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Mustard Oil for Hair Growth: An Evidence-Based Review
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Updated on January 9, 2024

Using mustard oil for hair growth from the first signs of hair loss may seem like a good idea since it is reputed to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties [1]. But are these purported benefits for your scalp supported by science? Can mustard oil really give you a healthier scalp and reduce your hair loss?

There are very few scientific studies regarding the effect of mustard oil on your hair and scalp and none of them have been conducted on people. There is currently little research to suggest that mustard oil plays any role in preventing hair thinning and only weak evidence that it improves scalp health to a significant extent.

This article will tell you all you need to know about:

  • What mustard oil is and how it can be used on your hair
  • The relationship between mustard oil and hair growth
  • The side effects of using mustard oil on your hair
  • Scientifically proven hair growth treatment alternatives to mustard oil
Table of Contents

What is mustard oil?

a bottle of mustard oil

Mustard oil is extracted from the seeds of Brassica campestris, the mustard plant. Also known as Sarson ka Tel in Hindi, this oil has long been a staple of Indian, Chinese and Nepalese cooking, and it is purported to have numerous health benefits, the most important of which is a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease [2].

However, closer scrutiny from the scientific community led to the conclusion that the risks of consuming mustard oil could outweigh the benefits for certain categories of people. Since the erucic acid it contains may pose health risks to children, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited it from being used in cooking in the U.S. [2].

What does mustard oil contain?

While composition can vary among brand formulas, mustard oil generally contains the following ingredients [3][4]:

Mustard oil composition

Monounsaturated fatty acids (59%):

  • oleic acid
  • erucic acid

 

mustard seed oil

Polyunsaturated fats (21%):

  • 6% omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid
  • 15% omega-6 linoleic acid
Saturated fatty acids (11%)

Vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium

How is mustard oil used on the hair?

There are several ways in which you can apply mustard oil to your hair:

  • Massage a few drops of the oil directly into your scalp and leave it on for up to an hour.
  • Mix a few drops of mustard oil into your conditioner and apply it as usual.
  • Mix the mustard oil with other oils (coconut, jojoba, almond, etc.) and use the combination as a hair mask.
  • Keep it on for 30 minutes

Be sure to test the mustard oil on a patch of skin before applying and not to leave it on too long, in order to avoid scalp irritation or contact dermatitis (allergic reaction).

Does mustard oil make your hair grow?

There is no evidence at this time that mustard oil can promote hair growth or stop your hair from falling out. While it is true that this oil contains some vitamins which nourish hair follicles, clinical trials must be conducted to demonstrate any hair-restoring properties.

Certain other essential oils, such as marula oil for hair, are also unlikely to offer many benefits. So it’s important to check the research before you invest.

Is mustard oil good for your hair?

There are very few clinical studies performed on mustard oil and most of them focus on its cardiovascular or anti-inflammatory health benefits. Even fewer have looked at its effect on hair shedding and scalp health and all of them have been in vitro (in Petri dishes, not on actual people). This is important because often, significantly higher quantities and/or concentrations of a substance are used for in vitro testing than can be safely absorbed by the human scalp.

Several hair benefits have not been researched clinically, but rather deduced from the individual characteristics of mustard oil components [3][4]. These properties may be real, but there is insufficient evidence to say for certain whether they work when applied to the scalp, under what circumstances and to what extent:

  • Antioxidant properties, because it contains Vitamins A and E and antioxidant amino acids, such as cysteine.
  • Hair conditioning and hydrating properties, because it contains alpha-linoleic acid (a fatty acid)
  • Hair UV protection and anti-aging, because it contains vitamin E for hair health
A comb, mustard seeds, and oil

Mustard oil and scalp inflammation reduction

There are theories that mustard oil has anti-inflammatory properties because in a clinical study performed on mice, a substance in mustard oil reduced colon inflammation through a pathway similar to that used by capsaicin [8]. This substance, which makes chilli peppers spicy, possesses proven anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects.

