I Tried Out 5 Natural Hair Treatments My Dominican Mother Swears By (Including Onion Shampoo)
Growing up, my mother seemed to have a natural remedy for just about anything. Seriously, whether I came to her with a sore throat or a fresh pimple, my mom could whip up an effective solution within minutes—using only ingredients from her kitchen. When she was growing up in the Dominican Republic, her family had very little access to anything outside of the essentials so, if she wanted shinier hair, my mom had no choice but to mash up a few avocados and massage them through her locks.
When I was a teenager, she’d always have the same reaction to a beautifully packaged hair mask or moisturizing face cream.“Twenty bucks for this? Just because it’s got avocado oil in it? I can buy the whole avocado for 79 cents!” I’d scoff at her disregard for the other ingredients listed on the label and condemn her old-fashioned ways. But it wasn’t until I lived on my own that I realized she had a point: her DIY formulas made from household ingredients were far cheaper and just as effective as the store-bought stuff.
During the pandemic, when I moved back in with my parents, I found myself indefinitely reunited with the Beauty Hack Queen. And this time around, I took advantage of her wisdom (and kitchen) to grow out my bob using five of her wackiest hair hacks. Whenever I noticed my high-maintenance locks needed some love, I’d implement one of my mom’s hair remedies—taking photos along the way during this two-week experiment. Here’s how it all went down.
1. Onion in Your Shampoo
OK, so this sounds a bit gross but I promised some wacky hacks, didn’t I? Thanks to its high concentration of sulfur, a type of amino acid, onion juice is surprisingly great for promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss. And since no one wants their hair to smell like onion, the best way to reap this veggie’s benefits is to chop it up and add it to a shampoo. Any shampoo. Most hair wash cycles require two or more lathers, so I use the onion shampoo first and follow up with my favorite shampoo afterward. That way, I’m washing out trace of onion and masking any lingering scents with hair oils and conditioners.
The Result: While two weeks is too short of a timespan to visibly see any hair growth, I can definitely spot signs of more fullness around the edge of my hairline.
2. Raw Egg in Your Hair
Suffering from dry hair? Egg yolks are rich in vitamins A, E, and biotin. Need a strengthening treatment for brittle strands? You guessed it, the yellow yolks are a keratin-packed remedy. To minimize mess, crack an egg in a bowl, separate the white from the yolk and use your hands to apply it evenly from roots to ends. After your hair is covered, tie it in a ponytail and let it absorb for up to an hour, depending on your hair’s thickness. When you’re ready to rinse the yolk out, (this part is really important!) use cold water because the last thing you want is a cooked egg in your hair!
The Result: Lastly, since protein treatments are responsible for strengthening your hair shaft, you want to be mindful of how often you indulge in them, as overexposure to proteins can lead to hair breakage. I find that for my dry strands, applying a raw egg treatment once per month ensures that my hair remains strong and healthy while retaining its moisture.
3. Rice Water Spritz
According to my mom (and also, scientists), nutrients contained in rice, such as antioxidants and vitamins, are released when the grain is submerged in water for an extended period of time. The trick is to soak the rice for about 12 to 18 hours (but not any longer). Once the rice has fermented, transfer the remaining water into a spray bottle using a strainer and spritz it into your hair a few minutes before washing. That’s it!
The Result: Since I don’t wash daily, I let my hair absorb the rice water for about 30 minutes, twice per week. I’m already noticing shinier and bouncier curls!
4. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
Like rice water, my mom always nagged me about keeping a bottle of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in my shower. “It’ll help your hair shine!!” she’d insist. Since dry, dull hair is usually attributed to an imbalance in pH found in the hair follicle, ACV is great for stabilizing the hair’s alkalinity and eliminating dandruff. Before you do anything though, make sure to dilute the ACV with water before applying it to your hair, as it may be irritating to your scalp if you don’t. I personally use a 5:1 ratio of water to ACV.
The result: Mom wasn’t kidding! I’ve been rinsing my hair with the concoction on wash days and almost immediately started noticing brighter strands.
5. Chopped Garlic in Your Conditioner
This one should come as no surprise after discussing the benefits of onions. Much like their rather fragrant counterparts, garlic cloves are packed with sulfur amino acids that strengthen the hair shaft. Combined with rich antioxidants, adding garlic juice to your hair can correct existing damage while also preventing any future damage. I figured, heck, since onions and garlic work so well together in food, why not add a couple chopped cloves to my onion shampoo and let them do their thing there too?
The Result: I kid you knot, detangling my hair was significantly easier. All jokes aside though, I really didn’t experience as much breakage as is common with kinky-curly hair. Truly a dynamic duo. As for the scent? Your hair does kind of smell like a salad afterwards, so I’d reserve this one for a staycation-like scenario where indulgence can come with no judgement.
The Overall Outcome
At the end of the two-week trial period, I found myself wondering why I underestimated my mom’s wisdom so much in my adolescence. While I was spending all of my time looking up products based upon YouTube reviews, I could have been reaping the benefits of simple, natural treatments! Don’t get me wrong, YouTube is a great resource, but so often we search vigilantly for the miracle product, not realizing that it could be sitting right in our kitchen. And, if you still find yourself hesitant to try out any of these natural remedies, just remember: You can get a whole onion for 79 cents.