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10 Best and Worst Hair Growth Oils – Expert Review 2024
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Updated on January 23, 2024

If you feel that your hair is not growing as fast as you would like, you may be wondering about the best and worst hair growth oils to help speed up this process. 

Normally, your strands grow by 0.35 mm per day for about six years before naturally falling out [1]. While this rate can be difficult to accelerate, what some oils, such as black seed oil for hair, can do is regulate your hair growth cycle, preventing your strands from falling out prematurely. Others, such as rosemary oil for hair growth, can prevent hair loss by improving male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness

However, while the best essential oils for hair growth may have beneficial properties for your strands, others can also have significant unwanted side effects, ranging from scalp irritation, to acute hair matting [2]. That is why it is best to get the recommendation of a trichologist if you are unsure whether a certain hair oil will help or hinder your hair growth. 

Continue reading this article to find out more about:

  • How essential oils can promote hair growth
  • The best and worst hair growth oils
  • How to use essential oils for hair growth
  • Effective hair growth alternatives to essential oils
Table of Contents

Do essential oils stimulate hair growth?

a variety of essential oils

Not all essential oils have been proven to promote hair growth. Some of them, such as rosemary oil [3], pumpkin seed oil [4] or black seed oil [5] have been studied in clinical trials and found to do so, either by reducing hair loss induced by conditions such androgenetic alopecia or telogen effluvium or by extending your hair growth phase and delaying your natural hair shedding

However, in spite of many glowing online reviews, the hair growth properties of other oils, such as mustard oil for hair or marula oil for hair have never been scientifically proven. Since no clinical trials have been conducted on humans to study this effect, their benefits for hair growth are purely anecdotal until further research has been carried out.  

How can hair oils stimulate hair growth?

There are several ways in which certain essential oils can help reduce your hair loss and/or stimulate your hair growth:

Improving the symptoms of some types of alopecia

For example, some essential oils are natural DHT blockers. This hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) binds to receptors in the hair follicles of people with androgenetic alopecia, making them shrink and stop producing hair. 

Making your hair stronger by reducing friction and oxidative stress

Many essential oils contain fatty acids which condition your hair, keeping it moisturised and preventing your strands from rubbing against each other. This can help make your strands stronger, reduce split ends and prevent dry, brittle hair.

Most essential oils also contain antioxidants, such as vitamin A for hair, Vitamin E for hair or Vitamin C for hair, which can contribute to some extent to protecting your strands from UV damage (however, this protection is likely not sufficient to allow for extended exposure to the sun).


Helping treat common scalp problems which can cause hair loss

Some essential oils (e.g. rosemary oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil or tea tree oil) may play a role in calming the symptoms of scalp conditions, such as dandruff [23], seborrheic dermatitis  or scalp psoriasis [26]. This means they may reduce hair breakage from scratching or localised hair loss. However, more evidence is needed to support this. 

What are the best hair growth oils?

Here are the top five hair oils for growth that are backed up by clinical evidence.

Hair oilHair growth benefitsRecommended brand

Rosemary oil 10 Best and Worst Hair Growth Oils – Expert Review 2024, Wimpole Clinic

Rosemary oil has been proven to be a natural dihydrotestosterone (DHT) blocker, which makes it effective in treating androgenetic alopecia. Studies revealed its results to be comparable to those of topical Minoxidil [3].

A smaller study has found rosemary oil to help hair regrowth in alopecia areata, when combined with thyme, lavender and cedarwood oils [6].

Rosemary oil also possesses some antimicrobial properties, but more research is needed to determine their effect on common scalp problems.

Nikura Rosemary Oil For Hair

Nikura Rosemary Oil For Hair

This formulation is one of the best rosemary oils for hair growth, as it combines the DHT-inhibiting effect of rosemary oil with argan oil which regulates sebum production and almond oil which promotes hair elasticity [7]

Pumpkin seed oil

pumpkin and pumpkin seed oil

A study conducted on 76 male patients with androgenetic alopecia showed a 40% mean hair count increase after 24 weeks of treatment with pumpkin seed oil capsules [4]. However, more research is needed to determine whether a topical application would have the same result.

A different trial, conducted in 2021 on 30 women with female pattern hair loss, showed an increase in upright regrowing hairs and a decrease in hair miniaturisation after 3 months of treatment with topical pumpkin seed oil [8].

Jeune Naturelle Pumpkin Seed Oil Organic

Jeune Naturelle Pumpkin Seed Oil Organic

This formula is 100% organic, with no additional ingredients, obtained from high-quality pumpkin seeds.

