Folk and Ayurvedic medicine have long relied on the powers of medicinal plants and flowers to treat conditions of the body and mind. There are hundreds of thousands of plants used across the globe in herbal remedies—one particular genus alone, Tanacetum, is a group of more than 200 medicinal herbs originally found in West Asia and Europe. Within this widespread family of often strongly-scented herbaceous healers, the blue tansy plant stands out for its uses in skin and hair care.
But what benefits can blue tansy have for hair, specifically? Ahead, board-certified dermatologists Marisa Garshick, MD, and Ava Shamban, MD, discuss what this brilliant blue extract can do for your hair and scalp. Keep reading to learn more about blue tansy for hair.
Meet the Expert
- Marisa Garshick, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City and an assistant clinical professor at Cornell-New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
- Ava Shamban, MD, is a Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Ava MD, Skin Five, and The Box by Dr. Ava.
Interest in the different species of Tanacetum is increasing due to their essential oils, which have exhibited biological activities like cytotoxicity and antimicrobial activity. Blue tansy contains chamazulene (also found in chamomile), an ingredient that has gained popularity in skincare for its proven anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. Blue tansy can also be utilized in all-natural skincare as an organic colorant for its often deep blue hue.
Blue Tansy for Hair
Type of ingredient: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Main benefits: Soothes the scalp, strengthens hair, and reduces the presentation of dandruff
Who should use it: Blue tansy can be used on all hair types, but is best suited for irritated, sensitive, or reactive skin or scalp types and those with dry or brittle hair.
How often can you use it: Blue tansy can be used weekly or whenever the scalp feels itchy, dry, dehydrated, aggravated, or otherwise inflamed, or daily if found as an ingredient in shampoo.
Works well with: If using blue tansy essential oil, it is important to dilute it with a carrier oil, like jojoba, coconut, or sweet almond oil. Blue tansy blends well with other Tanacetum family extracts, including chamomile, geranium, jasmine, neroli, lavender, and myrtle.
Don’t use with: There are no known ingredients that interact with blue tansy negatively.
Benefits of Blue Tansy for Hair
Despite its name, blue tansy extract comes from a plant with small yellow flowers. The blue color develops during the distillation process. The heat of the steam in the distillation process causes the chamazulene in the blue tansy extract to turn a deep blue color. That same chamazulene has been proven to have several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to promote wound healing. Research has even suggested that blue tansy may be able to support metabolic syndrome.
When it comes to beauty products, blue tansy or chamazulene is often included in formulations that are designed to moisturize and soothe. While it is more commonly found in skincare, the scalp and hair can also benefit from the properties of blue tansy. "Blue tansy oil has many benefits that keep our scalp healthy and the follicular vitality strong," says Shamban.
- Soothes and nourishes the scalp: Blue tansy's primary benefit is to the skin of the scalp. "Its distilled essential oil is soothing, nourishing, and rich in texture," explains Shamban. Garshick agrees that blue tansy can be nourishing to the hair and scalp, crediting this to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Strengthens hair follicles: Blue tansy may help to strengthen the hair itself in addition to the benefits it has for the scalp. "As an oil used for the hair and scalp, blue tansy helps to strengthen and soften the hair as well as nourish the scalp," shares Garshick. Shamban agrees, adding: "When used on hair and scalp, blue tansy will absolutely keep the keratin protein softer and more subtle, and the strands more elastic. So it may stop breakage and offer the best support for growth and regrowth."
- Fights inflammation: Blue tansy has a few different components that make it an inflammation fighter. "It is highly anti-inflammatory due to primary components including sabinene and camphor," explains Shamban. Research has confirmed blue tansy's anti-inflammatory properties.
- Repairs the skin barrier: Shamban says blue tansy is believed to support damage repair in the skin with its wound healing properties. "It is fighting off free radical damage so we are growing hair in a better skin-vironment," she explains. The chamazulene in blue tansy has been proven to improve the elasticity of the skin and the potent antioxidants may help to reduce oxidative stress on the skin barrier.
