There are hair oils to tame flyaways. Oils to finish your style with a superhigh shine. Hair oils formulated to help restore thinning hair and promote new growth. But how in the world do you know which product will help with what, and more to the point, choose the best hair oil when there are hundreds to choose from?
For starters, it's essential to consider your needs, hair type and skin sensitivity. For instance, those with sensitive skin should "opt for natural and nourishing products that are suitable for your hair type," said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jose Diego Mier. Or maybe your skin is as tough as nails, in which case you want to opt for a powerful medicated solution like the FDA-approved hair growth treatment minoxidil. "The oldest established remedy and still one that is used quite a bit is topical minoxidil," said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Amy Forman Taub. Obviously, though, it is a major medication and has potential side effects that need to be evaluated for each person, she added.
So for those looking for oils and serums to promote a healthy scalp and hair growth, we did the research. We spoke with six board-certified dermatologists and trichologists to learn what key ingredients to look for (and what ingredients to avoid). We then took our experts' feedback and researched what seemed like an endless range of products, then narrowed down the list of our favorites according to key ingredients, brand reputation, clinical studies, user feedback, success rates and cost. Our final list comprises the best hair-growth oils and serums for hair-thinning and hair-loss needs.
Best for: Hair growth and thinning | Key ingredients: Curcumin stem cell extracts, red clover, mung bean
Pros: Plant-based, multibeneficial, targets hair shaft, hair follicles and scalp
Cons: Not budget friendly, must stick with the product for at least three months to see full results
Vegamour GRO Hair Serum is both a celebrity and cult favorite and for good reason: its ingredients are hair-growth powerhouses. The curcumin stem cell extract (aka turmeric) has been clinically proven to reduce 5-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) production, a naturally occurring hormone that stifles hair follicles and slows or completely hinders growth. Then there's the red clover that helps to cleanse the scalp, reduce inflammation and block DHT production. Its mung bean extract features copper, which works to strengthen the follicle and promote growth. There's also bergamot, which almost immediately works to soothe the hair follicles and reduce stress from within. The result is increased hair density, a nourished scalp, and improved volume. Celebrities like Nicole Kidman (an ambassador for Vegamour), Bella Hadid and Mandy Moore all sing Vegamour's praises. But what's really impressive is the before and after photos from actual users; the growth is incredible. In some cases, full bald spots are completely filled in. One user said: "It works! I’m constantly looking for products for my hair to grow. At age 60 this works for me!!! Thankful I found this product!! I have new hair growth around my hairline. My hair is growing and strong!!"
At $64 a bottle, this is definitely on the expensive side, and you'll have to use it for about three months to see the full results, If you purchase it through the Vegamour website, you can subscribe and save, taking the cost from $64 a bottle to $49.
Best for: Thinning hair, growth, curly, coarse or unruly hair | Key ingredients: Rosemary, mint, biotin, tea tree oil
Pros: Organic, enriched with 30+ essential oils and extracts, safe for chemically treated hair
Cons: Some say the scent is overwhelming
Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil took the social media world by storm as users raved about its hair-growth benefits and exceptional price. Formulated with more than 30 organic essential oils, biotin, and natural ingredients, including the hair-growth powerhouse rosemary clinically proven to work as well as minoxidil in some cases. It targets many aspects of hair health: It encourages health at the scalp and follicle while nourishing the hair shaft and reducing split ends. It’s perfect for curly or coarse hair that needs an oil with some extra oomph. The peppermint, tea tree and rosemary oils trigger vasodilation, which widens blood vessels to increase blood flow and circulation, which also promotes growth.
For those with fine hair, rub two drops between just the fingertips and massage straight into the scalp for two minutes. This will minimize excess oil application and leave your hair with extra volume. While some feel the rosemary and mint scent is a little too strong, one tester said, "I love this oil!! I have new baby hairs growing in along my hairline and my scalp is never itchy. Some people say the scent is overwhelming, but I love it."
