There are a few different essential oils that may help with hair growth, and the latest one on our radar is peppermint oil. After doing some research for our guide to essential oils and the best essential oils for eczema, migraines, and cystic acne, we decided to take a more in-depth look at the minty, fresh oil. While it's common in toothpaste and floss, it can also be a helpful addition to your hair care routine.
Meet the Expert
- Sunitha Posina, MD, is a board-certified internist who specializes in dermatological procedures/treatments, including assisting with acne, hair loss, hyperpigmentation, and vitiligo.
- Sara Panton is cofounder of Vitruvi, which specializes in all-natural, 100 percent non-toxic, and pure essential oils.
- Ginger King is a cosmetic chemist, owner of product development firm Grace Kingdom Beauty, and founder of lip care brand Fan Love Beauty.
Below, find out all the reasons we love peppermint oil (and why we haven't stopped massaging it into our scalps).
Type of ingredient: Essential oil
Main benefits: Promotes hair growth, balances oil, can increase hair thickness, calms inflammation
Who should use it: In general, peppermint oil is best for people with oily hair and scalps.
How often can you use it: You can use peppermint oil up to three times a week.
Works well with: Peppermint oil should be mixed/diluted with a carrier oil. It works especially well with rosemary essential oil to promote hair growth.
Don’t use with: Peppermint oil should not be applied directly to the skin.
Benefits of Peppermint Oil for Hair
Peppermint oil has a range of benefits, most of them derived from its stimulating abilities. As cosmetic chemist Ginger King explains, peppermint oil "can help to stimulate scalp thus potentially help with a better hair growth cycle."
- May promote hair growth: Findings published in Toxicological Research say a peppermint oil solution led to more hair growth than minoxidil, a hair-growth product approved by the FDA. Though there isn't a ton of conclusive research that proves using peppermint oil will cause an increase in hair growth. Board-certified internist Sunitha Posina, MD, says, "It has been shown that peppermint oil can stimulate hair growth due to vasodilation of the blood vessels and help hair loss. There was a study done on mice, where Minoxidil was compared with peppermint oil for its effects on hair growth and the results were comparable and similar to minoxidil in terms of hair growth and thickness."
- Increases hair thickness: "Peppermint essential oil stimulates blood circulation to the skin, which may help with increasing dermal thickness, follicle number, and follicle depth," explains Sara Panton, founder of essential oil company Vitruvi. A study in Microvascular Research found a 4 percent menthol solution "caused blood vessels to widen, which increases blood flow."
- Reduces inflammation: Peppermint has a pleasant, cooling sensation when applied topically, and that sensation can help to reduce skin inflammation, Panton says. "It can help you relax because it is so cooling and calming—which is always a good thing when you're waiting for your hair to grow."
- Antibacterial properties: Dr. Isfahan Chambers-Harris, a trichology practitioner and founder of Alodia, an organic, natural hair care line says, "Peppermint essential oil is beneficial to the hair and scalp because it has antimicrobial properties that can help with balancing the scalp microbiome."
- Balancing oily hair: Peppermint oil helps balance the pH of your scalp, which helps regulate oil production.
Hair Type Considerations
"Peppermint oil helps to stimulate your scalp and hair follicles, but it should not be used for those with a dry scalp or brittle hair. It works best if you have oily hair and scalp," says Panton. However, Isfahan says that it's suitable for all hair types. Posina adds, "All hair types can use peppermint oil when used correctly and safely. People should avoid applying peppermint oil directly as it can be very irritating and those with allergies to essential oils or sensitive skin/scalp should avoid it or try a patch test prior to using it."
Peppermint oil is incredible if your hair is on the greasier side—it clarifies, cleans, and invigorates the hair without stripping it of its natural (and necessary) oils. In doing so, peppermint oil balances your scalp's production of sebum, leaving your hair nourished and hydrated without weighing it down (while getting rid of any product buildup or residue in the process).
How to Use Peppermint Oil for Hair
Peppermint oil can be used on its own, in DIY treatments, and mixed with a carrier oil. It's a pretty popular ingredient for a lot of hair care products, including shampoos, conditioners, scalp treatments, and deep treatment masks.
- Massage it into your scalp to soothe tension headaches: "Hold off on the painkillers when you have a tension headache and use peppermint oil instead," suggests Adina Grigore, founder of the sustainable and organic skincare brand S.W. Basics and author of Just the Essentials: How Essential Oils Can Heal Your Skin, Improve Your Health, and Detox Your Life. "Dilute a few drops in any carrier oil, and apply it to your temples, and massage it into your scalp. Participants in a study reported a significant reduction in the pain of their tension headaches within 15 minutes, and the pain continued to drop for the following hour. "
- Dilute in a carrier oil: If you want to use peppermint oil on its own, it's best to dilute it in a carrier oil like jojoba or argan oil. Isfahan recommends, "Since it is an essential oil, the best way to use this oil is to dilute it in your favorite carrier oil at a 1-2 percent concentration."
- Seek out products with peppermint oil: Use products that contain peppermint oil, or just use the pure oil itself. All you have to do is combine one pipette with your shampoo, massage, and rinse.
- Make a DIY mask to stimulate blood flow: Making a DIY mask using peppermint oil is easy. To make a DIY mask, follow the recipe below:
- Peppermint essential oil
- Coconut oil
- Mix a few drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil.
- Warm until the coconut oil is liquid-y enough to coat your hair.
- Apply to your hair, let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then shampoo and condition as normal.
The Best Products With Peppermint Oil
Peppermint extract works in conjunction with cleansing agents, purifying and balancing the hair and scalp. It's also mildly foaming, so you get that "clean" feeling during and after use.
Another fresh-feeling, clarifying shampoo, this Aveda products imparts shine to strands — making it ideal for daily use.
"You can carry these in your bag—they're super tiny, and they will come in handy," says Grigore.
This oil is meant as a pre-cleanse, gently breaking down buildup and sebum in the hair and scalp. Massage it in, then shampoo as usual.
Safe on even color-treated hair, these drops conbine essential and vegetable oils to help revitalize and nourish the scalp.
Can those with sensitive scalps use peppermint oil?
A range of skin and scalp types can benefit from peppermint oil, including sensitive types.
Can peppermint oil help with dandruff?
Peppermint oil can help with both dryness and itching, making it a good choice for those with dandruff.
Can peppermint oil cause irritation on the scalp?
Peppermint oil has not been shown to cause irritation though, as with any ingredient, those who experience irritation should discontinue use and speak with a professional.
Oh JY, Park MA, Kim YC. Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs. Toxicol Res. 2014;30(4):297-304. doi:10.5487/TR.2014.30.4.297
Craighead DH, Alexander LM. Topical menthol increases cutaneous blood flow. Microvasc Res. 2016;107:39-45. doi:10.1016/j.mvr.2016.04.010
Göbel H, Fresenius J, Heinze A, Dworschak M, Soyka D. [Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type]. Nervenarzt. 1996;67(8):672-81. doi:10.1007/s001150050040