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Lusting After Long Locks? Try These 10 Oils For Healthy Hair Growth

Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Updated on May 12, 2023
Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Contributing writer
By Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Contributing writer
Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle journalist based in Beacon, New York. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman's University and Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta.
May 12, 2023

As with most aspects of beauty, healthy hair comes down to the nutrients and foods you eat. But there are some things you can do on the surface, like massaging your scalp with oil. After all, research has proven1 that scalp massages can promote hair growth and thickness by mechanically stimulating hair follicles. Using an oil will help reduce friction between your fingers and scalp, further improving the effects of the massage.

Don't be so quick to grab just any oil, though. You might as well use an oil with properties that support hair growth. These ingredients, which include both carrier and essential oils, mainly work in one of two ways: Some promote hair growth by directly stimulating the hair follicles, while others create an ideal scalp environment for said growth. Many oils also keep the hair you do have healthy, ultimately paving the way for luscious locks.

Now, there's no single oil that will magically give you long and lengthy hair. But if you want to give your scalp and hair a boost, it's worth adding one of these oils to your routine:


Coconut oil

When it comes to hair care, coconut oil is a star—and for good reason, too. It has a rich and buttery consistency, making it excellent for naturally moisturizing your strands. Beyond that, coconut oil can support hair growth by keeping your follicles healthy.

According to Autumn Grant, licensed cosmetologist and founder of The Kind Poppy, coconut oil has antiseptic properties, which can help create a clean and healthy scalp environment that's ideal for hair growth.

Coconut oil also protects your follicles by filling the space between the strand of hair and follicle wall, stopping surfactants (the active ingredients in shampoos that are cleansing but drying) from entering the actual follicle. This prevents the hair from becoming loose, which would otherwise result in hair loss.


Rosemary oil

According to Yoram Harth, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDhair, oxidative stress—or the accumulation of free radicals—can affect scalp health, and therefore, healthy hair growth. 

There are also many potential causes of oxidative stress (think ultraviolet radiation, cigarette smoking, and environmental pollution), but rosemary oil may lend a hand.

According to board-certified hair loss surgeon William Yates, M.D., rosemary oil has been found to minimize oxidative stress at the hair follicle level. He adds that "it can provide emollients to the hair shaft to help reduce breakage," thus protecting the hair you already have.

In fact, in one study, participants applied either rosemary oil or minoxidil (a popular over-the-counter hair loss medication) twice a day for six months.

The rosemary oil worked just as well as minoxidil, which the researchers credited to the oil's antioxidant properties. They also noted that rosemary oil may relax the vessels in the scalp, ultimately improving blood flow to the follicles.


Peppermint oil

Although more research is necessary, peppermint oil may have some benefits for hair growth. In one animal study, peppermint oil improved hair growth in mice when compared to jojoba oil and minoxidil2. According to researchers, this suggests that peppermint oil may speed up the anagen stage3, aka the active growing phase of hair growth.

They also noted that the oil increased both the number and depth of hair follicles. What's more, peppermint oil is thought to promote a healthy scalp environment by boosting circulation.


Tea tree oil

Widely used for its antimicrobial properties, "tea tree oil [can help] soothe a dry and itchy scalp," shares trichologist and hairstylist Shab Reslan.

It's also excellent for clearing up scalp buildup due to flakes, fungi, and products, which is crucial for healthy hair growth, she adds.

But take note: Tea tree oil can be harsh on the skin, so you might want to avoid soaking your scalp in the ingredient. If you have super-sensitive skin, or a rash or open sore on your scalp, you'll want to avoid using tea tree oil for hair, says Reslan.


Vitamin E oil

As mentioned above, oxidative stress can impact healthy hair growth and may lead to strand breakage. But that's where vitamin E, a potent nutrient with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, comes in.

When applied to the scalp, vitamin E oil can "fight oxidative stress in the hair follicle," according to Yates. Vitamin E oil also supports a healthy inflammatory response in the scalp, which provides "a better environment for hair follicles to regrow healthier hair," says Harth.

So, while vitamin E oil won't literally make your hair grow, it can support a healthy scalp—which is the foundation for healthy hair. 


Castor oil

First things first: The benefits of castor oil for hair growth are mainly anecdotal, and there are no published studies on the link thus far.

However, sometimes anecdotal evidence is worthy enough of giving this a try—especially considering it’s long history of use. Not to mention, castor oil has many healthy hair properties, which may indicate it can help tending to the hair you have—even if it’s not directly improving growth rate.

For example, castor oil contains vitamin E and ricinoleic fatty acid, two potent compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, which support the health of our scalp and hair.

Additionally, it can coat your strands in a protective lipid layer—reducing day-to-day physical wear.


Jojoba oil

Like castor oil, jojoba oil's moisturizing properties may protect your existing hair. After all, "just as a piece of dry wood would snap, so does your hair if it's not hydrated," explains Yates.

Thankfully, "jojoba oil contains fatty acids, which coat the hair shaft and help prevent breakage," he says. These moisturizing properties can help promote hair health while nourishing the scalp, adds Grant. "It's an overall great treatment and complements other oils like coconut, argan, and castor oil," she shares.


Pumpkin seed oil

More recently, pumpkin seed oil has been studied as an oil for hair growth.

In a promising 2021 study, pumpkin seed oil worked just as well as minoxidil in promoting hair growth in women with female-pattern hair loss. The participants topically applied either remedy for three months and experienced comparable results.

Better yet, the researchers also noted that pumpkin seed oil reduced hair shaft diversity4, aka a sign that some hair follicles are shrinking in size. Although more research is needed, these effects may be due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in pumpkin seed oil.

It also doesn't hurt that the oil contains anti-inflammatory vitamin E and fatty acids, according to a 2019 study, further adding to its potential benefits.


Argan oil

Argan oil is another ingredient that's hailed for its role in hair care. And while there's no research (so far) to confirm the oil's ability to promote hair growth in humans, an intriguing lab study found that argan extract increases hair growth in human cells5 by combating oxidative stress.

Plus, argan oil contains nutrients that help moisturize hair and minimize breakage. Most notably, this includes essential fatty acids and vitamin E, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. That said, argan oil might be just what you need for keeping your locks intact.


Lavender oil

If ingredients like tea tree or rosemary oil are too harsh on your skin, reach for lavender oil. Not only does it smell like a relaxing oasis, but it can help soothe and heal the scalp, says Reslan.

An animal study also found that lavender oil increases the number and depth of hair follicles, which is promising news for hair care. According to the researchers, lavender oil appears to extend the anagen phase of hair growth while delaying the shift into the catagen phase, or when hair growth stops. 

Kirsten Nunez, M.S. author page.
Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Contributing writer

Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle journalist based in Beacon, New York. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman's University and Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta. Kirsten specializes in nutrition, fitness, food, and DIY; her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including eHow, SparkPeople, and international editions of Cosmopolitan. She also creates recipes for food product packaging.