Aug 25, 2023

Is rosemary oil for hair worth the hype?

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The experts weigh in on whether it really helps to thicken your mane

Rosemary oil. The perfect accompaniment for root vegetables and roast potatoes, but where your hair is concerned? Well, the jury is still out.

Of course, Tiktok would have you believe that there is nothing rosemary can't do for hair, just check out one the 204.9million views on the subject and you'll quickly understand what I'm talking about. It can also be tempting to buy into a buzz-worthy hair ingredients when e dealing with thinning hair for the first time or if you're noticing that your ponytail isn't as thick as it once.

Currently it's estimated that 80% of women will encounter some form of hair loss during their lifetime, whether due to ageing, lifestyle, stress, hormones, post-partum changes, or genetics. So, is it genuinely worth reaching for rosemary oil to stimulate hair growth? WH takes a deep dive...

'Rosemary essential oil is made from the Rosemary shrub - it's a green plant. As with most essential oils, the rosemary is extracted from the leaves using a process usually known as Steam distillation. The plant is usually native to the Mediterranean,' explains Emma Vickery, Creative Stylist at Percy & Reed.

First things first, Consultant Trichologist at Philip Kingsley Zoe Passam says that it's important to note that hair loss is complex, with a wide range of possible causes. 'If someone is worried about hair loss, the first and most important step is to obtain a correct diagnosis, so this can be effectively addressed. Some types of hair loss are also progressive, so seeking appropriate advice early is likely to lead to better outcomes.'

As for whether rosemary oil helps with hair growth? Well it depends on who you're talking to. Studies so far on the potential benefits of rosemary oil for hair loss are limited but it's thought that carnosic acid, one of the main components in rosemary oil, and a major antioxidant, is thought to potentially stimulate and heal nerve tissue. according to one 2010 study, which could possibly do the same to your scalp and help encourage hair growth.

Another study carried out in 2013 study conducted on mice showed that rosemary leaf extract was effective in helping to promote re-growth in hormone-related hair loss.

Another in 2015 suggested it may be beneficial as it compared rosemary oil extract to minoxidil (found in regaine). Passam adds that 'the reality is that there is currently a lack of clinical evidence to recommend rosemary oil as a hair loss treatment.'

So why did rosemary oil for hair start receiving air time in the first place? Dr. Ophelia Veraitch, Consultant Dermatologist, believes that 'there is always ongoing chatter about hair loss solutions thanks to platforms like TikTok and Instagram, but a recent segment on national television's "This Morning," caused a stir where an unqualified beauty influencer touted the benefits of rosemary oil for hair loss.'

She adds that 'in that particular episode rosemary oil was claimed to be as effective as Minoxidil in promoting hair growth. This assertion stems from a 2015 study cited above where they compared a 2% Minoxidil solution to rosemary oil when applied to the scalps of individuals experiencing hair thinning. The results purportedly showed remarkable similarities.'

'However, what many fail to realise is that a legitimate clinical trial requires the inclusion of a placebo group, which was absent in this study. Additionally, it is unclear whether the study ran for a sufficient duration to yield valid results. Most importantly, a 2% Minoxidil treatment is an extremely low dosage and would typically need to be higher to achieve its intended effects. Hence, rosemary oil is certainly not as effective as recently suggested when compared to Minoxidil.'

Currently, Minoxidil is the only over-the-counter ingredient approved by the FDA with clinical evidence to support its efficacy in combating hair thinning and hair loss: Dermatologists may have other effective treatments available in their clinics, but for over-the-counter consumers, Minoxidil is the go-to option.

There are some who big believers in the power of rosemary oil for helping to growth and thicken your hair. Take the makers of Waterman's GrowMe Shampoo, which is currently number 2 hairgrowth shampoo in the UK and features rosemary oil.

'Rosemary oil is known to be effective in enhancing hair growth by stimulating the proliferation of hair follicle cells and improving blood circulation to the scalp. The essential oil also possesses potent antibacterial properties that can help prevent scalp infections, which can hinder hair growth,' says Dr Nick Fisherman trichologist at Watermans Hair.

However, Fisherman adds that, 'although rosemary oil has shown promising results in promoting hair growth, it may not be able to regrow hair in areas where the hair has already been lost. However, incorporating rosemary oil into your hair care routine can help improve the overall health and thickness of your hair, resulting in a lustrous and healthy-looking mane.'

'As mentioned, there is limited evidence for rosemary oil as a hair loss treatment, but seeing results from any hair loss treatment takes time, due to the average rate of hair growth, typically 1-1.5cm per month.' says Passam.

'Any oil can be applied to the hair as a treatment, however applying any ingredient to the hair itself will not impact hair growth, since once hair has emerged from the scalp, it is dead. Having said that, if an oil helps to reduce hair breakage, this may allow the hair to grow to a longer length,' she adds.

Dr Veraitch agrees. 'Hair oils have their place in hair care, as they can enhance shine and moisture. In some cases, they can assist with specific scalp conditions such as psoriasis.'

Passam adds that rosemary oil can cause skin irritation, so it would be sensible to dilute before applying, and avoid using on inflamed or broken skin.

Happily, Larry King's Spoilt For Choice Oil contains Rosemary, Argan, Jojoba and Squalane which are rich in vitamins and minerals which work together to nourish and strengthen the hair and soothe and restore the scalp.

Yes. Rosemary oil can be applied directly to your hair and it it won't cause damage.

If you're wanting to slot rosemary into your hair care routine then it's important to consider the frequency of use. It's generally recommended to apply the oil to your scalp and hair at least once a week but you may choose to use it more often if you desire,' explains Dr Fisherman. To avoid any adverse effects, He recommends the below.

Yes, if you go OTT. 'Applying rosemary oil to your hair and scalp too frequently without proper dilution can lead to scalp irritation, itching, or dryness. It is recommended that you use a few drops of rosemary oil mixed with a carrier oil for the best results,' says Fisherman.

If you're looking to add rosemary oil into your hair routine then Vickery suggests the following; 'mix about 5-6 drops of the rosemary oil with another oil such as jojoba or coconut oil and massage into your scalp. Leave for a minimum of 10 mins before rinsing or shampooing - there's no limit on how long you can leave it on your scalp for.'

'If your rosemary oil is already pre mixed with a carrier oil (eg; jojoba or coconut oil, if this is not pre mixed and is a pure oil then you will need to mix it with a carrier oil or shampoo to dilute ) drop 2-4 drops on to your scalp,' says Vickery.

I would probably recommend using a silicone scalp massager to really work it into the root, although you can use your finger tips, and then leave for as-long as you like. I would also recommend if you're going to leave it in all day that you use a soft bristled brush to brush your hair into a slick bun to make the oily roots look more purposeful with a sleek bun,' she adds.

Dr Fisherman says that 'leaving rosemary oil in your hair for an extended period of time can provide deeper penetration into the scalp and hair follicles, allowing for greater benefits. However, it's important to dilute the oil properly and avoid leaving it in for too long to prevent any irritation or adverse reactions.'

'As a general rule, it's recommended to leave the oil in for at least 30 minutes to an hour before rinsing it out with warm water. Some people choose to leave it in overnight, but it's important to avoid doing this too frequently to prevent any potential scalp irritation. It's also a good idea to cover your hair with a shower cap or towel while the oil is in to prevent any oil transfer onto your pillow or bedding,' he adds.

'Yes, rosemary oil can be used for all hair types,' believes Vickery. A reminder though, if you have fine and thin hair whereby products tend to 'sit' on the hair you might experience greasy roots.

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