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10 min read / 12 February 2024 / yasmin sharp

Rosemary Oil for Hair: The Benefits and How to Use It

Discover the benefits of using rosemary oil for your hair and learn how to incorporate it into your routine with our helpful guide.

 

If you’re wondering how to use rosemary oil for hair growth or are curious to know if it can live up to its reputation as a hair loss product, we’ve put together an in-depth guide covering everything you need to know.

Hair loss affects most people at some point in their life, although some prefer to avoid using chemical-based drugs to address the issue.

Rosemary essential oil has been shown to be just as effective as some of the most popular hair regrowth products, offering an alternative that is 100% natural.

Here we answer questions like “Does rosemary oil help hair growth?”, “How long does it take rosemary oil to work on hair?” and more, giving you the complete lowdown on all things related to rosemary essential oil and hair.

Does rosemary oil help hair growth?

Whilst more research is needed, there is some existing research that suggests rosemary oil can help certain types of hair loss.

The word ‘certain’ is important here, because hair loss can be caused by various factors, such as:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Alopecia
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Illness
  • Infection
  • Cancer treatment

As we explain in more detail below, there are several studies that indicate rosemary oil can aid hair growth and provide better scalp health.

Other studies, such as this one published in 2015, also suggest that rosemary oil could be used to treat androgenic alopecia, whilst also helping to increase hair count.

Hand holding up our rosemary oil for hair 250ml against a blue sky background

What are the benefits of rosemary oil for hair?

The benefits of using rosemary oil for hair include the possibility of:

1. Helping hair grow faster

Minoxidil (which is more commonly known as the hair growth product Rogaine) is often prescribed for patients who are experiencing hair loss.

However, the drug can produce some unwanted side effects in some people such as inflammation, burning of scalp and even fast or irregular heartbeat.

A human trial compared the effects of rosemary oil to Minoxidil and found that the results were similar after 6 months.

These randomised tests were conducted on human subjects with male or female pattern baldness, with scientists concluding that rosemary could be used as an effective method for improving hair growth.

2. Reducing itchy and irritable scalps

Experiencing an itchy scalp is another common side effect of hair growth pills such as Rogaine.

In the human test referred to above, researchers also found that rosemary essential oil was more effective at reducing itchiness due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties.

Along with the oil’s antifungal compounds, these anti-inflammatory properties were highlighted in a 2017 study.

It was suggested that for people with an unhealthy or infectious scalp, they may also facilitate hair growth rate.

A separate study, this time focussed on the effects of rosemary oil on the skin, concluded that not only can it improve scalp hydration, but it could increase its elasticity.

The results also showed that rosemary oil helped to reduce the side effect of an itchy scalp more successfully.

3. Boosting blood circulation to the scalp

An active ingredient of rosemary oil is carnosic acid, which has been shown to heal nerve and tissue damage, which could help to rejuvenate scalp nerves, in turn supporting hair growth.

Improved nerve growth can improve blood circulation, which plays an important role in the growth of hair.

Another 2013 study found that when inhaled, rosemary can increase heart and respiratory rate, boosting blood flow throughout the body, including the scalp and hair follicles.

4. Preventing hair loss

Preventing hair loss can be just as helpful as boosting hair growth and researchers have discovered that by improving the scalp environment, rosemary essential oil could have a significant role to play.

For example, in a study performed on mice, it was found that rosemary oil was able to inhibit DHT – the male sex hormone that heavily contributes to hair loss in both men and women.

When DHT is prevented from binding to hair follicles, it may be able to slow hair loss, and in some circumstances, potentially promote regrowth.

5. Darkening hair tone

Grey hairs are not just a sign of old age, as the premature ageing of hair can happen at almost any time in our lives.

Whether it’s due to genetics, stress, excessive sun exposure or nutritional deficiencies, there are a multitude of factors that influence the condition and appearance of hair at any time.

Applying rosemary essential oil to your hair may be able to contribute to the darkening of grey hairs by binding with present hair proteins.

Using a combination of sage and rosemary essential oil could help to keep hair fibres strong and healthy, boosting natural pigmentation to reduce the signs of unexpected follicle ageing.

Small bottle of rosemary oil on a wooden plate next to some rosemary sprigs

6. Minimising the appearance of dandruff

Dandruff can be a nightmare for some people to manage, creating additional stress and concern that makes it harder to combat the symptoms.

Rosemary oil could offer a natural solution for those who find that standard dandruff products are not producing the desired results.

Its ability to improve blood circulation can help to eliminate bacteria that clog up hair follicles.

When pores become blocked, this increases the likelihood of bacteria forming, which can produce blackheads, cysts, inflamed pimples and the white flakes associated with dandruff.

7. Cleansing hair and scalp

Rosemary essential oil contains natural antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, which is why rosemary is so often used in natural cleaning products.

Regular application of rosemary as a hair mask could help to neutralise the growth of bacteria to sustain a healthy scalp environment, keeping hair cleaner and perhaps shinier.

Another option could be to add a few drops of the essential oil to your favourite shampoo or conditioner, which does not require you to dilute with a carrier oil.

Wash in and out of your hair as usual and keep track of any changes you may see over the following weeks and months.

8. Improving memory recall

Whilst not strictly associated with hair or scalp health, rosemary essential oil has been linked with an ability to improve memory.

For example, in one study, rosemary oil was diffused in a room where 20 young adults were asked a maths question.

The results showed that their accuracy and speed increased in direct proportion to the length of time the oil was diffused.

Another study conducted in 2009 found that brain function could be improved in older adults with dementia, by simply breathing in rosemary and other essential oils.

9. Lowering stress levels

Many people find that diffusing rosemary essential oil can create a calming, soothing effect that makes it easier to manage moments of stress and anxiety.

