Rosemary oil for hair growth and hair loss

The science behind rosemary oil for hair: Does rosemary oil really help with hair growth?

9th February 2023 | Author: Katherine O'Shea

Social media has been awash with videos using rosemary oil for hair growth but does it really help with hair loss or is it a load of BS?

There are many reasons why your hair doesn’t grow as fast as it used to, or as fast as you’d like.

It could be you’ve always had a hard time growing your hair, or after having children you’ve noticed your hair growth slow down.

Even if you’ve always had long, thick hair until now, the rate of hair growth slows with age and this means hair loss or similar is something all of us are going to have to face at some point.

You could spend a fortune on hair growth supplements and products, or you could take a more natural route.

If you’re on social media, particularly TikTok, you’ll have seen the excitement surrounding the miracle benefits of using rosemary oil for hair growth.

Thousands of videos claim it boosts growth, improves hair loss, and leaves hair looking thick and shiny.

Rosemary oil is one of the most famous essential oils used in aromatherapy but, what is it, how does it work and does rosemary oil really help with hair growth?

Below, we speak to experts to reveal the science behind rosemary oil for hair and if it’s worth a go, or worth avoiding.

FURTHER READING: How to hair oil

What is rosemary oil?

Rosemary is a herb native to the Mediterranean region. The leaf and its oil are often used in food and in medicine to help boost memory, relieve indigestion, and make hair grow faster. Or at least stem the tide of hair loss. This is because when applied to the skin – including the scalp – rosemary boosts blood circulation.

“Rosemary oil is known for its naturally restorative, health-boosting properties. The thickness and strength of your hair are said to be linked with healthy circulation and blood flow through the body.

“The boost in circulation (from using rosemary essential oil) increases blood flow throughout the body – including the scalp and hair follicles,” Yasmin Sharp, aromatherapy expert at Nikura told mamabella.

FURTHER READING: Best hair oil: The best hair oils for thinning hair, boosting hair growth, frizz and more

Rosemary oil benefits


Rosemary essential oil has also been scientifically proven to be packed full of skin and health benefits. It is:

  • antioxidant (protects cells from damage)
  • anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation)
  • antimicrobial (active against microbes),
  • fungicidal (ability to destroy or control fungus),
  • anticancer (used to prevent cancer)

Therefore rosemary extracts are largely recognised as a brilliant tool for the prevention and treatment of skin disorders.

As well as helping with hair growth, hair loss, and hair thinning, rosemary hair oil can also help with dandruff and hair breakage. It’s also been suggested that rosemary oil can be used to prevent premature greying of your hair.

If you’re going to use rosemary oil for hair growth though, you’re going to have to be patient. “The most important factor to remember when using the oil for hair growth is patience and consistency. It can take around six months to notice the impact,” continued Sharp.

Why does rosemary oil help hair growth?

What causes greasy hair and why does my hair get so greasy so fast?Getty Images/iStockphoto

Rosemary for hair growth works because hydration promotes circulation and oil production in your scalp, keeping your hair follicles healthy and your hair strong. All of which encourage hair growth.

A growing number of studies have concluded that “rosemary oil helps to increase hydration and elasticity in the scalp” continued Yasmin.

There’s also a study that suggests rosemary oil contains phytochemicals that suppress the action of enzyme 5-alpha-reductase in converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Dihydrotestosterone is the androgen hormone that causes the hair follicles in some men and women to stop growing hair.

The precise mechanisms around why rosemary oil helps with hair growth need to be studied further, but the results so far suggest rosemary oil has very promising ingredients to fight hair loss.

You can read more about DHT and hair loss on our sister site, MBman

Rosemary oil vs Minoxidil

Regaine for Women MinoxidilRegaine

If you’ve looked into hair treatments before, you’ve likely come across Minoxidil.

Minoxidil is a medically proven treatment for hereditary hair loss and is used to stimulate hair growth. It’s the star ingredient in Regaine products, such as Regaine Women’s Once a Day Hair Loss and Regrowth Scalp Foam Treatment.

It has positive effects for about 30-40% of women and works to treat androgenetic alopecia (genetic hair loss).

Although, for Minoxidil to work you need a sufficient amount of Sultia enzyme present in your hair follicles to create the ideal scalp environment to activate it.

The biggest problems with Minoxidil are that it’s pricey and it can also cause side effects like an itchy scalp, burning, inflammation at the roots, and reddened skin.

Rosemary oil is a natural alternative.

This makes it cheaper and more gentle, meaning it’s less likely to cause side effects. Some studies have shown that people have had less scalp itching when using rosemary oil compared Minoxidil, so it’s a better option for you if you have allergies or sensitive skin.

In fact, rosemary oil actually helps to soothe scalp irritation and itchy skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist said, “Rosemary oil is equivalent to 2.5% minoxidil, which is pretty impressive.”

Rosemary oil is therefore a better option for women who have side effects with minoxidil. The downside is that clinical research around rosemary oil for hair growth is still in its infancy, compared to Minoxidil.

