not use it on your hair.
Is Onion Juice A Substitute For Hair Transplant Surgery?
That depends on the kind of hair loss you’re dealing with. If the hair loss is permanent due to damage to the hair follicles, then onion juice cannot work as a hair loss treatment. Only a hair transplant surgery can restore hair growth in that instance. The other problem with onion juice is that the research on it still has a far long way to go. There’s not much that’s known about its effects on hair, although it is considered pretty safe for application if you want to give it a shot.
Onions are nutritious when eaten, and they can nourish the hair improving overall hair health. If your hair is brittle and prone to breakage, you can take some help from onion juice. In addition, it can ward off scalp infections. It’s effective in some cases, but if the hair loss is permanent, you can only grow your hair back through transplantation surgery.