It may also offer the additional benefit of reducing hair-related stress linked to high levels of cortisol.

Application of rosemary oil could help to reduce the release of cortisol, which tends to increase when stress levels are elevated.

One study found that the inhalation of lavender and rosemary oil enhances free radical scavenging activity (which helps to reduce the presence of free radicals) whilst decreasing cortisol levels, offering better protection for the body against oxidative stress.

10. Thickening and strengthening hair

It is believed that both topical application and inhalation of rosemary oil could benefit hair by making it thicker, stronger and more resilient.

This is derived from the oil’s ability to boost blood circulation, including the scalp and hair follicles.

Good circulation plays a central role in healthy hair, as follicles are able to receive the oxygen and hair-building nutrients they need to thrive.

With a better blood supply to the scalp, this can help to prolong the anagen phase (also known as the growth phase), which helps with the formation of new hair.

Rosemary oil for hair 250ml with a blue watery background

How often should I put rosemary oil in my hair?

It is recommended that rosemary oil is applied to the scalp and hair daily to see the best results.

Of course, depending on your routine, this may not be possible for everyone, so you should try to apply it as frequently as possible.

If you are not sure how to apply rosemary oil to your hair, below we offer a few suggestions that could help.

How to use rosemary oil for hair

If you are keen to learn how to use rosemary oil for hair growth, you could try one of these methods:

1. Making your own hair mask

Making your own hair mask is quick and easy, as you only need a couple of simple ingredients to get started.

Choose a carrier oil to dilute the rosemary essential oil and massage carefully and evenly into the scalp.

Leave it to soak into your hair and scalp for at least two hours – although to enjoy maximum effect it is recommended it is left to settle for 4-6 hours.

You can also add in natural ingredients such as honey, oats and even ripe bananas to make the treatment even more beneficial for your hair.

2. Add to your shampoo or conditioner

If you do not have any carrier oil to dilute the rosemary oil, you can add it directly to your shampoo or conditioner instead.

Simply add 10-12 drops of rosemary oil to the product and shake well, before washing in and out of your hair as usual.

It is recommended that to enjoy the best results, you should repeat this daily or every two days.

Whilst this method is not as effective as topical application, it can be a more convenient option for anyone who does not want to change their routine too much.

3. Make a treatment spray

Compared to other hair types, curly, colly and textured hair can become drier as the natural oils produced by the scalp struggle to find their way to ends of your hair.

To make your own treatment spray that can add extra moisture, strength and hold, mix water, witch-hazel water and rosewater together in a glass spray bottle, along with 8-10 drops of rosemary oil.

Spray onto damp hair and spread evenly using your fingertips. You can also replace the water element of the mixture with a carrier oil of choice to enjoy the same effect.

If you are looking for a more in-depth recipe, why not check out our blog on how to make a homemade, all-natural curl treatment spray?

Close up of rosemary plant

How long does it take for rosemary oil to work on hair?

In general, it takes around 6 months for rosemary essential oil to produce noticeable effects on hair growth.

However, this can vary from person to person, as everyone’s genetic make-up is unique, and the properties provided by the oil may work faster or slower for some.

The effects of the oil can also be influenced by diet, general environment and how regularly it is applied.

The overall benefits for your health and scalp, however, can start almost immediately, and frequent application will certainly solidify the effect of the oil over time.

Black and white illustration of rosemary

Rosemary oil for hair FAQs

Can I leave rosemary oil in my hair overnight?

You can leave rosemary oil in your hair overnight if the thought of leaving it to soak in for 4-6 hours isn’t too appealing.

Letting the oil settle overnight may also be more beneficial as it allows longer time for the natural properties to get to work.

It’s a good idea to wear a headwrap or shower cap to protect your bedding, or use old pillowcases to avoid oil stains and damage.

What is the best rosemary oil for hair growth?

There are many different types of rosemary oil you can buy online or in stores, including cineole, camphor and verbone varieties.

Whilst there may be slight scent variations between each oil, all types can be beneficial for hair growth, so it often comes down to personal preference.

Or, if you prefer, you can also make your own rosemary oil at home using only a few ingredients.

What are the risks of using rosemary oil for hair?

Whilst there are no specific risks associated with using rosemary oil for hair, as with all essential oils, it is important to take necessary precautions during use.

Before applying to your scalp or hair, you should complete a patch test to ensure it is suitable for your skin.

Avoid contact with eyes, mouth and other sensitive areas of the body, and avoid use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.


References

[1] Yunes Panahi et al. (2015) Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25842469/

[2] Yunes Panahi et al. (2015) Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25842469/

[3] Yunes Panahi et al. (2015) Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25842469/

[4] Jonatas Rafael de Oliveira et al. (2017) Biological activities of Rosmarinus officinalis L. (rosemary) extract as analyzed in microorganisms and cells https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28093936/

[5] Lucia Montenegro et al. (2017) Rosemary Essential Oil-Loaded Lipid Nanoparticles: In Vivo Topical Activity from Gel Vehicles https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5750654/

[6] Hidemi Yoshida et al. (2011) Edaravone and carnosic acid synergistically enhance the expression of nerve growth factor in human astrocytes under hypoxia/reoxygenation https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168010211000022

[7] Winai Sayorwan et al. (2013) Effects of Inhaled Rosemary Oil on Subjective Feelings and Activities of the Nervous System https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3700080/

[8] Kazuya Murata et al. (2013) Promotion of hair growth by Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22517595/

[9] Mark Moss et al. (2012) Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23983963/

[10] Ruth McCaffrey et al. (2009) The effects of lavender and rosemary essential oils on test-taking anxiety among graduate nursing students https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19258850/

[11] Toshiko Atsumi et al. (2007) Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17291597/

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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