Hair growth is for some a very sensitive topic and they can worry about their receding hairline that seem to be growing faster than their hair. For others hair growth is only something that they think about when they want to grow out a style or had a bad haircut. Then all of a sudden you realize how slowly your hair grows.Hair grows about 1 cm per month but we often can get very impatient with the slow process and want to speed that up. Is there anything that can help to stimulate hair growth? What about essential oils to stimulate hair growth? What are the best oils to stimulate hair growth ?
Well let’s have a look at how your hair grows to start.
Some facts about hair and hair growth
You are born with a certain amount of hair follicles so it is not true if a product claims that it can increase the amount of follicles.
The thickness, density, amount of hair and color of your hair is determined by your genes.
We lose on average about 50-100 hairs a day.
The only part that is alive in your hair is the part in the follicle.
Hair grows in different phases.
The anagen phase or the growing phase last for 2-6 years. This is unique for each person and this is what influence how long you can grow your hair. Personally I have never been able to have hair longer than my shoulders whilst my daughter’s hair is up to her waist almost. So the longer your anagen phase, the longer your hair will be.
The catagen phase or resting phase and the transitioning phase between the anagen and the telogen phase. The hair follicle begins to shrink and this last about a week.
The telogen phase or shedding phase where the hair falls out but also the new hair gets pushed to the surface. This can last from 5 weeks to about 3 months.
The phase when the hair follicle is empty before a new hair is forming is longer in men than in women. Let’s look at some of the things that influence these growth stages:
What can cause you to lose your hair?
Some illnesses can cause hair loss such as lupus or certain auto immune diseases. Very severe fevers can cause hair loss as well as some operations that need general anesthetics.
Poor nutrient absorption and deficiencies such as zinc and iron or suffering from a thyroid disorder or diabetes. Vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies affects hair growth and hair loss. Insufficient intake of protein can affect hair growth as well. Severe weight loss can cause hair loss as well. Large amounts of the fat soluble Vit A can inhibit hair growth.
Poor circulation and poor nutrition has an effect on hair growth because hair follicles that are deprived of blood and nutrients can’t grow properly.
Stress causes the scalp to tighten up and that directly affects the circulation and the amount of nutrient dense blood that the hair follicle receives. Both Alopecia areata( which is when the hair falls out in patches and leaves bald spots on the head) as well as Trichotillomania ( which is hair pulling) are connected to stress.
Lithium based medications, anti-coagulants and other medical treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause hair loss and affect hair growth.
Hormones play a huge role in our hair growth cycle. Let’s have a look at what is going on for men and women because they deal with different issues due to different hormones.
Male pattern balding is thought to be influenced by DHT ( dihydrotestosterone)
The hair follicles become sensitive to DHT and slows down the hair production and produces weaker shorter hair during the anagen phase.
DHT (n Dehydrotestosterone) which is converted from testosterone basically binds to sites on hair follicles and is making the follicles go into the resting phase and then the hair becomes thinner with each growth cycle.
Men who are going bald appears to have above average amounts of DHT in the scalp follicles and less than average circulating testosterone levels
Each hair follicle has a predetermined number of sites that DHT can bind to that is determined by your genes. In a study they found that bald scalps have a lot more sites.
For women irregular menstruation or being on the contraceptive pill can lead to thinning hair. Hormone changes during pregnancy influence hair growth and although many get beautiful hair during their pregnancy they can loose a lot after childbirth. Menopause is another season which can affect the hair to get thinner. The decrease in estrogen can cause the hair to thin out.
Chemical damage and over processed chemical treatments can cause hair breakage. Mechanical damage like brushing wet hair or very rough handling when blow-drying hair can all cause breakage.
To have an even further and more detailed explanation about hair loss and scalp and skin conditions that influence hair loss you can read this thorough article from trichologist Mags Kavanaugh.
My top 4 essential oils to stimulate hair growth
Rosemary oil can be really effective to promote hair growth. How does it work ? Well it improves the blood flow to the follicle which obviously means that the hair follicle is getting nutrient dense blood which has an effect on hair growth. It improves the cellular metabolism of the hair follicle which then makes the hair grows faster.
A 2015 study that was done comparing the effect of an 1 % dilution of rosemary essential oil versus Minoxidil,which is an effective treatment for hair loss and present in products such as Rogaine. Minoxidil can have side effects though such as scalp itching, seborrheic dermatitis, weight gain, affecting the heart rate and hindering breathing.
