Hair loss treatment: The best oils shown to promote hair growth – backed by evidence

This Morning: Liz Earle discusses supplements for hair loss

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One kitchen staple you might not have realised could promote hair growth is olive oil. The Department of Food and Nutrition at Yonsei University, South Korea, identified oleuropein as the hair-stimulating compound in the oil. The topical application of olive oil (on mice) did result in accelerated hair growth and increased the size of hair follicles. Further investigations are needed to validate the findings, but the results have been promising.

Another oil to consider using is evening primrose, which was investigated by Seoul National University College of Medicine.

The “arachidonic acid” found in evening primrose oil is “an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid”.

Arachidonic acid was shown to “promote the expression of several factors responsible for hair growth”, such as:

  • Fibroblast growth factor-7 (FGF-7)
  • Fibroblast growth factor-10 (FGF-10).

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In addition, arachidonic acid promoted hair shaft elongation and prolonged the anagen phase of hair growth.

The hair growth cycle

The Beauty Academy listed the three stages of the hair growth cycle:

  1. Anagen
  2. Catagen
  3. Telogen


The anagen phase is the “active growth phase” of hair follicles whereby the root of the hair is dividing rapidly, adding to the hair shaft.

On average, a hair strand in the anagen phase will grow about 1cm every 28 days.

Scalp hair stays in this active phase between two to seven years, which is influenced by genetics.

Once the hair shaft has finished growing, it will enter the catagen phase.

This short, transitional phase lasts for approximately two weeks, which is followed by the telogen phase.

During the telogen phase, the hair sheds and the hair follicle rests for about four months until it’s stimulated to begin the cycle again.

Most people familiar with hair loss products will have come across minoxidil.

This medicated hair loss treatment has been shown to be effective with consistent use.

Yet, one research study showed that rosemary oil actually generated equivalent hair results.

One hundred human participants, who all suffered from hair loss, were part of the trial.

Fifty of them were treated with two percent minoxidil, while the other half were treated with topical rosemary oil.

By the end of the six-month trial, both groups experienced “a significant increase in hair count”.

However, the minoxidil group did report more frequent scalp itchiness than the rosemary oil group.

Thus, the best oil to help promote hair growth is rosemary oil, which has been shown to be effective on human participants.

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