Scientists have explored various uses of essential oils, from improving oral health and easing nausea to treating insomnia. And it’s no secret that since the dawn of time, people have been slathering concentrated plant extracts on their skin. But can essential oils improve hair health and even encourage growth? According to one of the latest TikTok trends, the answer is yes.

On Tiktok the hashtag #hairoil has racked up more than 1.6 billion views, with individual videos getting millions of views. Many of the clips feature influencers showing off gorgeous, long, and healthy locks, making claims that homemade concoctions of oils are responsible for not only shine but hair growth.

Marisa Garshick, MD, a dermatologist in New York City, says hair loss is a common concern, especially on the heels of peak COVID-19, when reports of hair loss from physical stress increased. “For this reason,” says Dr. Garshick, “many people are concerned about shedding and thinning and are looking for treatment options.”

The New York City  and Los Angeles–based celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger agrees that hair growth is a hot topic, noting that many of her clients lost hair during and after having COVID-19.

Yet what works for getting someone their luscious, thick locks back – and what’s simply social media chatter – is less straightforward. Here are seven oils to consider adding to your beauty routine, generally ranked by how much scientific evidence supports their use for healthy hair, from most to least.

1. Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil, made by either cold or hot-pressing pumpkin seeds, is a nut-free oil, says Hershberger.

The Claim

The oil from pumpkin seeds is “scientifically proven to stop hair loss,” said Taylor Rose, a certified IAT trichologist (@thehealthyhur), in a TikTok video. “This oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic and linoleic as well as vitamin E, all of which have the potential to aid in hair growth by reducing inflammation in the scalp.”

The Truth

Most of the research on pumpkin seed oil for hair loss is limited because the groups of people studied have been small, such as in a paper published in February 2021, or the oil has been analysed in mice, as in a study published at the end of 2019.

The claim that pumpkin seed oil is good for hair regrowth may hold promise  though: One rigorous randomised controlled trial of 76 men with androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, found that 400 milligrams (mg) daily of pumpkin seed oil taken internally over 24 weeks led to 30 percent more hair growth than with placebo.

Pumpkin seed oil may promote hair growth in a way that is similar to finasteride (Propecia), says Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York. The oil contains phytosterols, or plant-derived fatty substances similar to cholesterol in humans, that may inhibit the effect of an enzyme called 5alpha reductase, which is associated with hormonal hair loss, she says. 5alpha reductase converts one form of testosterone to a more potent form of testosterone, “and it is that more potent form that is most highly associated with male pattern (hormonal) hair thinning,” she adds. The anti-inflammatory effect of pumpkin seed oil may also promote hair growth by reducing inflammation in the scalp that could contribute to hair shedding.

Another randomized controlled trial, this one in 60 women, found that pumpkin seed oil was as effective as 5 percent minoxidil foam for hair regrowth. Minoxidil, an oral and topical drug, is used to treat male and female pattern baldness, per the Mayo Clinic. After three months of treatment, participants who were administered pumpkin seed oil saw improvement in hair growth similar to those who took minoxidil. They also found that the number of vellus, or baby, hairs decreased and that the number of “regular” hairs increased, “also suggesting new hair growth and a favourable response to treatment,” Murphy-Rose says.

2. Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil is generally steam-distilled from the flowers, leaves, and twigs of rosemary, says Hershberger.

The Claim

“Rosemary oil does help promote natural healthy hair growth and hair thickness, and helps promote circulation in your hair, which can again promote natural healthy hair growth,” the hair specialist Abbey Tameron (@abbets) said about rosemary oil in one of her videos.

The Truth

Rosemary oil is believed to increase blood flow to tiny blood vessels, which may lead to increased hair growth by supplying more nutrients, says Murphy-Rose.

In one six-month single blind clinical trial of 100 participants, 50 of whom were given rosemary oil lotion and the other 50 minoxidil 2 percent lotion, both groups experienced a significant increase in hair count. Those in the rosemary oil group were also less likely to experience scalp itching.

“Rosemary contains carnosic acid, which may contribute to scalp health,” she says. Rosemary oil also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties “which can help to fight dandruff, a common cause of inflammation on the scalp, which can contribute to hair thinning,” she says.

