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Everything You Need to Know About Hair Growth Oil

May 01, 2022

Pulling dropper out of root bottle with product in the dropper

What is Hair Growth Oil?

Hair growth oil - sound too good to be true? You might think a miracle mixture that makes you grow thicker, fuller, longer hair can't possibly exist, but that couldn't be further from the truth! Hair growth oils have been used for almost 200 years to help prevent thinning and promote hair growth. One of the first recorded instances of hair growth oil comes from Madame C.J. Walker who invented her own line of hair growth oil after losing her hair due to unfavorable working conditions and her constant exposure to lyse soap during her work as a laundress. Leveraging her experience that she later gained working as a cook for a pharmacist, she began selling her own line of hair growth oil in 1906 - Madam C. J. Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower. One of the key active ingredients in her proprietary blend was coconut oil which is still found in many hair growth oils today.

Madame C.J. Walkers original hair growth oil

How Do Hair Growth Oils Work?

When you look at a bottle of hair growth oil, you might be overwhelmed at all of the different types of oils that can sometimes be listed - tea tree oil, castor oil, peppermint oil, rosemary mint scalp oil, shea butter, rosemary, sometimes even olive oil! All of these products can work together as an effective treatment to optimize growth by either coating the hair shaft, deeply penetrating the hair shaft, or soaking into the scalp to help mitigate any irritation or issues that might be resulting in reduced growth. Hair follicles grow best when their internal chemistry is fully in balance. The better the balance, the better the chances of getting longer, fuller hair.

Girl on bed holding her phone up above her head to take a selfie

How Do Different Types Work to Grow Hair?

Hair oils that deeply penetrate the hair shafts make proteins inside the hair strands more hydrophobic (water-repelling). Strong and healthy hair is naturally hydrophobic. Normal and lower porosity hair is typically only somewhat hydrophobic. Hydrophobicity (water-repelling properties of hair shafts and follicles) is all a balancing act. The main things we want to avoid are our hair taking on too much water too quickly, or not taking on enough water. Here is where the different types of oils come into play - ideally you want a balanced oil concoction that can 1) deeply penetrate the shaft to make the proteins within the hair fibers more hydrophobic 2) penetrate the scalp to reduce inflammation and increase blood flow, both of which result in increased growth and 3) lightly coat the outside of the follicle to provide a layer of protection to strengthen hair. Many accomplish 1-2 of these goals but ideally we want to find one that accomplishes all three.

How Do I Use Hair Growth Oil?

There is no right or wrong way to use hair growth oil. What works for some people might not work well for others and visa versa. Personal need can also play a part in the best way to use hair growth oil. Some people are best suited for spot applications, while others might need to cover a larger area of the head and fully immerse all of their follicles. When thinking about the broadest advice for how to apply these treatments, we would use the below as a starting place:

  1. Apply a few drops of the oil to either your fingertips, desired area, or onto a scalp massager (we are fans of the massager method because it really helps work the oil into your scalp and feels great at the same time!). Depending on the size of the application area, more than a few drops will potentially be needed.

  2. Allow the oil to sit on your scalp and absorb into the hair shafts and hair follicles usually for 15 minutes at a minimum though many people choose to leave in overnight (NOTE: many hair growth oils used concentrated amounts of essential oil as the active ingredient to increase hair growth - a patch test should always be conducted on your skin prior to first use, or when in doubt, safely consult a physician or certified trichologist prior to use). If choosing to leave in overnight, it is sometimes advisable to cover your hair with a towel or shower cap to make sure the oil does not stain or run off onto your pillow case.

  3. After letting the treatment absorb into the application area for at least fifteen minutes (or overnight if you chose to go that route), wash out the oil with water and shampoo. When using shampoos, we always advise to use shampoos that are free of "the three 's': Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as all of these can strip your follicles of necessary and key nutrients that can lead to dehydrated follicles and ultimately increased breakage. Rinse thoroughly after shampooing.

  4. Condition as normal (also making sure to avoid any of the harmful chemicals listed in the above bullet). Coconut oil is typically a very safe choice for a product that provides you with a deep condition.

  5. As with most things in life, consistent use is key. For best results, the above treatment should be repeated daily or at minimum a few times a week on wash day to give yourself the chance to get the best hair possible.

What Types of Hair Does Hair Growth Oil Work For?

Want to know the best thing about this treatment? It works for all hair types! Whether you have short hair, long hair, brittle strands, coarse, thin strands, thick hair, oily hair, chemically treated hair, natural hair, or fine hair - there is a hair growth blend out there that works for you. No matter what adjectives we stick in front of hair, at the end of the day, its all hair. That said, there are some oils that might work better for a certain hair type than others.

