A Derm Explains Why Pumpkin Seed Oil Is A+ For Hair Growth
In the natural hair growth space, many experts are quick to sing the praises of rosemary oil—after all, a randomized comparative trial found that the essential oil was just as effective1 as minoxidil (the active ingredient in many commercial hair-growth products).
So, safe to say, we're fans of rosemary around here—it has a laundry list of benefits for scalp and hair health—but experts like triple board-certified dermatologist Mamina Turegano, M.D., points to another effective hair growth topical: pumpkin seed oil.
What is pumpkin seed oil?
The quick definition (and pretty self-explanatory one) is just that: pumpkin seed oil is cold pressed from pumpkin seeds and used for both culinary and cosmetic purposes. As said above, this natural ingredient has been shown to help combat hair loss.
Can pumpkin seed oil help with hair loss or hair growth?
Just like rosemary, pumpkin seed oil was compared to 5% minoxidil2 for its effects on female-pattern hair loss. "What [researchers] saw was that both the pumpkin seed oil and the minoxidil increased hair regrowth and hair thickness, but the minoxidil 5% did outperform the pumpkin seed oil," notes Turegano. "Regardless, pumpkin seed oil has a ton of nutrients."
Specifically, pumpkin seed oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic and linoleic acid, as well as vitamin E—all of which have the potential to aid in hair growth. What's more, pumpkin seed oil also has the ability to block androgens3 like dihydrotestosterone (or DHT), which is what ultimately causes female- or male-pattern hair loss (also called androgenetic alopecia).
Board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D., agrees: "Pumpkin seed oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation, and it also has anti-androgenic effects," she once told us about treating breakouts (yep, pumpkin seed oil may work for blemishes, too).
Pumpkin seed oil benefits for hair:
While hair growth tends to get all the attention, there are tons of other reasons to use the botanical oil in your hair.
Hydration: As a natural moisturizer, it helps to keep hair hydrated (because it’s filled with omega-3s).
Fullness: The oil nourishes the hair follicle, promoting thickness and hair count.
Healthy hair growth: Since it has anti-inflammatory properties, it can reduce free radical damage and irritation on the scalp—this in turn helps healthy hair grow in.
Reduces frizz: Since pumpkin seed oil treats dry hair, easing frizz and preventing breakage.
Adds shine: Like most botanical oils, this coats hair a light-reflecting layer, adding high shine to your strands.
Protection: Oils can add a physical buffer to your hair, protecting the strands from too much stress. Use them as a pre-shampoo treatment, to help detangle, or when styling.
How to use it.
OK, so you have your vial of pumpkin seed oil at the ready (or here's an organic, cold-pressed option you can buy on Amazon). Now, there are a couple of ways you can use it as a hair-growth remedy.
Apply it as an overnight treatment:
"Apply to the scalp and leave on. You can wash it off the next day," Turegano said. While you're at it, give your scalp a lovely massage to really stimulate those follicles—the simple pleasure can encourage blood flow to the area, delivering oxygen and hair-healthy nutrients.
Use it in the shower for:
If you don’t want to sleep with the oil in your hair, you use Turegano’s easy shower-time hack: Add three to five drops of pumpkin seed oil to your shampoo before massaging it into your scalp, leave it on for five minutes, then rinse out thoroughly before conditioning. "I find that way is easier and not as messy," she explains. It's the same hack she swears by for rosemary oil—same trick, different hair-healthy solution.
Add it to your favorite hair product:
Let's say, days ago, you already added rosemary oil to your go-to bottle of shampoo—what then? Not to fret: Turegano says pumpkin seed oil and rosemary play well together. Simply add some pumpkin seed to the mix and proceed.
Pumpkin seed oil may not be as beloved in the hair care space as the mighty olive or argan, but it has science-backed benefits for full, lush strands. What’s more, it pairs well with rosemary oil (another natural hair care wonder), so you may get the most bang for your buck. If you’re looking to create a full hair-care routine that’s best for your hair type, check out our full guide here.
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.