Hershberger adds that it can hydrate and strengthen your hair. The celebrity stylist Sean James, who works at Matthew Preece Salon in Santa Monica, California, points to a study that found rosemary oil to be just as effective as 2 percent minoxidil after six months. The research also found that people who used the oil were less likely to experience an itchy scalp.

3. Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil comes from the seed of the jojoba shrub, Hershberger says. Like other oils, jojoba is usually cold-pressed. Garshick adds that jojoba oil is composed of 50 percent wax esters and “therefore closely resembles natural human sebum,” making it difficult for your skin and hair follicles to know the difference, and thus they’re more likely to absorb it and be strengthened by it.

The Claim

Hershberger says jojoba oil is thought to help with hair thinning, preventing split ends and nourishing brittle hair. In one video, TikToker @melaniekms, a Maui, Hawaii–based hairstylist, claimed that jojoba is “rich in vitamins and minerals that nourish hair,” including vitamins C, B, E, and copper and zinc. “Jojoba can also moisturise your scalp and be a dandruff remedy,” she added.

The Truth

In addition to softening and smoothing the scalp, jojoba has antioxidant benefits and is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, research published in the June 2021 issue of Polymers found. These properties may “help improve overall scalp health, which can promote a healthy environment for the hair,” says Garshick.

Jojoba is packed with vitamins A and D plus omega fatty acids, per research, and these characteristics are known to be “great for healthy hair and hair growth,” Garshick says. Another potential perk? “It can absorb easier into the scalp and hair follicle for maximum results,” she says. “It’s a lot lighter than other oils, so it would be great for fine to medium hair.”

4. Argan Oil

This essential oil is derived from the fruit of Argania spinosa, a tree native to Morocco, explains Garshick.

The Claim

Argan oil is traditionally used to improve the appearance of skin and hair, and to heal wounds, Garshick says. “Using the oil on your mids to ends can actually help with frizziness and breakage. Using it on your scalp can help with dandruff, and yes, hair growth,” said the TikToker @skalliessentials in a video.

The Truth

Argan oil is probably an ingredient you’re familiar with, as it’s a common one in popular hair products. There’s some truth to the claim that argan oil is good for your hair. For one thing, it contains linoleic and oleic acid, two fatty acids associated with a slew of benefits from strengthening the skin barrier to moisturising the scalp and fighting inflammation, as research suggests. Argan oil also contains squalene, which may help hydrate and protect hair, Garshick adds. The result? “Shinier and smoother hair,” she says.

Argan oil could also protect your hair against heat-related damage, such as from use of a hair dryer, curling iron, or straightener. In one lab study published in the October 2022 Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, researchers found that pre-treating hair exposed to heat with argan oil helped prevent protein loss. Similar to the way protein builds muscles, argan oil appears to promote hair strength, minimizing hair thinning and shedding.“Because [argan oil] is a smaller molecule, it absorbs more easily into the scalp and hair follicles,” adds Ornstein.

What’s more, oleic acid and linoleic acid help improve the penetration of other ingredients into the hair and can reduce inflammation, Ornstein explains. Meanwhile, linoleic acid can help moisturiae dry hair, thanks to its skin-barrier-strengthening effects.

“Additionally, argan oil contains antioxidants such as polyphenols and vitamin E, to help with free radical damage,” she says, and research supports that. Free radical damage is the result of oxidative stress upon the body, explains Ornstein. “When there is an imbalance of unstable oxygen atoms within the body, cellular disruption occurs and is followed by inflammation, premature ageing, and illness.”

5. Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil is derived from the leaves of the lemongrass plant, which contains citral, minerals, and vitamins, per Garshick.

The Claim

Tameron (@abbets) said lemongrass oil is great for hair health. “A lot of the time when you have a flaky scalp, lemongrass can go in there and clean it up a little bit, which helps with your scalp health, which [in turn] helps with natural healthy hair growth,” she remarks in her video.

The Truth

Lemongrass contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, research has shown. “While it does not itself cause hair to grow, it can strengthen the hairs to minimise the potential for hair loss,” Garshick says. According to a small study, the oil may significantly reduce dandruff when applied to the scalp, nodding to its antifungal properties.

6. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a fatty oil that is derived from coconuts that has been used in both skin care and hair care for its moisturising properties, says Garshick.

The Claim

TikTokers such as Jenny Liu, MD, an East Brunswick, New Jersey–based dermatologist, have claimed that coconut oil “penetrates well into the hair shaft,” “helps to reduce breakage,” and “nourishes hair.”

The Truth

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which may offer antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and these characteristics suggest it could promote healthy strands, per research. One 2003 study found that coconut oil was high in fatty acids with a low molecular weight, helping it penetrate the hair shaft, and was successful in reducing protein loss when used as a pre-wash treatment. “Because coconut oil can have moisturising properties, it can help to nourish the scalp and the hair to improve overall hair health,” Garshick says. But while it has been shown to help strengthen hairs and reduce breakage, there is not enough evidence to suggest that it helps support hair regrowth, she says.

7. Avocado Oil

Avocado oil, which is extracted from the pulp of the fruit, is used for cooking and in many hair and beauty products.

The Claim

“Avocado oil improves hair growth,” said TikTok user @eliyahmashiach2 in a video that has been viewed 1.6 million times on TikTok. Additionally, she claims it relieves flaky, dry skin.

The Truth

“Avocado oil is thought to be moisturising because it’s rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can penetrate the hair follicle,” says Garshick. “It also works to nourish and strengthen the hairs, helping to support overall hair health.” Additionally, because it is rich in antioxidants, it can work to protect the hair from UV and environmental exposure. While there is little research specifically focusing on avocado oil, a 2015 review found that the minerals in avocado oil, including those monounsaturated fatty acids, are effective in sealing hair cuticle cells and preventing breakage.

3 Tips on Using Essential Oils for Hair Growth

Follow these steps before you use any oil on your hair.

1. Source Your Oils Carefully

Not all essential oils are created equal. Ornstein and Hershberger stress the importance of sourcing high-quality, unrefined oils. “I always recommend using cold-pressed, non-GMO/organic oils,” says Hershberger. “It’s very important to do your research when it comes to natural alternatives for hair products. Make sure you know where they are coming from.” Ornstein explains that in the refinement process the essential oil loses a lot of its power. “Anything you would take out of the oil – if it is for the purpose of deodorising it or reducing sediment or coloir – is only reducing the benefits that the oil provides,” she says.

2. Use With a Carrier Oil

Ornstein says it’s important to combine essential oils with carrier oils, which are the delivery system of essential oils. Without application with carrier oils, essential oils are too concentrated to apply directly to the skin. With a carrier oil, you’ll “get the full benefits that plant oils without the risk of irritation that essential oils applied straight would have on the skin,” she says. Examples of carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil.

3. Let the Oils Saturate

Hershberger notes that you need to let oils saturate to work their magic. “Stimulate with a comb, leave on for about 30 to 40 minutes, and always shampoo out,” she says.

When Should You See a Doctor for Hair Loss?

While certain essential oils may improve scalp health, people experiencing serious hair loss should consult an MD before trying at-home remedies, James says. “As hairdressers, we can recommend shampoos, but we cannot recommend cures for medical conditions,” he explains.

There are a few ways to gauge how serious your hair loss is. The first is the pull test. “With this test, you grasp about 60 hairs between your fingers and pull a little bit while running your fingers through your hair. Of the 60 hairs, it is normal to see between 5 and 8 hairs fall out with this tension,” he says. Any more than that – even between 15 and 20 — could be a sign that you are experiencing serious hair loss.

You can also try the comb test. “In this test, you will want to take a comb and brush your hair from front to back for one minute while leaning over a light-coloured towel or sheet. After one minute has passed, count the hairs that have landed on the fabric,” he says. Again, like the pull test, you should see only about 10 hairs on the sheet.


Certain essential oils can improve hair health, per experts and some research. But if you’re facing severe hair loss, it might have to do with an underlying health condition or dietary deficiency. In that case, speak with your healthcare team to determine the root of the problem.

If you are going to dip into the hair oiling trend, make sure to source out high-quality, unrefined oils.