After a 6 month trial the group that used the Rosemary oil treatment had significant more hair than the base group and the Minoxidil group which proved that Rosemary oil is quite an effective treatment for hair loss. Make sure to buy organic Rosemary oil.
Another double-blind clinical trial was done with 86 patients with Alopecia Areata. Half of the group massaged their scalps with an essential oil mix of Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary and Cedarwood diluted in a carrier oil daily and the other half just massaged some of the carrier oil( Jojoba and Grape Seed oil) on their scalps daily.
After 7 months 44 % of the essential oil group had a significant improvement versus only 15 % improvement of the carrier oil group. Which proved that these essential oils can be a very effective treatment for hair growth.
Lavender oil is very helpful for the stressed out person whose scalp is really tight. It is an anti-spasmodic and anti-septic oil that will be very good if you struggle with itchy scalp or dandruff. You can find out more about Lavender oil here.
Cedarwood can stimulate the hair follicles by improving the blood flow to the scalp which is very necessary for healthy hair growth. This is a very grounding oil and helps to calm the nervous system. One of the worst things that men hear about their thinning hair is to not stress about it. It actually cause them to stress more about the fact that they are stressed now about their receding hairline. My teenage son. who is actually part of a twin has very fine hair compared to his brother and a receding hairline on top of that. It is his genes, I know but we still rub the oils on at least 3 times a week because he gets teased about his hair and he stresses about the fact that his hair.
It has anti septic properties which makes it a very useful oil for scalp health. It can be used to prevent and remove head lice as well as dandruff. Peppermint boost circulation and will give you a tingling feeling when applied to the scalp. Always use essential oils diluted in a carrier oil.
Although essential oils can be a very effective treatment to promote hair growth, the health of your hair and scalp really depend on your health and nutrition. Ensure that you are having a healthy diet that provide enough vitamins, minerals and protein before reaching for the essential oil bottle.
As explained above the blood supply to the hair follicle directly affect the hair growth so once again if you need to make some lifestyle choices and make sure you that you exercise and keep a handle on your stress levels, that would be your starting point.
How to use essential oils for hair growth
- Out of the studies it was proven that it took about 6 months average to show significant results so don’t give up too soon.
- . Use daily. Either add some essential oils to your shampoo or conditioner and use that daily or mix some essential oils with a carrier oil and massage that daily into the scalp and either sleep with it on or leave it on for at least 10 minutes before washing it out. I would recommend that you use the Lavender and Cedarwood mix rather before you go to bed. Both are relaxing and grounding oils. Castor oil is superb to help you sleep soundly. You can read why here.
- Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil. Add 3-6 drops of oils per 25 ml carrier oil.
- Use good quality essential oil. I always prefer organic essential oil above therapeutic grade.
- Apply the diluted oil to the scalp and wrap your head with a warm towel. Leave that on for about an hour. Doing this twice a week is not only great self care but will help you to focus. Both Rosemary and Peppermint oil is great for focus and being alert. I would not recommend using Rosemary and Peppermint just before you go to sleep.
Great carrier oils to use
The reason why this is such a popular carrier oil when it comes to hair care is because it is moisturizing. It is anti bacterial and anti fungal which makes it great to use for scalp conditions such as dandruff. The fatty acids can penetrate the follicle and stimulate hair growth. People with dry curly hair really like coconut oil as a treatment to moisturize their scalp and manages their frizzy hair.
This is an absolute gem for hair and scalp however this is a very sticky thick oil and you will have to wash your hair really well to remove the oil. It has anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that will greatly benefit your scalp and hair. You can read more about Castor oil here.
Supplements and teas
Zinc, essential fatty acids, Saw Palmetto
They work together to reduce the conversion into DHT and can help to delay the hair loss process.
Saw Palmetto help to counteract the conversion of testosterone to DHT. It does that by inhibiting the DHT to bind to the receptor sites and so increase the DHT breakdown.
Green tea can influence serum concentration of hormones. A large amount of Green Tea can increase the levels of sex hormone binding globulin ( SHBG) . Higher SHBG can help to reduce the effects of androgenetic alopecia also called pattern baldness.
Horsetial contains silica which is very beneficial for hair growth and hair/skin health. Have a read about horsetail tea here.
The supplement industry is not well regulated and many companies are exploiting people that are desperate to get their hair to grow a bit faster. Over supplementation can cause some health issues so always check with your doctor before taking supplements.
Take care of you so that you can take care of those you love