Grapefruit Oil Is a Must-Know For Anyone With Dandruff

Close up of a grapefruit cut in half in sunlight.

Natasa Kukic / Stocksy

Chances are when you hear the words “grapefruit oil” you can almost smell it before you picture the fruit—the light, invigorating citrus scent has certainly made a splash in the olfactory world. It’s used in everything from fine fragrances and candles to cleaning products for its freshness. Equally popular in aromatherapy, grapefruit essential oil can be used to balance your mood and reduce stress.

But did you know that grapefruit oil also happens to have great perks for your hair? We asked cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, and trichologist William Gaunitz, FWTS, to tell us all about them.

Meet the Expert

“Used as a potent essential oil for aromatherapy, [grapefruit oil] has recently been added to many hair cleansing products and hair growth serums,” says Frank. “It is a great cleanser when massaged into the scalp. It also helps to remove excess sebum and therefore promotes an overall healthy scalp and reduces dandruff. A healthy scalp promotes the right environment for hair growth.” Keep reading to find out about the benefits of grapefruit oil for hair.

Grapefruit Oil for Hair

TYPE OF INGREDIENT: Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial

MAIN BENEFITS: Treats dandruff, balances the scalp, and is antibacterial

WHO SHOULD USE IT: Anyone looking for a hair growth boost, to keep their scalp healthy, or to treat dandruff

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT: Daily in a formulated product

WORKS WELL WITH: Shampoos and scalp cleansers

DON’T USE WITH: Other essential oils or harsh ingredients, since that can trigger irritation

What Is Grapefruit Oil?

Grapefruit oil is an oil extracted from the glands that are in the peel of a grapefruit. It isn’t the only useful oil that comes from the grapefruit—grapefruit seed oil is another with plenty of perks. “Grapefruit seed oil is an oil made into an extract derived from grapefruit seeds,” explains Gaunitz. “Grapefruit seed oil’s primary purpose is to act as an antibacterial, anti-fungal, and in some cases antiviral extract.”

Benefits of Grapefruit Oil for Hair

Grapefruit oil is quite the multitasker when it comes to its hair helping abilities. “It helps deodorize, clean, and promote circulation, which in turn helps to stimulate growth,” Frank says. Among its benefits:

  • Delivers a deep clean: Thanks to grapefruit oil's natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, it can help deliver a deep clean. “It is a great cleanser when massaged into the scalp,” Frank says. 
  • Eases gut inflammation: “Grapefruit seed extract can be helpful both internally and externally because your hair health can be influenced by gut inflammation,” Gaunitz says. “Grapefruit seed oil extract also has very powerful anti-inflammatory properties for the gut because it can put down bad bacteria and bad yeast while maintaining the health of the good yeast and good bacteria because of its unusual medicinal properties. Sometimes taken internally, it can have an indirect positive impact on your immune system which in turn will have a positive impact on your hair.”
  • Fights dandruff: A squeaky clean scalp translates to fewer flakes. “Grapefruit oil also helps to remove excess sebum and therefore promote an overall healthy scalp and reduce dandruff,” Frank says.
  • Balances the scalp microbiome: “Grapefruit seed oil has powerful properties for the hair because it can help stabilize the scalp microbiome when bacteria and yeast have become out of balance and are overwhelming,” Gaunitz says.  
  • Boosts hair growth: “A healthy scalp promotes the right environment for hair growth,” Frank says.

Hair Type Considerations

Grapefruit oil is good for all hair types. Frank notes that it’s especially helpful for those prone to dandruff who are looking for a good scalp cleansing. 

How to Use Grapefruit Oil for Hair

Like all essential oils, grapefruit oil can be irritating, so be careful and always do a patch test first, Frank cautions. You can use it once per week as an at-home treatment or as directed in an already formulated product. “It must be diluted to avoid irritation,” Frank says. “You can make a DIY mask using lemon juice, orange juice, sage oil, and club soda. Comb through the hair and leave it on for five minutes. However, there are several commercial products available that contain grapefruit oil.” 

The Best Hair Products With Grapefruit Oil

Wolf & Badger Grapefruit Hair Remedy
Wolf & Badger Grapefruit Hair Remedy $58.00

Frank’s pick is a blend of five hair oils: Coconut, avocado, almond, castor, and grapefruit. Designed to strengthen and nourish, grapefruit oil provides a fresh citrus scent, wards off dandruff, and helps keep the scalp balanced.

DR.HC Grapefruit Charcoal Oil-Free Herbal Hair Mask
DR.HC Grapefruit Charcoal Oil-Free Herbal Hair Mask $28.00

A true twofer, this can be used as a hair mask or conditioner. Recommended by Frank, it’s spiked with pure pink grapefruit essential oil, activated charcoal, rooibos leaf, organic green tea, and hydrolyzed wheat protein, which explains its range of benefits. These include everything from stimulating hair growth to fighting dandruff and detoxifying the scalp to controlling sebum and delivering shiny locks.

Advanced Trichology HairStem DHT Blocking Treatment Shampoo
Advanced Trichology HairStem DHT Blocking Treatment Shampoo $28.00

“This shampoo uses topical grapefruit seed oil extract as an antibacterial,” Gaunitz says. Designed to fight hair loss, it taps saw palmetto to preserve your strands and contains topical biotin and vitamin K. The formula also includes aloe, arnica montana, jojoba oil, and alpha-lipoic acid to reduce inflammation.

Hair La Vie Shampoo
Hair La Vie Shampoo $26.00

Get your vitamins with this shampoo, which delivers all the essentials in liquid form while doubling as a gentle cleanser. In addition to grapefruit oil, there’s marula oil for healthy hydration, silk amino acids to strengthen strands, keratin for volume and strength, and peppermint oil to support the cuticle.

  • Is grapefruit oil good for hair growth?

    Yes; grapefruit oil helps to balance the scalp, creating an ideal environment for hair growth according to Frank.

  • Does grapefruit oil have any side effects?

    “Like all essential oils, it causes sensitivities and irritation on the area applied,” Frank says. “Also, it should only be applied at night and rinsed off. Do not go directly into the sun after applying any oil, as that may cause severe sunburn.”

  • What other ingredients does grapefruit oil work particularly well with?

    “It works well as an addition to your shampoo, but as an at-home cleanser, use with sage oil, lemon juice, and club soda,” says Frank.

  • What types of haircare products can you typically find grapefruit oil in?

    Cleansers and hair growth serums are the most common, according to Frank.

  • Are there some ingredients you shouldn’t use grapefruit oil with?

    “I wouldn’t use it with another essential oil or anything harsh,” Frank says. “The scalp can be quite sensitive and is prone to irritation.”

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