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Garlic, a plant closely related to onions and shallots, offers us much more than just a way to add some zing to a pasta dish. Eating garlic may help combat colds, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and even reduce your risk of dementia.

Garlic contains sulfur compounds linked in some studies to slowing or stopping the growth of certain cancer cells. And garlic has antioxidants that can help protect our skin from the aging effects of free radicals.

Garlic has also gotten attention as a possible remedy for thicker, longer hair. But does it actually work?


  • some research suggests it may help promote hair growth
  • may promote scalp health due to antifungal and antimicrobial components
  • may protect hair follicles from sun damage
  • hair and skin benefits may be achieved from using garlic in both topical and oral form


  • topical garlic may cause chemical burns
  • risk of side effects may be greater if you have sensitive skin
  • more clinical research needed overall
Was this helpful?

Short answer, yes. Used topically or as a part of your diet, garlic has properties that may help with hair growth, but more research is needed. Here are benefits that might help with hair growth:

  • Some of garlic’s nutritional benefits may extend to your hair. Raw garlic is high in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B-6 and C, manganese, and selenium — all of which promote healthy hair.
  • Natural antimicrobial and antifungal properties found in garlic may also contribute to benefits for hair, as these properties can help kill bacteria and fight germs, keeping you and your scalp healthy.
  • A 2016 study found that garlic protected keratinocytes from ultraviolet (UV) damage and showed promise as a material that could help reduce the appearance of aging. Keratinocytes are skin cells that produce keratin. These cells are on the outer layer of your skin, including the skin on your scalp, and in your hair follicles.

Though the research is promising, more scientific evidence is needed to verify the benefits of garlic for hair.

There are several garlic-infused hair treatments and garlic oils on the market. It’s important to note that garlic cooking oil and garlic essential oil aren’t the same thing. Garlic essential oil is very concentrated and often contains an alcohol as part of storing the extracted garlic oil. This is why you will want to use a carrier oil when making your hair mask. Carrier oils mix with essential oils and help dilute the concentration and lower the risk of skin irritation.

Remember that the sulfur compounds present in garlic make any garlic oil potentially very irritating to your skin and eyes.

You can make your own garlic conditioner using ingredients from your kitchen. To limit the risk of skin irritation, it’s important to dilute garlic with an oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil, which are both good for your hair.

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of carrier oil per clove (16 tablespoons total)
  • fork, garlic press, or blender
  • small pan
  • strainer

Making the garlic conditioner

  1. Crush the garlic using a fork, garlic press, or blender.
  2. Warm the oil in a pan over low heat and add the garlic when the oil is warm — not hot.
  3. Swirl the garlic around the pan just until it becomes fragrant — you don’t want to cook the garlic.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and let cool.
  5. Pour the mixture through a strainer and discard the pulp.
  6. Store the oil in a glass jar or bottle (dark glass may help the mixture last longer).
  1. Gently massage 2 tablespoons of the oil into your scalp.
  2. Continue massaging your scalp, or wrap your hair in a towel and wait 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo.

Repeat this twice a week for best results.

You can also make a garlic hair mask by adding equal parts honey-to-oil to your homemade garlic treatment and following the same application steps. In this case, you would want to combine 8 tablespoons of honey with 8 tablespoons of oil.

Remember, talk with your doctor before you try an at-home treatment.

While garlic is considered a “natural” remedy, there are still possible side effects and risks to consider before applying garlic topically to your scalp or hair. There also hasn’t been enough evidence to show whether topical or supplemental garlic is safe during pregnancy or while breast-feeding.

First, you should always conduct a skin patch test before applying any new ingredient to a larger area of your body. Take a small amount of your garlic hair mask, conditioner, or diluted essential oil and apply to the inside of your elbow. If no reaction develops after 24 to 48 hours, the garlic product is likely safe to use on your hair and scalp.