- Reduces the presentation of dandruff and other scalp conditions: Blue tansy may also target dandruff and other scalp conditions. "The reduction in inflammation and calming benefits will help reduce the presentation of dandruff, itching, and atopic dermatitis," explains Shamban. Additionally, blue tansy has also been found to contain both anti-fungal and antibacterial properties—both of which have the power to mitigate dandruff.
Hair Type Considerations
Our experts agree that blue tansy is safe for all hair types, but Garshick says it may be most beneficial for those with dry or brittle hair. Shamban agrees and adds it is best suited for irritated, sensitive, or reactive skin or scalp types. "It can provide relief for those prone to dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, or eczema, which cause inflammation and discomfort," Shamban says. "It is not widely medically recommended as a treatment for the more serious immune regulatory conditions, like seborrheic dermatitis or scalp psoriasis, but it will relieve symptoms they present." Additionally, those with bleached hair may want to avoid blue tansy as it has the potential to stain.
As with any new ingredient or product, both experts recommend introducing it slowly. "It generally appears to be safe for all users, unless perhaps an allergy to the chamomile family or one of its actives is a consideration," says Shamban. "There is always a chance of allergy which can be serious. A patient who may be allergic to plants such as marigold, daisy, or ragweed, for example, may likely be allergic to chamomile and thus blue tansy as well. Again, this is considered rare." We always recommend seeing a board-certified dermatologist before starting any new product or essential oil to determine the cause of your issue and to find out if there might be something that could cause a reaction.
How to Use Blue Tansy for Hair
Blue tansy extract is an essential oil, which should always be diluted before application to the skin or hair. "In general, it should be diluted prior to application to minimize the potential for irritation or sensitivity," explains Garshick. Shamban agrees and explains that you only want a concentration of one to three percent when diluting with carrier oils like jojoba, coconut, or sweet almond oil. If you're intimidated by concocting your own treatment, you can also seek out products that already contain blue tansy in them.
The frequency of use will depend on the user, but both experts recommend weekly when it comes to treatments and up to daily for shampoos and conditioners containing blue tansy. "It can be used weekly or whenever the scalp feels itchy, dry, dehydrated, aggravated, or otherwise inflamed and irritated," says Shamban.
- Add blue tansy to your shampoo or conditioner: Both experts say adding blue tansy to your existing shampoo or conditioner is a great low-risk way to try the ingredient out. Shamban recommends adding two to four drops of blue tansy for every 2 teaspoons of shampoo or conditioner and then washing as normal.
- Create a hot oil treatment: For a more intensive treatment, Shamban says you can add blue tansy to a hot oil treatment. "Diluted with the carrier oil, it can be massaged with fingertips to the scalp and brushed from root to tip," she says. "It can be left on from an hour to overnight for a deeper condition. A clarifying shampoo should be used (dry) to break down the oil before water to wash it away."
- Develop a custom hair toner: Shamban says blue tansy can be mixed with witch hazel and apple cider vinegar as a toner for blond hair to seal the cuticle after washing.
The Best Products With Blue Tansy
Garshick recommends the Adwoa Beauty Blue Tansy Clarifying Gel Shampoo. "This gel shampoo works to cleanse the scalp, removing buildup while still leaving the scalp and hair looking and feeling soft and smooth," she says.
Garshick also recommends the Living Libations True Blue Spirulina Shampoo. "For someone looking for a blue tansy shampoo, this combines a blend of essential oils to help improve the overall appearance of dry scalp and hair," she says.
If you don't want to mix your own oil, Shamban recommends the Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Facial Oil. "You can use a few drops of a great natural facial oil like Herbivore Lapis Facial Oil which blends the tansy in jojoba, squalene, and jasmine," she says. "We often forget our scalp is dermis too."
What is blue tansy?
Blue Tansy is the extract derived from the Mediterranean blue tansy plant (Tanacetum annuum), which actually contains yellow flowers. In distilling the oil from the plant, chamazulene is released and turns blue when exposed to the heat of the steam distillation.
Is blue tansy good for the hair or the scalp?
Blue tansy has benefits for both the skin of your scalp and your hair itself.
Is there anyone who shouldn't use blue tansy?
Those with bleached hair (or white towels/linens) may want to avoid blue tansy as it is used to color formulations and thus has the potential to stain.
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