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Sunflower Oil for Hair Growth: Benefits & Effectiveness

Vicky Davis

Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 11/5/2021

Perhaps you’ve heard of sunflower oil as something used for cooking. A high smoke point, neutral taste — we get it. 

But it also has some other alleged benefits — including hair growth.

There are a variety of oils that may help hair like coconut and argan oil, but is it worth adding sunflower oil to the list? Let’s dive in.

Does Sunflower Oil Promote Hair Growth? 

Sunflower oil is commonly used for hair care purposes. This is partially because it’s odorless and doesn’t freeze. 

There’s also some thought that it can lead to future hair growth, deal with dull hair and leave hair softer. 

One study looked at coconut, mineral and sunflower oils. It found that coconut oil was best able to penetrate the hair shaft to nourish strands. 

The study found sunflower oil, which has a bulkier structure, was unable to penetrate the hair follicle, which means it likely doesn’t help hair that has lost protein.

As for sunflower oil helping with hair growth, the theory there lies in it being high in both oleic acid and linoleic acid. 

There is some research that linoleic acid can activate hair growth cells. However, it’s important to note that this research didn’t involve sunflower oil, specifically. 

Oleic acid has been found to potentially make skin more permeable, so it can help hair growth medications (like minoxidil) work more effectively.

Sunflower oil may also be good for treating dry hair. This is because, along with linoleic acid, it’s rich in vitamin E, which has moisturizing properties.

A small study from 2010 found that vitamin E supplements improved hair growth in people who were dealing with hair loss. It is, again, worth noting this study was not done with sunflower oil.

Another study suggested vitamin E could increase blood flow to the scalp, which may promote healthy hair growth. 

However, this study was done on mice — not humans — and it focused on vitamin E, not sunflower oil. 

Are you picking up on a common theme here? Sunflower oil may have some benefits for hair growth based on some of the stuff found in it, but the research is far from conclusive. The science is “meh” at best.

One thing to note: if you’re allergic to sunflower seeds, you’ll likely have the same reaction to sunflower oil. 

Signs you’re allergic could include swelling, an itchy scalp or worse. If you do use it and notice any symptoms, reach out to a healthcare professional immediately. 

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Other Ways to Encourage Hair Growth

As you can see, the evidence supporting sunflower oil as a hair growth aid is limited at best. That said, there are plenty of other options you can consider that have the science to back them up.

Finasteride

Seeing a few extra hairs in the drain every morning? Your comb lookin’ a little fuller than you remember? This daily prescription medication can help. It comes in tablet and topical form and stops your body from converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is believed by scientists to be what causes hair loss.

Hims offers finasteride online after a consultation with a healthcare professional. 

The best part? There’s science. A study found that 99.1 percent of men who took finasteride over ten years found their hair loss did not worsen. 

But what about growth? Well, 91.5 percent of those men noticed regrowth.

With topical finasteride, even though it isn’t approved by the FDA yet, there’s a building body of research that shows that, like it’s FDA-approved oral counterpart, it actually works.

One systematic review from 2019 looked at seven articles and found that in every single study referenced, men who applied topical finasteride to their scalp noticed a “significant” decrease in total hair loss and, believe it or not, an increase in terminal and total hair count. 

The research is still ongoing, but it looks like topical finasteride is here to stay.

Minoxidil 

Minoxidil is an FDA-approved topical treatment that comes as a liquid or foam. It doesn’t require a prescription, making it easy for anyone to try.

It’s thought to work by stimulating hair follicles to enter the growth phase. Plus, it increases blood flow to the scalp, which encourages growth. 

A review of minoxidil from 2019 found that it boosted hair growth in men and women with pattern hair loss. 

Finasteride and Minoxidil Together

Some things are just better together — peanut butter and jelly, burgers and fries and, yes, even finasteride and minoxidil. 

One study found that 94.1 percent of men dealing with hair loss showed more hair growth when taking finasteride and minoxidil. 

Whereas only 80.5 percent saw improvement using just finasteride and 50 percent saw improvement using only minoxidil.

Hims’ Hair Power Pack contains both. You know, in case you’re feelin’ froggy or whatever.

Shampoo and Conditioner for Hair Loss

Looking for an easy thing to add to your routine? Try using specialized hair care products. Specifically, try shampoo created to thicken hair and stimulate hair growth. 

Hims has a thickening shampoo that contains saw palmetto. This natural ingredient has been found to boost growth.

A study looked at finasteride and saw palmetto for hair regrowth and found that while finasteride was definitely more effective, saw palmetto also worked. 

You can also look for a conditioner with saw palmetto. An additional benefit of conditioners are that they add moisture back to strands. 

Keeping your mane from getting dry and brittle means you’re less likely to experience hair breakage. 