Black seed oil

black seed oil and black seeds

Black seed oil has been found to be effective in stopping telogen effluvium hair loss and improving hair density and thickness [5].

Further research found this oil to regulate your hair growth cycle, delaying premature hair shedding [9].

Black seed oil has also been shown to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties in vitro, though further research is needed to determine their effect on the human hair and scalp [10].

Healths Harmony Black Seed Oil

Healths Harmony Black Seed Oil

This formula is combined with vitamin E, which increases its nutritive and antioxidant properties.

Peppermint oil

peppermint oil

While the findings of this study need to be confirmed in humans, peppermint oil for hair has been found to boost hair growth comparably to Minoxidil in animal studies [11]. It also seemed to improve the hair growth rate in mice by 92% after four weeks of consistent use.

Peppermint oil increases blood flow to your hair follicles, due to its menthol component, allowing them to receive more nutrients [12]. Menthol can also soothe an irritated and inflamed scalp.

This oil contains antioxidants as well, which may provide limited UV protection (however, do not rely on this alone, as excessive sunlight is not good for your hair) [13].

Peppermint Tea Tree Hair Oil

peppermint tea tree oil

This formula combines the hair growth and scalp-soothing properties of peppermint oil with the antimicrobial properties of  tea tree oil [23]. It is light and does not cause build-up.

Lavender oil

lavender oil

Animal studies showed that after 4 weeks of consistent application, lavender oil has increased the number of hair follicles in mice and increased follicle depth [14].

Furthermore, this oil has some antimicrobial properties [15].

It may also reduce skin inflammation when applied topically [16], which may reduce the symptoms of scalp psoriasis [26] and diminish hair shedding from scratching or rubbing the inflamed area.

However, further research is needed to test all these properties in humans.

Finally, the smell of lavender oil has been shown to have calming properties which can reduce stress and anxiety that can cause hair loss [17].

Nature Spell Lavender Oil For Hair & Skin

Nature Spell Lavender Oil For Hair & Skin

This formula combines the hair growth property of lavender with the soothing, nourishing qualities of peppermint oil.

What are the worst hair growth oils?

When speaking of the worst hair growth oils, it is a matter of weighing their proven hair benefits against their known side effects. There is insufficient scientific evidence at this time that any of the following essential oils can effectively stimulate your hair growth or prevent hair thinning, as no such studies have been conducted in humans.

While they do have some moisturising and conditioning properties (like most hair oils), these oils do not have any other proven hair benefits and can also have detrimental effects on your hair.

Hair oil Potential unwanted side effects:

Castor oil

castor oil

Castor oil is heavy and sticky and can cause acute hair felting, making your hair matted, hard and entangled even from the first use [19].

matted hair

Furthermore, research found that castor oil is not well absorbed through the skin [18], so topical application is unlikely to benefit your scalp in other ways than moisturising it.

Mustard oil

mustard oil

Mustard oil can cause irritation if left on your scalp for too long.

It can also clog up your pores, especially if you already have an oily scalp.

Finally, it can leave a pungent odour on your hair.

Marula oil 

Marula oil

Used in excess, marula oil can make your scalp greasy, clog your pores and hair follicles and feed the fungus which causes yeast infections of the scalp, such as dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis.

Olive oil 

olive oil

Since olive oil is heavy and greasy, it can clog pores and hair follicles, leading to scalp folliculitis.

It can also worsen symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, such as scaling and inflammation [21].

While it is purported to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, some researchers believe it can actually worsen their symptoms by feeding the fungus which causes them [21].

Mineral oil 

mineral oil

While hair protective properties are sometimes reported, research found that mineral oil cannot penetrate the hair shaft well enough to yield good results in preventing hair damage [22].

Moreover, while mineral oil is generally safe to use, it can be difficult to wash out and cause buildup on the scalp with frequent use.

How can you use oils for hair growth?

10 Best and Worst Hair Growth Oils – Expert Review 2024, Wimpole Clinic

Most essential oils need to be mixed with a lighter, carrier oil – such as almond oil, jojoba oil or coconut oil. That is because using them directly on your scalp can cause irritation. 

While the proportion of essential to carrier oil differs, you should ideally not exceed a 5% concentration, unless it is recommended otherwise by your trichologist. The more concentrated the essential oil is, the more likely you are to experience unwanted side effects.

After you have diluted the oil, you can pour a few drops in your hand and gently massage it into your scalp or use a wide-toothed comb to spread it on the entire length of your strands. You can leave it on for 30 minutes (some essential oils can even be left on overnight) and then wash your hair. 

