Rosemary Oil for Hair Growth: Does it Work?

bottle of essential oil sitting on a table next to rosemary leaves on a blue background

Rosemary oil is a popular choice for those looking to support hair growth. This essential oil has been used for centuries in various traditional medicines and is known for its stimulating, soothing, and healing properties. Recent research suggests that rosemary oil may also help improve the thickness of hair, reduce hair loss, and even promote new growth!

What is Rosemary Essential Oil?

Rosemary essential oil is derived from the fragrant leaves of the rosemary plant, which is native to the Mediterranean region. It has a woody and slightly sweet scent that’s often used in aromatherapy for its calming properties. The pine-needle shaped leaves of the rosemary plant are dried and then crushed so that the essential oil can be extracted. This is usually done by distillation, which involves boiling the plant matter and then condensing the steam to collect the oil.


Rosemary essential oil contains a variety of compounds, including camphor, eucalyptol, and cineole. These substances are used individually as the active ingredient in a variety of common cosmetic dermatology products and may play a role in the hair stimulating effects of rosemary essential oil.

Rosemary Essential Oil for Hair Loss

male patient having a bald spot on the back of his scalp examined by a dermatologist

In the past decade there has been a growing interest in the potential of rosemary essential oil for promoting hair growth and preventing baldness or alopecia. While research is still ongoing, there are several theories as to why this might be true.


Some researchers believe that is that rosemary essential oil contains compounds that act as antioxidants, which may help protect the scalp from inflammation caused by free radicals. Additionally, some suggest that when applied topically, rosemary oil may increase circulation throughout the scalp, allowing more nutrients to reach the hair follicles, which stimulates hair growth. Some research also indicates that rosemary essential oil also has antimicrobial properties, meaning it could potentially reduce infection-related hair loss such as dandruff or fungus.

Minoxidil vs. Rosemary Oil for Hair Growth

side view of man with brown hair applying a dropper of solution to his scalp

Topical minoxidil is an FDA-approved medication for treating androgenetic alopecia in men and women. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in the popular over-the-counter hair loss product, Rogaine. Products like Rogaine are applied directly to the scalp in order to prevent hair loss and promote hair growth. These types of products are available as a liquid, foam, or gel and are typically one of the first medications suggested to those experiencing hair loss or thinning hair.


In a 2015 study published in the peer-reviewed journal SKINmed, researchers sought to determine how topical 2% minoxidil compared to rosemary essential oils in treating patients with androgenetic alopecia. In this study, 50 patients received daily topical minoxidil treatments, while the other 50 received topical rosemary essential oils. The study examined the total hair count and the frequency of itchy scalp symptoms among patients over 6 months.

Incredibly, the researchers found that the patients who received treatments of rosemary oil for hair growth had statistically similar outcomes to the patients who received minoxidil – and both groups saw improvements in hair growth! This suggest that for these patients, using rosemary oil for hair growth was just as effective as topical minoxidil – which is widely considered the gold standard topical medication to promote hair growth and reduce hair loss.


Another fascinating finding of this study was that the group of patients who were treated with daily rosemary essential oils has less skin irritation and less incidences of itchy scalp that the minoxidil group. This is significant because skin irritation is one of the common side effects of topical minoxidil. This research suggests that rosemary essential oils may be an effective way to encourage hair growth in patients with sensitive skin who want to avoid skin irritation associated with minoxidil.

Anti Inflammatory Properties of Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil is also used as an anti-inflammatory treatment, which may be beneficial for those suffering from scalp conditions such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. These skin conditions can cause inflammation and redness on the scalp and contribute to hair loss.


In particular, eucalyptol – one of the main compounds found in rosemary essential oil – is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.


Studies have shown that eucalyptol has been effective in reducing inflammation caused by various skin diseases. This suggests that rosemary oil may potentially serve as a natural remedy for inflammatory scalp disorders such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis, which may improve hair growth outcomes for patients dealing with these conditions.

Rosemary Oil Effects on Hair Follicles

Studies on animal models have also suggested that rosemary essential oil may be able to stimulate hair follicles. One study in particular looked at the effects of rosemary essential oils on mouse hair follicles. In this study, researchers applied topical testosterone to the shaved backs of mice in order to attempt to prevent hair growth due to the androgenic affects of this sex hormone. One group of the mice also received topical rosemary oil treatments to see if it could counteract the affects of the testosterone an stimulate hair growth.


The researchers found that the rosemary oil did, in fact, significantly block the testosterone from negatively impacting healthy hair growth. The researchers conclude that the rosemary oil could be a promising topical treatment for male and female pattern hair loss.

Rosemary Oil Inhibits DHT

Rosemary oil may also be beneficial to those suffering from genetic hair loss due to its ability to inhibit the production of a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is one of the primary causes of androgenetic alopecia, or male/female pattern baldness. In the rosemary mouse hair study, researchers determined that topical applications of rosemary oil effectively reduce concentrations of DHT.


Although this study was performed on mice, the researchers believe that this finding is relevant to treating hair loss in humans. DHT blocking products are commonly prescribed or sold over-the-counter as a first defense for protecting scalp health and as a way to stimulate hair growth in those suffering from androgenic alopecia. This exciting new research indicates why some people may report success when using rosemary oil for hair growth.

