5 Amla Hair Oil Benefits That Make It Worthy of a Spot in Your Pre-Shampoo Routine

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As is the case of almost all skin-care and hair-care products, there are many oils to choose from for shiny, frizz-free strands. But because amla hair oil’s benefits go beyond the surface, there’s a good chance it’s going to rank high up on your list as a not-so-secret weapon for hair growth, improved scalp health, and more. Never heard of it? No worries, you’re not alone. You can learn more about the natural hair-care option below from a dermatologist and trichologist.

What is amla hair oil?

Amla, also known as Indian gooseberry, is a fruit that’s native to India but also grows throughout Asia and the Middle East. “It’s thought to be rich in antioxidants (like vitamin C) and minerals,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, making it a great addition to any hair-care routine.

Experts In This Article
  • Bridgette Hill, certified trichologist
  • Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital

Amla hair oil ingredients are simple. It’s typically made by drying and blending the fruit into a powder, and then heating it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil. But it can also be produced by soaking the fruit in a carrier oil for several days.

According to Dr. Zeichner, amla hair oil has the ability to not only improve the health of your hair, but also your scalp. “Treating the hair can improve shine, reduce frizziness, and prevent breakage, while treating the scalp can decrease itch and flaking while enhancing the growth of new hair,” he says. Bridgette Hill, a certified trichologist, colorist, and founder of Root Cause Scalp Analysis, credits this to its anti-inflammatory and restorative properties. Ahead, learn the numerous amla benefits that make it a herbal hair-care staple.

5 amla hair oil benefits you should know

If you’ve considered making the switch to more natural hair-care, amla oil is a great start. But before diving into how it can benefit your hair health, Hill says it’s important to note that robust independent scientific and medical scalp and hair studies are still lagging. “This directly impacts the lack of research and development in ethnopharmacology,” she says, which is the study of the traditional medicinal uses of plants. “Most plant-based therapy results are purely anecdotal and rely on private practice, privately funded studies, and individual personal use.”

That said, the proposed amla benefits packed into these hair-care products are credited to three unique properties the oil contains: DHT blockers, vitamin C, and other antioxidants. Together, they’re the reason behind all the glowing amla hair oil reviews.

1. It may prevent hair loss

One of the most popular benefits of amla hair oil is hair loss prevention. “Amla extract is the second-most-potent plant-based inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase, the producer of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is believed to be the cause of androgenic or genetic hair loss,” says Hill.

2. It improves scalp health

Amla hair oil is rich in vitamin C, and Hill says that’s why adding it into your hair-care routine may improve scalp health by boosting collagen production. She adds that the antioxidant aids in preventing seasonal scalp dryness.

3. It encourages cellular turnover on the scalp

Scalp and hair nourishment, coming right up. “Cellular turnover is imperative to feeding the hair follicle and building the hair fiber,” says Hill. Amla oil may promote hair growth, and when used as a natural hair-care pre-shampoo treatment, amla hair oil also exfoliates the scalp to prevent product build-up.

4. It promotes hair growth

Amla oil is clearly great for hair health. And being that it helps with hair strength, too, it could be the key to getting Rapunzel-level length. “There have been several published studies showing that application of amla oil to the scalp and hair can help strengthen the hair and boost growth,” says Dr. Zeichner.

In one such study published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, male and female subjects saw an improvement in hair growth rate, hair density, and hair thinning, among other positive outcomes, following a 90-day application period of a hair serum that contained amla extract.

5. It helps maintain a healthy scalp microbiome

Amla hair oil also assists with stabilizing the scalp’s microbiome, which has been shown to reduce unwanted scalp conditions such as dandruff and itchy scalp, says Hill. In particular, she recommends using it as a pre-shampoo treatment in your herbal hair-care lineup. “It has a molecular structure that’s small enough to penetrate the epidermis and epithelial tissues of the scalp to aid in sustaining a healthy microbiome and minimize the formation of unhealthy bacteria or fungus,” she says.

Potential side effects of using amla hair oil

Even with amla hair oil’s many benefits (hair nourishment, growth, and beyond), skin reactions could be a potential side effect with any topical product you add to your hair-care routine. “If you develop a reaction—like redness, itching, or flaking—it may signify an allergic or irritant reaction and you should stop using the product,” says Dr. Zeichner. Hill notes that in the case of amla hair oil, some people may have skin reactions if they’re sensitive to the fruit extract or the carrier oil it’s blended with.

