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Olive oil, usually light yellow or light green in color, is the oil that’s naturally extracted by pressing olives. It’s typically imported from the Mediterranean region — especially Spain, Greece, and Italy.

Olive oil is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants. It’s unique chemical composition is part of why some cultures have used it to improve the texture and appearance of hair for centuries.

There’s even some evidence to suggest that olive oil can soothe your scalp, strengthen your hair follicle, and potentially stimulate hair growth. We dive into the research behind using olive oil for stronger, longer hair.

In a 2015 study on mice, researchers found that applying olive-tree derived ingredients stimulated hair growth. However, this study certainly doesn’t tell us everything we need to know about olive oil and hair growth.

First, we don’t know if the results would extend to human hair. Second, we don’t know if olive oil would have the same effects as the other elements of the olive tree.

We do know this: Olive oil is the fruit of a tree called Olea europaea, and a fat called oleic acid makes up much of olive oil’s composition. Oleic acid has antioxidant qualities, which might help slow the effects of hair loss.

Olive products may also have antibacterial properties, which could potentially play a role in a healthy scalp.

Olive oil has shown potential for helping to reduce and prevent split ends.

So while we may not have concrete evidence that olive oil promotes hair growth, we know that it has protective and nutritional qualities that might make your hair look and feel healthier.

Those qualities may give the illusion that your hair is growing faster, even though there is no evidence to suggest that olive oil can actually increase hair growth.

Olive oil is considered an active ingredient in many hair products, including some shampoos and conditioners.

If you prefer to treat your hair with pure olive oil, you can do so by applying it to your head as a DIY mask. Here’s the steps for using olive oil to try to promote hair growth:

How to do an olive oil hair mask

  1. Measure out about 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup of olive oil to treat your whole head. Keep in mind that not all of the oil is going to absorb into your scalp and hair follicles. Less is more. You can always add more, but it’s hard to get out of your hair once you’ve applied too much.
  2. Rub your hands together to heat the oil slightly in your palm.
  3. Massage the oil slowly and gently into your scalp. Pay special attention to the crown of your head, working the oil down into the roots of your hair. Also add some olive oil to the very ends of your hair to help repair split ends.
  4. Top your hair with a shower cap and let the oil treatment soak into your scalp. Many people let the oil absorb for at least 15 minutes — though there is no evidence to suggest what time period would be most helpful.
  5. You’ll need to shampoo your hair to get the oil out. Wash your hair with lukewarm water and your favorite shampoo. Avoid hot water, as it can damage your hair. You might need to lather, rinse, and repeat twice or more to get the oil out.
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Keep in mind that you don’t need to do this treatment daily.

Applying an olive oil mask once a week or even twice a month could be enough to see stronger hair. As far as the hair growth potential of this treatment, your mileage may vary.

A popular DIY remedy for making your hair grow faster is to combine chicken egg yolk with olive oil and apply it to your scalp. While this might sound a bit sticky, there may be scientific basis for this home remedy.

Chicken egg yolk has been found to stimulate hair growth because of a compound inside that researchers have named “hair growth peptide.” However, it is important to note that this study looked at oral ingestion and not topical application of egg yolk.

Since olive oil may have properties to stimulate hair growth, and egg yolk might, using the two ingredients together could improve your results.

In theory, olive oil should work for hair growth the same way for any hair color and texture. Though certain hair types have, anecdotally, had more success with using olive oil for hair care.

Many people with naturally curly hair, or damaged hair from processing techniques, may have more success, though there is no scientific evidence to support this.

Curly, natural, and color-treated hair can be left glossy and seem more full with a few applications of olive oil.

As far as making hair grow faster, we don’t have reason to believe that hair color or type impacts olive oil’s effect. Chances are that olive oil will work to make hair stronger, no matter what type you have, which can provide an illusion of hair that’s growing faster.

If you’re concerned about making your hair grow faster, there are other options for treatment besides olive oil. Other home remedies often used to strengthen and grow hair include:

Always dilute essential oils before use. You could add three to four drops to a tablespoon of carrier oil, such as olive oil, before massaging into your scalp.

A well rounded diet rich in vegetables and protein may contribute to healthy hair. It is also important that you are not deficient in iron, which has been shown to be related to hair loss.

As far as traditional medication goes, minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) are the most commonly prescribed. Propecia is only FDA approved for male pattern baldness.

But both of these medications are aimed at slowing and preventing hair loss — neither one speeds up hair growth. Both of the medications also have side effects.

Olive oil may work to promote healthy hair growth, but the science isn’t there yet to confirm that it will work for sure.

Olive oil does contain proteins, antioxidants, and antimicrobial agents that might contribute to healthy hair.

Over time, treating your hair with olive oil may work to strengthen your hair follicle, increasing the life span of each hair and making it seem like your hair is growing more quickly.

Ultimately, olive oil is a low-cost alternative treatment for your hair, and there’s no harm in giving it a try.