ESSENTIAL OILS FOR HAIR
- Essential oils contain a range of constituents that are known to beautify and support optimal hair health. They also provide natural solutions for many common hair ailments and may be preferred by those seeking to avoid potentially harmful chemicals or synthetics in hair care.
- Certain essential oils have been observed to boost scalp and hair cleanliness, radiance, and growth, although they are believed to bring about these effects in a myriad of different ways. The beneficial actions of these oils can be attributed to their key constituents and the synergy between them.
- When incorporating essential oils in hair care, it can be useful to consider the properties of different oils to see how they can best address different hair needs and goals.
- Popular essential oils used in hair care products and regimens include: Atlas Cedarwood, Carrot Seed, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, Rosemary, and Tea Tree. Each of these oils have characteristic chemical profiles that suggest its recommended uses for hair; for instance, Rosemary Oil is known for rejuvenating all hair types, Carrot Seed Oil is known for its hair protective effects, and Ylang Ylang Oil is known for balancing both dry and oily hair.
THE NOURISHING HAIR CARE BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Soft, glossy, healthy-looking hair is something many of us aspire to have. Hair is thought to be a critical window to one's internal health and can also significantly affect one's attractiveness, confidence, and overall demeanor. Even though our hair plays a vital protective function, keeping us warm and creating a barrier between external pollutants or injury, the hair strands and the scalp themselves need sufficient protection from factors such as harsh styling, adverse weather, excessive washing, and aggressive cosmetic ingredients. Issues such as dryness, dullness, damage, split ends, or hair loss are driven to some extent by the negative effects of these external elements.
Essential oils have long been used in both traditional and mainstream hair care arenas to improve the condition and cosmetic appearance of hair. The complex compositions of these oils, along with their resulting properties, can help naturally cleanse, hydrate, soothe, balance, bring out the vibrancy of hair color, and perform many other desirable hair care functions. Many commercial hair care brands incorporate essential oils because of their all-natural benefits. In complementary therapies, essential oils are used by herbalists in holistic remedies to combat issues such as alopecia, hair breakage, and even premature graying.
No matter one's hair type, condition, or personal hair goals, these all-natural volatile oils can be wonderfully nourishing and even reparative for an enhanced feel and appearance as well as healthy growth of the hair!
HOW ESSENTIAL OILS HELP YOUR HAIR
Essential oils can elevate the beauty and maintenance of our hair in many ways. They can primarily help by:
- Supporting the cleansing and purification of the scalp and strands
- Optimizing hair growth through rubefacient or stimulatory actions (e.g. Rosemary Oil)
- Soothing scalp irritations, itchiness, or scabbing
- Adding shine and a healthy luster to strands
- Balancing the natural hair oils to improve the look of brittle or greasy hair
- Naturally enhancing one's hair color (e.g. Chamomile Oil helps brighten blond hair, while Rosemary and Sage Oil can help deepen darker hair tones)
- Helping to condition, hydrate, detangle, or style the hair
- Calming the emotions or senses, thus indirectly promoting hair health through stress reduction
As can be seen, essential oils can operate in multi-faceted ways. In addition to these benefits, essential oils are popular in hair care and hair cosmetics because they scent the hair with alluring aromas and eliminate the need to use synthetic fragrances. Many people in fact enjoy using these oils in their hair routines because of their aromatic value, which can promote feelings of self-care and mental rejuvenation.
Read on to discover some of the most popular essential oils used in hair care, their unique profiles, and how they can help, so you can determine which oils may be the best to incorporate into your personal hair care regimen or DIY treatments.
6 POWERFUL ESSENTIAL OILS FOR HAIR
ATLAS CEDARWOOD ESSENTIAL OIL - Helps Naturally Reduce Dandruff & Hair Loss
Distilled from fragrant Atlas Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), this essential oil is strengthening in nature and known to support those suffering from dandruff, hair loss, and irritated scalps. Cedarwood Oil clarifies and soothes the scalp, helping to release or rebalance its natural oils for smoother, softer, and shinier hair. Its mild purifying properties support hair cleansing, and a few drops can be added to a one-time shampoo portion for naturally clean and refreshed locks.
