Is Rosemary Oil Good for Hair Growth? The Hype, Studies, and How-to
At The Soapery, we not only provide you with the ingredients you need but the necessary knowledge of those ingredients too. Sometimes, this means tackling big claims.
Today’s contender? whether rosemary oil is good for hair growth.
In this post, we’ll look at the hype around rosemary oil for hair growth, see whether the studies back up the buzz, and give you some tips on using the essential oil in your haircare routine.
Hopefully, you’ll finish feeling confident enough to make an informed purchase (or to empty your basket – we’ll leave that up to you!).
- What is rosemary oil?
- A hyped-up hair oil
- Rosemary leaf extract study
- Rosemary essential oil vs Minoxidil
- Rosemary essential oil for Alopecia Areata
- How to use rosemary oil for hair growth
- Final thoughts: is rosemary oil good for hair growth?
What is rosemary oil?
Rosemary essential oil is steam distilled from the fresh leaves of the rosemary plant (Rosmarinus Officinalis), an evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean.
You might know it for its tasty and versatile flavour, but it’s said to have multiple healing properties too. For centuries, it’s been used in folk medicine for its soothing aroma and antioxidants.
As with most folk medicines, it’s since gained scientific interest and a growing body of research into its health benefits. One particular area that’s reached public attention is the potential of rosemary oil for helping hair growth.
A hyped-up hair oil
You’ll now see rosemary oil featured on sites like Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Stylist, and trending on platforms like Tiktok and Instagram.
Of course, when science makes its way to pop culture claims can be blown out of proportion.
One article, for example, states that rosemary oil can promote hair growth because it contains carnosic acid, which is known to improve cell turnover.
While it’s true that rosemary plant does contain carnosic acid, the article doesn’t mention that the essential oil contains no carnosic acid.
We can ditch that claim straight away, but there are some studies with a better leg to stand on.
Studies on rosemary oil for hair growth
The Rosemary Leaf Extract Study
A 2013 study found that rosemary leaf extract encouraged hair regrowth in mice that had undergone a testosterone treatment to induce hair loss. The researchers theorized that the rosemary prevented DHT, a by-product of testosterone responsible for hair loss, from being able to attack the hair follicles.
The study sounds promising, but let’s not ignore the elephant (or should we say mouse) in the room. It wasn’t done on humans, and it looks at rosemary leaf extract, not rosemary essential oil.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Really, this study isn’t telling us a lot, if anything, about rosemary oil for hair loss in humans. Any claims based on this study should be ignored.
The Rosemary Oil vs Minoxidil Study
A more relevant study compared rosemary essential oil to Minoxidil 2%, one of the most popular drugs for androgenetic alopecia (which you might know as ‘male pattern hair loss’).
They randomly assigned participants to either product, to use twice a day, for 6 months. After the 6 months, both groups experienced hair growth, with the rosemary oil group experiencing slightly more. They also reported less of the itchy-scalp side effects.
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
In this study, the rosemary oil was standardized as having at least 3.7mg of 1,8-cineole (one of the main components of rosemary oil) per ml. Our rosemary essential oil contains 315mg of 1,8-cineole per ml, which means using a 1% dilution is a good starting point.
But we can’t speak for every supplier.
There are 7 different types of rosemary essential oil, and some contain absolutely no 1,8-cineole. If you buy one without 1,8-cineole, then you may not see the same results as this study at home.
It’s also worth noting that there were no significant results after 3 months, only after the full 6 months. So, unless you’re committed to using it twice a day for at least half a year, the study won’t help you all that much.
However, after 6 months people in this study who used the rosemary oil treatment did experience significant hair growth - similar to the minoxidil treatment group.
KEY TAKEAWAY: the study makes a good case for rosemary oil treating hair loss, but only if you use it for 6 months, and you use rosemary oil containing 1,8-cineole.
Rosemary Oil for Alopecia Areata Study
Rosemary oil has gained enough recognition to be cited in this Clinical Review for the management of hair loss, alongside some of the most used drugs for the condition.
The study referenced, however, didn’t use rosemary essential oil alone. It was used in a blend with thyme oil, lavender oil, and cedarwood oil, and mixed in a carrier oil.
If you'd like to try their recipe it is:
- Thyme essential oil 1g
- Lavender essential oil 1g
- Rosemary essential oil 1g
- Cedarwood atlas essential oil 1g
- Jojoba oil 26g | 30ml
- Grapeseed oil 190g | 200ml
The participants massaged the mixture into their scalp for 2 minutes, wrapped a warm towel around their heads, and repeated the routine every night for 7 months - would you be doing the same?
Around half of the people in this study experienced improvements in their alopecia.
Alopecia areata is a condition affecting the hair follicle which causes hair loss. They excluded people experiencing male (or female) pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia.
This study isn't relevant to you if you're trying to improve hair growth due to other types of hair loss.
KEY TAKEAWAY: the study used a blend of oils, so you can’t tell whether the results where down to the rosemary oil.
The last thing to be aware of in these studies (the human ones anyway!) is that the samples were incredibly small, 100 people or less.
How to use rosemary oil for hair growth
Now you know the research, you might want to try it for yourself.
One way to use rosemary oil at home is to dilute it with a carrier oil. We recommend mixing 10ml of rosemary oil with 500ml jojoba oil and massaging the blend into the scalp.
You could even use a couple of drops of rosemary oil in your shampoo. Alternatively, you can follow our shampoo bar recipe which uses it - this is an effective way to save money and reduce your plastic.
Final Thoughts: is rosemary oil good for hair growth?
There are the seeds of some great findings on whether rosemary oil promotes hair growth, but more research is needed.
Judge all online claims with a pinch of salt. Two of the three studies that are used to support these claims aren't useful, and their evidence only confuses the issue.
The third study provides good scientific evidence only if you're sure about the 1,8-cineole content of the rosemary oil. The good news is that our rosemary oil contains enough 1,8-cineole.
That’s not to say don’t use rosemary oil in your hair care routine.
Many people rave about the results, and it’s unlikely to do any damage. The evidence is promising, but the claims aren't proven.
Now you've learned more about using rosemary oil for hair, why not learn more about natural ingredients?