If you’re concerned about a potential reaction, Hill recommends doing a patch test on the inside of your forearm. Simply rub a dime-size amount of amla hair oil into a section and don’t wash the area for 24 hours. If there’s no reaction, you should be good to go.

Another potential side effect? If you overuse amla hair oil, it could cause some issues with dandruff. “Overusing amla oil, especially if it’s diluted in a heavy carrier oil like vegetable or coconut oil, can potentially make dandruff worse,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Creating an oily environment on the scalp allows for dandruff-causing yeast to grow to higher than normal levels, promoting inflammation.”

How to use amla hair oil

Ready to give amla hair oil a try? First, ensure you’re purchasing a hair-care product from a reputable manufacturer that uses high-quality amla hair oil ingredients. Because amla is uncommon in the United States, Hill advises buying from vendors that source from India, Thailand, or the Middle East. Like any product you’re thinking about buying, it’s also a good idea to read through the amla hair oil reviews—especially if you’re unfamiliar with the brand.

When it comes to how to use amla hair oil, the process is simple. Once you have your amla hair oil in hand, Hill recommends utilizing it as a pre-shampoo treatment to bring on improved hair strength and hair nourishment. First, apply the oil to dry, unshampooed hair from root to ends. Next, massage the oil into the scalp with a scalp brush or your fingers. Then comb or brush through your hair to ensure the oil liberally saturates your strands.

Let the oil sit for a minimum of 20 minutes before shampooing and conditioning your hair as normal. You can also leave it in overnight and shampoo it out in the morning as an effective way to manage a dry scalp. Hill recommends doing this pre-shampoo treatment weekly for normal to mild scalp conditions as a general rule of thumb. For severe cases, you can do it before every shampoo.

Alternatively, Hill suggests adding amla hair oil to your herbal hair-care routine as a spot treatment on flaky or irritated areas of the scalp. To do so, apply it to the affected areas with clean fingers. Or, if you have dry, coarse, thick, curly, or tightly coiled hair, Hill says you can conservatively use amla hair oil as a leave-in moisturizer for your hair and areas of concern on the scalp. For this, she recommends pouring a dime-size amount of amla hair oil into the palm of your hands, massaging your hands together, and then applying it to the ends of your hair and moving up the hair shaft.

Also important: Always store your amla hair oil in a cool, dry place where it's out of direct sunlight. This ensures you’ll be applying the most high-quality product to your hair.

Frequently asked questions about amla hair oil

What are the side effects of amla on hair?

There are a couple side effects of amla hair oil to be aware of. First, Dr. Zeichner says that, like with any product, there's always the potential for irritation. If you're left with redness, itching, or flaking, discontinue using the product. Overusing amla hair oil may also make dandruff worse if it's diluted in a heavy carrier oil that allows dandruff-causing yeast to thrive. (If you find yourself dealing with flakes, these essential oils for dandruff could come in handy.)

How long does amla oil take to work on hair?

If you’re looking for improved hair health, a positive amla hair oil review is in your near future—you’ll quickly notice shinier, softer hair after you begin using it. Then if it stays in your routine, amla hair oil’s ingredients can leave you with benefits such as improved hair strength and hair growth. “Hair typically grows half an inch a month, so in order to see any benefits, it’s important to stick with the product over several months,” says Dr. Zeichner.

Does amla oil cause hair growth?

One of the most-talked-about amla benefits is hair growth, and it’s true: Dr. Zeichner says past research has found using amla oil on the scalp and hair can do just that. Here’s the catch: It’s not an overnight thing. When it comes to learning how to use amla hair oil for the best results, consistency and patience are key. Because of the rate at which hair grows, you’ll need to continue using amla oil for a few months before you start seeing a change. There are also some essential oils for hair growth you could try, including rosemary oil. Or consider adding a scalp massager for hair growth to the mix, which not only feels great but can give you some impressive results.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Kumar, Naphatsorn et al. “5α-reductase inhibition and hair growth promotion of some Thai plants traditionally used for hair treatment.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 139,3 (2012): 765-71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.12.010
  2. Majeed, Muhammed et al. “Clinical Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of a Hair Serum Product in Healthy Adult Male and Female Volunteers with Hair Fall.” Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology vol. 13 691-700. 24 Sep. 2020, doi:10.2147/CCID.S271013

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