I’m a big fan of essential oils. Any time you enter my apartment, you’ll probably catch a whiff of eucalyptus—my mood-booster and stress-reliever. And when I have tension in my neck or a headache after a long day of staring at my computer screen, you better believe I reach for my trusty bottle of peppermint oil to provide some relief from that tingling cooling sensation. One place I never thought to put my essential oils, though, is in my hair.
Aside from helping with stress relief and muscle pain, essential oils are also great for upping your energy, getting rid of a pesky annoying cough that won’t seem to go away, and even combating toothaches. Yeah, seriously—the uses are endless. While you can use plenty of different oils in your hair—from argan to coconut—a handful of different essential oils are especially impressive in their ability to help you grow it out.
“Essential oils are an effective choice to improve hair growth,” says certified aromatherapist Caroline Schroeder. “Extracted from natural aromatic plant parts, they’re composed of a wide range of unique medical components. Every essential oil comes with versatile properties that can benefit one’s health physically and emotionally.”
Instead of relying on expensive products that promise growth with a long list of not-so-reputable (and sometimes questionable) ingredients, get Rapunzel-worthy lengths the natural way with these expert-backed essential oil solutions.
These are the 6 best essential oils for hair growth
Rosemary is much more common in the kitchen than in the bathroom. But you might want to change that because using a few drops before your next shower could do wonders for your hair. A clinical review published in BMJ found that when massaged into the scalp daily, rosemary may help with hair growth. In addition, a 2015 study published in SKINmed Journal found rosemary may help protect against hair loss.
“Rosemary is a great choice for hair growth and hair thickness because the essential oil can repair, stimulate, and regulate cells. That means it can help to reduce or balance oily discharge at the hair follicles,” Schroeder says. “In addition, its aroma is uplifting and energizing on the mind, which is especially great in the morning.”
How to use it: Blend 2 to 3 drops of rosemary essential oil in a handful of any carrier oil, like coconut or almond oil. Massage it gently into your scalp and leave it for a few minutes before washing it out with shampoo. Apply twice a week.
Aside from being great in your bath to help you find your calm, cedarwood can also help boost hair growth. “Cedarwood helps stimulate the hair follicles by increasing blood circulation to the scalp,” says Puneet Nanda, Ayurvedic expert and founder and CEO of the aromatherapy company GuruNanda. “It can promote hair growth, slow hair loss, and can even help alopecia and hair thinning.” In fact, in an older study published in JAMA Dermatology, cedarwood—along with rosemary, thyme, and lavender—were found to help treat hair-loss in those with alopecia.
How to use it: Add two drops of cedarwood into a carrier oil, like coconut oil, and massage it into your scalp. Leave it for 10 to 20 minutes before shampooing.
Speaking of lavender, it’s beloved for its calming scent—and your scalp is sure to enjoy it just as much as you do. “The essential oil of lavender is beneficial for numerous applications. Mostly, it is known for its ability to heal and soothe the body and mind. Due to its special composition, it can support all kinds of skin damages and is a powerful agent for improving hair growth,” Schroeder says. “Since lavender is a very gentle oil, one can use it more often.”
How to use it: Blend three drops of lavender oil with a handful of any carrier oil, or put one drop at a time into your shampoo. You can use it several times a week.
If you think peppermint oil feels great on your neck and temples, just wait until you massage it into your scalp. “When thinking of peppermint, its fresh, stimulating, and uplifting aroma comes to one’s mind immediately. It has a cooling effect on the skin and increases local circulation. It’s a beneficial choice for hair growth because it can stimulate the hair follicles.” A small 2014 study published in Toxicological Research found it was effective in aiding in hair growth.
How to use it: Mix one drop of peppermint essential oil with a handful of any carrier oil and gently massage it onto your scalp. Important: Don’t leave it on longer than five minutes before washing it out with shampoo. Apply twice a week.
If you want healthy hair, you need a healthy scalp. And according to Schroeder, geranium essential oil is a winner. “Geranium essential oil can regulate dryness, excess oil, and the production of sebum. To improve hair growth, a healthy scalp is key. Since geranium balances secretions around the hair follicles, it’s an effective agent for hair growth.” While there isn’t much research on geranium’s effects on hair growth, a 2017 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found it did promote hair growth.
How to use it: Add one drop of geranium essential oil to a small handful of your shampoo, massage it into your scalp, and wash your hair as normal. Apply several times a week.
6. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is used for everything from combating sweaty feet to freshening up your toothbrush. It’s also really great for cleaning up your your scalp. “The essential oil of tea tree has cleansing properties. It’s widely used to combat infections,” Schroeder says. “Tea tree essential oil can improve hair growth because it can open clogged hair follicles.”
How to use it: Since tea tree oil can cause skin irritation, dilute it well. Blend up to 15 drops into your shampoo and use it as normal.
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