Rosemary oil is celebrated as a natural hair growth remedy, but does it work?

It's not a magic potion.

Harper's Bazaar India

I think I can safely say my hair has a mind of its own with a personality disorder. On some days they behave like well-adjusted adults and on other days, they can only be described as rebellious teenagers who can’t wait to get away. On those days, they organise jailbreaks. I wake up to find the brand new designs my strands have created on the pillowcase. Not to mention, they use my scrunchies or fingers as escape vehicles. I’ve tried everything I could to stop this. I've gone on anti-hair fall wild goose chases that have cost me thousands but to no avail. However, I find solace in the fact that I am not alone in this. Hair fall and hair thinning are some of the most common concerns. This is why, I decided to deep dive into an ingredient that has been touted all over social media (especially TikTok) as a magic elixir for hair growth— rosemary oil. 

Despite some crazy before and after hair transformation reels I’ve watched that made my jaw hit the ground, it’s not wise to blindly trust social media. Especially after I’ve already wasted time, energy, and money on numerous other “foolproof” techniques and products. So, when my algorithm was flooded with reels about rosemary oil (how does social media always know?!) I decided to do my own research. And I have to say, I am hopeful. I found numerous studies to support the claim that rosemary oil does have its benefits. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  

What is rosemary oil? 

Rosemary oil is extracted from the leaves and flowers of the rosemary plant (aka Rosmarinus officinalis). Yep, it’s the same fragrant herb we often use to garnish our dishes or cocktails. But its benefits extend far beyond our kitchen cabinets. Rosemary is one of the main ingredients in a lot of beauty (especially hair) products.  

Is rosemary oil good for hair growth?

Okay, rosemary oil might not be the magic wand it is touted to be, but, in the long run, it does have its benefits. For instance—a 2013 study showed that rosemary leaf extract was effective in helping to promote re-growth in hormone-related hair loss. But the question is how does it help? 

You see, one of the main ingredients in rosemary oil is carnosic acid which is said to potentially stimulate and heal nerve tissue in your scalp and boost hair growth. Not only that, this ingredient also claims to prevent DHT (a hormone that is often blamed for hair loss) from binding to its receptor and, in turn, promoting hair growth. Another study conducted in 2017 cited that the natural compounds present in rosemary oil have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, and pain-reducing properties. 

Rosemary oil is also thought to boost blood flow to the follicle and minimise cell-damaging free radicals due to its brilliant anti-oxidant properties, thus encouraging and promoting hair growth and leaving you with a shiny mane.   

Are there any side effects of using rosemary oil? 

The risks and side effects of regularly using rosemary oil are minimal. It is also compatible with all hair types. That said, if you’re using rosemary essential oil for your hair, you have to dilute it with a carrier oil such as coconut, almond or jojoba. You could also mix it with another product like your conditioner for these essential oils are extremely concentrated and can cause irritation, flaking or even burning. Of course, if the product you buy is a mix of oils then you don’t need to dilute it further. So, read the label carefully and do a patch test before going all out on using it.  

Our final impression 

Is rosemary oil the ingredient missing from your haircare routine? You’ll only know once you try it out. However, while it might be a potential remedy for hair thinning or hair growth, don’t expect it to work like a magic spell. Manage your expectations and be consistent with rosemary oil to see results. If you do experience any irritation or are facing serious hair concerns, we recommend speaking to a medical professional first.