Why Pros Say Using Peppermint Oil for Hair Is the Key to Healthy Strands

Photo: Getty Images/Westend61
Peppermint is the flavor you know and love from mint chocolate ice cream, candy canes, and peppermint tea. And the extract can be added to your beauty routine for all sorts of benefits, from your skin to your manicure; however, one of its lesser-known perks is using peppermint oil for hair health.

"Peppermint is an aromatic herb in the mint family that's found in North America and Europe," says Hadley King, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Peppermint oil is extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant, which contains over 40 different chemical compounds, according to Caren Cambell, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in San Francisco. "The two main compounds are menthol and menthone," says Dr. King.

For your hair, peppermint has been known to stimulate the hair follicles, promote growth, and rebalance the scalp, says Paula Simpson, biochemist, author, and formulation expert. Plus, since it's an essential oil that has microbial, insecticidal, and anti-inflammatory properties, "it can help with itching of the scalp," says Dr. King. Keep scrolling for more intel on how peppermint oil helps your hair health, plus how to incorporate it into your hair-care regimen.

Benefits of peppermint oil for hair health

Various studies have looked into the effects of using peppermint oil on your hair, and the overall findings have pointed to hair growth promoting properties, along with clarifying benefits. Though it was a study on mice, one researcher found that a three percent solution of peppermint oil led to hair growth after four weeks, says Dr. King. "More research is needed to show its ability to stimulate hair growth on humans," she says. "The thinking is that menthol in peppermint oil is a vasodilator, so this could improve blood flow to hair follicles." However, because it's so potent, it should always be mixed into a carrier oil and never applied directly to the scalp.

Peppermint oil can also be a solid remedy to an itchy scalp. "Its ability to neutralize certain pathogenic micro-organisms on the skin's surface makes it an interesting and effective ingredient for combatting a dry, itchy scalp," says Simpson, which is something that Dr. King echoes. "Small studies have shown that the topical application of peppermint oil significantly decreased itching when used in a 0.5 to 0.1 percent solution," she says.

When it comes to clarifying, the active ingredient is particularly beneficial for oily hair types. "Peppermint oil works best if you have oily hair, and is more difficult to use if you have dry or brittle hair," says Dr. King. Using it regularly will regulate oil production and buildup on the scalp, which will result in more shine, too, adds hairstylist Taylor Fennema from Oscar Blandi Salon.

DIY peppermint oil hair treatments

1. Revitalizing hair and scalp oil treatment: Mix five teaspoons of avocado oil or grapeseed oil with five drops of peppermint essential oil into a bottle. Shake, then apply just one to two drops into your palm to smooth evenly through the ends of your hair. "Or you can massage the drops into your scalp and leave on for a few minutes before washing your hair," says Simpson, who notes that this can be stored away from sunlight for about a month.

2. Scalp massage: Dr. King recommends adding a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil to about a tablespoon of a carrier oil, like jojoba oil or shea butter oil. "Massage into your scalp, leave on for 15 to 20 minutes, then wash your hair," she says.

3. Aloe vera and peppermint oil treatment: Mix the following into a bowl: three tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 10 drops of peppermint essential oil. "Mix them together, then apply them to your scalp and then to your hair strands," says Fennema, who recommends massaging them for about three to five minutes. "You can shampoo after 15 to 20 minutes, or leave on overnight for a deeper treatment." Aloe vera can be clarifying for your hair, since it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Castor oil and peppermint oil treatment: Fennema says you can make a similar treatment with castor oil, which will be more nourishing—just blend together one tablespoon of castor oil, two tablespoons of olive oil, plus 10 drops of peppermint essential oil, then apply to your scalp and strands. Massage in for up to five minutes, then shampoo after 15 to 20 minutes, or leave on overnight.

Peppermint oil-infused hair-care products

Eden Bodyworks Peppermint Tea Tree Shampoo, $9

Photo: Edenworks

Both Dr. King and Fennema recommend this peppermint oil-spiked shampoo. The tea tree oil helps to clarify and remove gunk buildup in the scalp, and then vitamins B5 and E plus glycerin help to hydrate dry hair.

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Peppermint Oil Cooling Jelly Conditioner, $36

Photo: Briogeo

Dr. King likes this shampoo because the charcoal "absorbs oil and removes product buildup, along with peppermint oil and tea tree oil." It's really invigorating, and leaves your strands feeling really soft thanks to biotin and aloe leaf juice.

Mielle Organics Mint Almond Oil, $11

Photo: Mielle

"This organic hair oil contains sweet almond oil, soybean oil, and peppermint oil," says Dr. King, who's a fan. The mixture is really lightweight, but works to remove excess oils from the scalp and strands as it hydrates.

OGX Extra Strength Tea Tree Mint Shampoo, $9

Photo: OGX

Refresh damaged hair with this drugstore shampoo, which contains tea tree oil, peppermint, and witch hazel, all of which cleanse the scalp for healthier hair.

Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Scalp Care Rebalance Scalp Oil, $30

Photo: Matrix

For a stronger treatment, this balancing oil works wonders to rebalance the moisture levels in your hair and scalp. It's got a potent mix of peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, cedarwood, and sunflower seed oil to give your strands a reset.

Graydon Matcha Mint Shampoo, $25

Photo: Graydon

With a light lather, this minty-fresh shampoo cleanses your hair and scalp with matcha tea extract (to soften the hair), chia and hemp oils to strengthen, and sunflower seed extract to add shine, along with peppermint to clarify any buildup.

While you're tending to your strands, check out these 7 overnight hair masks that replenish as you snooze. And this is how hemp oil is another superstar ingredient for hair health

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