Hair loss is a challenge most people will face at one point or the other in life, especially as they advance in age. Causes of hair loss are numerous and diverse. Apart from being a normal part of the ageing process, hair loss could be caused by hormonal changes, diseases, physical or emotional stress, pregnancy, poor diet, excessive use of chemical hair products, constant manipulation and heat treatment, drugs, radiation therapy, etc.
Whether as a result of ageing, heredity or unhealthy lifestyle, hair loss affects people negatively. It can trigger a lot of emotional and psychological issues, ranging from depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders to insecurities, social phobia and anger.
Aromatherapy, the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic purposes, provides a natural and holistic approach to preventing hair loss. Aromatherapy uses essential oils to effectively promote hair growth and reduce hair loss. This article discusses how essential oils stop hair loss, how to use essential oils to grow your hair and the best essential oils for hair growth.
Essential Oils and Hair Growth
Generally, hair grows from hair roots embedded deep under the surface of your skin. The hair root is surrounded by a structure called the hair follicle, whose sole function is to grow your hair. Hair loss occurs when there's significant damage to your hair follicles.
The average human loses about 50–100 hairs daily, and this number may increase naturally as one grows older. Stress, diseases, poor nutrition, etc can damage the hair follicles and lead to excess hair loss or reduced hair growth.
Essential oils are concentrated oils extracted from plant parts through methods like distillation and evaporation. Some of these highly medicinal oils have been scientifically proven to be effective in making your hair naturally grow fast and preventing excessive hair loss. Research has shown that some essential oils help to combat hair loss due to their potency in treating certain underlying causes of excessive hair loss such as stress, scalp inflammation, damaged follicles.
Furthermore, some essential oils accelerate hair growth by improving scalp health, strengthening your hair cuticle, preventing infections, stimulating blood flow to your hair follicles and promoting the overall health of your scalp.
A research study has authenticated the use of essential oils for treatment of alopecia areata, a form of hair loss where the body's immune system triggered by severe stress starts attacking the hair follicles.
How essential oils make hair grow faster
How fast hair grows varies from person to person, depending on factors such as age, genetics, sex, health status and nutrition. Normally, hair tends to grow between about 0.5 to 1.7 centimetres in a month.
According to scientists, hair growth basically happens in three phases; the anagen, catagen, and telogen phases. The anagen phase is the period of active hair growth. Your hair follicles continue to push out hairs during this period, and this is the phase your hair vigorously increases in volume and length. This phase lasts the longest (about 2 to 6 years), and how long it lasts determines how full and thick your hair will be. The anagen phase is followed by a transitional phase, catagen. During this phase your hair follicles begin to shrink and hair growth slows down. The catagen phase is quite short, lasting less than a month. The final phase, telogen phase, signals the start of hair shedding. At each given time, about 90% of your hair are at the active growing phase, 3% at catagen phase, and 6-8% in the shedding phase
Interestingly, studies have revealed that essential oils enhance your hair growth by inducing an early anagen phase or by delaying the catagen phase, and so prolong the phase of active hair growth.
In addition, many essential oils have excellent anti-inflammatory properties, and can curb scalp inflammation that could lead to hair loss. This antimicrobial effect also helps to prevent scalp infections like dandruffs, psoriasis and ringworms, thus maintaining your hair health.
Dermatologists equally agree that essential oils can effectively promote new hair growth and also prevent excess fallout. This is why you would usually see essential oils added to treatment formulations for hair loss and scalp conditions.
How to Use Essential Oils for Hair Growth
First, before applying essential oils to your scalp, you need to test the oil on a patch of your skin. This will help you ascertain whether your skin is too sensitive to the essential oil. Dab a little bit of the oil on the back of your hand, and check if there's any allergic reaction. Only use essential oils that you don't react negatively to on your scalp.
Also, be careful not to let the essential oil get into your eyes. If such an accident occurs, quickly rinse your eyes with a generous amount of cold water.
Most importantly, make sure you dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba oil or sweet almond oil before applying on your scalp. Use the essential oils as recommended in order to avoid skin irritation.
Although some essential oils can be applied daily without any negative side effects, I recommend applying your essential oil for hair growth 2 - 4 times in a week, depending on the severity of your hair loss.
7 Best Essential Oils for Hair Growth
While most essential oils are medicinal, it is not every essential oil that makes your hair grow. In case you're wondering which essential oils grow hair, here is our pick of the 7 best essential oils for hair growth.
1. Lavender essential oil
Besides its sweet and calming fragrance, lavender essential oil is an excellent treatment for hair loss, as it can speed up hair growth. It possesses several therapeutic benefits that cause it to stimulate rapid hair growth and maintain your hair in great condition.
Lavender essential oil prevents bacteria and fungi from growing on your scalp and this helps to curb common hair/scalp issues like dandruffs, itchy scalp, and scalp infections. A study carried out in 2016 showed lavender essential oil as being very effective in inducing fast hair growth in mice.
Moreover, this essential oil is a strong natural remedy for inflammation, and helps to soothe your scalp. It also has a calming effect that eases you of stress and relaxes your mind. Another plus, lavender essential oil is used to prevent as well as treat lice infestation.