However, mustard oil does not contain capsaicin and the fact that it had some anti-inflammatory effect on animal internal organs is no indication that it would also reduce inflammation when used topically on the human scalp.

This means assertions that mustard oil provides relief for common scalp problems which involve scalp inflammation and pain, such as scalp psoriasis, dermatitis or folliculitis, are still to be confirmed by human testing.

diseased scalp

Mustard oil and dandruff treatment

The role played by mustard oil in treating dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis is also undetermined, in the absence of any clinical trials to support it.

It is true that it contains allyl isothiocyanate, a natural antifungal and that common yeast infections of the scalp, such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, are produced by a fungus called Malassezia.

A few studies [5] [6][7]showed that mustard oil could, indeed, reduce the amounts of certain fungi known as dermatophytes (Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton) and bacteria (E-coli and salmonella) in vitro.

However, that does not automatically speak to its efficacy in reducing different fungi, such as Malassezia, when applied topically on the human scalp.

Mustard Oil for Hair Growth: An Evidence-Based Review, Wimpole Clinic

What are the side effects of mustard oil when applied to my scalp?

While mustard oil is generally well-tolerated, overusing it or keeping it on your scalp for too long can lead to irritation. Moreover, it should be used sparingly on an already oily scalp, as it can make your hair even greasier and clog up your hair follicles.

The pungent smell of mustard oil could be a concern as well if you are planning to use it on your scalp and hair. Mixing it with a better-smelling lotion, such as rosemary oil, can help with the strong odour.

Which oils can be mixed with mustard oil for hair growth?

If you are interested in natural remedies for combatting hair loss, here are some of the best essential oils for hair growth. You can also check out our list of the best and worst hair oils for growth.

However, more evidence of their hair-restoring properties is still needed and there are no studies that show their efficiency would be improved by mixing them with mustard oil:

Rosemary oil

rosemary oil
Saw palmetto oil
pumpkin seed oil
black seed oil

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil

Lemongrass oil

lemongrass oil

Peppermint oil

peppermint oil

What are the best treatment alternatives to mustard oil for hair growth?

If you are experiencing hair thinning for any reason, ranging from androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness) to alopecia areata or telogen effluvium, you will be happy to know there are many scientifically proven treatments which can help.The most common of these are:

  • Minoxidil – a topical medicine which dilates blood vessels so more nutrients can reach the hair follicles.
  • Finasteride – one of the most popular treatments for androgenetic alopecia, as it inhibits excessive DHT production (usually not recommended to pre-menopausal women).
  • Dutasteride – an effective, but not FDA-approved, DHT blocker, similar to Finasteride.
  • Steroid creams for hair loss – they are often used to treat hair loss caused by autoimmune diseases, such as alopecia areata.
  • Dermarolling for hair growth – this therapy involves using a tool to make micro-punctures in your scalp, triggering its natural healing process and increasing topical medicine absorption.
  • Red light therapy for hair growth – this therapy uses focused red light to enhance cell metabolism and provide more energy to hair follicles
  • Hair transplant – a safe and efficient surgical procedure where hair follicles are collected from one area of your head and implanted in a balding or thinning area on your scalp.

The efficiency of any of these treatments and therapies depends on the reason why your hair is falling out. Furthermore, some of them can have unwanted side effects on certain users. Therefore, it is always a good idea to get the recommendation of a hair specialist before medicating.

So make sure you book a consultation with a trichologist before your hair loss advances any further and becomes hard to reverse. They will be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and offer the best hair loss treatment for women or the most efficient hair loss treatment for men.

Should your hair thinning not respond to conventional therapies, there’s no need to worry: you might still be a good candidate for a natural-looking hair transplant. The best hair transplant clinics in the UK have a 97-100% success rate, regardless of whether you opt for FUE or FUT-type hair restorative surgery. Take a look at our before and after hair transplant gallery to see the results for yourself.

Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)Updated on January 9, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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