Chemically, Atlas Cedarwood Oil is rich in sesquiterpenes, including Himachalenes, which are reputed to have circulatory benefits. These constituents are believed to stimulate the follicles and help with hair loss. Indeed, this woodsy oil has shown potential in impeding hair loss for those with alopecia areata, a disorder that results in patchy regions of fall-out. This improvement was shown in certain individuals who participated in a daily scalp massage with an invigorating blend of Cedarwood, Thyme, Rosemary, and Lavender Oils. With its fresh, sweet, earthy, unisex scent, Cedarwood is appealing for both men and women to incorporate into a naturally nourishing hair regimen.
CARROT SEED ESSENTIAL OIL - Invigorates & Rejuvenates Oily or Damaged Hair
Carrot Seed Oil is extracted from the dried seeds of Daucus carota, an ethereal-looking plant with white sprinkles of flowers that often goes by the name 'Wild Carrot' or 'Bishop's Lace'. This musky, earthy essential oil is highly protective due to its antioxidant and rejuvenating qualities, which is why it is often recommended for those with mature skin. Hair that suffers from free radical damage, resulting in rough, dull, thinning strands, will benefit from the enriching properties of Carrot Seed Oil especially when added to leave-on treatments such as hair masks, serums, or conditioners.
The active constituents of this oil include Alpha-Pinene and Carotol. Alpha-Pinene is a monoterpene known for its cleansing, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. This compound also helps control oiliness and can be a valuable oil for those with greasy scalps. Another important constituent in this oil, Carotol, is a sesquiterpenoid compound that is perhaps most well known for their antifungal actions. It can be useful for those with scalp yeast and fungal infections, including dandruff.
CLARY SAGE ESSENTIAL OIL - Helps Naturally Boost Hair Growth & Clarify Oily Hair
Often referred to as a precious 'Woman's Oil', Clary Sage Oil has many therapeutic properties that can support one's overall well-being and beauty. This harmonizing essential oil produces a restorative and balancing effect that is reputed to minimize sebum, calm irritated scalps, and gently stimulate new hair growth. Clary Sage Oil is commonly touted as a natural remedy for hair loss for women due to its purported workings on the endocrine system, which is often attributed to one of its constituents: Sclareol. Imbalances in certain hormones such as estrogen can lead to complications in hair growth and hair thinning or shedding. However, there may be a more psychosomatic reason behind these claims; Clary Sage Oil's floral, sweet, and earthy scent can be profoundly relaxing and uplifting, decreasing the potential negative impacts of stress on hair growth. Accordingly, this oil is rich in the constituents Linalyl Acetate and Linalool, known to work synergistically to bring about psychologically soothing and calming effects.
YLANG YLANG ESSENTIAL OIL - Balances Both Dry & Oily Hair Types
Distilled from the curly yellow flowers of the tropical Cananga odorata, Ylang Ylang Oil is strongly balancing and thought to have a harmonizing effect both within the body as well as on the skin and hair surfaces. In the Victorian era, Ylang Ylang Oil was infused in coconut or palm oil to create the iconic Macassar hair oil used for conditioning and styling, particularly by Victorian men.
Intriguingly, due to its harmonizing properties, Ylang Ylang Oil is recommended for both oily and acne-prone skin types as well as for those with extremely dry skin – a recommendation that also extends to hair types. Suitable for oily hair, dry hair, and normal hair types, this wonderful floral oil not only scents the strands with its exotic, sensuous aroma, it also helps regulate sebum levels, thus acting as a natural hair tonic that improves shine, volume, and overall manageability.
It is worth noting that Ylang Ylang Oil is extracted through an intricate fractional distillation process, with Ylang Ylang Extra being the very first distillate obtained. Subsequent distillates are termed Ylang Ylang 1, 2, and 3, respectively; these varieties differ in the intensity of their aromas (Ylang Ylang 1 being the most potent) as well as their chemical make-up. Ylang Ylang 1 tends to have a higher proportion of Linalool and esters including Geranyl acetate, which are anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving, and therefore useful in soothing hair care. On the other hand, Ylang Ylang 3 tends to be rich in sesquiterpenes, which are known to boost circulation and have purifying properties, and thus can be useful in many versatile hair applications, from cleansing to hair growth.