You can look for daily conditioners specifically designed to work with whatever hair type you have (think fine, curly or coarse) , leave-in treatments, or a hair mask. 

Other Oils

Consider adding some other oils into your hair routine. Coconut oil may help protect your strands and deal with damaged hair because of its antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Healthy hair promoting fatty acids are also in coconut oil. And because this type of oil penetrates deeply into the hair shaft, it may help diminish breakage.

Other oils to know about include argan oil, another one full of fatty acids which can deal with dry and frizzy hair, and jojoba oil, which has moisturizing properties and is used in quite a few hair products.

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Sunflower Oil for Hair Growth

Some believe that sunflower oil can help aid in growth and assist in dealing with brittle hair. 

This is because sunflower oil contains both linoleic acid and vitamin E — both of which have shown to assist with hair growth. 

And while those things have studies to support this claim, the research on sunflower oil and hair growth is extremely limited. 

However, there are a number of other proven treatments that work to encourage hair regrowth — like medication and special shampoo. 

To determine what’s best for your hair health, it’s never a bad idea to speak with a healthcare professional. 

19 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

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  2. Ryu, H., Jeong, J., Lee, C., (2021). Activation of Hair Cell Growth Factors by Linoleic Acid in Malva verticillata Seed. Molecules. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/8/2117/pdf
  3. Sunflower Oil Fatty Acid Profile. National Sunflower Association. Retrieved from https://www.sunflowernsa.com/uploads/35/sunflower-oil-fact-sheet_062510.pdf
  4. Beoy, L., Woei, W., Hay, Y., (2010). Effects of Tocotrienol Supplementation on Hair Growth in Human Volunteers. Tropical Life Sciences Research. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819075/
  5. Yano, K., Brown, L., Detmar, M., (2001). Control of hair growth and follicle size by VEGF-mediated angiogenesis. J Clin Invest. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC199257/
  6. Finasteride (2018). Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a698016.html
  7. Yanagisawa, M., et al. (2019, January). Long-term (10-year) efficacy of finasteride in 523 Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia. Clinical Research and Trials. 5, 1-5. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337105943_Long-term_10-year_efficacy_of_finasteride_in_523_Japanese_men_with_androgenetic_alopecia
  8. Badri, T., Nessel, T.A. & Kumar, D.D. (2020, May 4). Minoxidil. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  9. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S. & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 13, 2777–2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
  10. Hu, R., et al. (2015, June 2). Combined treatment with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia: a randomized and comparative study in Chinese patients. Dermatologic Therapy. 28 (5), 303-308. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dth.12246
  11. Rossi, A., Mari, E., Scarno, M., et al. (2012, October). Comparative Effectiveness and Finasteride Vs Serenoa Repens in Male Androgenetic Alopecia: A Two-Year Study. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, Volume 25, Issue 4, pages 1167-1173. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/039463201202500435
  12. Ogbolu, D., Oni, A., Daini, O., Oloko, A., (2007). In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria. J Med Food. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17651080/
  13. Widianingrum, D., Noviandi, C., Salasia, S., (2019). Antibacterial and immunomodulator activities of virgin coconut oil (VCO) against Staphylococcus aureus. Heliyon. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817632/
  14. Dias, M., (2015). Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. International Journal of Trichology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/
  15. Hanana, M., Mezghenni, H., Ayed, R., et al., (2018). Nutraceutical potentialities of Tunisian Argan oil based on its physicochemical properties and fatty acid content as assessed through Bayesian network analyses. Lipids in Health and Disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6003034/
  16. Vilareal, M., Kume, S., Bourhim, T., et al., (2013). Activation of MITF by Argan Oil Leads to the Inhibition of the Tyrosinase and Dopachrome Tautomerase Expressions in B16 Murine Melanoma Cells. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723062/
  17. Gad, H. A., Roberts, A., Hamzi, S. H., Gad, H. A., Touiss, I., Altyar, A. E., Kensara, O. A., & Ashour, M. L. (2021). Jojoba Oil: An Updated Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Uses, and Toxicity. Polymers, 13(11), 1711. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8197201/
  18. Chen, X., Liu, B., Li, Y., Han, L., Tang, X., Deng, W., Lai, W., & Wan, M. (2020). Dihydrotestosterone Regulates Hair Growth Through the Wnt/β-Catenin Pathway in C57BL/6 Mice and In Vitro Organ Culture. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 1528. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6989660/
  19. Lee, S. W., Juhasz, M., Mobasher, P., Ekelem, C., & Mesinkovska, N. A. (2018). A Systematic Review of Topical Finasteride in the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia in Men and Women. Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD, 17(4), 457–463. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6609098/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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