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Now, more than ever, it’s pretty clear that we’re all looking for ways to handle our stress. Whether it’s getting regular massages, experimenting with CBD, or taking time for meditation and yoga, there are several different mediums for managing stress. However, as much as you may think you have your stress under control, your body may say otherwise and the stress might manifest itself in hair loss and thinning. Ayurvedic practices like hair oiling actually tackle both issues and have been used for centuries to improve the hair's natural state as well as manage stress, with one of the most notable oils being bhringraj oil. Derived from a plant that is native to Thailand, India, and Brazil, bhringraj oil is considered the “king of herbs” when it comes to hair growth and maintenance because of its ability to improve hair growth and strength overall. It has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine to address a number of scalp conditions.
If you’re looking to have stronger, healthier, shinier hair as well as dabble in the world of Ayurveda, we asked dermatologists Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD and Dr. Jennifer Chwalek, MD to explain the benefits and side effects of your next favorite haircare ingredient.
Type of ingredient: an antioxidant-rich oil
Main benefits: promotes hair growth; softens, strengthens, and adds shine to hair; prevents greying and hair loss
Who should use it: In general, bhringraj oil is probably best utilized for scalp and hair issues such as dry, itchy scalp from dandruff, eczema, or psoriasis. It can also be used by anyone with a history of hair loss, shedding, or greying.
How often can you use it: It is safe to use in scalp massages up to twice a week.
Works well with: Carrier oils like amla and coconut
Don’t use with: There are no known products that should be avoided while using bhringraj oil.
What Is Bhringraj Oil?
Bhringraj oil is made from extracts of the False Daisy plant, known as Eclipta alba because of its small flowers. Eclipta alba is a member of the sunflower family and is grown in humid, tropical locations like India. Bhringraj oil is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine for primarily treating dry scalps and dandruff, greying hair, as well as hair loss. It is also rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, and proteins, all of which are important for healthy hair growth.
“In Ayurveda, it is categorized as 'Rasayana,' meaning that it has rejuvenating properties due to the fact that it is rich in phytonutrients (or triterpenoids and flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-tumor properties) and antioxidants,” Chwalek explains. The natural Eclipta alba plant can be mixed with a carrier oil to create an oil-like substance. It also comes in a dried powder which can be mixed with water to create a paste or a water rinse for your hair.
Benefits of Bhringraj Oil for Skin
- Anti-inflammatory properties: These can help to soothe scalp itching and skin inflammation caused by acne and bug bites.
- Anti-microbial properties: Bhringraj oil can help with preventing bacterial and fungal infections of the skin and scalp.
- Stress reliever: In Ayurveda, when used as a massage oil, bhringraj oil is known to be calming and—interestingly—could possibly create euphoric feelings to help with alleviating stress.
- Soothes and cools: Not only is the oil calming, it also has cooling properties that work to soothe the skin and scalp.
Benefits of Bhringraj Oil for Hair
- Prevents premature greying: Due to the high antioxidant and darkening properties, bhringraj oil is thought to curb and conceal premature greying hair. This means light hair colors may be averse to the tinting effects of the oil and should rinse it after 15 minutes to avoid unwanted darkening.
- Promotes hair growth: Massaging this oil into your scalp can increase blood flow or circulation. In addition, a 2008 study on the hair-growth promoting ability of Eclipta alba in male albino rats compared bhringraj oil to 2% minoxidil (also known as Rogaine) and found it to be superior in its ability to stimulate hair growth (however, more human trials need to be conducted).
- Helps prevent dandruff: Bhringraj oil has hydrating and moisturizing properties, especially when mixed with a carrier oil, which helps to treat skin/scalp dryness and increase the luster of hair.
- Shinier hair and treats split ends: When blended with a carrier oil and applied to both the scalp as well as the mid-lengths and ends, it can make an excellent hair treatment.
Side Effects of Bhringraj Oil
Bhringraj oil has very few proven side effects, but it has been reported that when taken as an oral supplement, it may cause an upset stomach or chills—it’s recommended to only take it orally under the supervision of an Ayurvedic physician.
Eclipta alba could also possibly affect blood clotting, and should be discontinued prior to surgery and used with caution by individuals on blood thinners (yes, this includes topical applications). Dr. Chwalek suggests doing a patch test before trying it out topically. Also, the safety of the oil has not been researched in children or pregnant and nursing women, so keep this in mind.
It's also not advised to use the oil if you have acneic skin. “In general, acne-prone skin benefits from the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial [properties] of the oil; however, I don't recommend using this to my acne patients, as the oil itself can be comedogenic and lead to new breakouts,” Robinson shares.
How to Use It
Eclipta alba oil serves well as a hot oil treatment. Heat a small amount on the stove or in the microwave until warm, but not boiling. After testing the liquid to make sure it's not too hot, massage the warm oil into the scalp for at least 30 minutes. Trictologist Kerry E. Yates of Colour Collective explains the best way to massage the scalp without causing tangles: “Start along the hairline, massaging backward. Be sure to focus on the crown area since it is one of the first areas to show hair growth challenges.” After the massage, let the oil sit on your scalp under a shower cap or conditioning cap for an additional 30 minutes. Rinse out in the shower, and follow up with your favorite shampoo, washing twice if your hair still feels oily after the first wash.
The Best Products With Bhringraj Oil
Blended with sandal oil, amla extract, sesame oil, khus oil, lemon extract, and camphor, this oil is the best friend of anyone trying to prevent and stop hair fall and hair loss. The camphor and the herbs together make a cooling effect like Vick’s Vapo-Rub that can be great for alleviating headaches and pains. Because it's a lightweight oil, it’s fast-absorbing and you can apply before bed without worrying about waking up to a messy pillowcase.
Looking to get a little Dexter’s Laboratory and make your own hair treatment? DIY-ing your own bhringraj hair rinse is quick and easy. Steep the powder in hot water along with any other Ayeurvedic herbs (or alone, if you like) for 3-5 minutes before straining. Pour the strained blend over your head in the shower, let sit for as long as desired—or under a shower cap for 30 minutes—and rinse. It can also be blended with your favorite conditioner and applied to the hair as an herbal gloss—just apply as you would a normal mask, let it sit for 30-45 minutes, and rinse.
This oil is full of all of the hottest and most intriguing ingredients in the market. It’s hand-blended with nutrient-heavy Moringa oil, argan oil, and turmeric leaf, which is known for being a great treatment for lackluster, thin hair. Unlike other treatments on this list, the longer, the better—it’s recommended to leave on at least two hours—if not, overnight—before rinsing out.