This Special Herb May Be the Secret to Thicker, Healthier Hair

lady applying serum for hair repair using dropper in bathroom
How Rosemary Oil Helps With Hair GrowthProstock-Studio - Getty Images

Hair loss in women may feel like a taboo subject, but the fact of the matter is, it is very common (statistics show that more than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss at some point in their lifetime). In recent years, though, several haircare brands have been harnessing the benefits of rosemary oil to stimulate growth, improve density, and foster a healthy scalp.

Here, we tapped board-certified dermatologists Dr. Michele Green, MD, and Dr. Nava Greenfield, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group, to give us the low down on the buzzy, superpower ingredient and how to use it, along with the best rosemary oil-infused products that actually work.

What is rosemary oil?

"Rosemary has been used in Mediterranean cultures for centuries as a healing herb," says Dr. Green. "It's a liquid extract from the rosemary plant commonly used in perfumes, skincare, and haircare, and is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects."

What are the benefits of rosemary oil on hair?

  • Improves hair growth. According to Dr. Green, one of the greatest benefits of using rosemary oil on hair is that it can stimulate hair growth. "By promoting circulation, the hair follicles can receive an adequate blood supply rich in oxygen and nutrients to prevent damaged hair follicles that lead to hair loss," explains Dr. Green. "Increased circulation also facilitates the removal of natural toxins to maintain hair follicle health."

  • Protects the scalp. "The antioxidant properties of rosemary oil can help protect both hair and scalp from environmental stressors like UV rays and pollution," says Dr. Green.

  • Anti-inflammatory properties. "Some types of hair loss, scalp irritation, and dandruff may be caused by the inflammation of the scalp and hair follicles," explains Dr. Green. "Rosemary oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation on the scalp and hair follicles. Inflammation can contribute to hair thinning and shedding."

  • Boosts hydration. Dr. Greenfield says another great benefit of adding rosemary oil to hair is that it can intensely hydrate the scalp by reducing flaking and keeping hair moisturized.

  • Combats dandruff. According to Dr. Green, rosemary oil also has antimicrobial properties that can help reduce fungus and bacteria that can cause scalp acne and dandruff, which can also damage the hair follicles.

Does rosemary oil help hair growth?

While "clinical studies to back the efficacy of rosemary oil for hair growth and other scalp conditions are still underway," says Dr. Green, there is "plenty of anecdotal evidence shows that it can improve hair loss." There is some proof that rosemary may block DHT, a male hormone typically responsible for hair loss, says Dr. Green, while Dr. Greenfield says one particular study demonstrated that the oil may be as effective as lower strength minoxidil (Rogaine).

How do you use rosemary oil for hair?

For best results, Dr. Green says rosemary oil should be applied twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. "It is best to use rosemary oil mixed with a carrier oil like argan, jojoba, or coconut oil," continues Dr. Green, noting that pure rosemary oil may irritate the scalp, especially those with sensitive skin. She also says you can also add rosemary oil to your shampoo or any hair care products used after the shower.

Is it OK to leave rosemary oil in your hair?

Rosemary oil can be applied overnight. "This allows the full benefits of the rosemary oil to be absorbed by the scalp," says Dr. Green. "However, if leaving it overnight irritates the scalp, try leaving it on for a shorter period of time."

How long after using rosemary oil can you expect to see results?

Both Dr. Green and Dr. Greenfield say that you can expect to see some positive results from rosemary oil around six months. Keep in mind, though, results vary for each individual: "Rosemary oil must be used daily and consistently for optimal results," notes Dr. Green.

Are there any side effects of using rosemary oil?

While rosemary oil is beneficial for all hair types, Dr. Green warns that a potential side effect of using it topically on the scalp is irritation. "Signs of irritation include redness, itching, and burning," says Dr. Green. "Stop applying the rosemary oil and let the skin heal if irritation occurs." Dr. Greenfield adds, "Use only if you do not have an allergy or know irritation to the ingredient and do not use if you already have an oily or greasy scalp."

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