AS SOMEONE who’s own hair follicles seem prone to extraordinary acts of escapism, my FYP has, like so many other insecure gents, veered towards the hair loss community over the course of the last couple of years. On it, similar to ASMR-y cooking videos, guys and girls painstakingly, aesthetically detail their hair regrowth journey at varying stages, listing out what they use for others to follow.
All the usual suspects are commonly featured. Minoxidil is common, as is finasteride, along an accoutrement of needle rollers and other scalp-stimulating devicers. But a more natural remedy has also seemingly made its way into the regiments of these creators—Rosemary Oil, which for a long time has been touted as a powerful natural key to unlocking renewed hair growth.
Why, then, are so many guys suddenly swearing by it?
What does Rosemary Oil do for hair growth?
The increase in popularity of rosemary leaf extract as a hair regrowth substance comes down to a couple of factors that have been touted in fledgling scientific research into the matter. Initial studies have indicated that rosemary oil may prove beneficial in treating both male pattern baldness (the most common form of male hair loss, caused by DHT build-up in the scalp), by stopping DHT binding to hormone receptors that enable it to attack the hair follicles.
There’s also a slim amount of evidence that rosemary oil may work as an anti-bacterial agent, helping to treat certain maladies on the scalp that can lead to further hair loss. However no evidence has been published yet that rosemary oil can treat hair loss caused by factors outside of DHT, like chronic hair pulling, stress, or chemotherapy.
Does it work?
The jury is still very much out on whether or not rosemary oil can be sold as a nailed-on remedy for hair loss. A few studies, however, give cause for hope. The first study on rosemary oil’s efficacy in treating DHT-induced hair loss was carried out in Japan in 2013, which found it effective in regrowing the hair of mice with testosterone-related alopecia. A second, carried out in 2015, directly compared rosemary oil with Minoxidil, the most common topical treatment for DHT-related hair loss, and found it was just as effective as the over-the-counter solution in regrowing hair over a 6-month period.
A smaller study carried out last year also found that a topical gel made using rosemary oil had a similar effect to minoxidil in improving hair density on rats.
What are the side effects of using rosemary oil?
Being a more natural solution than synthetic over-the-counter treatments, rosemary oil is often sold as having fewer side-effects. The 2015 study found that those who used rosemary oil reported less scalp itching than the minoxidil group, however this is always a possibility when treating the scalp directly. Otherwise, no adverse side-effects have been reported scientifically by those using rosemary oil to treat hair loss, however the topic is still little-researched.
As with the application of all oils on the skin, care should be taken too to avoid overapplication, which could clog pores and follicles, causing pimples and other blemishes.
How often should I use rosemary oil?
The most common, and seemingly effective, way to use rosemary oil is to work it in with a normal hair regrowth regiment, applying once or twice a day in conjunction with a topical substance like minoxidil. Care should be taken to ensure that one solution is given time to absorb before applying the other.
If you elect to use rosemary oil by itself, applying once in the morning and once in the evening, after washing any additional products off the scalp, is generally advised.
How does it compare with more mainstream remedies?
While the initial research is indeed promising, there’s still no significant body of evidence that suggests you should be throwing out the minoxidil if you’ve already started on that journey. As such, the best route for now, based on the evidence we have, is to use both in conjunction rather than moving solely to using rosemary oil.