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There are a lot of crazy hair growth trends and rumors on the Internet (and we mean a lot). But have you heard the one about onion juice for hair growth?
It’s not the start of a bad joke — many wellness enthusiasts believe onion juice helps as a DIY natural alternative to medications for hair loss. And with 50 percent of Caucasian men experiencing hair loss by age 50 — and 80 percent affected by the age of 70 — it’s no surprise so many would look to any treatment as a cure for baldness.
Thinking about this home remedy for your own hair care? Before you search “how to make onion water for hair,” let us explain whether there really are benefits of onion juice for hair.
We’ll tell you if onion oil, extract or water can make your hair grow back and go over proven ways to treat hair loss and encourage hair regrowth.
We’ll cut to the chase: Although these bulb vegetables are rumored to be a popular hair treatment to decrease breakage and increase growth, there’s no strong evidence that onions for hair growth are effective.
That said, onions do have a diverse range of health-related benefits.
For example, they’re rich in dietary flavonoids — a group of antioxidants that may be related to a reduced risk of disease. Onions also contain high amounts of dietary fiber, sulfur content and vitamins, such as vitamin C and essential B vitamins. What’s more, they have anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial properties.
With onions being full of vital nutrients, could eating (or drinking) an onion for hair growth work?
A review of a 2002 study found that an onion juice treatment applied twice a day showed signs of hair regrowth in almost 87 percent of people after eight weeks.
However, this was a very small study done on less than 50 male and female participants dealing with a different type of hair loss called alopecia areata. So even if onion juice is effective for regrowing hair lost due to alopecia areata, this doesn’t mean it’s a good treatment for male pattern baldness.
While diet can affect hair health, male pattern baldness — or androgenetic alopecia, the specific type of hair loss that affects men — is caused by a genetic sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
DHT is a byproduct of testosterone — a critical male sex hormone your body produces to give you male characteristics. Your body converts a small amount of testosterone to DHT via an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase.
The excess DHT your body produces binds to hair follicles and causes signs of balding, such as thinning hair or a receding hairline (when your hairline makes an M shape).
But androgenetic alopecia isn’t the only type of hair loss. Other common alopecia types include:
Alopecia areata, a form of autoimmune hair loss
Telogen effluvium, a type of hair loss caused by stress
Traction alopecia, hair thinning caused by tight hairstyles
Tinea capitis, a type of scalp fungal infection that can cause hair loss
Since DHT is the primary hormone responsible for male pattern baldness, the most effective hair loss treatments generally work by either blocking the effects of DHT at a local level (in your scalp, specifically) or at a systemic level (throughout your entire body).
Others work by increasing blood circulation to the hair follicles to boost hair growth.
So, despite the rumors, onion juice for hair growth isn’t the most effective treatment out there.
Despite the lack of evidence behind onions for hair growth, could there be other benefits for healthy hair?
One health benefit of onions is their antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Conditions like dandruff are often caused by either oil buildup in hair or a fungus. Theoretically, the antifungal property of onions could help with dandruff.
However, there aren’t any direct studies on the effects of using onion juice on dandruff or other fungal scalp infections.
Maybe your curiosity about what happens when you use onion water for hair is piqued. Or perhaps you want to know what the side effects of onion juice on hair are — strictly asking for a friend, of course.
While there haven’t been many studies looking at the use of onion juice for hair, the review mentioned above listed possible side effects of an itchy rash (dermatitis), redness and onion smell.
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Does onion help with hair growth? Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to support using an onion for hair growth (or any liquid you could squeeze out from this bulb vegetable).
There are, however, many scientifically proven treatments for reducing hair fallout and ways to encourage healthy hair growth.
Oral finasteride. An FDA-approved medication for male pattern baldness, finasteride works by inhibiting the effects of 5 alpha-reductase — the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a healthcare provider who can determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Topical finasteride & minoxidil spray. A two-in-one combination of finasteride and minoxidil, our topical finasteride & minoxidil spray is a no-pill option for treating hair loss and encouraging regrowth. Preliminary studies on topical finasteride showed a significant decrease in the rate of hair loss, as well as an increase in hair growth.
Minoxidil. Minoxidil is a topical treatment approved by the FDA to treat hair loss and help regrow hair. It comes in minoxidil foam or a liquid minoxidil solution and is designed to be applied to the areas of your scalp affected by hair loss. Like finasteride, minoxidil has been proven effective in numerous studies, with results usually taking around three to six months.
Dandruff shampoo. If you struggle with dandruff in addition to hair loss and have thought about using onion juice for its antifungal properties, a dandruff detox shampoo is a safer bet. Ketoconazole shampoo, a mild shampoo with antifungal properties, may help improve hair growth and stop hair loss as well.
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
Hair loss can be a frustrating thing to deal with. One day, you have a full head of hair, and the next, you’re staring at a growing bald spot in the mirror, wondering where your youth went.
When exploring natural remedies promising luscious locks, you’ve probably stumbled across methods involving everything from essential oils, castor oil and coconut oil to apple cider vinegar, aloe vera and lemon juice.
In your search, the idea of adding onion juice or water to your hair care routine may have caught your attention. But does onion help with hair loss?
Here’s what to keep in mind:
The answer to whether you should use onion extract to promote hair growth is that there aren’t enough studies on the effects of onions on hair.
While they’re full of nutrients and vitamins with antioxidant and antifungal properties, onions aren’t an effective hair loss treatment.
But there are other effective treatments for hair loss, such as oral finasteride medication, topical minoxidil solution, two-in-one finasteride and minoxidil spray and dandruff shampoo.
Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.