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Reader question: What are some natural remedies for women's hair growth? —prisysam1980
There are a lot of myths regarding hair growth and hair loss—cutting your hair makes it grow faster, plucking gray hair will make normal hair grow in its place, etc.—that makes dealing with hair loss more confusing and overwhelming than it already is.
While there's no magic remedy to quickly regrow lost hair, when it comes to natural remedies for hair growth, it really boils down to hair oils. You've probably heard a lot about these oils—studies have shown that a hot oil treatment or even a quick scalp massage with oils can promote hair growth and thickness by mechanically stimulating and penetrating hair follicles.
But don't be so quick to grab just any oil from your pantry. Some oils won't do anything but make your hair oily, since they're too thick to reach the inside of the follicle. And if you're going to apply anything at all, you might as well use something with properties that support hair growth.
I also want to give a quick disclaimer that there's no single oil that will magically give you a full head of Rapunzel-length locks. But it can help give your scalp a boost so your strands are more resistant to breakage and hair growth is accelerated. Just make sure to stay on a strict and consistent regimen once you start—natural ingredients take longer to actually work, and do require a commitment before seeing results.
Natural Hair Growth Oils
Green tea oil
Green tea oil, also known as camellia oil or tea seed oil, is known to be rich in antioxidants and catechins that help reduce dihydrotestosterone (DTH), a hormone that can shrink your hair follicles. It's also antimicrobial, meaning it can clear up scalp buildup due to dandruff and styling products, which is crucial for healthy hair growth.
A huge plus is that it's one of the least greasy of the bunch and can absorb into the scalp quickly, making the oil ideal for application. If you don't have the essential oil on hand, you can alternatively opt for a green tea rinse. To apply, simply steep the tea bags in some water and cool for 30 minutes to an hour before pouring the tea into either a spray bottle or an oil applicator bottle.
Rosemary oil for hair growth has a lot of street cred going for it. A clinical review published in BMJ found that when massaged into the scalp daily, rosemary can help with hair growth. This was further confirmed by another study published in SKINmed Journal, which discovered that it can also protect against hair loss. "Rosemary effectively promotes hair growth and reduces hair loss by soothing the scalp and stimulating new hair growth," says Gillen. "In fact, it's commonly used to treat alopecia." To apply, mix a few drops of rosemary oil with your favorite hair oil and massage it into your hair and scalp a few times per week.
A 2017 study in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that this flower extract has major potential as a hair growth product. Why? The oil was found to regulate sebum production and maintain secretions around your hair follicles. It's also chock-full of amino acids, which have been shown to nourish the hair and boost blood circulation.
"Geranium is an effective antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory, making it an all-around amazing skincare product," says Gillen. "It can also help strengthen, hydrate, and restore your hair." Application rules are the same as the above—either dilute it with your hair care products or massage a couple drops of geranium oil to your scalp a few times per week.
First things first: According to Korab, when it comes to castor oil, there is very little scientific research that it actually helps hair grow. The benefits of castor oil for hair growth are mainly anecdotal, but that is worthy enough of giving it a try—especially considering its long history of use. The idea is that its high content of ricinoleic acid can help improve blood circulation in the scalp. The humectant is also composed of a powerful mix of fatty acids (read: super moisturizing), and as we know, moisturized hair is more likely to grow at a faster rate.
"Castor oil is one of the few oils that I have found actually works," says Gillen. "It can penetrate all the way down into the hair follicle while other oils may penetrate slightly but won't reach the inside of the follicle." Gillen also adds that you must apply castor oil directly on the scalp or skin. "I like to use a mascara wand to apply the castor oil on my hairline and a gel liquid liner brush to apply along my eyelids (for lash growth)."
The science behind this minty fresh oil is impressive. In fact, a Toxicological Research study showed that peppermint oil led to more hair growth than minoxidil, a hair growth product approved by the FDA. According to their research, it works by stimulating hair growth due to vasodilation of the blood vessels—peppermint causes blood vessels to widen, increasing blood flow. If you have oily hair, peppermint also balances the pH of your scalp, which can help regulate your oil production. Just one thing to keep in mind: According to Gillen, peppermint oil should always be mixed/diluted with a carrier oil—never apply it raw to your skin.