There are many ways to use lavender essential oil for hair. You can massage diluted lavender essential oil onto your scalp. Dilute 3-5 drops of lavender essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil. Work the oil mixture into your scalp. Leave it in for 10-15 minutes before washing it off your hair.
If your hair loss is stress-induced, you may want to leave the oil in overnight for optimal results. This allows you to inhale the oil and enjoy its calming effect. Wrap a towel around your head, and enjoy the double benefits of healing your scalp and relieving stress.
Alternatively, you can add lavender essential oil to hair products like conditioner, shampoo or hair butter. Mix in about 2-3 drops of the oil for 1 tablespoon of product.
2. Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint essential oil is another essential oil that effectively promotes hair growth. It has a reputation for being an effective natural remedy for hair loss. Studies show that this essential oil induces proliferation of hair follicles, improves follicle health and enhances overall hair growth.
Undernourishment caused by poor blood flow to the hair follicles can cause major hair loss. Menthol, one of the active compounds in peppermint essential oil, acts as a vasodilator and makes blood flow easily to your hair follicles. This increased blood circulation enhances hair growth and prevents hair loss.
Peppermint essential oil is also known to be a potent remedy for itchy scalp, scalp dryness and other scalp conditions. It has powerful antimicrobial properties, and effectively reduces inflammation.
Mix 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and massage the oil directly into your scalp. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes before washing out with shampoo. You can equally add 3-4 drops of the oil straight into your shampoo or conditioner, and use as you usually would.
3. Rosemary essential oil
Rosemary essential oil curbs hair loss by promoting hair growth and improving the overall health of your hair. This essential oil works by improving blood circulation and blood flow to your hair. It also promotes generation of new cells, thus enhancing hair growth. Rosemary essential oil is also a great anti-dandruff, and is effective at reducing inflammation too. The oil is used by many people to control premature hair greying and for treatment of dry and itchy scalp.
Add 5 drops of rosemary essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil, and massage directly into your scalp. You may choose to leave it on or rinse off with a shampoo after about 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can add rosemary essential oil to your preferred hair product. Mix 2 - 3 drops of the oil with about 1 tablespoon of the hair product.
4. Tea tree essential oil
Tea tree oil alleviates hair loss and helps to improve hair growth through several means. It deeply cleanses your scalp and eliminates impurities that contribute to hair damage. When dirt builds up on your hair, it reduces the rate at which your hair grows. Tea tree essential oil rids your scalp of dirt and unclog your hair follicles. It also helps to regulate production of natural hair oil, possesses powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and is a powerful anti-dandruff.
A study has shown that tea tree essential oil is even more effective in improving hair growth than a popular hair loss medication known as minoxidil.
Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil. Massage into your scalp, and wash out after 10 minutes. Alternatively, add the oil droplets to a dollop of shampoo, work it into your scalp, leave on for about 5-10 minutes and then rinse off.
5. Cedarwood essential oil
Cedarwood essential oil is another essential oil known for its ability to enhance hair growth and lessen hair loss. It has antimicrobial properties, and is used for treating dandruff, ringworm and itchy scalp. This essential oil can help to maintain a healthy head of hair by improving the condition of your scalp.
A study validated the use of cedarwood essential oil for the treatment of hair problems, attributing its efficacy to the positive effect it has on the sebaceous glands that moisturise and protect the scalp.
Additionally, cedrol which is one of the bioactive compounds found in cedarwood essential oil has been demonstrated to be as effective in regrowing hair as minoxidil (a drug commonly prescribed for the treatment of hair loss).
Mix 2-3 drops of cedarwood essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and massage into your scalp. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before washing off with a shampoo.
6. Lemongrass essential oil
Lemongrass essential oil is effective for managing hair loss and promoting hair regrowth. This oil deeply cleanses your scalp and gets rid of dirt and impurities that could clog your hair follicles. It also makes an effective treatment for dandruff, scalp itchiness and other scalp problems. It also strengthens your hair follicles and makes your hair less prone to breakage.
Add 2-4 drops of lemongrass essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil, and evenly apply it to your scalp. Leave the oil on for best results, but if you choose to wash out with shampoo, make sure the oil sits on your hair for at least 30 minutes. You can also mix about 2-3 drops of lemongrass oil into your shampoo, conditioner or any other hair product.
7. Clary sage essential oil
Clary sage essential oil for hair growth has been shown to be as effective as lavender essential oil in promoting hair growth. It improves blood circulation to the scalp, stimulates hair follicles, and increases hair growth. This oil is also used to fight back greying hair, as it contains chemical compounds that help to restore grey hair back to its natural colour. Clary sage oil increases the production of melanin, the pigment that gives hair its colour. In addition, this essential oil is a good antioxidant, and protects your hair from damage arising from UV radiation and other environmental factors.
Mix 2-3 drops of clary sage oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and massage into your scalp. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and wash off with a shampoo.
In conclusion, essential oils provide a natural and safe way of stimulating hair growth, preventing hair loss and restoring your hair volume.
To maximise your hair growth, try to incorporate more proteinous foods into your diet. Eat clean, live a healthy lifestyle, minimise stress and make sure you maintain good hair and scalp care.