At the back end of last year, 22-year-old TikToker and Miami-based influencer Alix Earle highlighted the so-called benefits of rosemary oil to her 3.7 million followers, claiming that she had only been taking it for a month yet had ‘already seen tremendous hair growth’. Following her endorsement, the product quickly sold out both online and in stores as well as dominating the beauty headlines.
So, what’s the truth behind the hype – does it really solve scalp issues, smooth split ends, nourish hair follicles and encourage regrowth?
Here we ask expert Consultant Trichologist Eva Proudman MIT IAT (www.ukhairconsultants.com ) to differentiate the myths from the facts.
What is rosemary oil?
Rosemary oil is an essential oil that has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It can be found in many shampoos, conditioners and hair tonics for its soothing and stimulating properties.
With so much new hype around rosemary oil, what is the science behind it and does it actually work?
When rosemary oil is applied to the scalp it does encourage blood flow and better blood flow to the follicles in turn stimulates them to be active and the hair to grow. However, the average rate of hair growth is between 0.5 – 1cm a month and this remains constant. Whilst the speed of growth won’t change, the amount of time the hair is on the head can be extended from active follicles which in turn promote healthy hair growth. Some research suggests that using rosemary oil can help in male or female pattern hair loss by reducing sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) derived from testosterone which causes the hair to miniaturise. But as a word of caution, to date study sizes have been small and the evidence is not conclusive.
It’s always important to understand the cause of your hair loss before starting a treatment, as not every condition responds to every treatment and an accurate diagnosis can ensure that you know what is causing the problem in the first place. That said, rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory and calming properties and can help to soothe and calm itchy flaky scalps.
On the flip side, there are also lots of videos saying rosemary oil has made people’s hair fall out. Why would this be and is this something to be aware of if you decide to incorporate it into your routine?
Rosemary oil is generally considered safe to use, but when applying it to the scalp it should always be diluted in a carrier oil as direct application of essential oils can be too strong for the scalp and may cause irritation or even a chemical-type burn, which in turn can cause hair loss.
How do you think we should be using rosemary oil?
I would always advise using rosemary oil in a professionally formulated product as it will have been tested and will be balanced to work with the rest of the ingredients in that particular product. Many shampoos and serums contain rosemary oil, with serums often being applied directly to the scalp.
Are there any other benefits to using rosemary oil aside from hair growth?
Rosemary oil can help inflammatory conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, which is an imbalance to the scalp causing redness, flaking, itching and inflammation. Many scalp treatment shampoos include rosemary as an ingredient for its anti-inflammatory and anti -microbial action properties.
Does rosemary oil have an effect on coloured/bleached hair as opposed to virgin hair?
As rosemary oil is generally used as a scalp treatment rather than a hair treatment, it doesn’t have any adverse effect on colour-treated hair.
What are your thoughts on homemade treatments?
Homemade treatments can be very good however it is important to understand the combination of ingredients that you will be using to ensure that they all work well together. You also need to be mindful of the strength of each ingredient too, as using too much of a particular ingredient can have an adverse effect on the hair and scalp. I think using professionally produced products is a far safer option.
About the author
Eva is a highly sought after hair specialist with over two decades of experience diagnosing the causes of hair fall, breakage, thinning and diseases of the scalp, offering both industry professionals and consumers specialist advice on the most appropriate solutions.