Essential Oils For Hair Growth/Hair Loss
Losing your hair is no fun at all. Many of us will find that our view of ourselves and our self-esteem is tied closely to our hair and being able to toss a full head of hair over one shoulder is a great way to feel really good about yourself.
But over time, there are all manner of things that can cause you to thin out a little on top and to lose those lustrous locks. This is particularly a big issue for men – with 70% of the adult male population suffering from male pattern baldness. So what’s the answer?
One possible solution may be essential oils but this will depend very much on what type of hair loss you’re suffering from, what’s caused it in the first place and how far gone you are! Let’s take a look at where hair loss comes from, how oils can help to treat it and how you can try using them.
How do Essential Oils Treat Hair Loss?
There are a number of things that can cause you to lose hair and to thin out on top.
If you’re suffering from MPB, then the cause has to do with both testosterone levels and hair follicles. Often you will hear people say that hair loss is a sign of ‘high testosterone’. This may be somewhat true but it’s also actually something of a simplification of what’s really going on.
In fact, hair loss is caused by a combination of testosterone and highly sensitive hair follicles. In other words, for some men, testosterone can damage the hair follicles and cause hair loss. This isn’t true for all guys though, so some men can have tons of testosterone and still keep all their hair. Likewise, if you have sensitive follicles but low testosterone, your hair will be fine. Or to be more specific, it’s actually the DHT (dihydrotestosterone) that causes hair loss.
The head has around 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles which have growth and rest phases. The growing phase tends to last around 3-6 years, whereas the rest phase lasts about 90 days when the hair falls out. At any time, roughly 10% of all your follicles will be ‘resting’ so you won’t have the maximum thickness.
Interestingly though, a number of other factors can also impact on your hair follicles. For example, if you are very stressed then this can increase stress hormones which results in more of your follicles entering their rest phase and causes the thinning of hair. Likewise, if your body is physically stressed in other ways this can also cause hair to thin.
And increasingly, researchers are finding more factors that are involved in hair loss. For instance, there’s a relationship between vitamin D in skin cells and hair loss.
There’s actually a drug available called ‘finasteride’ which works to prevent testosterone being converted into DHT and this can help to slow or completely prevent hair loss. But then again, we need DHT for things like muscle building and virility. One side effect of finasteride is erectile dysfunction! And another is depression…
So with all this in mind, how can essential oils help?
Well, the first thing to recognize is that we don’t fully understand how hair loss works. What we do know is that hormones play a big role in altering the health and state of hair follicles and that we can strengthen those same follicles with the right nutrition.
Essential oil can do all of these things when applied topically. The oils nourish the hairs themselves and also the follicles, delivering vitamins and minerals to strengthen them while simultaneously helping to protect them from the damaging effects of DHT. Those essential oils with antioxidant properties might also be even more effective at combating damage to the hair cells over time.
We also know that certain compounds can work as a follicle fertilizer. Minoxidil for instance is a substance that works like a ‘fertilizer’ for the hair follicles causing them to remain in the growth phase longer and to produce thicker hairs. The good news for fans of essential oils is that studies show that oils such as rosemary oil can be just as effective at doing this. This may work by helping to increase blood flow to the tiny blood vessels in the scalp which provide the follicles with the nutrition they need.
One study published in Skinmed in 2015, titled Rosemary Oil vs Minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial found that the effectiveness of rosemary oil was exactly the same as the effectiveness of minoxidil. What’s more is that while minoxidil caused a number of unwanted side effects such as itching, these are far less pronounced and severe when using oils like rosemary.
Finally, there are also other ways in which essential oils could be useful for hair loss. For one, some are believed to encourage blood flow to the head, which may further help to nourish the hair. At the same time, a number of essential oils are used to help combat and reduce stress. This could be particularly useful for preventing hair loss seeing as stress is one of the major contributing factors in many cases.
What to Expect
While essential oils can certainly be helpful for treating hair loss, it’s important to know the limitations and to make sure that you go into this with the right mindset.
If you’re hoping to regain a full head of hair having lost a lot of coverage for instance, then you are very likely to be disappointed as unfortunately this is generally impossible. The same is also true for the myriad ‘hair growth’ products on the market though.
Rather, see essential oils as a way to help protect the scalp from further hair loss and to encourage more growth for those follicles that are still capable of producing hair.
Essential Oils for Hair Loss
With all this in mind then, which essential oils are best for encouraging hair growth and preventing its loss. There are a number that can be useful…
We’ve already discussed the effectiveness of using rosemary to prevent hair loss and to help encourage further growth. By acting as ‘fertilizer’ for the hair follicles, this can help you to get the very best nutrition to them to stimulate the maximum growth. If any hair follicles have been completely destroyed, then this won’t overturn that – but it can help you to get the best from the hair follicles that remain.
Cedarwood essential oil is effective in combating hair loss again because it helps to encourage blood flow. What’s more is that cedarwood oil has anti-fungal properties. In some cases, fungal infections can be the cause of hair loss (such as if you are suffering with ring worm) and so cedarwood oil may be especially helpful in those situations.
Sweet Basil Oil
Sweet basil oil is filled with potent antioxidants. This makes it a great tool for protecting the hair follicles against subsequent damage and especially age-related decline.
Sweet basil is also useful for the hair in a number of other ways. It can unblock hair follicles, clear up sebum from the scalp and remove dandruff.
Thyme is another essential oil that can combat fungal infections, as well as being antibacterial and anti-viral. Once again, it can also aid blood flow.
Lavender oil is found in many hair care products. It can prevent infection and also has stimulant properties which ca improve circulation and stimulate growth.
Other popular choices:
- Grapeseed oils
- Sesame seed oil
Note that it’s always important to follow the directions when using any essential oils. Don’t exceed the recommended dose and mix with carrier oils where appropriate. This is particularly important with powerful oils like sweet basil.
It’s also possible to make mixtures of several oils to help support scalp health in a number of ways. Try combining thyme, cedarwood, lavender, rosemary, grapeseed and jojoba for one popular recipe. Massage into the scalp and leave it for 30 minutes to be absorbed (wrap a warm towel around your head). Don’t add too much! Another recipe for circulation is to combine six drops of lavender with four ounces of warm sesame seed oil. Rinse as usual once it has been left to absorb.
It’s also possible to find natural hair shampoos with oils already included. They can actually be used to clean your hair as well as adding moisture and nourishment!