What is peppermint oil?
Peppermint oil is the essence of peppermint extracted into an oil. Some peppermint oils are stronger than others. The strongest types are made using modern distillation techniques and are called essential oils.
Peppermint essential oil is the most common type of peppermint oil available for purchase. It can be used for health, beauty, and cleaning purposes.
Peppermint contains a compound called menthol. Menthol is responsible for many of the benefits of peppermint oils. Menthol also gives peppermint its taste, smell, and cooling sensation.
Why use peppermint oil on hair?
Some people use peppermint oil as part of their beauty and hair care regimen. Its fragrance is pleasant and popularly found in shampoos, skin creams, and other products.
The benefits of peppermint essential oil can be described as:
- insecticidal and pesticidal
- analgesic and anesthetic
- vasodilating (and vasoconstricting)
Some people have used the oil as a remedy for hair loss. This may be because the menthol in peppermint essential oil is a vasodilator, and vasodilators improve blood flow. In many instances (such as in female or male pattern baldness), hair loss occurs due to starved blood flow to hair follicles. Increasing circulation with a vasodilator like peppermint could potentially improve hair growth and prevent some hair loss.
Peppermint menthol also imparts a freshened smell and tingly sensation on the skin and scalp. You can reap these benefits by adding the essential oil to your beauty products.
Do studies support its use for hair loss?
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in some parts in the world to promote hair growth. However, the use of peppermint for reinvigorating hair growth is generally recent. It doesn’t have longstanding traditional evidence to back it up, nor has it been studied in depth. Only over the past few decades have peppermint essential oils been widely available to the public.
That said, a recent 2014 study in mice showed that peppermint essential oils could hold a lot of promise for hair growth. Researchers noticed the hair grew faster and thicker, and blood flow to undernourished hair follicles increased. The study opens a door to exploring peppermint essential oil’s benefits for human hair growth.
However, other studies (one in 2011 and one in 2013) showed that menthol from peppermint essential oil promotes vasoconstriction rather than vasodilation. But this vasoconstriction only appears to happen when the skin or muscle area where oil is applied is inflamed, such as after exercise.
More research is needed to better understand the effects of peppermint oil on hair growth.
How do you use peppermint oil for hair loss?
There are a few ways you can use peppermint oil on your hair to try to prevent hair loss.
One is by direct scalp massage. Add a couple drops of oil to about one tablespoon of your favorite scalp massage oil. If you don’t have scalp massage oil, you can use a simple household oil like coconut, jojoba, or shea butter oil.
Massage the oil into your scalp. You may feel a tingling, minty sensation. Leave the treatment on for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash your hair with shampoo. If the menthol sensation gets too intense for you, add other oils to balance the effect or wash your scalp with shampoo immediately.
You can also put peppermint oil straight into your shampoo and conditioner bottles. Make sure not to add too much. About five drops per ounce of shampoo or conditioner is recommended. Simply use your shampoo and conditioner with the peppermint essential oil as you usually would, and enjoy the benefits.
Note that products with peppermint scent won’t achieve the same results. These products likely don’t contain essential oil. Peppermint essential oils are distilled to contain the highest levels of menthol possible. There isn’t enough menthol in most other products to have therapeutic benefit.
What you should know before using
Undiluted peppermint essential oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin. Always dilute oils with a carrier oil to help protect your skin.
Avoid getting essential oils in your eyes, and never consume undiluted essential oils. Avoid using essential oils on infants and children, as well.
Check your labels when you purchase essential oils of any kind. Make sure they’re an acceptable grade for skin contact. Don’t use diffuser oil, warming oil, or extract not made for skin contact.
The bottom line
Peppermint essential oil can be a safe home remedy for improving hair growth. More research on the effects of peppermint essential oil on human hair is needed before calling it a cure for hair loss. Still, evidence thus far is encouraging.
Peppermint essential oil should not be considered a cure for more major hair loss problems, such as baldness or alopecia. The treatment may help, but there’s no guarantee it will solve these issues for good.
Regardless, there’s no harm in trying diluted peppermint essential oil. See if it works for you to improve your hair growth. Even if it doesn’t, it could bring other benefits to your hair and scalp.