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The amount of ways essential oils can be used is pretty staggering; from aromatherapy to do-it-yourself cleaners, they’re a versatile helper to keep on hand. What’s more, their benefits can extend to hair care as well: some essential oils have the power to minimize dandruff, support a healthier scalp environment, and increase microcirculation for optimal growth.
You may have seen some essential oils sprucing up your FYP on TikTok, with people highlighting their scalp transformations from using options like rosemary oil or castor oil. But like any powerful ingredient, proper precautions must be taken to avoid unwanted side effects.
Luckily, we’ve got all the answers to your burning questions about implementing essential oils into your weekly regimen. If you’re looking for a more natural route to getting results in the hair growth department, read on.
“Like many herbal and botanical remedies, their efficacy and benefits are largely anecdotal,” board-certified trichologist, Bridgette Hill, shared with StyleCaster. “Certain oils have properties that nourish the hair fiber providing hydration, strength and elasticity, as well as support the scalp microbiome and skin barrier which reduce inflammation, are antimicrobial and encourage cell turnover. The perceived growth should be attributed to the preventive impact that the use of the oil has on the hair fiber by reducing its fall and breakage resulting in lengthening of the hair fibers. But maintaining the delicate balance of the scalp microbiome should be a priority when it comes to hair growth. “Rosemary oil, anecdotally, cleanses the scalp of unwanted bacteria (yes, some oils actually have cleansing properties) and reduces inflammation, keeping the scalp nourished and creating a high functioning hair follicle (resulting in the creation of a healthy hair fiber). “
There are a handful of options to choose from, each of which brings its own unique benefits to the scalp.
Rosemary oil has been shown to revive and heal a compromised hair follicle on its own. As Hill explained, “A clinical study was conducted in humans in 2015 comparing hair growth rates using rosemary oil versus minoxidil. After six months, rosemary oil has been shown to provide results equal to minoxidil in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Rosemary oil is good for hair growth because it is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, increases blood circulation and is a fatty acid.
“A 2015 International Journal of Trichology study found that the minerals in avocado oil help seal cuticle cells which prevent hair fiber breakage and seal in moisture, making avocado oil a wonder oil. for those who struggle with dry, damaged or frizzy hair. ”
“Shea oil is an ultimate cleansing oil, as it is capable of breaking down [unwanted] oils on the scalp and hair fiber leading to the buildup and unwanted growth of fungi and bacteria on the scalp,” Hill said. It also acts as a primer for the hair fibers, allowing them to retain the natural properties of the proteins and moisture from other hair care products, such as conditioner.
According to Hill, many different hair types and textures can benefit from the use of argan oil. It supplies fatty acids and vitamin E to the strands and has a molecular structure small enough to penetrate deeper into the cuticle, in turn forming a protective barrier that prevents further damage.
One of the most popular options widely used, castor oil can nourish and support healthy hair follicles in several areas, including the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes. Since the oil contains a ton of nutrients, it helps protect your hair follicles from outside aggressors that could wear them down over time.
To avoid unwanted side effects, all essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil. Hill recommends patch testing to rule out skin sensitivity before applying to the scalp; put 3 drops on your forearm and wait 24 hours to see if there is an irritation or bad reaction. “I find that applying the oil with an applicator that has a nozzle applied directly to the scallop is best for thorough application,” he said.
Hill has her own advice when it comes to applying any of the essential oils above. “My philosophy for scalp and hair care is rooted in the belief that oils are best used as pre-shampoo treatments for the scalp and hair. Apply to the scalp on dry hair without shampoo. Leave the oil to act for at least 15 minutes. I encourage people to sleep during treatments for maximum benefit. Simply said this should be the first step before shampooing. Ideally this should be done before using any detergent based cleaners.
According to Hill, oiling the scalp with improper oils, ointments, or fats that feed bacteria are not antimicrobial or antifungal in nature and can negatively impact scalp health and hair fiber growth. “Oiling the scalp should be practice before shampooing, unless the hair is braided or in protective styles. Anyone managing chronic medical conditions of the scalp should proceed with caution when using any type of oil or natural herbal product. As always, the benefits of plant and natural oils on the scalp and hair are unique to the individual. “We are not yet clear on the long-term impact of controlling unwanted bacteria, fungi and yeasts that contribute to medical conditions of the scalp. As stated earlier, pre-shampoo scalp oil may be fine when treating dandruff, but it depends on the severity of the problem. If anything, avoid using mineral oil, which can cause buildup on the scalp and hair fiber, and oils that can be comedogenic, like olive oil. Also refrain from ointments, fats or products with wax.
Shop some other top picks below.
This hair growth oil comes with a targeted scalp massaging tip that increases the odds of seeing results; the tip promotes better microcirculation (leading to growth) and helps deliver ingredients deeper into the scalp.
This TikTok viral scalp oil features rosemary, biotin, and mint and can be used daily to combat hair loss, split ends, and more. It is also available on Amazon.
This 100% cold pressed castor oil can be applied to both scalp and eyebrows for results. It is also vegan, cruelty-free and hexane.
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