What happens when you peel an orange? You get the refreshing, orangey scent.
And what about when you drive past the lavender farm, you can smell the heavenly floral scent for miles….
If you or your neighbour is mowing the lawn, you get the scent of fresh cut grass.
The thing is all fruits, flowers, leaves and barks have their distinct smell. You can call it ‘plant perfume’. But technically, it’s known as essential oils. And these oils are volatile and ethereal, so they evaporate fast, infusing the air with a lovely fragrance.
But essential oils are more than just nice smelling oils. They have tons of beauty and hair stimulating benefits.
In this article, we will see the top 8 essential oils for hair and scalp. Before that, I want to talk about a common question…
What’s the Difference between Essential oil and Regular oil?
Well, there’s a palpable difference.
Essential oils are not actually oils. If you have ever used essential oils, you know it does not feel like your regular oil (coconut or olive). It’s light to touch and evaporates quickly without leaving any trace (of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as patchouli).
Basically, essential oils are extracted from the ‘non-fatty’ parts of the plants, such as leaves, flowers, fruits, stem and bark.
Whereas the regular vegetable oils are derived from the fatty parts of the plants, such as seeds, kernel or nuts. And that is why they are heavy and greasy.
Another big difference is that although essential oils are ethereal and delicate, they are very potent or concentrated extracts and often described as life-force of the plant. This is the reason you need to use a small amount to experience results. When applying to your scalp or skin, it’s usually best to dilute with vegetable oil that serves as a ‘carrier oil’. Okay, those were the differences between essential oils and regular oils.
Now let’s find out the best essential oils for hair and scalp.
There are plenty to choose from. Essential oils such as lavender and rosemary have a stimulating effect on hair follicles and enhance hair growth. Oils like chamomile and cedarwood can be helpful to soothe a dry, irritated scalp. While ylang ylang oil can help balance scalp oils.
Essential oils can work wonders on your hair and scalp. You can use them to:
Since every essential oil is different, you can pick one that best suits your needs. You can also use them in combination for an enhanced effect.
It’s simple to use essential oils for hair. Blend in a few drops with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive and massage into your scalp and hair. Here’s the selection of effective essential oils for healthy hair growth, and how to use them…
Lavender oil is one of the most popular oils for hair. And for many reasons.
Lavender oil works for all hair types — it moisturises the scalp and balances sebum production.
Lavender is also amazing for hair growth. It stimulates the hair follicles and enhances denser and thicker hair. Besides, lavender oil is healing for the scalp. It provides relief from skin conditions such as dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
What’s more, you will feel relaxed after applying it on your scalp and hair. That’s because of lavender’s calming and de-stressing effects.
How to use: mix 5 drops of lavender oil with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Massage into your scalp and hair and let it sit for a few hours before washing it.
Scent: It has a sweet, floral scent and herbaceous-woody undertone. The oil is extracted from the fresh flowers of Lavandula angustifolia shrub.
Khus reminds me of summer months in India – mats made of khus roots are used in evaporative air coolers. They are also hung in a doorway or on the windows to keep the house cool. And it makes the whole house smell incredibly fresh.
This cooling property is also highly beneficial in hair loss (as in against hair loss) that occurs due to high body heat (seen as baldness on the top of the head). Khus is also known for its antiseptic and tonic action and helps treat acne and oily scalp.
And like lavender oil, khus is calming and soothing for the mind, helping with nervous tension and anxiety. So it’s often called ‘oil of tranquillity’.
How to use: mix 10 drops of khus oil with 2 tablespoons olive oil and massage into your scalp and let it sit for few hours before washing it.
Scent: It is a dark brown or amber colour oil with an earthy-woody odour and a sweet undertone. The oil is extracted from the roots of a grass of vetiver or Chrysopogon zizanioides.
Rosemary is another superb essential oil for enhancing hair growth. It stimulates the scalp and increases local blood circulation. Rosemary also has powerful antioxidant effects. It helps to fight free radicals – that are responsible for thinning of hair as well as greying.
Rosemary is beneficial for greasy, oily scalp. Its astringent effects help balance sebum and keeps hair oil-free and manageable between washes.
How to Use: blend 10 drops of rosemary oil with 2 tablespoons olive oil and apply to your scalp and hair. Do this twice a week for best results.
Scent: It has a strong, minty-herbaceous scent and a woody undertone. Rosemary oil is obtained from the plant of Rosmarinus officinalis.
Chamomile oil comes from chamomile flowers — which are daisy-like with white petals.
