Rosemary Oil For Hair Loss: Is It Effective?

Despite rosemary oil’s long history, its recent surge in popularity for addressing hair loss can primarily be attributed to social media. Many cite the study comparing its efficacy with minoxidil as the “ultimate proof” of the beneficial effects of this oil for hair growth. However, the results of that oft-quoted 2015 trial are only half the story.

While there is promising research regarding the advantages of this oil for hair, it’s essential to note that the evidence remains limited, particularly when compared to minoxidil, an FDA-approved medication for hair loss. Still, with all the attention it’s receiving, it’s worth understanding how rosemary oil for hair loss is believed to help.

Does Rosemary Oil Really Work For Hair?

Rosemary oil is antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, thanks to the “rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, camphor, and 12-methoxycarnosic acid” in it, as reported by a recent study published in the Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings. These properties are, in turn, thought to have a beneficial effect on the hair. Let’s take a closer look at the ways in which rosemary oil has been reported to work for hair.

Reduce Oxidative Stress

A 2014 research study published in European Poultry Science concluded that supplementation of rosemary oil helped reduce oxidative stress due to its “antioxidant activity.” By reducing oxidative stress, rosemary oil is also believed to be helpful for the hair, since the former has been reported to cause greying of hair and negatively impact hair growth.

woman brushing hair

Increase Blood Circulation

Rosemary has been reported to increase “microcapillary perfusion” (meaning blood flow to microscopic capillaries). With that, it is believed that rosemary oil can help deliver more nutrients to the scalp and thus help the hair grow. It is similar to one of the theorised ways in which minoxidil is believed to help hair loss, which is that it increases the scalp’s blood circulation.


Stop DHT From Binding To Androgen Receptors

A 2013 animal model study published in Phytotherapy Research involved the topical application of rosemary leaf extract on mice. The researchers concluded that it was possible that rosemary leaf extract impeded the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) from binding to androgen receptors, thus having a promising potential for hair growth.

It should be noted that DHT is considered the main culprit in androgenetic alopecia or pattern baldness. This hormone binds to the androgen receptors in hair follicles and results in their shrinking or miniaturisation, which then eventually leads to baldness.

Therefore, if rosemary could stop DHT from binding to androgen receptors, it could potentially help with androgenetic alopecia. However, this is very limited evidence for it, also considering that this study was done on mice and didn’t have any human subjects.

Reduce Inflammation

Rosemary oil is also thought to work for the hair because of its anti-inflammatory properties. There is research that suggests that rosemary can help with a type of inflammatory hair loss – alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata bald patch

In a clinical trial published in Archives in Dermatology, a group of patients with alopecia areata had a mixture of essential oils, which included rosemary with thyme, lavender and cedarwood with jojoba and grapeseed as carrier oils, massaged onto their scalps every day for 7 months. In the end, the researchers concluded the use of aromatherapy was safe and effective for alopecia areata.

Of course, since the study used a mixture of essential oils, which also had anti-inflammatory effects of their own, like lavender and thyme, it can’t be said that rosemary alone was the star of the study. Even so, the data on the use of rosemary oil for alopecia areata is also quite limited, so if you’re experiencing this kind of hair loss, you must talk to a doctor for an effective treatment plan.

Comparable Efficacy To Minoxidil

Arguably, this is one of the biggest reasons why rosemary oil’s popularity has taken off. Minoxidil, as mentioned above, is an FDA-approved drug for hair loss, which has ample evidence of its effectiveness for hair loss and growth.

However, a 2015 study published in the SKINmed Journal concluded that rosemary oil was just as effective as minoxidil in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. The duration of the research was 6 months and at the end, the researchers reported that the participants in both minoxidil and rosemary oil groups experienced a significant increase in their hair count.

man with dropper

One of the overlooked aspects of this study on closer inspection is that the baseline hair count is not much different from that seen after 6 months. The before and after images of the rosemary group aren’t conclusive either because of the different hair styles and shadows. Around the 4-month mark is also usually when you start seeing results from minoxidil, while they become more significant after a year.

Moisturise The Scalp

Being an oil, another thing that rosemary oil can help with is that it can simply moisturise the scalp and the hair, which may help if you naturally have very dry hair. It might make your hair feel silkier, softer and shinier.

Can Rosemary Oil Cause Hair Loss?

Pure rosemary oil has the potential to cause skin irritation, which might end up causing hair loss instead of promoting your hair growth. For this reason, it’s usually recommended that rosemary oil be combined with a carrier oil like almond, grapeseed, or coconut.

Hair loss woman

Another way in which rosemary oil might potentially cause hair loss is through contact dermatitis – when the skin reacts to an allergen. Contact dermatitis may result in a type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium, which can result in diffuse hair shedding all over the scalp 3 months after the triggering event. Fortunately, however, it’s temporary and usually lasts for 3-6 months. To avoid this from happening, patch tests are recommended to check for any adverse reactions.

Is Rosemary Oil Good For Hair Loss?

There is limited evidence to suggest that rosemary oil might benefit hair. However, “limited” is the operative term here. Millions of hashtags on social media don’t necessarily translate to results, so you should take things with a grain of salt.

In a 2023 article published in Cutis, the author notes that even if an agent is beneficial, “the lack of standardized dosing may counteract these benefits,” and they followed it with the example of how different usages of rosemary have circulated on social media with some advising boiling its sprigs for spraying on rosemary water.

Therefore, there’s no saying whether or not rosemary (as oil or water, in different concentrations) will always even work for you. In any case, if you’re experiencing hair loss, you must consult a board-certified medical professional.

How To Use Rosemary Oil For Hair?

After diluting the rosemary oil with a carrier oil, you can simply consider massaging the oil into the scalp. Massages are also reported to be beneficial for hair health. 30 minutes of application might be recommended after which you can wash off the mixture while making sure that you’ve thoroughly cleaned the scalp.

Screenshot 2024 02 13 at 5.13.28 PM

However, as mentioned above, there are other ways as well in which people have tried incorporating rosemary into their hair routine. Some consider mixing a few drops of it into their shampoos, but you might be able to get one that already has rosemary in it. Others also spray its water on (so it’s technically oil).

But again, their efficacy remains a question mark. In any case, you can’t expect it to work after one or so applications. It will be some time before you can see some (if any at all) results.

How Often To Use Rosemary Oil For Hair Loss?

You may be okay with applying rosemary twice a week on your scalp. However, it may vary depending on your hair type and the condition of your scalp. For this reason, it’s again best to talk to a medical professional as they can advise you on what will work best for you, depending on your goals and needs.


Rosemary oil for hair loss has become the latest social media trend, and while it might not be so in future, what’s important is that you should know the limitations of this product. There’s no denying that there’s some positive research on it, but a lot more needs to be understood and known before a conclusive statement can be passed.

If you’re experiencing hair loss, your best course of action would be to consult a qualified and experienced medical doctor for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.

Reviewed and approved by Hair Transplant Surgeon Dr. Cagla Yuksel & Trichologist Yaprak Yazan

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