Best for: Hair thinning and loss | Key Ingredients: Proprietary blend
Pro: Doctor recommended, custom made for you, incredible results
It is very, very rare to have a doctor openly recommend a product during a media interview. So we were blown away when board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Glenn Vallecillos said, "In our practice, we have seen great success with the Harklinikken line, which addresses specific types of hair loss by offering customized, targeted and responsive treatments, based on the patient's unique history, scalp profile and hair loss circumstances." Vallecillos has no ties to Harklinikken and will not receive a penny from your order. His practice truly believes in the company's products.
Harklinkken's award-winning Hair Gain Extract is a targeted scalp treatment that works by restoring the condition of the scalp, strengthening the hair at the roots, reengaging the hairs’ follicles and stimulating regrowth. Essentially, this product creates the ideal environment for high-quality, sustainable hair growth. Every order of the Hair Gain Extract is individually formulated for each client’s unique scalp profile.
(We are testing this product in-house and will post our thoughts, so check back!)
If the brand Pura D'Or sounds familiar, it's likely because you've seen its celebrity cult following posting photos and videos using this wonder hair growth oil — Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Halsey and Hailey Bieber to name a few of the A-list stars loving the oil. What drives the success of the brand's products is its state-of-the-art cold-press method that helps maintain the beneficial compounds in the extract, giving you more of the good stuff. The Pura D'Or's organic castor oil has all-natural potent properties, such as vitamin E, minerals, proteins, omega-6 and tons of beneficial fatty acids, clinically proven to support hair health and growth across your scalp, brows and eyelashes. What we really love is this combo-kit that offers prefilled 4-ounce tubes with applicators for brows and lashes to help minimize mess and maximize targeted application.
If you are looking for a serum instead of an oil, Pura D'Or offers a Gold Label Grow-Max Serum ($29) that's definitely worth checking out!
Pros: Very lightweight, can be used on wet or dry hair, cuts down on frizz without making hair look greasy
Cons: Floral scent too strong for some
Viviscal Hair-Thickening Serum coats each strand in its nutrient-rich formula without weighing down your hair, including those with very fine hair. We especially love that it's fortified with two hair-building musts: biotin and keratin. This serum improves scalp and hair health to promote the growth of thicker, denser hair. Natural ingredients, including marine collagen and seaweed extract, work to smooth the hair shaft, cutting down on frizz while keeping your locks from falling flat. Viviscal’s leave-in treatment serum also creates multidimensional density, perfect for fine hair lacking volume.
One reviewer declared it a "good product," saying, "This serum has really helped me improve the thickness of my hair by a noticeable amount. It takes some time to see a difference but with regular use I saw results."
Best for: All hair types, especially thick, coarse or curly hair |Key ingredients: Rosemary, rice bran extract, sunflower, tea tree, castor oil and vitamin C
Pros: Strengthens hair from root to tip, moisturizing, packed with over a dozen natural extracts
Cons: Contains almond oil, which could be an issue for those with a nut allergy
Mane Choice's Alpha Multivitamin Scalp Growth Oil is comprised of almost 100% all-natural ingredients, such as rosemary, sunflower, sweet almond, tea tree and jojoba oil. If you have low porosity hair (which makes it hard to absorb moisture), this heavy formula might be just what you need to hydrate your locks, thanks to the castor oil, which is on the heavier side and can add moisture and make your hair less prone to breakage. While this may be a budget buy, it's still a great product worth trying. If you have fine hair, and find this oil too heavy, try adding a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner for a boost of moisturizing goodness.
Best for: Thinning hair and loss |Key ingredients: Biotin, caffeine, castor and rosemary oils, vitamin E, omega-6 essential fatty acids
Pros: Loaded with hair growth boosters, 100% natural, cruelty-free
Cons: Thick consistency
Venanoci's Hair Growth Oil is jam-packed with key ingredients that promote thicker, fuller hair, such as biotin, castor, caffeine and rosemary. And that's not all ... it has omega-6 essential fatty acids, minerals, proteins and vitamin E to promote stronger, denser hair. We also love what this oil is missing: parabens, gluten, sulfates, perfume and triclosan. And if this review doesn't say it all, we don't know what does: "I've been a hair stylist for over 30 years and have tried professionally expensive hair products for the thinning of my hair since 3 years ago, and nothing has giving me results like this one. I highly recommend it. I’m telling all my customers that have thin hair or hair loss to try it. I am one happy hairstylist!"
