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Can peppermint oil help with hair growth?

Essential oils have gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years, and many users swear by them to help with everything from digestion and headaches to sinus infections and stress relief. Essential oils have long been used in alternative, Eastern, and homeopathic medicines and practices because of their effectiveness in treating certain ailments and the relatively low risk of side effects.

If you’re looking for a way to grow your hair, either because of thinning or patching, consider using peppermint oil for hair growth. The herb peppermint, which is a cross between water mint and spearmint, grows throughout Europe and North America, so it’s easy to find in abundance.

peppermint essential oil
Madeliene Steinbach

Why do people lose their hair?

Hair loss can be the result of heredity, hormonal changes, stress, a poor diet, certain medical conditions, or medications, and it can be a normal part of the aging process. According to the Mayo Clinic, people typically lose 50 to 100 hairs a day, which isn’t noticeable because new hair is always growing in its place at the same time.

When it doesn’t, it can leave people feeling insecure, anxious, and determined to find a solution to help their hair regrow. Oils are a cheap and easy way to regain some of the hair you’ve lost.

The jury is in

Both peppermint leaves and the essential oil (the very concentrated oil that gives peppermint its calming and vibrant smell) have been used for many health purposes, and one benefit is improving hair health. It may help with dryness, itching, or flaking, and in some studies has been shown to increase the production of new hair follicles.

This is thought to be because the menthol in peppermint essential oil is a vasodilator, which improves blood flow. Hair loss, like male and female patterned baldness, occurs when blood flow is stopped to hair follicles. A vasodilator can help stimulate circulation, improve hair growth, and prevent some amount of hair loss.

One study found that in mice, peppermint oil actually increased the number of follicles found. It also aided in follicle depth and overall hair growth. “These results suggest that PEO induces a rapid anagen stage,” the studies author concludes, “and could be used for a practical agent for hair growth without change of body weight gain and food efficiency.”

Peppermint essential oil can be a safe and easy home remedy if you’re improving hair growth. More research on the effects of peppermint essential oil on human hair is needed, but the initial results look promising.

peppermint oil leaves
volosina/Shutterstock

How to use

Mix two or three drops of peppermint essential oil into a tablespoon of carrier oil (such as coconut or jojoba). Essential oils are highly concentrated, and carrier oil needs to be used to dilute them. Undiluted peppermint essential oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin. Massage the mixture into your scalp vigorously for two to three minutes. Put the oil on the tips of your fingers, starting at the front of the scalp and rubbing in circles. If you have time, throw on a shower cap and let it stay in your hair for 10 to 15 minutes to let it do its magic.

When you’re done, rinse it out with lukewarm water (never hot) and brush your hair with a comb. You can do this routine two to three times a week to start seeing hair grow thicker and stronger.

Where to buy

It’s easy to find peppermint essential oil, both online and in stores. It’s good if the brand you’re buying says it’s been GC/MS tested, as it has been qualitatively analyzed in an accredited testing lab. Target has Nature’s Truth for under $7 (.51 ounces) that has been GC/MS tested. If you’re an Amazon fan, check out the Majestic Pure option. It’s under $18 (4 ounces) and has no additives, is unfiltered, undiluted with no fillers, and therapeutic-grade.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of other essential oils, try buying a starter pack. This one includes peppermint but comes with 11 other oils you can research and try. It’s less than $20, so it’s a small investment to get you on your way to using essential oils.

A word of caution

Anytime you are trying a new product, it’s best to start small. The biggest side effects of using essential oils are skin irritation and allergic reactions. This can happen when an essential oil is applied directly to the skin, which is the case for using peppermint oil for hair by applying it to your scalp. Beyond using a carrier oil to dilute it, try starting out with a small amount and leaving it on the area for several minutes to make sure you don’t experience an allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions are also more common in people with sensitive skin or if you have an unknown allergy to peppermint. If you experience burning, discomfort, redness, difficulty breathing, or a rash, discontinue use immediately and contact your doctor. While it’s rare to have a reaction to essential oils, it can happen.

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