Origin and History
Black pepper was first cultivated around the 16th century and is native to India. It was referred to as ‘black gold’ and was even used as a form of commodity money. Black pepper was most commonly used in food and in medicine.
Today, black pepper essential oil is mostly used for its spicy scent in aromatherapy and cosmetics products for skin and hair.
Black pepper essential oil benefits
It is suggested that black pepper essential oil has antibacterial and anti inflammatory benefits. These claims are usually based on the fact that black pepper contains an ingredient called piperine, which does have these beneficial properties.
However, the active ingredient piperine is not found in the essential oil so there are no scientific studies to back that black pepper essential oil has any antibacterial or anti inflammatory benefits.
Black pepper essential oil is a middle note and blends well with most oils. It has a spicy and woodsy scent that blends well with oils like bergamot, cinnamon and geranium.
Here's a couple of our favourite blends:
Citrusy with a hint of spice blend
3 drops Bergamot oil
2 drops Black pepper oil
2 drops Grapefruit oil
Spicy warming black pepper blend
3 drops Black pepper oil
6 drops Tea tree oil
2 drops Cinnamon oil
Black pepper essential oil isn't restricted by IFRA class, and is generally non-irritating. However, we don't recommend applying it directly to your skin.
Black pepper oil was diluted to 4% and tested on 25 volunteers and was found to be neither irritating nor sensitising (Opdyke 1978 p651-652). The same source also states that the low-level phototoxic effects reported for black pepper oil are not considered significant.
According to the current IFRA standards it isn't restricted for any class. We would suggest that 4% is a sensible maximum dilution for leave-on skincare products. Although due to the strength of the scent, less than 4% would usually be enough.
Black pepper essential oil is not food grade and should not be ingested. Make sure to keep out of reach of children, but it is generally safe in skin treatments for children.
If you’re not sure if it is suitable for your skin, or you have sensitivities, make sure to dilute the oil and do a patch test.
Black pepper oil for hair growth
We’ve heard reports that black pepper essential oil can help promote hair growth. However, there are no scientific studies that help back these points or prove that black pepper oil can increase hair growth.