Best for: All hair types, especially hair that is thick, coarse and curly |Key ingredients: Peptides: Redensyl, Procapil and Baicapil; caffeine, castor oil
Pros: Contains peptides proven to promote growth, lightweight oil, has a clean, ethical brand
Cons: May cause buildup if overused
The Ordinary's Multi-Peptide Serum contains three powerhouse peptides: Redensyl, Procapil and Baicapil. All three of the peptides have been shown in controlled lab studies to promote fuller, denser hair growth. This lightweight formula works well for all hair types. Even though it's lightweight, if you have very fine hair, start with just one to two drops, rub between fingertips and then run your fingers through your strands to distribute evenly. Once evenly distributed, root to tip, massage into your scalp and strands to promote circulation. From there, build drop by drop to find the perfect amount for your needs.
Best for: All hair types, fragile, fine hair | Key ingredients: Ashwagandha exosomes, Irish moss peptides, pea sprout extract
Pros: Lightweight, nongreasy formula, contains lipids and proteins proven to benefit hair; no silicones, parabens or phthalates
Cons: Expensive compared to competitors
When it comes to hair-growth products, Nutrafol is an industry-leading brand, and its Growth Activator hair serum is proof of why. Rather than relying on heavy oils like castor oil, this formula contains clinically proven hair-growth-promoting, lipid-filled, patent-pending Ashwagandha Exosomes and pea protein to promote a healthy scalp environment and hair growth. There are also Irish moss peptides that strengthen existing hair. We love that Nutrafol’s formula improves the entire hair ecosystem (scalp and follicles) all without weighing down fine hair. This fast-absorbing, first-of-its-kind formula works perfectly with a daily Nutraceutical regimen. For best results, use daily and you can expect visibly thicker, stronger hair in as little as 90 days.
Cons: May cause irritation for those with sensitive skin
When it comes to male-pattern baldness, it's best to first consult your physician or dermatologist about the best course of action to promote growth. In many cases, you will be steered toward the FDA-approved 5% minoxidil or the prescription-only finasteride or a combination product incorporating both (all are available at Hims). "The oldest established remedy and still one that is used quite a bit is topical minoxidil," said dermatologist Taub. In the last few years, low-dose oral minoxidil has become increasingly popular, and is very effective for men and women well as being economical. Obviously, though, it is a major medication and has potential side effects that need to be evaluated with each person."
Hims Hair Regrowth Treatment features the maximum 5% minoxidil solution, which is one of only three FDA-approved hair-growth products (the others being finstaride and baricitinib).
Just apply it twice a day to areas where your hair is thinning and you will see growth within about two to three months. You can buy a two-pack at Amazon for $30 or buy one bottle at a time from Hims ($15); you can also opt for a subscription for $13 per bottle per month.
One user shared before-and-after photos that were beyond amazing; he then said, "So far, I’m seeing positive results after using one bottle. I really wasn’t expecting to see any results, but to my surprise I now have hair growth. I still have another bottle to get through. I’m just about finished with the second bottle. The last picture shows great signs of progress. I imagine by the third bottle I should see even better results."
There's also a version for women available at Hims sister company, Hers — the solution is 2%, which is considered safest for female skin.
What should you look for when shopping for the best hair growth oils?
Consider your hair health needs: Most hair oils and serums can boost the length and fullness of your hair, but they can have other benefits, too. Some can help reduce scalp irritation, enhance growth or boost shine. Choose a product that meets all your needs. It's also important to consider if the product is formulated for a gender. The best hair products for women will not always match the best hair growth products for men.
