There are several essential oils that are used by many people around the world to improve their hair loss. Rosemary oil, peppermint oil, jojoba oil and more are some of the commonly used remedies, but there are many more essential oils available that may be able to benefit people suffering from hair loss.
In this article we are going to be talking about an essential oil that is generally more obscure than some of the others that we listed in regards to its benefits for hair growth, it is called argan oil.
We will be discussing what argan oil is, how it may be able to help hair growth, and take a look at the research to ultimately determine if it may be worth adding to your hair loss regimen, so let’s get started.
What is argan oil?
Argan oil is an essential oil that is derived from the fruit that grows on the argan trees native to Morocco. Originally, argan oil was used as a flavoring agent to dip bread in by native Morocans as well as for several medicinal purposes. It was only recently in the early 2000’s that people recognized argan oil for its cosmetic benefits.
Argan oil is comprised almost entirely of fatty acids that may allow it to improve the health of hair and skin. But it is these same fatty acids (as well as some other vitamins) that may also prove beneficial to hair growth.
Let’s dive into some of the claims about argan oil and hair growth.
Argan oil and hair growth
Before we talk about how argan oil may be able to aid in hair growth there is something important that you need to understand: argan oil is not a cure for hair loss.
Male and female androgenic alopecia (AGA; pattern hair loss) is caused by dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is an androgen derived from testosterone. DHT is the primary cause of a receding hairline, and without suppressing DHT you will likely have little success in overcoming hair loss. There is currently only one FDA approved treatments that works to block DHT called finasteride.
Blocking DHT is how you stop the progression of hair loss, whereas the claims about argan oil refer to its growth promoting properties. There is no evidence that argan oil will have any effect on DHT and therefore should not be used as such.
Now that you understand where argan oil stands in the realm of hair loss treatments, let’s discuss how it may be able to aid in hair growth.
Argan oil contains vitamin E, and within the vitamin E family are chemicals called tocotrienols. There was a study from 2010 (1) that showed that tocotrienols could have a positive effect on hair growth. Researchers found that “the trial demonstrated that supplementation with tocotrienol capsules increases hair numbers in volunteers suffering from hair loss as compared to the placebo group. A possible explanation for the effects could be due to the potent antioxidant activity of the tocotrienols…”
Oxidative stress, which is caused by free radicals, has been linked to hair loss (2), and it is well established that using an antioxidant can positively benefit hair health and hair loss as it protects hair against the damage that oxidative stress can cause.
Another claim about how argan oil may be able to benefit hair loss is due to its anti-inflammatory properties (3). Inflammation has been directly linked to hair loss (4) as well as scalp conditions such as dandruff and psoriasis. While these conditions don’t directly lead to hair loss, they can cause scalp itching which may lead to scratching and subsequent damage to the scalp that can cause temporary hair loss.
Lastly, argan oil is made up of fatty acids, several of which help your hair retain moisture. Moist hair is less likely to break and is better protected from damage, both of which can exacerbate already existing hair loss.
What does the research say?
Here’s where the problem arises: there have been no studies done on argan oil for either hair loss or hair growth.
All of the research we talked about was conducted on individual components of argan oil, not argan oil itself (i.e. vitamin E, inflammation, etc.), and while the implication is certainly there, since there have been no studies whatsoever conducted on how argan oil affects the hair we cannot make any conclusions. For instance, just because in a separate study vitamin E was shown to positively affect hair growth does not mean it will interact with hair in the same manner when it is infused in argan oil.
In conclusion: what does this mean? Is argan oil useless?
Well yes and no. Argan oil should definitely not be used for either hair growth or preventing hair loss.
In regard to hair loss, there is no evidence suggesting that argan oil helps block DHT in any way, therefore rendering it useless for prevention. But that is not what people tend to rave about when it comes to argan oil, it is usually about how it helps regrow hair.
In that regard, unfortunately there is, again, a sufficient lack of evidence supporting the claim. Yes, some components of argan oil have been shown to help protect hair against oxidative stress, inflammation, etc, but protecting hair is not the same as regrowing hair, and that’s where argan oil falls short (plus, the only way to really regrow hair is by improving blood flow).
But don’t completely discount argan oil. Its moisturizing and protective properties may be very beneficial for keeping hair in a healthy condition. When trying to overcome hair loss, you are going to always want to try and keep your hair in the healthiest condition possible in order for treatments to be most effective, and this is where argan oil will shine (no pun intended).
So, is argan oil going to prevent hair loss and regrow hair? No, but it could play a role in keeping your hair healthy while you use other treatments to try and overcome hair loss.