Does it work on all types of hair loss?

alopecia-areata-causes-and-treatment-optionsGetty Images/iStockphoto

Rosemary oil is good for all hair types in terms of improving the health of your hair follicles. As a result, rosemary hair oil can also be used on dyed and colour-treated hair.

The benefits of using rosemary oil to improve hair growth do depend on the cause of your hair loss, however.

For example, if your hair loss is caused by an infection or an unhealthy scalp then rosemary oil will be a good option for you because it can kill fungi and bacteria.

A study of rosemary oil for hair loss found that an aromatherapy essential oil blend of thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood was more effective than a placebo given to patients with Alopecia areata. This is a disease that happens when your immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss.

Rosemary oil has also been shown to help your hair grow by blocking the effects of Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This is a sex hormone that is derivative of testosterone. Excess amounts of DHT can affect your hair follicles.

How to use rosemary oil for hair

How to use rosemary oil for hair and make it at homeShutterstock

Before you use rosemary oil for hair growth, it’s important to remember that it’s not recommended to apply the oil neat on the skin, “it should always be diluted before being applied to the skin in a carrier oil, or lotion,” warned Sharp.

Option 1

  • Massage a small amount of diluted rosemary oil into your scalp using your fingers or a gentle head massager
  • Concentrate the product on problem areas, including the hairline and the crown
  • Leave for around 5 minutes minimum, 20 minutes max.
  • Remove excess oil using a gentle, clarifying shampoo
  • Rinse with warm water (not hot)
  • Wash your hair a second time – this is known as double cleansing your hair and can help make sure buildup is removed fully
  • Style as usual
  • Repeat once or twice a week for six weeks minimum

Option 2

You can also buy shampoos that already have rosemary oil in them. These are gentle enough to be used regularly and usually come with additional benefits.

You can use a diluted rosemary oil once a week alongside such products to boost the effects, but this isn’t always necessary.

Some of our favourite rosemary shampoos include the Faith in Nature Rosemary Shampoo (£4.87); Aveeno Fresh Greens Blend Shampoo (£8.99) and Laritelle Organic Shampoo (£47.50).

Option 3

A third option when looking to use rosemary oil for hair growth is adding rosemary oil to your regular shampoo or conditioner.

  • Buy, or make your own rosemary oil. We explain more about how to make rosemary oil below, or we recommend the Mielle Organics Oil (£11.25)
  • Add about five drops per ounce of product and shake well
  • Use your shampoo or conditioner as you normally would

If you decide to take this route, just be aware that adding anything to an existing formula can interfere with the preservative balance of the shampoo or conditioner in question. This shouldn’t cause issues, but it’s not unheard of and it’s just worth bearing in mind.

If you’re worried about having a reaction to rosemary oil then give yourself a patch test first and wait 24 hours to see if you have a reaction

How to make rosemary oil

How to make rosemary oil for hair growth at homeShutterstock

Rosemary oil is also something you can easily make and use at home but you must dilute it first with a carrier oil if you’re using it for beauty.

To make the rosemary oil:

  • Wash sprigs of rosemary under cold water
  • Fill a saucepan with oil – this can be any kind of oil but we prefer jojoba oil. Note: rosemary oil made with jojoba oil shouldn’t also be used for cooking
  • Gently heat the oil to infuse it with rosemary. Do not let the oil boil or spit
  • Strain and cool the oil into a container

If you don’t want to make your own, we recommend adding a pure rosemary oil like this one from Nikura (£2.99 for 10ml) to grapeseed oil or coconut oil.

We’ve used and can vouch for the Tisserand Grapeseed Oil (£5.50) and the Hunter & Gather Organic Coconut Oil (£16.99).

  • Add 15 drops of rosemary oil for every six teaspoons of carrier oil
  • Gently massage the mixture onto your scalp and then leave it to soak into your hair for about 5-20 minutes
  • Rinse with warm water

It’s not harmful to leave rosemary oil for longer than 20 minutes, or overnight, but it can increase the chance of irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Leaving any kind of oil on your scalp for a prolonged period of time can also upset the microflora of your scalp and make things worse, rather than better.

What’s the catch?

As with any topical treatment, there is a chance you could be allergic to rosemary oil and therefore it’s vital you keep an eye on your skin and hair to notice if there’s anything out of the ordinary.

Even if you don’t notice side effects it’s important to not overuse rosemary oil.

We recommend using it up to two times per week to start with. If you have no side effects, you can increase this use, but always check with a dermatologist or doctor if you’re unsure.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding you shouldn’t use rosemary oil unless a doctor advises that it is safe to do so. There’s no evidence currently to show that it can cause problems, but there’s also not enough evidence to show that it doesn’t. So it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There also isn’t enough evidence at the moment to show whether rosemary oil is safe to use alongside minoxidil, or other hair growth treatments, so always check with a medical expert before using both.

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