Rosemary is a culinary and healing herb. This woody perennial is native to the Mediterranean region, where it’s been used as food and medicine for centuries.
Much like oregano, peppermint, and cinnamon, rosemary is frequently found in essential oil form. Essential oils are highly concentrated and distilled extracts of volatile plant compounds. These are used for cooking, cleaning, beauty, health, and other purposes.
Rosemary essential oil is a common variety you can purchase and use as a home remedy. The oil’s health uses range from antioxidant benefits and anti-inflammation to memory enhancement and more.
In recent years, there have been claims that the oil may be great for hair growth. Some say it could even prevent hair loss, pointing to Mediterranean cultures’ use of rosemary in hair rinses to promote hair growth for hundreds of years as supporting evidence.
The idea that rosemary oil encourages hair growth may come from the rosemary’s basic health benefits. The plant in essential oil form is said to:
- have anti-inflammatory properties
- promote nerve growth
- improve circulation
Like peppermint essential oil (also used to promote hair growth), rosemary essential oil strengthens circulation. As a result, it could prevent hair follicles from being starved of blood supply, dying off, and leading to hair loss.
According to some scientific evidence, rosemary may benefit nerve tissue.
Carnosic acid, an active ingredient in the plant, healed tissue and nerve damage in one study. This ability to heal nerve endings may rejuvenate nerves in the scalp too, in turn possibly restoring hair growth.
More revealing recent studies show that rosemary directly helps protect against hair loss. One 2015 trial pitted the essential oil against minoxidil, commercially known as Rogaine. Both were used on human subjects with androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness).
Results showed that rosemary essential oil was just as effective a minoxidil. During the process, it helped the side effect of itchy scalp more successfully than minoxidil.
Another study of rosemary leaf extract (different from the essential oil) showed it stimulated hair growth. This occurred when hair loss was triggered by testosterone (as in pattern baldness). This study was performed on mice, however.
Two separate clinical reviews — one from 2010 and one from 2011 — also acknowledge rosemary’s hair growth potential. The former cites a study with successful hair regrowth in people with alopecia who used essential oils. One of these essential oils was rosemary.
In the latter review, rosemary essential oil was described as a hair loss restorative. This was due to its circulation-improving effects.
Here are a few ways to try using rosemary essential oil as a hair restorative and thickener. Try any of these treatments one to two times per week to start out. Use them more often when desired or you’ve become comfortable using them.
1. Massage it directly into your scalp
Take about 5 drops of rosemary essential oil and massage evenly into your scalp after bath or shower. Mix with a carrier oil (like jojoba oil or coconut oil) if desired. Rinsing out the oil afterward is optional — though if you do rinse, let the oil sit on your scalp for at least 5 to 10 minutes beforehand.
2. Mix it into your shampoo
This can also apply to conditioners, lotions, or creams. Play it safe and don’t add too much. Keep to about five drops per ounce of product. Afterward, use the product like usual. You can also add 2 to 3 drops directly to any hair product when you apply a dollop of it on your palm before use.
3. Add it to your own homemade shampoo
There are many recipes online for a shampoo base. You can also add essential oils for your preferred health and beauty benefits. These may incorporate a mixture of baking soda, coconut oil, essential oil, and possibly other oils. Try this one at Tiny Apothecary.
Avoid getting essential oil in your eyes. If contact occurs, quickly rinse your eyes with cold water.
Likewise, be careful not to apply too much to your scalp. Rosemary essential oil has been known to irritate the skin. It may cause discomfort, but no health dangers. To avoid skin irritation, dilute the oil with a carrier oil or other product before applying it.
Not enough is known about the safety of using rosemary essential oils while pregnant or breastfeeding. Though using the essential oil for hair loss is only done topically, be cautious — its effects in this regard are still unknown.
Rosemary has been used by many to promote hair growth successfully. Using rosemary essential oil could very well do the same for you.
Science and personal experience together both strongly suggest the essential oil does protect against hair loss, particularly that related to male or female pattern baldness. It may even be effective for alopecia.
Rosemary essential oil is a simple remedy that you can use at home, and it may even be competitive with commercial products. What’s more, it’s quite safe when used correctly and yields very few side effects.