BALDING GUYS ARE USING ROSEMARY OIL TO PREVENT HAIR LOSS. BUT DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?

Adding rosemary oil to your hair can do two things. Firstly, you’ll probably smell like a roast dinner. It’s a nice, pleasant, and pure thing for a Sunday afternoon, but there’s probably a reason why Byredo hasn’t released a ‘Poulet Rôti’ candle yet. Secondly, your hair will purportedly grow back longer and more luscious than ever before. It sounds a bit like a miracle, but that’s what thousands of bald guys across the nation are hoping for.

On TikTok, and via Instagram accounts that have someone occupied your feed, talking heads have been singing the praises over rosemary oil. It’s some sort of new hair drug, they shout, wide-eyed, and infinitely happy at the #ad cheque clearing in their bank account. Last month, their hair was coming out by the fistful. Now: thick, silky, strong! Wow!

But what’s the deal? Male pattern baldness has affected guys for centuries, and there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cure. So the fact that so many social media influencers are saying so many nice things about rosemary oil all of a sudden seems kinda weird. So we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out if all the hype is worth it, or if it’s all just a bit of hokum.

What is rosemary oil?

Can rosemary oil help with hair loss?

How do you use rosemary oil for hair growth?

How long will it take to see results?

What is rosemary oil actually good for?

If not rosemary oil, then what?

What is rosemary oil?

Rosemary oil is basically an oil that’s derived from the rosemary shrub. It’s extracted from the leaves and its flowers using a process known as steam distillation. For thousands and thousands of years, this plant has been used in natural herbal remedies across Mediterranean countries like France, Morocco, and Tunisia. But because there’s so much demand for it these days, it’s now being grown here in the UK as well.

Can rosemary oil help with hair loss?

According to a 2022 study, researchers found that rosemary oil was apparently as effective at encouraging hair regrowth as some over-the-counter treatments. Other studies, including this one that was published by the São Paulo State University, found that rosemary oil has the natural ability kill some fungi and bacteria. So if you’re losing hair because of an infection or an unhealthy scalp, there may actually be some benefits.

“Rosemary oil can absolutely help,” says Taylor Rose, a trichologist and founder of The Healthy Hur. “It’s especially effective when used to treat reactional hair loss.” Rose has a TikTok account dedicated to teaching others how to grow their hair back thicker and fuller using nothing but natural remedies. In a video that she posted last year, she revealed how she managed to help her thinning hairline grow back in just three months thanks to a rosemary and mint spray that she made at home.

“Rosemary oil as a potential topical treatment for hair loss has been mentioned in clinical studies for a number of years now, so this isn’t particularly novel,” says Zoë Passam, a consultant trichologist at Philip Kingsley. However, she isn’t fully convinced. “As a trichologist, my main concern would be that people may follow these trends when they would be better served finding out the reason for their hair loss. Some types of hair loss are progressive, so seeking appropriate advice early is likely to lead to better outcomes.”

How do you use rosemary oil for hair growth?

“Sure, rosemary has been used to soothe sensitive scalps,” says Tiffany Hall, a trichologist who runs two clinics supporting those who are experiencing hair loss. “And while there is some research out there that has seen some good results when it comes to regrowth, the science isn’t fully there yet, and many other factors could have contributed to it.”

If you want to give rosemary oil a go and see if it works for you, there are a couple of ways that you can use it. Firstly, you can massage it directly into your scalp. This is probably the best way, because you’re applying it straight to where it’s needed the most. Mix about five drops of rosemary oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil (which is like coconut oil or jojoba oil), and gently massage it into your lid after a bath or shower. Rinsing it out afterwards is entirely up to you, but if you don’t, you should be careful of your clothes and sheets. If you do decide to rinse it out, let the oil sit for at least 10 minutes before doing so.

Secondly, you can mix rosemary oil straight into your shampoo. It’s best to do this sparingly, so add two or three drops directly to it when it’s in your hand before use. The neat thing about this is that you can also do this for any of your conditioners, creams, and any lotions that you might use.

How long will it take to see results?

Rosemary oil may not work for everyone, but according to a 2015 trial, participants showed a significant increase in follicle count after just six months of use. However, it’s worth noting that this was a controlled study, so it may not be an accurate representation of real world results.

What is rosemary oil actually good for?

What it will do is hydrate. Rosemary oil is known for adding shine, strength, and a tall glass of water to dryer scalps. A 2020 paper by the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences also found that it has significant “anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-apoptotic, anti-tumorigenic, antinociceptive, and neuroprotective properties.” It all sounds very complicated, but what this essentially means is that it could, on paper, reduce dandruff, irritation, and itching.

While it might have some benefits, it’s not recommended for everyone. “If you’re allergic to certain essential oils, I would recommend avoiding rosemary oil altogether,” says Richard Spencer, a consultant trichologist, and owner of The Spencer Clinic. “To add to this, even if you’re not allergic to it to begin with, applying it too often can cause some sort of reaction and sensitivity, so I’d recommend using it once or twice weekly maximum. But, to reiterate, if you’re using it for hair loss, there’s no real proof that it can stimulate or accelerate regrowth, so it’s essential that you explore other remedies.”

If not rosemary oil, then what?

So, while some studies like this 2013 review by Kinki University supports the claim that rosemary oil does help with hair loss, some experts aren’t buying it, and recommend other treatments that can actually make a difference.

“There are clinically proven effective and safe treatments for hair loss,” says Dr Mia Jing Gao, a consultant dermatologist with a specialist interest in hair loss. “Regaine is a product that contains the active ingredient minoxidil. Minoxidil 5% is a safe and effective treatment for male-pattern hair loss which can be purchased over-the-counter and used at home. There is strong scientific evidence proving its efficacy at increasing hair density and promoting growth. It works for up to two out of three men but it does take patience and persistence as it needs to be used daily and takes four months to see results.”

“Tablet treatments like Finasteride can be effective, but patients need to be counselled about the side effect profile,” she continues. “It’s important to note that all of these hair loss treatments only work for as long as the treatment is continued. There are other causes of hair loss, not just hereditary male pattern hair loss. Ultimately, if you are concerned about hair loss. I recommend seeing a doctor to check the diagnosis and consider treatments earlier rather than later.”