Deeply Penetrative

Anyone with oily or greasy hair would want to make sure they are focused on a hair growth oil that has the ability to deeply penetrate the scalp oil and follicles. The types of products that would work best for this type of hair include the following:

  • coconut

  • ucuuba butter

  • sunflower

  • palm

  • babbasu

  • tea tree

Some Penetrative Properties

These products work best for people with finer, coarse, or brittle hair that don't necessary need the highly penetrative properties of the ones listed above. The best oils for these can be found below:

  • castor

  • avocado

  • mustard seed

  • sweet almond

  • apricot

  • argan

  • sesame seed

  • grapeseed

Little to No Penetration

Why would someone want to use oils that don't penetrate the scalp or shaft? Simply because not all ingredients need to be fully absorbed into the follicles. The below can help add shine, decrease friction for easier combing and reduce tangles. If you're looking for an oil that adds gloss or shine and doesn't immediately disappear, the below oils could work well for you:

  • rice bran

  • mineral

  • jojoba

Girl with hair blowing in wind and sun on her back

Does Hair Growth Oil Really Stimulate Hair Growth?

In short - yes hair growth oil works! The combination of key essential oils plus carrier oils creates a powerful blend that best positions you for longer strands and the best hair you can get.

What Are the Key Ingredients in Effective Hair Growth Oil?

As mentioned previously, ingredients list can vary by product and vary based on desired penetrative properties. Below are a few essential oils with documented benefits that can help you for any number of scalp and hair issues:

Abyssinian Oil

  • Rich in unsaturated omega fatty acids to increase shine and retain moisture

  • Improves manageability of thicker or textured hair by strengthening hair fibers to increase hair density

  • Rich in erucic acid to soothe scalp discomfort

Avocado Oil

  • Vitamins E and D protect from UV rays and strengthen hair

  • Deeply penetrates hair shaft and scalp (rather than coating) to deeply moisturize and prevent breakage

  • Lightweight oil making it perfect for all hair types

Black Castor Oil

  • Increases blood flow to scalp to improve overall hair health

  • Natural humectant to preserve moisture and healthy strands

  • Fatty acids in castor oil provide essential proteins and nutrients to hair follicles to help prevent hair loss

Black Seed Oil

  • Can promote hair growth while actively preventing fallout by up to 76%

  • Contains thymoquinone to fight inflammation and promote overall scalp health

  • Antimicrobial properties fight dandruff-causing fungus and viruses and increase cellular turnover

Coconut Oil

  • Removes sebum and excess hair oils buildup from follicles

  • Moisturizing scalp oil to prevent flaking

  • Strengthens hair fiber to prevent split ends and breakage from damaged hair

Grapeseed Oil

  • High in vitamin E, flavonoids, linoleic acid, and OPCs to promote healthy hair

  • Antioxidants and omegas to protect hair and hair oil

  • May prevent hair loss and thinning hair by stopping DHT production

Lavender Oil

  • Stimulates hair growth to improve hair density and reduce shedding

  • Antimicrobial to prevent bacteria and fungus buildup on hair oil

  • Reduces scalp inflammation and speeds up healing process

Thyme Oil

  • Vitamin B to relieve stress and help prevent stress-related loss and hair thinning

  • Combats dry scalp and dandruff

  • Natural anti-inflammatory to soothe scalp irritation and promote healing

Vitamin E

  • Known for antioxidant properties that help reduce free radical damage and protect the body’s cells

  • Rich in fat-soluble antioxidants vital for maintaining scalp health and balanced hair oil

  • Improves blood flow and thickens hair follicles

Ylang Ylang Oil

  • One of the oldest natural hair growth treatments for stress and alopecia dating back to Victorian England

  • Increases sebum production to naturally condition hair and balance oil production in scalp

  • Natural calming and stress-reducing properties so you don't pull out your strands!

Should Hair Growth Oil Contain Rosemary Oil?

    Rosemary oil is one of the most effective essential oils that is commonly found in many hair growth products and for good reason too! One such study found that rosemary oil was just as effective as minoxidil in stimulating hair growth! Quite the blessing for anyone looking for the powerful regrowth properties of minoxidil without all of the scary and potentially harmful side effects!

    Many people find that mixing this powerful essential oil with castor oil (another highly effective carrier oil used in many hair growth treatments) is a highly effective oil treatment that provides a solid foundation for promoting faster hair growth and supporting denser, healthier hair.

    Hand of girl holding rosemary branch in her hand

    Interested in Getting Your Best Hair Yet?

    Root Hair and Scalp Serum packs many of the ingredients above in an all-natural blend, backed by science and free of harmful side effects. Give root a try risk-free today!

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