If you do develop a reaction, such as a rash or hives, stop using topical garlic. Call a doctor if any side effects don’t improve after a few days.

Additionally, it’s important to follow the above steps for making a garlic hair mask or conditioner, including timing. Leaving garlic on your scalp or hair for too long may cause more serious side effects, such as burns.

Chemical burns

As with other natural remedies, there are risks to consider when using garlic on your hair or any other part of your body. This is especially true for people with sensitive skin.

Garlic can cause burns when applied to the skin, and instances of serious chemical burns from garlic used as home remedies are well-documented.

This risk isn’t limited to raw garlic. Products containing garlic, such as essential oils, can also irritate the skin and eyes. So it’s important to talk to your doctor before beginning any treatment that incorporates garlic.

Many other treatments may help you get thicker, healthier hair. The best place to start is by doing your part to reduce the amount of damage to your hair.

Here are some helpful tips to help you reduce damage:

  • Wash your hair less often to avoid drying it out.
  • Air dry instead of using a blow dryer.
  • Limit the use of heat styling tools, and apply a protectant before use.
  • Use fewer styling products.

There are also natural treatments that may help you grow thicker, healthier hair or prevent hair loss. Some of these include:

  • Coconut oil: Applying coconut oil to your hair can help prevent breakage and damage, resulting in longer, thicker hair. It also protects hair against damaging UV rays.
  • Avocado oil: The minerals in avocado oil help seal cuticles and prevent breakage. Avocado oil is also an excellent moisturizer.
  • Biotin: Taking a biotin supplement may improve hair health. Though more research is needed, one 2015 study suggests that biotin may increase thickness and length.

Eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals can also improve the health and appearance of your hair and prevent thinning.

More research is needed into the benefits of garlic for hair, but there are other treatments that can help improve your hair’s health. Eating well and limiting the use of harsh products and damaging heat styling tools can really benefit your hair.

If you’re concerned about hair thinning or hair loss, talk to your doctor. While brittle and thinning hair is often the result of damage from everyday styling, it can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and medications.

Can garlic in your hair cure baldness?

While research suggests that garlic may help promote hair growth and reduce thinning hair, any evidence supporting garlic as a possible cure for baldness is lacking.

According to one clinical review, topical garlic was considered one alternative form of medicine that could possibly help treat alopecia areata. However, researchers also note that there’s inconsistent evidence supporting such uses.

Overall, early research on garlic and hair loss shows promise. But until there’s more evidence supporting topical garlic as a viable cure for baldness, it’s best to talk with a dermatologist about all of your treatment options first.

Does onion in your hair have similar effects like garlic in hair?

Onion and garlic are both Allium vegetables belonging to a plant group called the Alliaceae family. Like other vegetables in this family, such as leeks and chives, onion and garlic have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.

When taken in the context of hair care, both onion and garlic are said to possibly promote better hair growth. However, like garlic though, onion may also carry the risk of burns due to its sulfurous nature and more conclusive evidence is needed.

Can I leave garlic in my hair overnight?

No. As outlined in the above recipes, any homemade garlic mask or conditioner should be rinsed out after the designated time — about 10 to 15 minutes.

While garlic is considered a natural remedy, it also carries a risk of chemical burns. According to one clinical review, topical garlic caused second-degree burns in some users, especially in the legs. It’s thought that sulfur compounds on garlic may be responsible for such burns, and it may even carry the risk of necrosis in more serious cases.

Perhaps best known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and contributions to your overall health, garlic is also increasingly being researched as a possible natural hair care remedy. While more evidence is needed, potential benefits may include better hair growth and scalp care.

Still, while garlic is considered a natural remedy, there are serious risks to consider, including the possibility of chemical burns. These are more likely to occur if you have sensitive skin, and if you leave garlic on your hair or scalp for too long.

Talk with a dermatologist before using garlic for your hair. They can offer additional advice, including conventional and alternative treatments that may address your individual hair care concerns.