Medically reviewed by Julia A. Siegel, MD
We all know fall is prime pumpkin season: pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pies, even pumpkin manicures. And this season, we're adding another pumpkin to our autumnal routine: pumpkin seed oil.
Pumpkin seed oil has been lauded for its ability to dramatically improve hair density, length, and growth rate—so much so that it's beginning to rival hair-growth darlings like rosemary oil and rice water. Are the seeds from your favorite Halloween decoration really this powerful? We went straight to the experts—trichologist Kerry E. Yates, bio-medical doctor Isfahan Chambers-Harris, Ph.D., and board-certified dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD—to find out. Read on for everything you need to know about pumpkin seed oil for hair.
Meet the Experts
Kerry E. Yates is a trichologist and founder of Colour Collective, an incubator for new beauty concepts, products, and trends.
Ranella Hirsch, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist.
What Is Pumpkin Seed Oil?
Pumpkin seed oil, also known as pepita oil, is—quite obviously—a type of oil extracted from the seeds of pumpkins. "Pumpkin seed oil is rich in nutrients like vitamins (particularly vitamin E), minerals (such as zinc), essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), and antioxidants," Chambers-Harris explains. "These nutrients are important for maintaining a healthy scalp and promoting hair growth." Hirsch agrees, noting that its antioxidant properties are especially beneficial.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Type of ingredient: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Main benefits: According to Yates, pumpkin seed oil helps maintain a healthy scalp, strengthens the hair shaft, and promotes hair growth.
Who should use it: All experts agree it's safe to use topically for most people, though it might be a bit heavy on thinner hair types.
How often you can use it: It's safe for daily use
Works well with: Pumpkin seed oil works well with most ingredients.
Don't use with: Avoid hot tools after applying pumpkin seed oil topically.
Unsurprisingly, the nutrient-dense oil has a slew of benefits, including:
Maintaining a healthy scalp: According to Yates, pumpkin seed oil is rich in zinc, which helps improve and maintain scalp health by preventing and treating dandruff.
Strengthening the hair shaft: Pumpkin seed oil is a great source of magnesium, Yates explains, which is particularly adept at unblocking calcium deposits around the hair follicle and improving scalp circulation, ultimately strengthening the hair shaft.
Promoting hair growth: Our experts agree that the abundance of nutrients in pumpkin seed oil helps improve the growth rate and length of hair.
Soothing irritation and inflammation: Because pumpkin seed oil contains anti-inflammatory properties, it can help soothe irritated and inflamed scalp conditions.
In addition to generally promoting hair growth, there's some compelling research to suggest that pumpkin seed oil may help treat androgenetic alopecia (male and female pattern baldness), Chambers-Harris explains. Phytosterols, natural compounds found in pumpkin seed oil, are known to interfere with and potentially inhibit the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that can contribute to hair loss, especially in cases of androgenetic alopecia.
A 2014 study found that oral administration of 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil to men with androgenic baldness over 24 weeks increased hair growth—though the sample size was only 76 patients, meaning more research is needed for conclusive answers. Similar results were found in a 2019 study exploring the effects of pumpkin seed oil as a topical hair growth agent in mice. Per the study, a 10 percent solution of pumpkin seed oil, applied topically to a male mouse six days a week for three weeks, effectively reversed the effects of testosterone and improved hair growth. That said, more testing is likely needed to create any conclusive links.
Hair Type Considerations
Chambers-Harris and Yates say pumpkin seed oil can benefit many hair types and concerns thanks to its nutrient-rich composition. In particular, she says those with dry, frizzy, or brittle hair and those with thinning hair, sensitive scalps, and balanced hair and scalps can directly benefit from using pumpkin seed oil.
There are some situations in which certain hair types or scalps cannot use pumpkin seed oil. In general, Chambers-Harris suggests those with severe scalp conditions, such as psoriasis and scalp dermatitis, consult a doctor before using. Meanwhile, Yates says those with thinner hair or oily scalps may want to avoid pumpkin seed oil, as its richness may exacerbate the issue and weigh hair down. Finally, all experts remind us that anyone allergic to pumpkin seed oil should avoid ingesting or applying it.
How to Use
Pumpkin seed oil can be used in many different ways:
Hair serum: Many hair serums, like the Monpure Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum ($92), contain pumpkin seed oil and should be applied as suggested. You can also create your own hair serum by combining pumpkin seed oil with a lighter carrier oil, like jojoba or argan oil, Chambers-Harris says. Apply a couple of drops of the serum to clean, dry, or towel-dried hair and work them into the scalp, focusing on areas of concern.
Leave-in treatment: Per Chambers-Harris, you can also create a simple leave-in treatment by diluting pumpkin seed oil with water in a spray bottle. Best of all, the ratio can be adjusted based on your preferences. Spray on a clean scalp (dry or towel-dried) and work into the roots.
Combined with shampoo or conditioner: All experts say an easy way to incorporate pumpkin seed oil into your haircare routine is by adding a few (one or two) drops of it to your regular shampoo or conditioner.
Direct application: Apply a small amount of pumpkin seed oil to your palms and fingertips and gently massage the oil into the scalp, focusing on areas where you'd like to promote hair growth.
Ingested: Per Hirsch, pumpkin seed oil can be taken orally and should provide the same results as topical treatments.
Read the original article on Byrdie.