The world seems to have gone mad searching for the best essential oils for hair growth. Whether they are interested in longer, fuller tresses, helping to heal alopecia or just anti-aging hair loss is not clear. In this article, we’ll investigate some of the pros and cons of these so-called best oils for hair growth. The results might surprise you. Next, we’ll have a look at some of the best carrier oils for hair conditioning, and then we’ll do an essential oils for hair growth recipe.
The 5 Most Cited Best Essential Oils for Hair Growth
There are very few actual studies that prove essential oils can help your hair to grow. In fact, you can count them on one hand. That said, traditional medicines have been using plant extracts for beauty since the dawn of time.
Often, when we say “there is no proof”, people construe that as meaning that something is not true. What that means though, is simply what we have said, that something has not been proven. Without being compassionate to people who are distressed about losing their hair, scientists recognize the overall benefits of finding extracts that can cure cancer far outweigh things that are essentially cosmetic. For that reason, there is little funding available for these sorts of studies.
However, in 1998, a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial was performed in a Scottish Dermatology outpatients ward. It contained 86 patients who were confirmed as having alopecia areata. The trial lasted 7 months and patients were assessed at 3 and 7 months.
The patients were split into two groups. One group was to massage their scalps daily with a blend of grapeseed and jojoba carrier oils. The other had essential oils added to their carriers. These were rosemary, thyme cedarwood, and lavender.
At the end of the trial, both groups showed improvement. However, the group that had used the essential oils was significantly better.
The results were assessed using photographs. In the control group, using the carriers, 6 people’s hair had started to grow back (that’s 15%). In the essential oil group, 19 people saw dramatic differences. That was 44% of the essential oils group.
Take Care of Choosing Rosemary Essential Oil as Your Best Essential Oil for Hair Growth
Rosemary essential oil can be a difficult oil to use if you have blood pressure issues, epilepsy, or suffer from any issues with psychosis, schizophrenia or any delusory conditions. We would need to take care using this oil. However, it has been a traditional choice for improving hair for centuries. In fact, many people boil the herb and then use it as a final rinse after washing their hair to give it extra shine. This is particularly beautiful if you have dark hair because it makes it really glossy. This would be an excellent alternative if you have any of these conditions as you would not have prolonged exposure to the botanical.
Ylang ylang is not on the list of the best essential oils for hair growth and thickness because of any particular scientific evidence into its capabilities. Rather we have included it because of its tremendous effects on both stress and hormones, and because it has always been used in traditional Madagascan medicine for hair and beauty uses. Funnily enough, we wrote an older post about ylang ylang and its place as one of the best essential oils for hair growth and beauty, so we won’t labor that point too much here. Instead, we’ll look at some of the reasons why it might be so successful.
The Effects of Massage on Hair Growth
The Scottish trial, whilst encouraging, is also frustrating because it missed several opportunities. First, it might have been interesting to know which the best performing essential oil was. It would also have been useful if they had not chosen rapeseed and jojoba, which are already used as hair growth agents as a control. Lastly, it would be interesting to know what massage alone could do.
In 2016, a team in Japan came to our rescue. Their trial into alopecia assessed nine men, over a period of 24 weeks. They massaged their heads for 4 minutes a day with a mechanical massage gadget. No oils, yet the men’s hair was significantly improved, simply by stressing the hair follicles.
So that helps us, but it also hinders it doesn’t it? Because now we have doubts about the carrier oils don’t they/ And of course we should not discount the placebo effect either
Hormones and Hair Loss
When estrogen and progesterone drop, that also means the male hormone, androgen drops. This is often a connecting factor in hair loss. Stress is also a factor. When the body experiences stress, then the sympathetic nervous system reassigns resources so as much energy as possible goes into how we fight stress. (It turns it into glycogen to fuel the muscles so we can jump up trees to get away from sabre tooth tigers.) It takes energy away from other places. The skin looks dull and lifeless and hair goes into a resting stage, which means it no longer grows and can start to fall out.
Massaging the scalp with ylang ylang helps to normalize hormone levels and reduces stress. So if we ask what essential oils are good for hair growth, there is an argument that says any oil that brings your stress levels down is probably going to be helpful. Some of the other best essential oils for hair loss through stress and hormonal balance would be rose, geranium, and clary sage.
If we had to put money on which was the most active ingredient in the Scottish trial, we would say cedarwood. This is a fantastic ingredient for adding to beard oils too because it softens the hair and also makes it feel a great texture.
