Hair loss is an issue that just about every guy will deal with at some point in life, whether it’s in his 20s, 30s or well into middle age.
If you’ve searched for information about treating hair loss and stimulating hair growth, you may have come across recommendations for natural products such as essential oils.
Essential oils are oils that contain chemical compounds extracted from plants. They’re easy to find online and are promoted for their purported health benefits and antimicrobial properties.
Overall, the evidence for essential oils as hair growth treatments is mixed. While some studies involving animals have found that certain essential oils may help to promote hair growth, there isn’t much scientific research that looks at their effects on human hair.
Below, you’ll find information on the most popular natural oils, as well as the latest research on their effectiveness for treating hair loss and promoting hair growth. So if you find yourself asking: “What natural oils are good for hair growth?” Read on.
Below you’ll also find details on a few science-based treatment options you may want to consider if you’re starting to lose your hair.
Before getting into specific oils, it’s important to point one thing out: Right now, the evidence for natural oils as hair growth treatments is limited, both in scope and quality.
Most studies on oil-based hair loss treatments are small in scale, and only a few involve human participants. As such, when something “works” in a study (for example, it promotes thicker hair, faster hair growth or better blood circulation in mice or rats), it doesn’t necessarily mean it also works for humans.
It’s important to keep this in mind when reading an article or watching a video that makes claims about the effects of essential oils.
Certain natural oils may offer benefits for hair growth. However, most research into their effects is still ongoing, meaning it’s best to treat most findings as a “maybe” rather than a “definitely.”
With this disclaimer out of the way, let’s start by looking at the natural oils that are backed by the strongest scientific research.
Rosemary essential oil is one of the most popular natural oils for hair growth, as well as several other common health issues. It’s also one of the most well studied, with a variety of research on its potential benefits for treating anxiety, pain and inflammation.
One study published in the journal SKINmed compared rosemary oil to the hair loss medication minoxidil.
In this study, people with androgenetic alopecia (AGA, or pattern hair loss) were treated using a rosemary oil solution or 2% minoxidil for a period of six months. By the end of the study, both groups showed a significant increase in average hair count.
Interestingly, the researchers couldn’t find any significant differences in hair growth between the two groups, although they did note that the minoxidil group was more likely to experience scalp itching.
A different study published in Archives of Dermatology in the late 1990s also found that several essential oils, including rosemary oil, may help to treat alopecia areata — a form of autoimmune hair loss that can cause patchy baldness.
Right now, the research on rosemary oil is interesting but far from comprehensive. This guide to rosemary oil for hair growth looks at this research in more detail and shares ways you can use rosemary oil as part of your hair care routine.
Tea tree essential oil, or melaleuca oil, is a natural oil that’s produced using the leaves of the Australian tea tree, or Melaleuca alternifolia. It’s long been used as an ingredient in traditional Aboriginal medicine.
Many anti-dandruff shampoos use tea-tree oil as an active ingredient. In one study, researchers found that tea tree oil shampoo was more effective than a non-therapeutic placebo for reducing dandruff in men and women.
Although there’s no precise link between dandruff and hair loss, tea tree oil’s effects on dandruff may be beneficial for general hair health and a healthy scalp, or if you simply have oily hair.
In another study, researchers found that a microemulsion containing tea tree oil, diclofenac and minoxidil was more effective at promoting hair growth than minoxidil on its own.
You can learn more about this research and other studies into tea tree oil’s effects in this guide to tea tree oil and hair.
Several essential oils aren’t supported by much in the way of specific research but have been found to promote hair growth in animal studies or when used with other ingredients.
While these oils are often promoted for their hair growth effects (usually mixed with a carrier oil or in hair care products), the scientific evidence behind them isn’t very strong right now.
Currently, there isn’t any high-quality evidence that shows that thyme oil, lemongrass oil, clary sage oil, ylang-ylang oil or other widely-promoted essential oils can stop hair loss or stimulate hair growth.
However, these oils and others may provide benefits for dry hair, brittle hair, hair breakage and general hair health when used as part of your hair care routine.
If you have hair loss or other hair or scalp issues, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider before using any natural oils for hair care purposes.
Overall, there isn’t all that much evidence that natural oils are good for hair growth, or can prevent hair loss or do other things to improve your hair’s appearance.
As mentioned above, this doesn’t mean that natural oils don’t work. There just isn’t any large-scale scientific evidence yet definitively proving that these ingredients will improve your hair’s thickness, density or overall growth.
However, if you’re starting to lose your hair, there are several options available that can stop further hair loss and, in some cases, stimulate regrowth. These include:
In addition to minoxidil and finasteride, products like a good quality hair loss shampoo can help keep your hair in optimal condition and create an environment that supports stronger, healthier hair growth.
Kept inside a diffuser, natural oils can make your home smell great. There’s also some evidence that they may offer certain health benefits, such as soothing a headache, helping you to relax at the end of the day or calming down an upset stomach.
When it comes to stimulating hair growth, however, the evidence isn’t very strong. While there’s some evidence that rosemary and tea tree oil may have hair-related benefits, only a few studies are currently available, none of which were conducted on a large scale.
As covered in this guide to essential oils for hair growth, there’s little risk in trying natural oils for hair growth if you’re curious.
Finally, you can learn more about the causes of hair loss, symptoms you might notice if you’re losing your hair and the latest treatments in this guide to male pattern baldness.