While many know peppermint oil for its digestive benefits, few consider it when it comes to their hair loss regime. As an essential oil that comes straight from peppermint leaves, it comes in both organic and non-organic forms. Through its scent and nutritional components, it has a calming effect on the body. This makes peppermint oil particularly useful for stress-related hair loss.
The use of peppermint oil as a medicine has a long history. As well as its fame throughout medieval Europe, it was so popular amongst the Ancient Greek fathers of medicine that they named one of their goddesses Mentha.
Its primary ingredients are menthol and mentha. In addition to having antimicrobial benefits, it’s excellent at treating nausea and boosts your energy. As such, we want to explore whether peppermint oil helps with hair loss and how you can benefit from using it.
Should I use peppermint oil for hair loss?
As well as having antimicrobial benefits, peppermint oil acts as a vasodilator. This means it dilates the blood vessels, so it could enhance blood delivery to your scalp follicles. When we grow hairs, our follicles move through three different phases: Anagen, telogen, and catogen. In order for your hair to move through these phases smoothly, it requires a plentiful supply of vitamins and oxygen, as well as a means of losing toxins. Enhanced blood flow helps this process.
Peppermint oil also has natural anti-inflammatory benefits. There are lots of hair loss conditions that involve inflammation, which your body’s natural inflammatory processes may struggle to battle alone. For example, psoriasis or tinea capitis. Adding peppermint oil to your hair loss regime gives them a helping hand.
Can peppermint oil slow down hair loss?
According to one study, peppermint oil reduces stress in those encountering conditions such as depression and anxiety. These conditions both cause our bodies to release stress hormones, called cortisol and adrenaline. When released in small amounts, they’re useful for your fight or flight responses in dangerous situations. However, if they’re left to release without anywhere for them to ‘burn’ they lead to the same vasoconstriction that could result in a poor delivery of nutrients to your hair’s follicles. Similarly, if peppermint oil reduces stress, it may also benefit those who suffer from stress-related hair loss such as telogen effluvium.
Similarly, another one of peppermint oil’s constituents – menthone – has been proven to reduce antidepression and stress. One study focused on its effects on mice. After using menthone, the researchers performed imaging scans of the mice’s brains to identify menthone’s effects. It highlighted that they were releasing fewer inflammation-inducing cytokines from the hippocampus. As such, if you’re suffering from a condition that causes hair loss because of stress or inflammation, peppermint oil may help you slow the process down.
Can peppermint oil help regrow hair?
In a piece of research that focused on mice, peppermint oil was compared with jojoba oil and minoxidil. Minoxidil in itself is a popular and effective pharmacological means of regrowing hair, which makes it a great yardstick for measuring peppermint oil against. The research team focused on several important factors that determine hair growth:
- The activity of alkaline phosphatase
- How the mice’s genes expressed insulin-like growth factor
- The resultant dermal thickness of the follicles when the above two compounds increased
The researchers found that peppermint oil was significantly more effective than Minoxidil. As minoxidil also acts as a vasodilator, this makes a degree of sense biologically. However, we’re not sure whether it has the same biological mechanisms of minoxidil, which means it’s difficult to state whether its benefits are still greater for those with androgenic alopecia. However, if you do suffer from the condition you may want to try it instead of Minoxidil. Avoid using both together, as it’s also difficult to state whether their vasodilation properties will work safely alongside each other.
Thanks to its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, it may also have a positive effect on those who have conditions such as tinea capitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. For example, tinea capitis is like a form of ringworm, except it affects your scalp rather than other areas of your body. The same fungi that cause it also contribute to jock itch and athlete’s foot, which means it’s reasonable to assume we can use the same natural antifungals that tackle these problems too. As one study cites, the menthol content of peppermint oil acts as an effective antifungal agent. Once it kicks in and tackles your condition, your hair has an opportunity to regrow, as the previously diseased area is no longer affecting the follicles.
Is peppermint oil safe to use on hair?
When you first apply peppermint oil to your head, you may notice a tingling sensation across your scalp. This isn’t unusual, as its menthol content invigorates the nerves on the surface, while the nerves below sense the vasodilation that’s occurring.
However, some people who use essential oils without creating a mask or adding them to a carrier oil may experience minor irritation and rashes. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, try carrying out a patch test on the inside of your arm before using it directly on your scalp. If the patch produces redness and itching, repeat the process with a DIY peppermint oil hair mask or by using it with a carrier oil.
It’s unwise to apply peppermint oil in its purest form to open wounds. While it does have antimicrobial benefits, direct application may also result in aggravated skin and a worsening of these wounds.
DIY peppermint oil hair mask
As we’ve already mentioned, using peppermint oil in its purest form increases your risk of irritation. It’s also a no-go area if you have open wounds, which means making a peppermint oil hair mask that you can apply in the right patches allows you to experience its benefits while remaining in control.
Our suggestion for a peppermint oil hair mask involves:
- Mix four teaspoons of Viva Organic coconut oil with ten drops of Essentially KateS peppermint oil. While coconut oil is sometimes thick and difficult to mix, choosing it over another carrier such as olive makes it easier to control when it comes to applying the mask.
- After mixing your mask, you may find that the coconut oil melts a little. Allow it to solidify again, at room temperature.
- Once it solidifies, take a chunk of the coconut oil and warm it slightly in the palm of your hand. After softening its consistency, massage it into your scalp for one minute. Spread it evenly and liberally.
The massaging element of applying your peppermint oil hair mask is important, as it stimulates the blood vessels below and encourages them to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the scalp surface. As peppermint oil is already an effective vasodilator, a simple massage maximizes its qualities. After finishing, allow it to soak in for five minutes, then rinse with warm water. Using warm water instead of cool ensures you don’t accidentally vasoconstrict the blood vessels below.
What are the side effects when using peppermint oil for hair loss?
At present, we’re not aware of any significant side effects associated with using peppermint oil for hair loss. However, there’s little evidence to say whether it’s safe or not for pregnant women, which means you should avoid ingesting it or its capsules while pregnant.
Should you choose to take a supplement, you may experience heartburn, diarrhea, or an allergic reaction. However, allergic reactions are especially rare and you can prevent the other two side effects with antacids or milk of magnesia.
There’s a chance that peppermint oil may interact with medications such as blood thinners. As such, you should discuss using it with your healthcare provider.
As an essential oil that invigorates and can reduce stress, peppermint oil may prove effective in reducing hair loss and encouraging hair regrowth. It appears to achieve this through its antifungal and antibacterial properties, which eliminate some of the causative pathogens that promote hair loss in those with dermatological conditions. Additionally, one study has found that it may be more effective than minoxidil at encouraging hair growth, and we’re aware that it has anti-inflammatory and vasodilating benefits that could make your follicles stronger. While it comes with few side effects, do reach out to a healthcare professional if you have an ongoing medical condition and you want to use peppermint oil.