Chamomile is excellent for scalp conditions such as dry skin, dandruff, eczema and psoriasis. And that’s because of its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. By keeping the scalp in good health, it promotes strong and healthy hair growth.
Chamomile oil also conditions the hair and improves its softness and luster.
Scent: It has a sweet, fruity-herbaceous scent. The oil is extracted from flowers of Matricaria recutica (German chamomile) or Chamaemelum nobile (Roman chamomile).
This fragrant oil is my favourite for hair. Native to tropical Asia, it has been traditionally used to promote healthier and stronger hair growth. Ylang ylang oil also helps condition and rejuvenate dull hair, as well as balance oily or dry hair, making it useful for all hair types.
How to use: mix 5 drops of ylang ylang oil and 5 drops of khus oil with 1 tablespoon of castor oil and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Massage into your scalp and hair and let it soak for a few hours before washing it out.
Scent: Also known as poor man’s jasmine, this oil is highly valued in perfumery. It has an intensely sweet, soft, floral, and slightly spicy scent. The oil is extracted from the flowers of the Cananga odorata tree.
With its cooling, tingling sensation, peppermint oil is great for head massages.
It increase blood flow to the scalp, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles, thereby leading to fuller hair growth.
Peppermint oil also has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s beneficial in scalp conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. It also refreshes the scalp, reduces its oiliness, and relieves scalp acne.
Scent: The smell is fresh, crispy and minty! The essential oil is made from peppermint leaves.
Cedarwood oil has a beautiful woody aroma. This oil is well-known hair tonic, and has been used for centuries to treat thinning hair and alopecia.
Cedarwood oil is purifying and cleansing and helps remove excess oil and dirt. As well as, its anti-fungal and antiseptic properties help remedy dandruff due to fungal infection. It may also help with scalp acne and eczema.
Scent: warm, woody, camphoraceous aroma with a sweet-balsamic undertone. The oil is obtained from the wood of the Cedrus atlantica tree.
Clary sage is a herb native to Mediterranean region. It’s a short plant with large hairy leaves and small blue flowers.
The essential oil is high in antioxidants and phytoestrogens, which makes it particularly beneficial for female pattern baldness. Clary sage is also said to be calming and relaxing. So it may be useful in stress-related hair loss such as telogen effluvium.
How to use: mix 5 drops of clary sage with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Massage into your scalp and hair and let it soak for an hour before washing it out.
Scent: This oil has a sweet, nutty herbaceous scent. The oil is extracted from the flowering tops and leaves of Salvia sclarea.
As I said earlier, you don’t use essential oils the same way as coconut or olive oil. Essential oils are highly concentrated and potent extracts of the plant. Therefore you need to mix them with a base oil.
As a general guideline, add about 1% of essential oil to the base oil. You can use the following proportions:
Base Oil for fine, thin hair
Use olive, coconut, grapeseed, argan, sunflower and castor oil – these will nourish and add volume to your fine hair.
Base Oil for dry, coarse hair
Use rich oils such as avocado, olive, sesame, almond – these are valuable hydrating treatments. Here’s a couple of hair growth recipes that I like. But you can go ahead and create your own blend.
There’s some evidence that applying a combination of cedarwood, lavender, thyme and rosemary essential oil to the scalp improves hair growth in people with alopecia. In this study, 44% participants who applied this oil blend showed significant improvement in hair growth. Here’s the recipe…
This is the recipe I like to use on my hair. But feel free to add or subtract oils. Every scalp and hair is unique, so it’s good to try various combinations to see what works best for you.
Mix the oils in a bowl. If you like a particular recipe, make a big batch and store in a glass bottle.
Massage the lovely homemade oil blend into your scalp and hair, leave it on for an hour, or overnight for more conditioning. Wash with a homemade natural shampoo or your favourite shampoo and let your hair dry naturally.
Tips and Tricks: If you like to take advantage of essential oils without making your hair greasy, use aloe vera gel as the base, and add the essential oil into it.
If you are pregnant, lactating, suffer from epilepsy, high blood pressure, or any other medical condition, seek the advice of your doctor, midwife or a qualified aromatherapist before using essential oil. Children have delicate and sensitive skin, there are a limited number of essential oils you can use on them. Check with the aromatherapist.
For people with sensitive skin, it’s best to test a small area then wait for 30 minutes before applying to scalp and hair.
Always buy essential oils that are pure, undiluted and stored in glass bottles. Also, when you make oil blends using essential oils, use a glass bottle to store them. As plastic may react.
Which is your favourite essential oil for hair? I would love to hear from you!