Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Whenever there is a problem, there will always be people that are trying to fix it. Hair loss is no exception. Despite being one of the most well-researched and funded areas of science, we still have not found a permanent fix.
This doesn’t mean that we haven’t many any progress though. People have been able to come up solutions like finasteride,minoxidil, etc. that, although not permanent, can help a lot. Some solutions that people have found work well, and others do not (Based off information I found on some website I tried rubbing raw onion in my hair… it didn’t work in case you were wondering). In fact, there are so many different hair loss treatments available that it can be hard to discern which ones are worth trying.
For those who want to avoid the potential side effects that conventional hair loss treatments bring with them, there are other options. One such option is peppermint oil. Although not as popular as some of the other treatments, peppermint oil offers many potential benefits for people suffering from hair loss, so much so that scientific studies have been conducted on it.
Let’s take a closer look at the different ways that peppermint oil may be able to benefit you if you are losing it up top.
Before we dive in: a quick overview of peppermint oil
Peppermint oil is an herbal extract derived from the essential oils in peppermint leaves and is found naturally in North America and Europe.
It comes in three different forms: essential oils for skin, extracts for flavoring food, and capsules as dietary supplements. The medical benefits for peppermint oil include helping gastrointestinal issues, nausea, pain, and the reason you are here: for hair and skin, plus many more. Though peppermint may be able to help many various ailments, we are here to focus solely on its benefits for hair loss. So, what can it do?
Peppermint oil increases blood flow
Blood flow is vitally important to hair growth; in fact, a connection has been made between low blood flow and the onset of androgenic alopecia (pattern hair loss). This is because blood carries vital oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles that they use to grow, and may also be responsible for ensuring the hair maintains a healthy growth cycle.
One important study conducted by Korean researchers in 2014 brought light to peppermint oil as a potential hair loss remedy. In the study, four different substances including: saline, jojoba oil, minoxidil, and peppermint oil were tested for their hair growth potential in mice. The study revealed that peppermint oil was shown to be more effective than all of the other treatments, including minoxidil, for hair length, thickness, and depth. No unwanted weight gain or side effects were reported.
The scientists concluded that menthol, one of peppermints active ingredients, was responsible for increasing “vascularization of hair dermal papilla” (1) i.e. blood flow. Another separate study confirmed that menthol causes the widening of blood vessels. The increased blood flow may contribute to the lengthening of the anagen (growth) stage according to the scientists, but that is still under speculation.
This study needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Although the findings were impressive, it was still ultimately conducted on mice. Even though hairs structure and behavior on mice is similar to humans, more research is needed to confirm the implications on humans and nothing is conclusive yet.
Peppermint oil is antimicrobial
Peppermint oil has been shown in multiple studies (1,2,3) to have antimicrobial properties. This has implications for helping alleviate dandruff and other bacterial, yeast, and fungus related scalp issues.
Dandruff has been shown to cause oxidative stress that can lead to damaged hair. It can also cause clogged hair follicles, inflammation, and itchiness, all which have been linked to hair loss. Essentially, dandruff causes several scalp issues that result in it indirectly contributing to hair loss.
Since dandruff is caused by a fungus called Malassezia, anything that has antimicrobial properties may be able to reduce the amount of the fungus on the scalp and help relieve dandruff, including peppermint oil.
An inference could be made about peppermint oil helping alleviate dandruff and subsequent dandruff-related hair loss, but again the research is lacking. Although it has been shown to kill several species of fungus, peppermint oil has never been tested solely against Malassezia, or dandruff for that matter, therefore the conclusion cannot yet be made. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it for dandruff, it just means you should maintain some degree of skepticism.
Finally, peppermint oil may be anti-inflammatory
Just like low blood-flow, inflammation has also been linked with androgenic alopecia (1,2). Inflammation, specifically in the scalp, is quite common as it can be caused by pollution, UV rays, allergens, and several other things. Depending how your hair follicles react to inflammation will determine if it leads to hair loss or not.
That being said, reducing inflammation is a great way to protect against potential hair loss.
Peppermint oil has been used extensively in the medical field for reducing inflammation related to gastrointestinal issues, but has not been studied for reducing inflammation in other areas. But, one of peppermints key ingredients that we mentioned earlier, menthol, has been shown in multiple studies (1,2) to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and not just for gut health.
But, in case you haven’t picked up on the theme yet, this information needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Watch out for any websites saying that peppermint oil will reduce inflammation, there is not enough research to make this claim. Neither peppermint oil nor menthol has been studied exclusively in regards to scalp inflammation. Being such a promising hair loss treatment, we can only hope that more research will become available soon.
How to use peppermint oil on your hair and scalp
Peppermint oil extract alone is very potent and can cause irritation and a burning sensation, it needs to be diluted.
There are two primary ways that you can effectively apply peppermint oil to your scalp. The first is by diluting it with either coconut oil, jojoba oil, or another scalp massage oil. Massage the mixture in, leave it for 20 minutes, and then wash it out with shampoo. You can do this daily or every 2-3 days depending on your skins sensitivity.
The second way to apply peppermint oil is to add it to your shampoo. As a general rule of thumb, if you mix the oil into your shampoo use five or so drops per ounce of shampoo, otherwise mix in a couple drops with your regular shampoo application. Leave it in for 5 minutes and then rinse it out.
Both are great ways to reap the benefits of peppermint oil for your hair and scalp.
Tip: after the scalp massage technique, use the inversion method for 2-3 minutes to boost blood flow to your scalp.
Adding peppermint oil to your hair loss routine is relatively easy. Though there is still a lot more research that needs to be done, there is a strong implication that peppermint oil may be able to benefit hair loss in several ways. Ideally, more studies similar to the 2014 Korean study showing that peppermint oil is a strong alternative to minoxidil, will be conducted soon. For now, peppermint oil is a cheap treatment with lots of potential upside and little downside that you should consider adding to your hair loss regimen.
Fun fact: sometimes up to 200 pounds of peppermint plants are needed to make one pound of essential oil, now that’s potent stuff!