Long and Strong -- Essential Oils that Support the Hair and Scalp
A question I've been getting lately is: "Are there essential oils or products that can help support hair growth?".
My first response is always to point out that diet and lifestyle play an important role in maintaining wellness: eating real whole foods, drinking plenty of water, healthy ways to manage stress, getting adequate exercise and sleep, and reducing toxic load go a long way towards supporting hair and body health.
That said yes research supports that there are essential oils that can help support hair growth. Additionally essential oils can also help ease feelings of stress, support better sleep, and can help nudge the body towards wellness.
Let look at a few essential oils that can be used on the scalp that have some promising research to support their use.
1. Rosmary (Rosmarinus offcinalis) is certainly an essential oil that comes to mind for me for supporting the hair and scalp. A 2015 study compared a 1% rosemary essential oil lotion to a 2% minoxidil solution used twice daily. 1
The details: 100 participants. Half used the rosemary cream, half used the minoxidil. After six months of twice daily use (massage on the scalp) the participants were evaluated by two dermatologists and via a self-reporting questionnaire.
The results: there was a greater increase in new hair growth and significant decrease in hair loss in the rosemary essential oil group in addition to fewer side effects.
2. Peppermint (Menta x piperita) feels cooling and invigorating to the scalp. In a 2014 study researchers found that a 3% dilution of peppermint essential oil "remarkably" promoted hair growth compared to a saline solution or 3% dilution of minoxidil without side effects.
The details: This study was done in mice over 4 weeks by a science team in Korea. I believe this was a team of scientists testing looking at essential oils as candidates to support hair growth -- not any particular company testing their products on animals.
In the study 1 ml of the different solutions was applied daily six days a week for four weeks.
The results: After two weeks the peppermint essential oil (PEO) group grew hair more rapidly than the saline (SA), jojoba (JO), or minoxidil (MXD) groups. By week four, the PEO group showed hair growth at about 92% while the MXD group was at about 55% without toxicological side effects. 2
3. In a third study a blend of Thyme vulgaris (thyme), Lavandula agustifolia (lavendar), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) and Cedrus atlantica (cedarwood) essential oils were mixed with jojoba and grapeseed oil and massaged onto the scalp of patients suffering from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that can result in hair loss from the scalp, face, and body.
The details: Eighty-six patients with alopecia areata were divided randomly into two groups. The active group massaged the essential oil blend onto their scalp daily for while the control group massaged carrier oil on their scalp daily. The patients were assessed initially and at three and seven months using three different assessments of hair growth. 68% of the control group and 81% of the active group completed the trial and the data was analyzed.
The results: "The results show aromatherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for alopecia areata. Treatment with these essential oils was significantly more effective than treatment with the carrier oil alone (P=.008 for the primary outcome measure). We also successfully applied an evidence-based method to an alternative therapy." One patient showed an excellent response to treatment. 3
This study shows promise for the use of rosemary, thyme, cedarwood, and lavender essential oils to support hair growth. The authors note that these oils had been used anecdotally to support hair growth for 100s of years but there were no studies to evaluate their effectiveness. Their study supports the safety and efficacy of these essential oils for hair growth.
So yes essential oils hold much promise in supporting hair growth when used consistently over time especially when used in conjunction with scalp massage.
If you need help formulating a customized product to support hair growth feel free to contact me.
Issu Website, Skin Med, Dermatology for Clinicians, Volume 13, issue 1 accessed from: https://issuu.com/pulsemarketing/docs/skinmed_v13_i1?viewMode=doublePage
Young Oh, J. et al, Toxicological Review, 2014 Dec. 30(4), pp.297-304 accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289931/
Isabelle C. Hay, MRCP; Margaret Jamieson, SRN; Anthony D. Ormerod, FRCP, Arch Dermatol. 1998;134(11):1349-1352. doi:10.1001/archderm.134.11.1349, accessed from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/189618