Losing your hair can be an emotional, stressful and embarrassing experience. I know, because it happened to me.
One day, while combing my hair, I found a bald spot near the back of my head. The pure shock of feeling my bare scalp, with no hair at all, was terrifying. To make matters worse, my wedding was only a few months away. I needed to find the root of the problem…fast.
My doctor called this sporadic hair loss “alopecia areata.” An autoimmune disease in which your body attacks the hair follicles, alopecia areata is often triggered by stress and can cause hair to fall out suddenly.
Although my hair started to slowly grow back as my stress subsided, the experience triggered a desire in me to learn more about the common causes of hair loss, as well as natural ways to treat it.
What Causes Hair Loss?
There are many reasons for losing your hair, the most common one being genetics (that’s right, blame your grandparents). A recent study found that male pattern baldness can be attributed to nearly 280 different genes (1). Aging is another factor, since your hair follicles become more brittle with age. This is why it is important to take good care of your hair and maintain a healthy scalp.
Illnesses like anemia, thyroid conditions and cancer can also trigger hair loss, and aggressive treatments like chemotherapy can cause hair to suddenly and drastically fall out. Autoimmune disorders (as I discovered with alopecia areata) can also lead to sudden hair loss.
Men are not the only ones who suffer from hair loss. Women are often susceptible to hair loss when navigating hormonal changes including pregnancy, postpartum and menopause.
In addition, vitamin or protein deficiencies can cause hair loss, which is why it’s important to take your vitamins daily, particularly a good multivitamin. And finally, stress can cause hair loss, particularly prolonged or chronic stress.
Benefits of Essential Oils for Hair Loss
On my quest to find some natural treatments for hair loss, I was surprised to find something I already have in my closet: my favorite lavender essential oil.
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils derived from plant compounds. The oils are extracted from the plants by a process of distilling. Used in cultures since ancient times as remedies, essential oils have been known to offer natural healing and antiseptic properties.
Essential oils, along with scalp massage, are a great way to maintain a healthy scalp. Nowadays, we are always focused on the best shampoo or conditioner for our hair, but we often forget about taking care of our scalps.
“Healthy hair and a healthy scalp go hand in hand,” says Susie Bennett, a longtime hair care professional and managing market builder at Monat Global. “The proper blend of essential oils can mimic our natural sebum, actually clearing away build up from products, environmental pollutants and dried up natural sebum to reduce hair thinning and encourage healthy new growth.”
Long term use of harsh chemicals in shampoo can lead to dryness, which causes the hair to become frizzy and brittle. The more we itch and scratch our scalps, the more we agitate the already brittle hair, causing it to break. Essential oils can be excellent tools for calming and soothing the scalp and promoting new hair growth.
Studies have shown that certain blends of essential oils have the potential to improve hair growth. In one study, participants in the active group massaged essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood) in a mixture of carrier oils (jojoba and grapeseed) into their scalp daily (2). The researchers found that 44 percent of the participants using the essential oils mixture showed improvement.
5 Essential Oils for Hair Loss
Let’s take a closer look at five essential oils for hair loss, and how you can incorporate them into your routine:
Known for its sweet, floral smell, lavender is often used in lotions, perfumes and candles. But did you know that lavender is also great for your hair? Lavender essential oils can moisturize and soften your hair and even help stimulate scalp circulation. In a 2016 animal study, researchers found lavender oil to have hair growth-promoting effects (3).
The calming scent has been known to reduce stress, which promotes well-being. One of nature’s antiseptics, lavender can also reduce itchiness and irritation on your scalp, promoting a healthier scalp.
How to use: Blend lavender in a carrier oil (like coconut oil) and massage into your scalp before bed. Wash in the morning and repeat as needed.
Rosemary essential oil is rich in antioxidants and has been known to strengthen circulation. Often used in cooking, rosemary can also be used for your hair and scalp health.
This strong-smelling herb can be used to reduce dandruff, increase hair thickness and soften and condition your hair. Rosemary can also be used to improve circulation in the scalp, which helps maintain its overall health. In fact, a 2015 trial suggested that rosemary oil may help promote hair growth and be effective in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (4).
How to use: Blend rosemary oil in a carrier oil (try jojoba) and massage onto the scalp for 30 to 40 minutes. Then wash your hair as usual.
With a soothing smell and calming effects on the mind, cedarwood essential oils have been used in aromatherapy, natural aftershave and for oil control on your face. Ancient civilizations have used cedarwood oil for its many therapeutic and astringent properties. For hair loss, cedarwood can be used to balance the oil-producing glands on the scalp as well as to treat dandruff and itchy scalp.
How to use: Mix a few drops of cedarwood oil into your shampoo, wash and dry as usual to prevent dandruff buildup.
Cooling peppermint oil is great for rejuvenating and revitalizing. For hair loss, peppermint can be used to stimulate blood flow and increase hair follicle growth. A 2014 animal study found peppermint to have positive effects on hair growth, including a significant increase in hair thickness, number of hair follicles and follicle depth (5).
This oil has antimicrobial characteristics, which are helpful for clearing and cleansing the scalp. When using peppermint oil, it’s important to do a spot test, because it may cause skin irritation for some people.
How to use: Mix a few drops of peppermint in a carrier oil like coconut oil and apply to the scalp. Leave on for 15 minutes and then wash as normal. You can also add 4-5 drops of peppermint oil to your shampoo or conditioner.
The name might sound strange but clary sage is a powerful essential oil that has been used in treatments for depression, childbirth, digestive issues, and even as an anticonvulsant. Clary sage has also been shown to stimulate blood circulation, which is why it is used in promoting hair growth. It can also help fight dandruff and naturally conditions your hair.
How to use: Mix clary sage in a carrier oil like jojoba and massage onto the scalp. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let it sit for one to two hours. Wash your hair with water or a natural shampoo and then leave to air dry.