Cedarwoods have always played a big part in traditional treatments for hair growth. You can find out more about that in one of our older posts about cedarwood being one of the best essential oils for hair growth and luscious locks.
Spikenard is a tiny little pink flower that grows on the edge of the mountains in Nepal. It is an ancient traditional medicine for alopecia, and we would suggest this is one of the best essential oils for black hair growth. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be accurate. However, spikenard is also a vitally important medicine for anxiety, shock, and insomnia, so it is tremendously well sought after and is being extremely over-harvested.
Nepal is an incredibly poor country and about a quarter of the population collects medicinal plants to supplement their income. To do this, they spend many months away from home, and children are placed in orphanages. Spikenard is most assuredly one of the best essential oils for hair growth but it comes with very high ecological and human costs associated with it.
This would be a good choice to add to your massage oil if you suffer from stress-induced alopecia. It would not be appropriate to use for everyday hair conditioning.
Now, saw palmetto does have evidence supporting it, but this time the research was done on the botanical but not specifically the essential oil. In 2020 an American team did an assessment of the evidence of all the existing trials that had been done using saw palmetto for alopecia. The results were impressive, but again we must urge caution because the trial does not say whether the fruits were eaten or if it was an extract applied topically.
However, the results are astonishing, and the saw palmetto certainly warrants a place on the list of best essential oils for hair growth.
60% of people who had used it saw an overall improvement in their hair quality. There was a 27% improvement in hair count and an 83.3% increased density of the hairs. Saw palmetto stabilized the disease progression in 52% of the cases.
What about Lavender Essential Oil for Hair Growth?
The jury is out on this one. There may be pros and cons. Will it reduce the stress and cool the scalp. Yes, it will. Will it nourish the scalp? Nope. The problem you are going to have with using too much lavender is it is going to dry the skin out. On one hand, we would say use lavender for itchy skin, but theoretically, over time it is likely to cause dry flaky skin at least.
Certainly massage the scalp on the odd occasion with lavender, especially if you have a headache or a migraine, but we would not suggest it as one of the best essential oils for hair growth, no.
Extra Support for The Best Essential Oils for Hair Growth
Of course, one of the major disadvantages of using these best essential oils for hair growth is the sheer inconvenience of it. We can certainly add them to shampoos and conditioners, but for the most part that will be useless. It takes 19 minutes for an essential oil to absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream. Hair is dead anyway, so unless you use a leave-on product, you are wasting your time and money.
Theoretically, oils absorb through the skin and migrate to the parts that need them. There could be an argument that implementing the best essential oils for hair growth into other treatments might help, but I think any effects would likely be negligible.
How to Mix Essential Oils for Hair Growth
So, massage would seem to be the best way to apply them. We know the oils can help. We know massage helps, so it makes sense to try to improve on the Scottish results using Grapeseed and Jojoba.
Research suggests they made good choices. Experiments have shown that jojoba penetrates the hair follicle and pools inside it. This would be useful, and grapeseed is also reputed to have good effects on hair growth.
Use Castor and Argan Oils as Carriers for the Best Essential Oils for Hair Growth
Ayurvedic medicine believes hair loss may come from excess heat in the hair follicles, from stress, and that castor oil cools that. It thickens and darkens the hair and anecdotal evidence from users report 3-5x the amount of hair growth when they have used it.
Another great carrier for your best essential oils for hair growth is probably argan oil. Long used by the Berber women of Morocco, who, despite the searing heat, have some of the most beautiful skin and hair in the world.
DIY Essential Oil Blend For Hair Growth
- 10ml Grapeseed Carrier Oil (Vitis vinifera)
- 10ml Jojoba Carrier Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)
- 10ml Argan Carrier Oil (Argania spinosa)
- 10ml Castor Oil (Ricinis communis)
- 10 drops Saw Palmetto essential oil (Serenoa repens)
- 10 drops Cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana)
- 10 drop Ylang Ylang essential oil (Cananga odorata)
Method of Use: Massage into the scalp daily. Draw the oils down the hair shaft to gain beautifully conditioned locks. Leave on for 30 minutes before shampooing out. This is a lot of oil. You may need to shampoo twice.
Safety: Not suitable for use during pregnancy (Ylang Ylang)
It’s very hard to prove what the best essential oils for hair growth are, but if we trust in traditional wisdom, we can have good effects. Consider adding zinc supplements to your diet with are important for healthy skin and hair. Regularly stimulate your scalp with massage for less stress, potentially lower blood pressure and fewer headaches and some fantastically think and healthy hair.