Whether you prefer to mix them with a carrier oil or pour them into your favorite shampoo, essential oils are a great addition to your haircare regimen. While some nourish hair with vitamins and nutrients, some hydrate it, and others possess specific properties that stimulate the whole hair growth process. No matter how you slice it, they are a welcome boost in your path to thicker and fuller hair. But from the vast selection of essential oils, you obviously can’t pick the first that comes to your hand and expect to grow your hair back overnight. To help you with your decision, we conducted extensive research and found all essential oils that have been clinically proven to increase hair growth.
What are the best essential oils to support hair growth?
Experts agree that the best essential oils for hair growth are those that increase scalp blood flow, reduce inflammation, or have anti-androgen properties to block DHT hormone from affecting the hair follicles. Peppermint, bergamot, tea tree, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood essential oils have all been found to have hair growth-stimulating effects and were particularly studied to treat alopecia.
Peppermint oil is one of the most promising essential oils for hair growth. A 2014 study conducted on mice found that the topical application of 3% peppermint oil for four weeks led to a considerable increase of 92% in hair count — even better than minoxidil, which scored 55%. Briefly, peppermint oil is thought to act as a vasodilator due to the presence of menthol. It can expand the blood vessels to boost circulation and support the delivery of nutrients to hair follicles. According to the study, peppermint oil can also shift hair follicles from the resting phase to the growing phase. And due to its ability to kill bacteria and its antioxidant benefits, it creates a healthy environment where hair can grow.
Bergamot oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, so it reduces dandruff and soothes irritated scalp by hindering bacteria growth. Besides, bergamot oil stimulates the blood flow when massaged into the scalp, allowing more nutrients to reach hair follicles. A study published in the Journal of Chinese Materia Medica shows that topical application of bergamot extract for more than one month can notably increase skin collagen content and promote hair growth in mice. However, further research on humans is needed to confirm its effectiveness.
Tea tree oil
Extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, tea tree oil is another essential oil praised for its hair-conditioning effects. Specifically, tea tree oil has cleansing, antibacterial, and antimicrobial effects that reduce the buildup of chemicals and dead cells caused by conventional products. Research shows that using tea tree oil with minoxidil delivers more benefits than just minoxidil alone.
Rosemary essential oil is often used in folk medicine as a hair treatment due to its distinctive anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It is well established that it boosts scalp blood circulation and accelerates the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles. Plus, it’s effective in preventing premature graying of hair and dandruff. More interestingly, though, a 2013 study suggests that rosemary leaf extract can block the DHT (dihydrotestosterone) from binding to follicles and hindering the hair growth process.
Lavender oil is another tried and true essential oil that can make your hair grow thicker, healthier, and faster. In short, it promotes scalp circulation, soothes inflammations, and eliminates bacteria through its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2016 study found that the topical application of lavender oil for one month (5 times a week) considerably increased the number and depth of hair follicles in mice, followed by a boost in hair count and thickness.
Cedarwood essential oil is a centuries-old treatment for alopecia. It creates an optimal environment for follicles to produce healthy and strong hair by cleansing the scalp, rebalancing hair sebum, and fighting bacterial and fungal infections. According to research, when mixed with lavender, thyme, and rosemary oils and diluted in a mixture of carrier oils (jojoba and grapeseed), it can provide an effective treatment for alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition that causes a sudden loss of hair).
You can try adding a few drops of cedarwood essential oil in 1 or 2 tablespoons of jojoba or grapeseed seed oil and gently massage the mixture into your scalp. Leave it for 10-15 minutes, then rinse it with warm water.
How to use essential oils for hair growth
Most people prefer to add the essential oil to their shampoo or conditioner or dilute them with carrier oils and apply them directly to the scalp.
Massage it directly into your scalp
You can delicately massage the essential oil of your choice to the hair and scalp. However, because essential oils are usually very concentrated, they can be irritating. For this reason, you should use a carrier oil to dilute the essential oil before applying it. Mixing the essential oil with a couple of drops of carrier oil is enough to get most of the benefits without dryness or irritation. For better results, heat the essential oil up for a few seconds. When warm, the oil allows for deeper penetration through the hair cuticles and scalp, and it’s also more soothing and effective.
Add it to your shampoo or conditioner
You can pour a few drops of essential oil into your shampoo or conditioner. If you do this, it’s recommended to use a shampoo with as few ingredients as possible. This reduces the chances of the essential oil having a bad interaction with the formula.
Do an oil mask
Aside from mixing the essential oil in your shampoo, you can do an oil mask for hair growth. First, split your hair into small parts to avoid missing out on any area, especially if you have curly hair. Then, use circular motions to gently rub the oil into the scalp. After you’re done with the scalp, you can gently work your way to the length and ends of your hair.
As an extra step, before washing the oil, you can opt for wrapping a warm cloth around your hair. This allows the pores and cuticles to open up, enhancing the oil penetration into the scalp and hair follicles. Leaving the oil to act for the entire night is fine too.
What carrier oils to use
A couple of carrier oils have been particularly studied to support hair growth. Using the following carrier oils together with your preferred essential oil can provide more benefits for your hair.
- Coconut oil: The fatty acids and vitamins found in coconut oil nourish the scalp. It also protects and hydrates the hair, preventing breakage and split ends.
- Jojoba oil: It’s a great carrier oil for hair growth because it has protective and anti-inflammatory properties and is a rich source of vitamins that help lock moisture and protect against hair breakage.
- Grapeseed oil: As a rich source of flavonoids, fatty acids, and vitamins, grapeseed oil strengthens weak hair and boosts hydration.
- Castor oil: It has anti-inflammatory properties, it’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids, and can boost scalp circulation to allow more nutrients to reach hair follicles.
- Pumpkin seed oil: It’s a good source of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, helping nourish, protect and hydrate the hair. In a 2014 study, pumpkin seed oil was shown to have antiandrogenic effects and can reduce the hair follicles damage caused by DHT. The researchers suggest that it’s a safe and effective treatment to encourage hair growth in people with androgenic alopecia.
True, essential oils are great for improving overall hair health and boosting the results of your other treatments, but you shouldn’t count on them as your primary solution for hair growth. As you can see, most essential oils have only been clinically studied on mice, and the research on humans needs to be more conclusive. For this reason, it’s best to stick to a healthy diet, active lifestyle, supplements, and laser hair growth treatments to grow your hair healthier and thicker. You should also consider minoxidil and finasteride if you’re dealing with hair loss or thinning hair.
Read next: 8 Most Effective Natural DHT Blockers for Hair Growth
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