You may have seen people online touting the benefits of using rosemary oil on their hair. Many people claim rosemary oil can help hair grow thicker.
That’s an exciting prospect for anyone who struggles with thinning hair. But is the hype too good to be true?
Here’s what you need to know about using rosemary oil on your hair.
What Is Rosemary Oil?
Rosemary is a Mediterranean shrub with needle-like leaves and a distinctive scent. Rosemary oil is the oil extracted from the twigs and fresh leaves of the rosemary plant.
People have used rosemary in various forms for centuries, both in folk remedies and to flavor food.
Rosemary has medicinal as well as calming properties. Recent studies show that rosemary in different forms can curb inflammation, boost memory, and soothe anxiety. It is also inexpensive and non-toxic.
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Does Rosemary Oil Thicken Hair?
The short answer is yes. There is some scientific evidence that rubbing rosemary oil into the scalp can help hair growth.
One study showed that rosemary oil was as effective as minoxidil at stimulating hair growth. Minoxidil is a lotion you apply to the scalp to boost hair growth. It is currently the only FDA-approved treatment for female pattern hair loss (FPHL).
The other good news? Using rosemary oil doesn’t cause the itchy scalp that’s sometimes a side effect of minoxidil.
Doctors aren’t exactly sure how rosemary oil works. It may improve circulation in the scalp. That in turn may lead to faster cellular turnover and hair growth.
Rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory properties, so it may also be beneficial in calming inflammation. Inflammation can contribute to some hair loss conditions like alopecia areata.
How to Use Rosemary Oil for Hair Growth
You can buy rosemary oil over the counter anywhere that sells essential oils.
It’s concentrated, so you need to mix it with a carrier oil to dilute it. Some carrier oils are argan oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil.
To use on your hair, mix about five drops of rosemary oil per teaspoon of carrier oil. Massage the oil into your scalp and leave it on for a few minutes before showering. Be careful not to get pure rosemary oil in your eyes, as it can be irritating.
Another option: Add a few drops of rosemary oil to your favorite shampoo. Or choose hair care products that incorporate rosemary oil in their ingredients. Many shampoos, conditioners, and other products list rosemary oil among their ingredients.
Women and Hair Loss
Why do you need rosemary oil in the first place? Two words: hair loss.
It’s normal to shed some hair every day. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day. But a receding hairline, bald spot, or overall thinning is a sign of more serious hair loss.
As a society, we’re accustomed to seeing hair loss in men. But many women also experience thinning hair.
A 2022 study published in the journal Menopause revealed that more than 50% of women have FPHL by age 50. FPHL often begins when a woman goes through menopause in her forties or fifties. That’s when hormonal changes cause hair to thin.
With FPHL, you lose hair all over your head (unlike male pattern baldness, which results in a bald spot or receding hairline). You may notice that your part is getting wider, or your ponytail is thinner.
Genetics can play a role in FPLH. So can autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata.
You may also shed more hair than normal if you recently:
- Gave birth.
- Lost a significant amount of weight (20 pounds or more) in a short period of time.
- Underwent chemotherapy for cancer.
- Recovered from a major illness.
- Had surgery.
- Went through a stressful situation (getting a divorce, losing your job, caring for an elderly loved one).
- Used harsh hair care products.
If you notice your hair thinning, you should see a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating skin, nails, and hair. They can help determine why your hair is thinning and how to slow down the process.
Your dermatologist may recommend using rosemary oil or other methods to make your hair look and feel thicker.
Tips for Healthier Hair
Using rosemary oil is one way to help your hair grow thicker. Here are some other hair care dos and don’ts for a full, healthy head of hair.
- Use a gentle shampoo.
- Apply conditioner after every shampoo. Conditioner coats the strands of hair to reduce breakage and split ends.
- Skip the hot blow dryer and let your hair air-dry when possible. When you must blow dry your hair, use the lowest possible setting.
- Wrap hair in a microfiber towel to help it dry more quickly. You can eliminate or lower the time you need to use a hair dryer.
- Be gentle when brushing or combing your hair. Brushing too much can break delicate strands of hair.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your hair is only as healthy as your body.
- Use harsh at-home hair treatments. Leave perming, chemical straightening, bleaching, lightening, and relaxing to the pros at the salon. Even hot oil treatments can heat your hair to the point of damage.
- Overdo it with curling irons, flat irons, and hot combs. They heat hair and weaken it.
- Wear your hair continually pulled back in a tight ponytail, bun, cornrows, or braids. A hairstyle that pulls on your hair can cause permanent hair loss.
- Twist or pull on your hair. This bad habit can weaken already fragile hair.
- Smoke. If you do smoke, try to cut down or stop. Smoking cause inflammation in your whole body, which can weaken your hair.
National Library of Medicine, Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial, Link
National Library of Medicine, Promotion of hair growth by Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract, Link
National Library of Medicine, Therapeutic effects of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and its active constituents on nervous system disorders, Link
National Library of Medicine, Biological activities of Rosmarinus officinalis L. (rosemary) extract as analyzed in microorganisms, Link
National Library of Medicine, Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.): A Review, Link
Menopause, Prevalence of female pattern hair loss in postmenopausal women: a cross-sectional study, Link
American Academy of Dermatology Association, Hair Loss: Tips for Managing, Link
American Academy of Dermatology Association, Thinning Hair and Hair Loss: Could It Be Female Pattern Hair Loss? Link
American Academy of Dermatology Association, Hair Loss: Diagnosis and Treatment, Link
American Academy of Dermatology Association, Tips for Healthy Hair, Link
The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.