As one of many natural remedies said to combat hair loss and boost growth, rosemary oil is cited as a powerhouse. But does the science hold up? We take a look into the revered herb.
Homeopathic hair loss remedies are seriously on the rise, whether it’s coconut oil hair masks or rice water for quicker hair growth. And when it comes to tackling hair loss, a problem many of us experience as early as our twenties thanks to seasonal changes, hormone fluctuations, or stress, there are countless natural options.
We know food ingredients like caffeine and peppermint can help energise the scalp and encourage blood flow to hair follicles, essential if hair growth has slowed or you’ve noticed increased shedding. But one that seemingly rises above the rest is rosemary oil, thanks to its ability to leave the scalp clean, balanced, and stimulated.
“Rosemary oil is great for hair,” expert trichologist Stephanie Sey previously told Stylist. “It has anti-inflammatory properties and can improve scalp circulation, preventing hair loss. Beyond hair growth, rosemary oil is believed to prevent dandruff and may also help a dry or itchy scalp.” With that being said, most of the research and testimonies are through word of mouth, although numerous credible clinical trials have suggested it may be used as an alternative to cosmetic or pharmaceutical hair products.
Is there scientific proof rosemary oil increases hair growth?
One study in 2014 concluded that rosemary works just as well as minoxidil (known as Rogaine), the go-to drug for tackling pattern baldness. In theory, rosemary oil is said to stop DHT (a type of testosterone responsible for pattern baldness) from attaching to hormone receptors, which makes it unable to effect hair follicles. After three months of testers using either rosemary or Rogaine, there was barely any increase in hair growth, but by six months both had significant increases – with rosemary taking a very slight lead.
Although the difference in numbers was statistically too small to deserve an official conclusion, the study suggested that rosemary can boost hair growth if used for a long period of time. What’s more, the rosemary group reported less scalp itching, showing it as a better option for those with sensitive and allergy-prone skin. Another study published in 2017 found that rosemary could kill certain bacteria and fungi, an overgrowth of which can lead to scalp infections and irritation – and in turn, leading to hair loss.
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Who shouldn’t use rosemary oil?
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t use rosemary oil unless your doctor advises you to. Rosemary oil isn’t said to work for hair loss in children, and isn’t said to be safe to use on children’s scalps. As with any other essential oil, avoid getting rosemary oil in your eyes or mouth, and always keep it away from children.
How to use rosemary oil for hair growth
Add rosemary oil to your shampoo
It’s the easiest way to incorporate rosemary to your hair routine without having to remember each time. Add about 10 drops of rosemary essential oil to your shampoo bottle (not per palmful). Give it a good shake and roll between your hands several times to ensure everything is properly combined, then shampoo as normal.
Indulge in a rosemary oil scalp massage
As with all essential oils, rosemary needs to be diluted in a neutral carrier oil like coconut, almond, argan, avocado, olive, jojoba or baobab before it can be safe to use on the skin. Add a couple of drops to a palmful of carrier oil, mix, and apply to your scalp via your fingertips or a nozzle bottle if you’ve got one. Massage to get the most out of rosemary’s vasodilator powers, boosting circulation and bringing nutrients via the blood flow to any follicles that could be cut off from the supply. Leave in overnight or during the day, then be sure to shampoo thoroughly – oil should never be left on the scalp for more than a day so as not to encourage bacteria growth.
Make a rosemary concentrate
An ancient remedy from so many cultures worldwide, herbal concentrates are a great alternative to oils if your hair is fine or your skin reacts to essential oils. Take a couple of stems of fresh rosemary and add to a mugful of boiled filtered or bottled water. Steep for at least six hours, drain, and pour into a spray bottle. Keep in the fridge and spray on your scalp each day, focusing on areas where hair loss is particularly bad, and be sure to properly wash your hair as frequently as usual.
The best rosemary products to add to your haircare routine
Miaroma Rosemary Essential Oil
The best way to start is with this tiny bottle of pure rosemary essential oil – the handy stopper dropper ensures you can control how much you add to your creations.
Shop Miaroma Rosemary Essential Oil at Holland and Barrett, £5
Aveda Rosemary Mint Composition Oil
If you don’t fancy whisking up your own hair oil, this one comes already blended in organic sunflower oil with the addition of peppermint to really get that blood flowing.
Shop Aveda Rosemary Mint Composition Oil at Lookfantastic, £18
Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil
A classic in many afro and curly hair arsenals, this affordable oil blend contains castor oil – another hair growth hero – as a base.
Shop Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil at Black Haircare, £9.99
Mielle Rosemary Mint Strengthening Hair Masque
Infused with biotin, honey, and coconut oil to really feed both scalp and strands, this hair mask is a handy addition to your rosemary oil collection.
Shop Mielle Rosemary Mint Strengthening Hair Masque at Lookfantastic, £10.98