If you’re a haircare obsessive, you’ve probably heard people extolling the potential of peppermint oil to stimulate hair growth. Not to mention the refreshing and revitalizing effects that anyone’s scalp can enjoy once in a while. Although the research is far from conclusive, this essential oil has already been popularized as a hair treatment for a handful of doctor-approved reasons. But how really effective is peppermint oil for hair growth? What are the chances of delivering meaningful results, and more importantly, how do you use it safely and effectively? These are all questions we’ll answer in this article, so stay put.
What is peppermint oil?
Peppermint oil is the essence extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant (also called Mentha piperita) through the steam distillation process. It’s mostly composed of menthol (35-45%), menthone, and other minor compounds among fragrances. Of all, menthol is the main reason peppermint oil is often used in hair products due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. It’s also the one that gives peppermint its taste, smell, and cooling sensation.
Peppermint oil for hair growth
Peppermint oil can theoretically be a good hair enhancer since it can help soothe follicles inflammation and protect cells from oxidation. However, there is a big hole in how its effects on hair growth have been researched. As a matter of fact, the whole buzz around peppermint oil’s potential to encourage hair growth started in December 2014, when a study conducted by the Korean Society of Toxicology showed that it could work more effectively than minoxidil. But here’s the gist: the study was done on mice, and only once. So the results are questionable at best.
In short, during the research, four different treatments were topically applied to four groups of mice: saline, jojoba oil, minoxidil, and peppermint oil. By the end of four weeks, the group of peppermint oil showed the highest hair growth score, 92%, whereas minoxidil was only about 55%. It also had the highest increase in skin thickness and follicles number.
According to the study, the menthol in peppermint oil can act as a vasodilator to open blood vessels and boost blood flow. Specifically, it affects the scalp muscles in the walls of your arteries and veins, preventing the muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing. This facilitates nutrient delivery to hair follicles and induces the anagen phase in which the hair is actively growing. Since hair health is drastically affected by poor blood flow to follicles, increasing circulation with peppermint could potentially increase thickness and density. However, how peppermint oil affects the hair growth rate in humans is yet to be proven. Apart from this particular study, which was done on mice anyway, there is nothing else to establish that peppermint oil can improve hair quality in any way.
Is it safe to apply peppermint oil?
Peppermint oil should be fairly safe to apply on the scalp when mixed with a carrier oil. It’s important to dilute it with carrier oil since undiluted essential oils can cause a burning sensation on the skin. Though it’s unlikely to cause adverse effects, you should use it moderately and avoid applying it directly on an irritated and inflamed scalp since the fragrance content of peppermint may worsen these conditions.
How to use peppermint oil
There are two methods to use peppermint oil for hair growth:
- The first would be direct scalp massage. Add about two drops of peppermint oil to one tablespoon of carrier oil, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. Massage the mix into your scalp and leave for at least 20-30 minutes. We suggest doing a test on a small skin patch before to ensure you don’t get any irritation or allergic reactions. If the menthol feeling gets too strong, add more carrier oil to diminish the effects or wash your scalp immediately.
- You can also add peppermint oil to your daily shampoo or conditioner. Use 100% pure and unfiltered oil for the best results.
Upon considering all the facts, should you count on peppermint oil to grow your hair thicker and healthier? Definitely not, especially if you’re facing conditions such as androgenic alopecia or alopecia areata (the two most common forms of hair loss). Although the use of peppermint oil for hair growth is slightly researched, it needs to be more conclusive about what impact would have on humans. There are other better options out there that are more researched and effective, such as minoxidil and finasteride. You could also try low-level laser treatment.
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- Taherpour, A.A., Khaef, S., Yari, A. et al. Chemical composition analysis of the essential oil of Mentha piperita L. from Kermanshah, Iran by hydrodistillation and HS/SPME methods. J Anal Sci Technol 8, 11 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40543-017-0122-0
- Rozza AL, Beserra FP, Vieira AJ, Oliveira de Souza E, Hussni CA, Martinez ERM, Nóbrega RH, Pellizzon CH. The Use of Menthol in Skin Wound Healing-Anti-Inflammatory Potential, Antioxidant Defense System Stimulation and Increased Epithelialization. Pharmaceutics. 2021 Nov 9;13(11):1902. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics13111902. PMID: 34834317; PMCID: PMC8620938.
- Oh JY, Park MA, Kim YC. Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs. Toxicol Res. 2014 Dec;30(4):297-304. doi: 10.5487/TR.2014.30.4.297. PMID: 25584150; PMCID: PMC4289931.