Hair health has as much to do with what you put into your body as it does with what you put into your lengths. It thrives when it has access to strengthening nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and biotin, which can be derived from your diet. Because these nutrients reach your scalp by traveling through your blood, massaging it with peppermint oil—which stimulates blood flow—can help. It boosts circulation to your scalp, giving your hair greater access to the good stuff.
"While studies are limited, peppermint oil is thought to benefit the scalp by improving blood circulation to the hair follicles when massaged into the area," says Martin N. Zaiac, MD, board-certified dermatologist. "When our scalps are healthier and happier, hair health is supported, as well, so [there can be] improvements in hair texture and growth."
In addition to improving blood flow, peppermint oil can also help reduce dandruff and dryness. "Peppermint oil also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which help to benefit overall scalp health," says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist.
Meet Our Expert
Dr. Martin N. Zaiac, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Greater Miami Skin & Laser Center.
Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and New Jersey.
Dr. Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Southern California.
Learn all about the benefits of peppermint oil for hair and how to use it, below.
What Is Peppermint Oil?
"Peppermint oil is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant," says Dr. Zaiac. "Most of us know peppermint oil for its soothing effect on digestion when taken orally. We also know peppermint oil in aromatherapy for its uplifting scent, so we'll see it often used in home fragrances. Peppermint oil can also be used topically, specifically in hair care, to help invigorate the scalp. In personal care, we usually see peppermint oil added to hair products in small concentrations and complemented with other ingredients to support its overall effectiveness."
Benefits of Peppermint Oil for Hair
When massaged into the scalp, peppermint oil can benefit hair in a number of ways.
Boosts the Delivery of Nutrients
Because peppermint oil increases blood circulation, the hair gets to absorb a greater volume of nutrients. "Boosting scalp circulation is key in order to support the health of the hair overall," says Dr. Zaiac. "When we can improve blood circulation in the scalp, we are helping to deliver important nutrients to the area that can support the health and vitality of the scalp area."
Increases Oxygen Flow
In addition to increasing the spread of nutrients, boosting circulation helps the flow of oxygen to the scalp and hair follicles. Oxygen plays a crucial role in keeping our cells healthy and functional. "Improving blood flow to the scalp helps to ensure that hair follicles receive a rich supply of oxygen in addition to those nutrients, which can promote healthier hair as a result," says Dr. Zaiac.
Supports Hair Growth
"Peppermint oil has been shown to increase blood flow to the scalp and may stimulate growth and thicker, stronger hair strands," says Dr. Garshick. She points to a 2014 study conducted in rats that "showed the use of peppermint oil increased dermal thickness, follicle number, and follicle depth." Translation: It resulted in a thicker, stronger scalp, an increased number of hairs, and a deeper anchorage of hair into the scalp, making them more resistant to excessive shedding.
"In lab studies, peppermint oil has comparable effects to Rogaine, w commonly used topical medication for hair thinning that relaxes the scalp blood vessels and increases blood flow," adds Dr. Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist.
If you're struggling with hair loss, know that there are more effective solutions than peppermint oil out there to consider. "While peppermint oil could be tried as an all-natural treatment for hair loss and overall hair health, it really depends on your scalp and hair goals," says Dr. Zaiac. "Meeting with a board-certified dermatologist can also help develop the best course of action and determine if peppermint oil solutions are right for you. Other treatment options include prescription medications, steroids, topical treatments, and injections."
"Peppermint oil has anti-microbial effects which can reduce dryness and dandruff," says Dr. Chi. That's because dandruff is often caused by an over-proliferation of yeast, so the anti-microbial nature of peppermint oil helps to decrease that yeast and balance the scalp.
"Peppermint oil can also be helpful in naturally soothing irritated and itchy scalps," says Dr. Zaiac. Editors' tip: Personally, it's my go-to ingredient anytime my scalp is feeling tight and sore after getting a new set of braids.
How to Use Peppermint Oil for Hair
Before you pick up a bottle of pure peppermint oil, know that pure essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil (like jojoba oil or sweet almond oil) before they can be applied to the skin. Dr. Garshick notes that applying undiluted peppermint oil can do the opposite of what you want, "contributing to burning, irritation, or sensitivity." Different people will give you different ratios for dilution, so your safest bet is to use a peppermint oil hair product that was formulated and mixed by chemists who know how much to use so that you get all the benefits without the irritation.
Dr. Garshick recommends the Mielle Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Oil ($10), the Royal Oils Head and Shoulders Instant Soothe Scalp Elixir ($9), and the Aveeno Scalp Soothing Fresh Greens Blend Shampoo Clarifying & Volumizing Shampoo ($11).
Although the mere act of applying peppermint oil can be helpful, massage increases it's superpowers. "Peppermint oil should be combined with manual massage techniques to maximize circulation to the area," says Dr. Zaiac.
Related: The 10 Best Scalp Massagers of 2023
Risks and Precautions
Even when properly diluted, peppermint oil may not be the best solution for some people. "Obviously if you are allergic to peppermint, you won't want to use it on your scalp," says Dr. Zaiac. "For children, pregnant or nursing women, and those with certain medical conditions or taking specific medications, you should avoid using peppermint oil on the scalp or consult with a board-certified dermatologist who can help navigate through any considerations that might need to be made before applying peppermint oil to the scalp. Finally, if you are facing irritations on the scalp, like eczema or dermatitis, peppermint oil can sometimes exacerbate the symptoms. Again, if you have any hesitations, contact your dermatologist."
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