Key ingredients: There are two routes you can take: all-natural or chemical formulations. The all-natural route works best when the formulation includes rosemary, mint, peptides, Ayurvedic herbs, castor oil, biotin, fatty acids, tea tree, bergamot, Ashwagandha and pea peptides. You could also opt for one of three FDA-approved products: minoxidil, finasteride or baricitinib. But keep in mind that medical solutions will have side effects that you should discuss with a prescribing physician before trying.
Clinically proven: A multitude of clinical studies on hair growth oils and serums are available online. If you find a product or ingredient you like, make sure it is backed by a clinical study that shows the ability of the product to deliver the results you want.
Cost: It is important to keep in mind that most products require at least three months of use, so make sure you can afford to keep buying the product for a few months. You could also opt to subscribe and save, which is available on many brand and retail websites.
Type: The consistency of the hair oil or serum will play a part in how well it will work for your hair and how it will affect the look of your hair. A heavy oil will likely be too much for thin hair. However, a lightweight oil or serum may not work well or be moisturizing enough for coarse or curly hair. Note: If you find that topical solutions are too heavy, even the lightest-weight solutions, you may benefit from a vitamin or supplement for hair growth.
How we chose the best hair growth oils and serums
First, we consulted with experts, including board-certified dermatologists, trichologists and plastic surgeons. We then reviewed numerous hair oils and serums that were specifically formulated to promote thicker, fuller hair and growth. We then narrowed down the list according to key ingredients, clinical studies, in-house tester and customer satisfaction, brand reputation and consistency.
While the best hair oils and serums for hair growth depend on your specific concerns and goals, we found that cost and effectiveness tend to be favored over extraneous features like scent and packaging. Keeping the different reasons you may want hair oil and the range of hair types in mind, we opted to include a broad range of products, from scalp serums to root-to-tip oils, which included both budget-friendly options and pricier products. We strived not to exclude any company based on its price point. Still, to make our list, it had to have enough positive points from consumers, well-researched ingredients, and hair-and-scalp benefits to be worth its cost.
What causes hair loss?
Dr. Andy Goren, a board-certified dermatologist, trichologist and professor said: "There are several common causes of hair loss like alopecia, high cortisol levels, stress, postpartum, hair shedding, etc. — genetic predisposition happens to be the most common, specifically hormonal and genetic-mediated alopecia (referred to as androgenetic alopecia or pattern hair loss). Other forms include immune-mediated alopecia (such as alopecia areata), traction alopecia (such as from hair extensions) and telogen effluvium often caused by stress or illness (COVID hair loss is absolutely a thing!). Finally, another form of alopecia is chemotherapy-induced alopecia caused by chemotherapy."
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between a hair growth oil and a hair growth serum?
As a rule, a hair serum will be less oily and better for fine hair, while an oil will be on the heavier side but will work wonders for coarse or curly hair. That all said, before you discount an oil, it can offer extra benefits many serums cannot, such as adding a high shine to a finished style and taming flyaways; also, hair growth oils are almost always fortified with hair and scalp helpers, such as biotin, nettle, peptides, mint and rosemary oil.
How do hair growth oils and serums work?
Many of the best hair growth products are multifaceted and offer various benefits that work together to promote hair health (and, hopefully, improve density and length as well). Many rely on plant-based formulas (though some use synthetics) to reduce inflammation, exfoliate and stimulate the scalp, protect the hair follicle and shaft, and nourish it from root to tip.
How often should I use hair growth oils?
Most products give you precise application instructions along with a timeline. While the only really issue with prolonged hair oil and serum use is buildup, once you reach the point where your hair health is optimal and growth is on track, you could cut back to a few times a week or even a month for maintenance. If you find the oils too heavy, try mixing a few drops with your conditioner, or a shampoo for thinning hair.
How long does it take to see results from hair growth oils?
How long it takes for you to see a difference in your hair depends on a variety of factors, like diligence, hair oil type, and the condition of your hair when you begin your regimen. With consistent use, hair growth oils and serums may show subtle benefits in as little as six to eight weeks; however, full results typically require six to 12 months. You may also want to use a combination of products for thinning hair.