ROSEMARY ESSENTIAL OIL - Helps Naturally Boost Hair Growth & Rejuvenate All Hair Types
The botanical extract and volatile oil of the Rosemary plant is one of the most widely used natural ingredients in hair cosmetics. This vibrant oil has an invigorating spicy-herbal aroma and is very stimulating in its activities. Its mainstream use relates to these powerful stimulatory qualities on both the skin and hair, encouraging blood circulation to promote hair growth. Furthermore, Rosemary Oil simultaneously cleanses and soothes the scalp, helping to remove dandruff, dirt, sweat, and build-up. This cherished oil is also known to add shine, depth, and luster to the hair, particularly to those with darker hair colors. It is also considered a must-have essential oil for those with long hair due to its strengthening properties, which help prevent hair breakage and split ends.
Chemically, Rosemary Oil is rich in oxides, monoterpenes, and ketones, including 1,8-Cineole, Alpha-Pinene, and Camphor. These constituents imbue the essential oil with cleansing, anti-inflammatory, circulation boosting, and lice-repellent properties, making it a truly valuable ingredient in practically all hair care regimens.
TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OIL - Balances Scalp, Cleans Hair, & Eliminates Lice
Derived from the leaves of the Tea Tree botanical (Melaleuca alternifolia), this essential oil has a strong reputation as a natural antiseptic, and is thus particularly useful for maintaining scalp health. Its natural antibacterial and antifungal qualities may be beneficial especially for individuals suffering from dandruff and scalp infections. Its anti-seborrheic properties help to deeply soothe the scalp, reducing flakiness, scaliness, or soreness. Tea Tree Oil is also traditionally used as a remedy for hair lice; 2-3 drops of this essential oil mixed with a preferred carrier oil and thoroughly combed through to distribute throughout the scalp and strands is believed to eliminate lice if done daily for several days.
Tea Tree Oil's support for hair growth is related to its ability to clarify scalp buildup. The build-up of sweat, skin cells, styling products, dirt, and other residues can lead to the clogging of hair follicles and slow down hair growth. With its strong purifying and clarifying qualities, Tea Tree Oil helps cleanse the scalp and unclog follicles to allow freer growth and longer hair.
Tea Tree Oil is another oil beneficial for those with both dry and oily hair. For those with dry hair and scalps, its anti-inflammatory and soothing qualities can reduce potential irritations or itching. For those with oily hair, its cleansing actions help eliminate any excess sebum.
SUGGESTED ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND RECIPES FOR HAIR
The following blends can be used to optimize the natural hair care of different hair types. One of the best ways to benefit from their nourishing properties is through an invigorating scalp massage; combine 5-6 drops of an essential oil blend with 15 mL (0.5 oz) or roughly 1 tablespoon of a preferred carrier oil and apply evenly onto the scalp and strands. Massage well to distribute the oils and encourage scalp circulation, then leave on for twenty minutes (or overnight if desired). Wash and shampoo hair as usual. Alternatively, a few drops can be added to a one-time portion of your regular shampoo, conditioner, or favorite hair mask.
Everyday Hair Tonic - hydrates, soothes, and perfumes all hair types
- Lavender Essential Oil - 3 drops
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil - 2 drops
- Grapefruit Essential Oil - 2 drops
- Frankincense Essential Oil - 1 drop
For Oily Hair - helps regulate sebum levels
- Carrot Seed Essential Oil - 3 drops
- Lemon Essential Oil - 3 drops
- Peppermint Essential Oil - 2 drops
For Dandruff or Itchy Scalps - soothes, cleanses, and clarifies the scalp
- Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil - 3 drops
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil - 2 drops
- Rosemary Essential Oil - 2 drops
For Dry Hair - hydrates, soothes, and harmonizes the scalp
- Tea Tree Essential Oil - 2 drops
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil - 2 drops
- Lavender Essential Oil - 2 drops
- Rose Absolute - 1 drop
Interested in discovering some of the most popular carrier oils in hair care? Check out our compilation here.
Learn how to make your own nourishing and high-performing all-natural shampoos in our beginner's guide here.
CAUTIONS & ESSENTIAL OILS SAFETY
It is important to enjoy the benefits of essential oils while using them safely and responsibly. This includes never using them undiluted, performing a skin patch test prior to use, being knowledgeable about the sun's effects after use, and sourcing them from an ethical brand known for quality and purity.
External use only
As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, essential oils are for external use only. Essential oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes.
Pregnancy and other health conditions
Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use essential oils without the medical advice of a physician.
Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to consult the advice of a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy.
Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.
Children and safety
These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of seven.
How to conduct a skin patch test
Prior to using any essential oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the essential oil in 4 drops of carrier oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of non-sensitive skin.
Essential Oil side effects
Potential side effects of essential oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
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