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Mediterranean cultures have been known to use olive oil for just about everything. (If you’ve never tried olive oil to ease an ear infection, some Italian Americans swear by it – it’s me, I’m the Italian American who swears by it.) But, don’t forget about the region’s other natural healing oil: rosemary essential oil.

While the rosemary herb can certainly punch up a roasted potato, rosemary essential oil has been used to treat hair loss and stimulate hair growth.

Here’s how rosemary oil may help your mane.

Rosemary essential oil comes from the aromatic evergreen-like plant, Rosmarinus officinalis, that’s packed with good-for-you antioxidants. (And to be clear, it’s not actually “oily” like olive oil.)

Rosemary essential oils biggest health benefits thought to help hair include:

  • Nerve and tissue restoration. Carnosic acid, one of the plant’s key ingredients, has been shown to heal nerve damage and restore tissue in the scalp.
  • Boosted circulation. This could help hair follicles thrive if they’re being cut off from their blood supply.
  • Reduced inflammation and improved cell health. Studies have shown rosemary has an anti-inflammatory effect and is thought to improve cellular generation. This could help aid hair growth and thickness.

Hair shedding vs. hair loss

If your shower drain is any indication, hair shedding is a common experience. On average, people lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. The big difference between hair shedding and hair loss is the rate at which hairs fall out without growing back.

The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition often found at the root of hair loss. When the immune system targets your hair follicles as a threat, it can result in patches of hair falling out.

Male pattern baldness is another condition where testosterone targets hair follicles.

Studies on the effectiveness of rosemary essential oil for hair loss are still limited, but rosemary essential oil may give your father’s Rogaine a run for its money.

It actually might be a comparable treatment to Rogaine

A 2015 study compared rosemary oil and minoxidil (commercially known as Rogaine) in the treatment of humans with alopecia (aka hair loss). Results showed that both rosemary oil and minoxidil resulted in a significant hair growth at the 6-month usage mark.

While there were no differences when it came to dry hair, greasy hair, and dandruff, Minoxidil did have more reports of scalp itching compared to rosemary oil.

It might help male pattern baldness

In the lab, a 2013 study performed on mice showed rosemary leaf extract to counteract testosterone-triggered hair loss. In short, the shaved mice hair made a comeback for No-Shave November with the help of rosemary.

It could help fungi and bacteria-related hair loss

A 2017 study found that rosemary essential oil was a worthy opponent for fungi and bacteria. Hair loss can be hereditary, but it can also be caused by an infection or unhealthy scalp from fungi and bacteria camping out.

Rosemary oil is most effective for hair restoration when used consistently for at least 6 months. You can also use treatments a minimum of 1 to 2 times per week.

While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

1. Massage, rinse, repeat

After taking a bath or shower, mix 5 drops of rosemary oil with 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. Apply this directly to the scalp and massage it in. Let it sink into the scalp for at least 5 to 10 minutes. You can rinse or leave it in.

2. Remix your rosemary

You can also mix rosemary oil with your shampoo, conditioner, or other hair treatments.

Add 20 to 30 drops for every ounce (6 teaspoons) of product. Use the shampoo or conditioner as you usually would. You can also apply 2 to 3 drops directly to a dollop of post-shower hair care products in your hand.

3. DIY your shampoo

Much like sourdough bread, you can make your own shampoo right at home. There’s a number of recipes and ingredient combinations, but here’s out take.

To make your own gentle, restorative shampoo, mix the following ingredients:

  • 10 to 15 drops of rosemary essential oil
  • 1/2 cup of castile soap
  • 1/2 cup of peppermint or chamomile tea

Other essential oils for hair loss

While rosemary oil is a standout in tackling hair loss, it’s not the only essential oil on the block to have hair thickening benefits.

Other essential oils that may help improve your hair health include:

  • lavender
  • peppermint
  • cedarwood
  • lemongrass
  • thyme
  • clary sage
  • tea tree
  • ylang-ylang (best on dry scalps)

Rosemary, like most essential oils, can irritate the skin when in direct contact. Dilute rosemary EO with a carrier oil like its Mediterranean sister, olive oil. Or, try another carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil.

The biggest precaution to take when using rosemary oil is to avoid contact with your peepers. If you get it in your eyes, rinse your eyes with cold water and seek medical attention if the effects worsen or do not improve.

Rosemary isn’t just an ingredient to make your quiche sound even fancier, it has natural healing capabilities, too. If you want to grow your hair with minimal scalp itching, rosemary essential oil may boot Rogaine right out of your routine. Plus it’s a more natural alternative for hair growth.

Try making your own shampoo at home with rosemary oil or apply it (diluted with a carrier oil) to your scalp 1 to 2 times per week for at least 6 weeks to maximize results.

Avoid direct contact with your skin and dilute with carrier oil to limit irritation (and avoid getting it into your eyes at all costs).

Want to know how to shop for the best quality essential oils? We got you covered. Add some rosemary oil into your routine and you may become a regular ‘ol Rapunzel ditching your clip-in extensions for good.