It claims to thicken and “regenerate” hair - garlic is sprouting up in haircare and beauty products, and we have questions. Does it stink? Do I need it? Does it even work? We sniff it out

As niche beauty ingredients go, garlic isn’t exactly the most glamorous. For something that we’d normally slip into a spag bol, we were pretty curious when we discovered that it’s made its way into our shampoo too. Regenerating Garlic Shampoo , £8.95 for 500ml, and Regenerating Garlic & Wheat Conditioning Mask , £9.95 for 500ml, have just been launched in the UK by hair brand American Dream, made with “real Italian garlic bulbs” that have thankfully somehow been “stripped” of their odour, leaving behind “garlic’s natural goodness.”

Garlic has been used for donkey’s years (around 5000) in a medicinal sense, having been applied topically to wounds during World War 1 owing to its suggested antiseptic benefits, and its antibacterial rep has led to it being dubbed “Russian penicillin”, but in terms of aesthetic effects, research is scant. Women in the Dominican Republic have traditionally used minced garlic as a nail strengthener while the strong whiff of garlic is said to be an effective nit repellent (makes sense), but as miracle beauty ingredients go, you’d probably be better sticking with your tried and tested  retinols  and hyaluronic acids  than turning yourself into a human garlic bread. While garlic does indeed contain antimicrobial allicin, applying it neat to your skin as a spot “cure” as one well known Insta influencer demonstrated is more likely to cause dermatitis than nix a zit according to some studies , while including it in haircare and skincare formulas has no known beauty benefits as yet, and it’s unlikely to “regenerate” hair follicles as loosely impied. Trichologist Anabel Kingsley  confirms that there's not a lot going for garlic in terms of haircare at this stage:

"I know of no benefit to adding garlic into a hair product. It could actually potentially cause irritation if applied to the scalp."

These two garlicky newcomers will cleanse and condition wonderfully, and garlic is unlikely to do any harm here, but it’s not a miracle hair growth solution either. By all means lather up, but tread carefully if you’ve got sensitive skin or a delicate scalp especially, and if in doubt, keep your garlic bulbs in the kitchen for now.

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