Adding Rosemary Essential Oil to Carrier Oils

a big bottle and a small bottle of oil next to each other on a table backlit by sunlight

When using rosemary oil for hair growth, it is important to remember that essential oils are potent and should typically be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied directly to the scalp. Common carrier oils used with rosemary oil include olive oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil. These carrier oils provide additional nourishment to the scalp and help reduce skin irritation associated with topical treatments. Additionally, some of these other oils, including jojoba oil and olive oil are suspected to have their own unique benefits to scalp health.


When adding essential oils such as rosemary oil to carrier oils, many will use a ratio of 10 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce (30 mL) of carrier oil. For example, if you were making a 2-ounce mixture of rosemary and carrier oil you could use 20 drops of rosemary essential oil. The hope would be that by diluting the rosemary oil with a carrier oil, you could create a topical hair oil mixture that is less likely to cause irritation or scalp itching than an abrasive pure rosemary oil.

Rosemary Oil Shampoo

close up photo of the back of a woman's hair covered in shampoo in the shower

Rosemary oil can also be added to shampoo or conditioner. Many shampoos and conditioners on the market contain rosemary extract, often alongside other botanical extracts. However, if you can’t find a shampoo containing rosemary oil, you might consider adding a few drops of pure rosemary oil directly into regular shampoo products to gain any benefits that the rosemary oil may have to offer.


Just be sure to take caution when adding essential oils to any products, as some essential oils may react with other ingredients in the product. Additionally, it is important to remember that these products should always be diluted before being applied directly to the scalp.

Anti-Fungal Properties of Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil has been found to have anti-fungal properties. This means that it may help to combat some of the fungal organisms that can contribute to hair loss and scalp issues. In particular, a recent study demonstrated that rosemary essential oil was effective against Sporothrix brasiliensis, a dangerous fungus that can cause illness in animals and humans.


There have been various other studies that have demonstrating the efficacy of rosemary oil for a fighting a variety of fungal infections in plants and animals. This suggests that rosemary oil may be useful in treating levels of this fungus on the scalp which can lead to scalp irritation and eventually result in thin hair or hair loss. Although there is a lack of research on rosemary oil’s impact on scalp specific fungal infections, this is likely a subject worthy of further research.

Rosemary Oil for Alopecia Areata

close up photo of the back of a man's head with patches of hair loss in his short brown hair

Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair loss in patches on the scalp, eyebrow and beard area. Research suggests that alopecia areata may be related to an autoimmune response and it can cause people to lose their hair in as little as 2 weeks.


Although there is limited research on the application of rosemary oil for treating alopecia areata, one study from 1998 showed promising results. This peer-reviewed examined whether that topical applications of rosemary essential oil mixed with other oils, including thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood might have some efficacy in treating this hair loss condition.

In this study, 86 patients with alopecia were divided equally into two groups. One group received the combination of essential oils diluted into jojoba and grapeseed carrier oils while the other group received just the carrier oil mixture. Both groups of patients applied their respective oil mixtures to their scalp daily. After 7 months each patient was examined by a board certified dermatologist to determine how their hair was impacted by the treatment. The patients that received the essential oil blend had significantly thicker hair growth than the placebo group – indicating that the essential oils had a positive impact!


Although this study didn’t just measure the effects of rosemary oil for hair, because so many other oils were included, it does indicate that rosemary oil can might be effective as part of a hair oil blend for treating this type of alopecia or the many other types of alopecia.

Where to Find Rosemary Oil?

Rosemary oil is available in many health food stores, as well as online. When purchasing rosemary oil for hair make sure that it is a pure essential oil with no added fragrance. If you are going to use the oil topically, always just use a few drops and dilute it with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil before applying it to your skin.


Finally, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or epilepsy talk to your doctor before using rosemary essential oil internally or externally. Rosemary can be a powerful substance – so use caution and consult with experts when necessary!

Alternative Topical Hair Treatments

dropper bottle of vitamin oil backlit by the sun

If you’re looking for other hair treatments that don’t involve rosemary oil, there are many options. While rosemary has been used as a traditional remedy for centuries, scientists have discovered many other beneficial ingredients for hair health. Some natural hair oil concoctions, including ingredients such as jojoba and coconut may help reduce dandruff and scalp irritation while also providing nourishment to the hair follicles.


Hair masks made of ingredients like avocado, banana or honey may help to add moisture and improve elasticity in your hair strands – which can lead to healthier looking locks overall! There’s also an array of herbal infusions, such as chamomile, marshmallow root and horsetail that some believe have beneficial properties when applied topically to the scalp.


Overall, research appears promising when it comes to using rosemary oil for supporting hair growth. However, it’s important to remember that individual results may vary and even if rosemary oil offers benefits, it could take several months of regular use to see any noticeable improvements in hair growth or thickness. Additionally, some people may experience scalp irritation or allergic reactions when using rosemary oil. Therefore, it is best to check with your healthcare provider before adding any essential oils into your daily routine.


For more information on the potential benefits of rosemary oil for hair health, speak with a trichologist or dermatologist. They can provide more advice on how to safely incorporate rosemary hair oil into your own hair care routine.

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