Does Rosemary Really Help Hair Growth?

Recently, rosemary oil has been taking over the internet. Countless people are claiming things like, “Rosemary has transformed my scalp! This is better than Rogaine or minoxidil!” But, are these claims truly comparable to real science?


So, let’s talk about the studies done on rosemary oil, how they compare to internet testimonies, and Cassandra’s personal experience.


Cassandra has also been losing her hair from stress, and she’s even considered rosemary oil and rosemary water. People say that rosemary rergows hair, promotes thicker hair, and prevents excessive hair fall. People are even freezing rosemary water into ice cubes, and then they rub them on the scalp! So, does it work? 


Well, let’s start with going over how the scalp and hair growth works.


Hair grows from the root. Hair anatomy has a root, a shaft, and an end. And even though conversations around hair growth discuss split ends a lot, the focus should actually be on the scalp. Yes, we want to protect hair cuticles on the shaft so they don’t break, but for hair loss, we have to focus on the anagen phase. 


What is the anagen phase?

The anagen phase is when new baby hairs and hairs are growing. Then, there’s the catagen phase where the hair follicle moves upward in the dermis. Then, there’s the telogen phase or the resting phase which is the stage most of our hair stays until it falls out.

Photo cred: Healthline


Why does hair fall out?

Hair can fall out for a variety of reasons. It can fall out because it’s at the end of the telogen phase or because it has reached the “exogen phase.” It’s normal to lose about 80 hairs on average every day. But, upon going through physical or emotional stress, some people’s bodies might respond by shedding hair. Even malnourishment (not eating enough or enough of what you need)  can cause the hair to shed.

There are also issues like female pattern baldness, male pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, and traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is very common. Most of the time, it’s when the edges of the hair begin to thin because of ponytails or hairstyles that cause tension. So, many issues can have a huge impact on hair growth, and that’s why it’s important to see a dermatologist to fix those root issues preferably before trying DIY treatments.


Do DIY hair growth treatments like rosemary work?

There are three main ways that rosemary oil, rosemary extract, or rosemary derivatives seem to help. 1) Rosemary stimulates circulation. Peppermint oil and lavender oil are known to do this as well. When there is more blood circulation in the scalp, more nutrients are being delivered to the scalp. And if more nutrients are coming to the hair, this is supposed to make the hair healthier and stronger. That’s why things like getting a scalp massage can be beneficial for hair loss prevention and making it shinier and stronger. 

Circulation promotes the delivery of nutrients, and yes, if the rosemary treatment helps stimulate circulation, this could help.


2) Secondly, rosemary has been shown to help with healing nerve tissue damage. Nerve tissues send signals throughout our entire body, and they are also responsible for our hair going through these different stages. So, if rosemary can help damaged nerve tissue and rejuvenate it, yes in theory, it would help hair growth. Yes, this might even mean regrowing and rejuvenating nerves in this area. 


3) The third final way has more to do with body chemistry. However, this way was only proven through a test on mice. In a 2014 study, they shaved the back area of the rats, they put rosemary oil on it, and the rosemary oil dramatically increased hair growth.When the scientist looked at how this was happening, the rosemary oil seemed to bind to certain receptors in the mice’s skin. It basically blocked the sex hormone, dihydrotestosterone, from binding to androgen receptors. In rats and humans, certain sex hormones are responsible for hair loss, but they were blocked upon adding rosemary extractor oil to these mice’s backs. But again, just because this happened with mice, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for humans.

However, it’s true that many animal models are used to justify moving forward with human studies. So, how did this observation play out in a  human study? In a 2015 randomized comparative trial, 50 people were given minoxidil AKA Rogaine, and the other 50 were given rosemary oil.All of these people were struggling with androgenetic alopecia. This type of alopecia is most known for causing hair loss on the middle part and crown. And in this study, people with androgenetic alopecia, used rosemary oil twice a day for six months total, and after six months, it had comparable results to using Minoxidil (Rogaine)!

However, there were differences. The Minoxidil group actually had more scalp itching and redness whereas the rosemary oil group didn’t have that same irritation. Not to mention, Minoxidil costs almost $50!

But, even though this is a DIY that has some medical backing, there is a lot of consistency required! So, can we truly be this consistent at home? In addition, the effects of rosemary can vary due to differences in quality. If you use rosemary that’s grown in a proper climate with lots of water and fertile soil, it’s going to have different results than lower-quality rosemary. The quality of ingredients and how the oil is processed matters. 

So, now that we’ve gone over studies about how rosemary helps with scalp health and helps impact sex hormones and hair growth, let’s talk about the best way to use rosemary. 


Should you use rosemary oil, rosemary extract, or rosemary water?

As mentioned before, if you want to address hair loss with rosemary, it needs to be concentrated on the scalp. Also, you need to use it every day. Now, let’s break down which form is best.



Rosemary oil 

Rosemary oil is a highly concentrated form of the rosemary plant, and you’ll only need a little. Rosemary water is a diluted version. So, it’s going to be more accessible but less potent. We can hypothesize that it’s going to be less efficient or take longer to work. Likewise, the oil would be more potent.

And whether it’s water or oil, scientific studies suggest using it twice a day, once in the morning and the evening. 

However, more doesn’t always mean better. If you leave potent rosemary on your scalp, it could burn and sting your scalp. There are reports of undiluted rosemary oil burning the scalp. Consequently, a  scar could form, and damaged hair follicles make it very hard for hair to grow.

Photo cred: green people


So, regardless of what you see on Tik Tok, don’t overdo it. The data shows that rosemary oil at 2% when used on humans regularly seems to work. Moreover, it could be a great cruelty-free option for things like Rogaine or Minoxidil.


Are there any rosemary hair products?

There are shampoos and scalp conditioners that have rosemary oil already extracted into them like Mielle. So, there are many products, and you can speak with your dermatologist to find what works best for you!


This is not medical advice. Please consult with your health care provider to find what works best for you.