Alternatively, you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to your shampoo or conditioner and use them like you normally would. 

Effective alternatives to hair growth oils

If essential oils for hair growth are not helping your hair loss or hair shedding, you may want to consider some tried and tested hair growth medications or therapies:

  • Minoxidil – usually applied topically, Minoxidil makes the blood vessels in your scalp widen, so more nutrients can reach your hair follicles. 
  • Finasteride – the most prescribed medication for androgenetic alopecia, Finasteride inhibits the excessive production of DHT, which helps stop your condition from progressing and even reverse it to some extent (it is not recommended for premenopausal women). 
  • Dutasteride – While it is similar to and more potent than Finasteride, Dutasteride is not yet FDA-approved for hair loss (it is not recommended for premenopausal women).
  • Steroid creams – used most commonly in the treatment of autoimmune conditions, such as alopecia areata, steroid creams can also treat itchiness and inflammation caused by scalp conditions such as scalp psoriasis. 
  • Red light therapy for hair growth – a form of low-level laser therapy for hair loss that uses focused red or near-infrared light to increase your scalp cell metabolism and help your hair follicle cells multiply. 
  • Derma rolling for hair growth – this therapy uses a small tool called a derma roller to make microscopic punctures in your scalp. These punctures trigger your body’s natural healing response and at the same time, they help with topical medication absorption.  
  • Hair transplant – also known as hair restoration surgery, this is a simple and effective procedure which involves harvesting healthy hair follicles from a donor area (usually, the back of the head) and reimplanting them in your thinning spots. 

However, keep in mind that in order to achieve good results, these treatments need to be recommended by a trichologist. That is because they are only effective against specific kinds of hair loss and some of them can have unwanted side effects in certain categories of patients. 

Are you concerned about hair loss?

Many people who are looking for hair growth advice are experiencing hair loss. This is a very common occurrence, which happens to over 85% of men and 55% of women during their lifetime [23][24]. It happens most often due to male or female pattern baldness or telogen effluvium, but there can be many other reasons your hair is falling out.

It is important to book a consultation with a trichologist from the first signs of hair thinning and balding, to prevent your alopecia from progressing and get the right diagnosis and treatment. Waiting too long to do so can make it difficult to treat your condition with hair growth medication or therapies alone.

However, if that happens, you may still be a good candidate for a hair transplant. Technology in this field has made great advancements, so you can get a natural looking hair transplant regardless of whether you opt for an FUE or FUT type surgery.

Surgeons at the best hair transplant clinics in the UK have a 97-100% success rate, making it a safe and efficient procedure. Our before and after hair transplant gallery speaks for itself.

10 Best and Worst Hair Growth Oils – Expert Review 2024, Wimpole Clinic

Sources:
  1. Anatomy, Hair
  2. “Castor Oil” – The Culprit of Acute Hair Felting
  3. Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial
  4. Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
  5. Evaluation of a Therapeutic Alternative for Telogen Effluvium: A Pilot Study
  6. Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata
  7. Hair Oils: Indigenous Knowledge Revisited
  8. Pumpkin seed oil vs. minoxidil 5% topical foam for the treatment of female pattern hair loss: A randomized comparative trial
  9. Development and Evaluation of Herbal Hair Serum: A traditional way to Improve Hair Quality
  10. Nigella sativa seed, a novel beauty care ingredient: A review
  11. Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs
  12. Mechanisms and time course of menthol-induced cutaneous vasodilation
  13. Peppermint essential oil: its phytochemistry, biological activity, pharmacological effect and application
  14. Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice
  15. An ex vivo, assessor blind, randomised, parallel group, comparative efficacy trial of the ovicidal activity of three pediculicides after a single application – melaleuca oil and lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and lemon tea tree oil, and a “suffocation” pediculicide
  16. Topical lavender oil for the treatment of recurrent aphthous ulceration.
  17. The Effects of Lavender Oil Inhalation on Emotional States, Autonomic Nervous System, and Brain Electrical Activity
  18. Transdermal Absorption of Castor Oil
  19. “Castor Oil” – The Culprit of Acute Hair Felting
  20. Olive oil phenolics: Where do we stand? Where should we go?
  21. Use of Olive Oil for the Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis in Children
  22. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage.
  23. Men’s Hair Loss
  24. Female pattern hair loss: Current treatment concepts
  25. Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo
  26. Anti-psoriatic effect of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil and its major components linalool and linalyl acetate
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)Updated on January 23, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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