Rosemary is popular when it comes to cooking and aromatherapy, but some research is showing that the fragrant shrub can also do wonders for your hair. In fact, nearly a billion people raved about its benefits on TikTok over the past year.1 But is it worth the hype?
Read on to find out what researchers say about using rosemary oil for hair growth and how to apply it to your hair and scalp if you’re ready to jump on this TikTok trend.
What is Rosemary Oil?
Rosemary oil is an essential oil that has been extracted from the rosemary plant, an evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean region. It’s often used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and beat mental fatigue.
In folk medicine, rosemary oil has been used to ease pain, improve sleep, and promote a balanced mood, although more research is needed to confirm these claims.
What researchers do know is that rosemary oil has significant antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities.2 Even more, some studies show that rosemary may also have some hormonal and cellular effects, specifically by reducing dihydrotestosterone (DHT) activity in the hair follicles.
How Does it Benefit Hair?
Though men are dependent on DHT for sexual development and prostate health, when levels are too high, this hormone can shrink hair follicles and shorten the hair growth cycle, leading to hair loss. In one six-month study, rosemary oil was proven to be equally effective to the popular hair growth medication minoxidil (Rogaine®) in increasing hair count and thickness.3 The only statistical difference was that minoxidil caused more scalp itching.
Other studies have found that rosemary oil may also improve alopecia areata, a type of hair loss that occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles.4 This may be due to the plant’s anti-inflammatory qualities, as inflammation is known to worsen this condition.5
Rosemary oil can also promote scalp health. Its antimicrobial and antioxidant effects help to reduce the yeast and bacteria overgrowth that can lead to dandruff and itching. Some dermatologists even compare the plant extract to the potent antioxidant vitamin C, similarly acting as a shield against environmental stressors while providing the follicles with the nutrients it needs for stronger, thicker hair.6
Does Rosemary Oil Promote Hair Growth?
By blocking DHT, reducing inflammation, and strengthening hair, it’s safe to say that rosemary oil shows promise in promoting hair growth. Rosemary oil also contains carnosic acid, which is known to heal tissue and nerve damage. This may restore hair growth by rejuvenating nerves in the scalp.7
Though the study mentioned above proved that rosemary oil was just as effective as minoxidil, it’s also important to note that such studies are limited. Compared to other minoxidil alternatives, such as DHT-blocking saw palmetto, which is found in Foundation Skincare’s Hair Serum and UnTangled Hair Supplement, rosemary oil may work best as a supplemental treatment, rather than a standalone. Systematic reviews have shown that oral and topical saw palmetto cause “significant improvement” in hair count, hair mass, hair density, with some studies showing a reduction in hair loss in over 90% of subjects.8
How to Use Rosemary Oil On Hair
If you’re willing to give rosemary oil a try, here’s how to get the best results:
- Wash hair thoroughly.
- Take around 5 drops of pure or diluted rosemary oil into your hands.
- Gently massage the oil evenly to the scalp while tilting your head back.
You can also try mixing rosemary oil into your shampoo if you don’t want to run the risk of making your hair too oily. Some people also prefer to mix rosemary essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba and apply directly to the scalp.
Is Rosemary Oil Safe for All Hair Types?
Rosemary oil is safe for all hair types, though not enough is known about the safety of using rosemary oil while pregnant or breastfeeding. There’s also a slight risk of having an allergic reaction, so experts suggest performing a patch test on a small area of the skin first.
Adding rosemary oil to your hair regimen is just one step you can take to support your hair and scalp and improve hair loss. Explore other tips to naturally grow your hair in the FS Journal. And explore FS hair products containing saw palmetto in addition to other ingredients proven to slow hair loss and accelerate growth such as marine collagen, horsetail extract, biotin, folic acid, and more.