Can Using Peppermint Oil for Hair Growth Actually Work?
If you're interested in natural beauty alternatives, a quick Google search will uncover tons of options, but they're not all necessarily worth trying. When it comes to promoting healthy hair growth, in particular, herbal essential oils are a popular solution. Hair loss or hair thinning can be an absolute pain, so if you're dealing with either you may be curious about whether they're worth trying.
Peppermint oil, a common suggestion, may be useful for more than just giving your home a festive aroma around the holidays. Here's the deal on peppermint oil and hair growth, including how you can incorporate it into your routine if you're itching to try it.
Can Peppermint Oil Grow Hair?
Peppermint leaves can undergo steam distillation, supercritical fluid extraction, or ultrasound-assisted extraction to extract their oils. The result is an extremely versatile essential oil that's used in food, beverages, skin care, perfumes, and even in medicine to help combat spasms characteristic of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
As for the potential of peppermint essential oil for hair growth, a 2014 study published in Toxicological Research found that peppermint oil helped regrow hair in mice. The animals in the study were placed in four groups, each receiving a different topical treatment over the course of four weeks. One group received saline, another received jojoba oil, the third received 3-percent minoxidil (a common ingredient for addressing hair loss found in products such as Rogaine), and the final group used 3 percent peppermint oil diluted in jojoba oil. The study found that of the four different groups, the group of mice who received peppermint oil showed the most prominent hair growth effects, including hair thickness, follicle number, and follicle depth. On the other hand, a review conducted in 2020 found no clinical evidence supporting the use of peppermint oil to treat hair loss in humans. (Related: The Best Hair Oil for Your Hair Type)
So what does a derm think? "Research is limited, but peppermint oil could help hair growth," says Craig Ziering, D.O., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Ziering Medical. "Menthol, the main component in peppermint oil, has been shown to increase blood flow to the area where it is applied. Better blood circulation to the skin could encourage more hair to grow in the affected area." (Boosting circulation can ensure that follicles receive nutrients that are key for hair growth.)
It may be beneficial both to help slow down hair loss or hair thinning and to regrow hair that has already been lost, he says. If you do notice results, they probably won't be immediate — other hair growth treatments can take months to produce noticeable results. That said, in the aforementioned study on mice, hair regrowth occurred faster in the peppermint oil group than the jojoba oil and minoxidil groups.
Are There Downsides to Applying Peppermint Oil to the Scalp?
You never know how using an oil (or any new product for that matter) topically is going to affect your skin, so if you're considering trying out peppermint for hair growth, it would be a good idea to check in with your dermatologist. If you want to perform a patch test first to be safe, you can follow the American Academy of Dermatology's tips, applying the product to the underside of your arm twice daily for about a week. If you don't notice any reactions within that time, you should be good to give the oil a go other places.
"Peppermint oil should not be used for those with a dry scalp or brittle hair," says Dr. Ziering. This is because it can cause irritation, so you want to make sure your hair and skin aren't dried out or irritated before starting a new treatment. Flaking, dryness, and itchiness are signs that something's out of whack, but when in doubt your derm can help you assess the state of your scalp.
All oils, in general, have the potential to cause irritation or worsen dandruff as James Y. Wang, M.D. dermatologist and founder of Metropolis Dermatology, previously told Shape. Dandruff may be caused by malassezia, a yeast that feeds on oil on the scalp. The more oil, say, from adding peppermint oil to your hair-care routine, the more likely the yeast will grow and cause more dandruff.
How to Use Peppermint Oil For Hair Growth
If you've confirmed you have a healthy scalp and want to test peppermint oil for hair growth, start out by adding a few drops of the oil to the shampoo you're already using, suggests Dr. Ziering. Just remember that pure peppermint essential oil that you can buy online or in stores is potent. "Be careful not to add too much," says Dr. Ziering. "About five drops per ounce of shampoo or conditioner is recommended." Using more than that can irritate your scalp. (Related: Does Rosemary Oil for Hair Growth Really Work?)
Another way to use peppermint oil for hair growth is to use it during a scalp massage and leave it on as a treatment. (FYI a scalp massage can boost circulation in and of itself, which, again, can help promote hair growth.) "Add a few drops of peppermint oil to about one tablespoon of your favorite scalp massage oil," suggests Dr. Ziering. "If you don't have scalp massage oil, you can use a simple household oil like coconut, jojoba, or shea oil," he says. (These are referred to as "carrier oils" because they're safer to apply to skin undiluted.) "Massage the oil into your scalp and leave the treatment on for 15 to 20 minutes, then wash your hair with shampoo," adds Dr. Zierig.
Using peppermint oil during a scalp massage can even help reduce buildup at the hair's root. "It balances your scalp's production of sebum, leaving your hair nourished and hydrated while getting rid of any product buildup or residue in the process," says Dr. Ziering. Reminder: Excessive product build-up can inhibit hair growth.
The Best Peppermint Oil Products
Interested in trying out peppermint oil for hair growth? Dilute a 100 percent pure peppermint essential oil by combing with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or a hair product (e.g. shampoo) or look for a product with "mentha piperita oil" listed in the ingredients. Here are some of the best products to try.