If you’re interested in natural hair care, you may have heard about the benefits of cinnamon.

Allegedly, the spice can improve the health of your hair and change the way it looks.

One popular claim is that cinnamon promotes hair growth while reducing hair loss. There’s some evidence to back this up, but more research is needed. Some studies also suggest that cinnamon may help treat dandruff.

It’s also said that cinnamon can dye or lighten the hair, but there’s no proof that this works.

If you’re curious about how cinnamon can affect your hair, read on. We’ll explore what science says about its purported benefits, along with potential side effects.

Cinnamon may be beneficial for encouraging hair growth, according to some research.

A 2019 review looked at procyanidin — a compound found in cinnamon — and its effect on hair growth. Researchers found several older studies connecting procyanidin with hair growth, but the procyanidin used was derived from apple juice.

There is also a 2018 animal study that determined cinnamon oil can improve hair length in male rats. It was found to be as effective as 2 percent topical minoxidil (Rogaine).

According to the researchers, this effect is due to cinnamaldehyde, the main compound in cinnamon. Cinnamaldehyde works by increasing circulation and blood flow to the hair follicles, which supports hair growth.

Despite these findings, research using procyanidin from cinnamon is necessary. More human research is also needed.

Hair loss can occur when hair follicles don’t get enough blood flow. That’s because hair follicles need blood and nutrients to support hair growth.

The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon may help. According to the 2018 study above, its effect on circulation could reduce excess hair loss in older people.

Again, more research is needed to understand this effect.

Some people claim that cinnamon can be used as a natural dye or hair lightener. There’s no proof that this works, though.

Supposedly, it can be used for different hair types and colors. The final shade depends on the original color of your hair. For example, it’s said that cinnamon can change blond hair to strawberry blond, or that it lightens dark brown hair to red-light brown.

Cinnamon’s lightening effect on hair is purely anecdotal and isn’t backed by scientific evidence.

According to a 2013 study, cinnamon has antifungal properties. The researchers found that it can work against Malassezia, a fungus that causes dandruff.

This suggests that cinnamon may be a potential natural remedy for dandruff. Again, more research is needed.

Cinnamon oil and ground cinnamon can cause unpleasant side effects when used on the skin. It’s also possible to have a cinnamon allergy.

Potential side effects of cinnamon include:

To minimize your risk of these side effects, always do a patch test first. Rub some inside your elbow and wait for 24 to 48 hours. If you have a negative reaction, stop using cinnamon immediately.

It’s also a good idea to dilute cinnamon oil, which is highly concentrated.

Even if you can safely eat cinnamon as a spice, it’s important to be careful when using the oil. Some people only react to cinnamon oil on their skin.

If you’d like to use cinnamon for hair growth or dandruff, try the following method.

This common technique involves applying cinnamon on your scalp to stimulate circulation and treat dandruff.

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm 1/4 cup coconut oil or olive oil. Heat until the oil is lukewarm. Don’t let it boil.
  2. Add 3 to 5 drops cinnamon oil or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Mix to create a hair mask.
  3. Part your hair. Apply the mixture onto your scalp with a brush or clean fingers. Repeat until your scalp is saturated.
  4. Spread the remaining mixture to the ends of your hair.
  5. Let sit for 15 minutes. Wash your hair as you normally do.

If you have an oily scalp, you may want to avoid using oil as a base. Some people use yogurt or honey instead.

When applied to the scalp, cinnamon may stimulate circulation. This could encourage hair growth and reduce hair loss. It also has antifungal properties, which might help treat dandruff caused by Malassezia, a type of fungus.

Cinnamon can’t dye or lighten your hair, though. Despite this popular claim, it hasn’t been proven by science.

It’s possible to be sensitive or allergic to cinnamon, so use caution. This is especially important when using cinnamon oil, which is highly concentrated.

Start with a patch test and look for signs of irritation. If you develop an adverse reaction, stop using cinnamon on your skin.