Rosemary Oil For Hair Growth: How It Works + 5 Ways To Add It To Your Routine
If you're dealing with increased shedding, it takes time and patience to not only get to the root of the issue but also figure out the best targeted treatments—and results likely won't happen overnight. We're not going to tell you that managing thinning hair is a simple mission you can tick off your to-do list. But are there tried-and-true methods, backed by herbal traditions and scientific evidence, that can help support the process? You bet.
One particular remedy earns a lion’s share of praise: rosemary oil. It's a superstar in the natural hair growth space, and there are countless ways to use it in your routine. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about the special herb, including an easy, efficient shower hack to use it.
Rosemary oil for hair.
Rosemary oil is an essential oil derived from—you guessed it—the aromatic rosemary herb. And when it comes to using essential oils for hair, it’s a shining star: Not only has it been clinically shown to be effective for hair growth (more on that later), but it also has the ability to strengthen the strands that you already have. You can read more about the benefits here, but here’s the gist:
- Hydration: You should always pair rosemary oil with another carrier oil (like jojoba, for example), and these carriers act as a natural moisturizer, which helps to keep hair hydrated.
- Fullness: The oil nourishes the hair follicle, promoting thickness and hair count.
- Healthy hair growth: Since rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it can reduce free radical damage and irritation on the scalp—this, in turn, helps healthy hair grow in.
- Stimulates the scalp: Essential oils, like rosemary, can stimulate circulation in the scalp, which helps deliver blood flow and healthy nutrients to the hair follicles.
- Removes buildup: "Rosemary oil has purifying properties that make it a key part of my hair routine and one of my favorite hair blends," Leslie Lewis, senior director of global training and education at Young Living, previously told mbg. Those purifying abilities can help clarify the scalp and lift excess oil, debris, and buildup from the follicles.
- Reduces frizz: If you struggle with dry hair, a diluted rosemary oil can ease frizz and prevent breakage.
- Adds shine: Botanical oils specifically (rosemary included), coat hair a light-reflecting layer, adding high shine to your strands. Plus, rosemary is brimming with polyphenols, like carnosol, carnosic acid, and rosmarinic acid1. Considering these antioxidants can help neutralize free radical damage on the scalp and hair, rosemary oil can help strengthen the strands you have and keep them vibrant and lush.
- Eases dandruff: Because rosemary oil also has anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties, it can help minimize dandruff symptoms, too.
Does it work for hair growth?
Rosemary has a long history of use in herbal medicine (it was highly valued in Egypt, Greece, and Rome for its beauty benefits). Beyond its historical use, rosemary oil has been clinically studied as well, with promising results. See, rosemary is a fabulous herb for stimulating circulation on the scalp—which, in turn, has the potential to spur hair growth. In fact, a 2015 randomized comparative trial found that rosemary essential oil was just as effective2 as minoxidil (the active ingredient in many commercial hair-growth products) for reversing hair loss caused by androgens—also known as male- or female-pattern baldness—after six months.
And guess what? In the study, the minoxidil had a higher rate of itching and discomfort on the skin—rosemary, however, did not. Perhaps that's why holistic plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, M.D., deemed the blend "a very reasonable option for people who want to stay natural and have some thinning hair issues" on the mindbodygreen podcast.
This is promising as hair loss can affect a wide range of folks—women, men, those dealing with stress, and people in menopause.
How to use rosemary oil in your hair care routine.
The great news about rosemary oil is that it is incredibly versatile. Here are some of the ways you can take advantage of this all-star EO:
Add rosemary essential oil to a carrier oil or base (jojoba oil, argan oil, almond oil, and aloe vera all work great) for a moisture-rich leave-on treatment. If you’re looking for some more at-home inspiration, find our favorite DIY deep conditioning masks here.
Level up your hair oil.
Add rosemary oil to your favorite pre-existing hair oil for an extra hair-healthy boost. Remember, you don't want to apply rosemary essential oil directly on your scalp. Always use a carrier oil to dilute the potency (hair care products—oils, shampoos, leave-ins—work fine as well).
DIY hair rinse.
OK, technically this doesn’t include rosemary oil, but we couldn’t resist adding this lovely rosemary rinse to the list:
- Pour 5 cups of water into a large pot. Drop in 5 sprigs of rosemary (1 sprig for each cup of water), and turn the heat on medium-high. Let the water come to a boil.
- Once you have a rolling boil, leave the mixture for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and then let it sit for another 25 minutes.
- Strain the mixture and pour the liquid into a jar. Store at room temperature away from sunlight and use within 3 months for the best results.
See here for the full breakdown.
In the shower.
Triple board-certified dermatologist Mamina Turegano, M.D., raved about an easy shower hack over on Tiktok—simply add rosemary oil to your shampoo. Follow along below:
- "I recommend putting three to five drops into your shampoo before you use your shampoo," she says in the video.
- "Massage it into your scalp, and leave it on there for about five minutes," she continues.
- Rinse out thoroughly, then condition as usual (might we suggest one of these hydrating formulas?).
To reduce dandruff.
To level up the shower-time hack, you could even add rosemary oil to your dandruff shampoo to further help to manage the itching and scaling.
For most folks, rosemary is completely safe for use on the hair. It’s a fairly well tolerated ingredient and doesn’t pose many side effects. However, if you personally have an allergy or sensitivity to rosemary then, yes, you should avoid it. In addition, for those with naturally sensitive scalps, you may want to patch test first just to be safe.
You should also never put undiluted essential oils (of any kind) on your hair or skin. Essential oils are very potent and irritating ingredients and needed to be mixed with a carrier oil.
Does rosemary help with hair growth?
Yes, rosemary can help with hair growth, as it helps stimulate circulation on the scalp—which, in turn, has the potential to spur hair growth. In fact, a 2015 randomized comparative trial found that rosemary essential oil was just as effective as minoxidil (the active ingredient in many commercial hair-growth products) for reversing hair loss caused by androgens—also known as male- or female-pattern baldness—after six months.
How do I use rosemary on my hair?
There are many ways to use rosemary on your hair, including: Adding it into your favorite hair mask for a treatment, blending it with your shampoo, and mixing it with your favorite scalp oil for a scalp massage.
What are the side effects of rosemary oil on hair?
For most folks, rosemary is completely safe for use on the hair. You should also never put undiluted essential oils (of any kind) on your hair or skin—so blend it with a carrier oil or product before use. Finally, if you personally have an allergy or sensitivity to rosemary then, yes, you should avoid it.
Treating hair loss does not happen overnight, period and full stop. However, you can rely on some natural methods to help you along the process, such as rosemary oil. It might not work for everyone, but it does have research- and derm-backed benefits behind it. If rosemary isn’t for you, be it because of an allergy or scent preference, pumpkin seed oil has also been shown to aid in hair growth—just some more food for thought.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.