Expert Advice

Can essential oils help with hair loss?

Hair loss isn't just a male issue—22 percent of women have this problem, too.

Can essential oils help with hair loss?
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It's considered normal to lose 100 strands of hair daily. More than that, and you're experiencing hair loss, or alopecia. Hair loss isn't just a male issue—22 percent of women have this problem, too. Aromatic scalp treatments made with essential oils can help: The oils nourish the deep dermal layers of the skin—where hair follicles are located—and stimulate tiny blood vessels.

To create your own treatment, mix five drops each (20 drops total) of lavender, Atlas cedarwood, thyme, and rosemary in one ounce of jojoba, grapeseed, borage, or evening primrose oil. A Scottish study in 1999 found that 44 percent of people who massaged their scalp with these four essential oils every night showed hair growth, compared with just 15 percent of those using only plain oil.

Rub the essential oil blend between your palms to increase its absorbability. Bend over, hang your head lower than your heart to increase blood flow to your scalp, and massage your scalp for two minutes. Do this three to four nights a week for a few months to allow several hair-growth cycles to take place.

In India, a hair tonic made from rosemary and lemongrass in sesame oil has been used to fight hair loss. Other essential oils such as bay, birch, chamomile, clary sage, cypress, juniper, lavandin, lemon, niaouli, patchouli, rose, and ylang-ylang can help relax the scalp and muscles, improve circulation and tone, and protect the skin and hair. Add 80 drops of your favorite combination to eight ounces of shampoo and conditioner. Always choose nontoxic hair products (low-detergent, lowphosphate, unscented, and alkalizing), minimize the use of chemicals like hair color, wear a swim cap in chlorinated pools, and exercise regularly to reduce chronic stress, an underlying cause of hair loss.

Valerie Cooksley, R.N., O.C.N., FAAIM, director of the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy in Houston