Rapper and television personality Cardi B recently shocked social media when she shared her secret to healthy, hydrated hair: onion water.
She said that as little as two washes is enough to see significant results. And we’re not going to lie, if her before-and-after photos on Instagram are legit, it appears as if she’s onto something here.
Over three million people “liked” the rapper’s photos, and thousands more replied in the comment section. But it turns out the practice of rinsing onion water through hair is a longstanding ayurvedic practice, as well as a favorite of Dominican women for generations.
William Gaunitz, a certified trichologist (hair and scalp expert), and founder of Advanced Trichology in Phoenix, Arizona, says that his hair loss patients have been discussing this natural treatment for years. The only problem, he says, is that everyone whips up their own homemade version of the onion water, so there’s no real, reliable baseline for longterm results.
“Onion water is subject to a random recipe” with a “variety of variables” that may or may not work, Gaunitz points out.
As long as you’re not allergic to onions, there doesn’t seem to be much risk in using onion water for occasional hair care
Apparently Cardi B boiled her onions in water and then used the infused liquid as a rinse. Others, Gaunitz notes, will blend the onions in a food processor with water and make an onion slush. Some folks even add chunks of onions to their bottles of shampoo (if that’s the route you choose, you’ll want to wash it a second time with regular shampoo, most likely).
Kerry Yates, a trichologist and founder of Colour Collective based in Dallas, says onions are “rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, and offer antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory benefits.”
The science behind the hair wash may lie in the high sulfur content of the onion (sulfur is also the reason we cry while chopping the onions). Gaunitz explains: “Since sulfur is a common OTC treatment for inflammatory skin conditions when applied to the scalp, it works for many people who have inflammatory hair loss issues.”
If you’re interested in giving this home remedy hack a try, the expert encourage using raw onion juice instead of boiling them, given that the onion juice and sulfur is the likely reason the hack works at all.
- 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.
So what’s the last word on onion juice in your hair? If you don’t mind smelling like a street taco, this DIY hack may be a fun addition to your hair routine once in a while. Cardi B’s hair obviously improved (somehow), so maybe onion water is the real deal. Give it a try and let us know on Instagram how your hair felt afterwards.