On the heels of the skincare-over-makeup movement, the next frontier is scalp as skin and styling hair without the damage of heat tools. Enter: hair oils. While they can be an intimidating terrain to navigate, each oil has its own chemical properties and subsequently its own benefits. Vitamin E oil is an excellent first venture into the hair oil territory, as it is already a well-known antioxidant and part of a well-balanced diet. Long respected for its ability to protect and maintain youthful skin, vitamin E oil has recently gained popularity for its potential ability to transform scalp health and smooth dry, frizzy hair. Is vitamin E oil the remedy for your dry or thinning hair?
We turned to BosleyMD Certified Trichologist Gretchen Friese and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling for their takes on using vitamin E oil for hair and scalp health.
Vitamin E Oil For Hair
Type of ingredient: Potent scalp antioxidant and hair hydrator
Main benefits: Boosts scalp health, stimulates hair growth, and increases hair strength/shine.
Who should use it: In general, anyone with coarse or dry, damaged hair or scalp. Vitamin E oil is not recommended for sensitive scalps, individuals with thyroid issues, or chemotherapy patients.
How often can you use it: A few drops can be applied to the scalp/hair with a carrier oil after showering every other day to avoid irritation. There is such a thing as too much vitamin E oil, so consult with your doctor before starting oral vitamin E oil supplements.
Works well with: Carrier oils, such as coconut or olive oil, to minimize irritation
Don’t use with: There are no known ingredients that negatively interfere with vitamin E oil, but consult with your doctor to avoid overuse.
Benefits of Vitamin E oil for Hair
Taking advantage of vitamin E oil for hair can include consuming vitamin E oil rich foods, applying vitamin E oil to the scalp and hair, and taking oral supplements. Vitamin E is found in many whole foods, such as leafy greens, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. There are a number of vitamin E oil hair products on the market if you don't want to create your own hair solution. You can also purchase dropper vials of vitamin E oil for hair or cut open oral capsules to use the oil directly on the hair and scalp. The benefits of vitamin E oil for hair can include:
- Vasodilation and vasoconstriction properties: “[Vitamin E oil] has been shown to increase blood supply to the scalp,” Sperling says. Increased blood supply encourages hair growth.
- Scalp Rejuvenation: Vitamin E oil provides conditioning to the scalp itself, as it “increases moisture to skin and helps those with dry, flaky scalps,” Sperling says. The potent antioxidants may help to create a healthy scalp environment.
- Hair Growth: Friese explains the benefits of blood supply to the scalp include hair growth, saying “The antioxidant properties of vitamin E oil reduces cell damage and improves hair growth. Vitamin E may help create a healthy scalp environment because it stimulates the capillaries, which increases the blood flow to the scalp and encourages hair growth.”
- Prevents hair loss: Another benefit of vitamin E oil for hair can be the prevention of breaking down existing hair follicles. “Vitamin E has natural antioxidant effects that may assist with maintaining hair growth. These antioxidant properties can help reduce the amount of oxidative stress and free radicals that may cause the hair follicle cells to break down,” Friese says.
- Increases hair shine: According to our experts, one of the immediate benefits of vitamin E oil for hair is the boost of shine it brings to your locks. The moisture vitamin E oil brings to the scalp and hair helps maintain that post-salon shine.
- Enhancing hair strength: Vitamin E oil may strengthen your existing hair follicles. Friese mentions that hair may feel stronger as “It may also help prevent hair breakage and split ends.” Sperling adds that vitamin E oil for hair “protects it from damage.”
Hair Type Considerations
Our experts agree that the benefits of vitamin E oil for hair are shared by all hair types, including natural and color-treated hair. “Because vitamin E adds luster and shine to hair, it is great for any hair type. But especially good for those with coarse, textured, or dry hair, as well as for people looking to balance out the oils on their scalp,” Friese explains. Hair growth is desirable for all hair types, but vitamin E oil may be especially beneficial to those with thinning hair or experiencing hair loss. The added moisture to the scalp and hair may weigh down fine hair, so it may be favorable for those who have it to use shampoos or conditioners with added vitamin E oil in lieu of applying the oil directly to the hair/scalp. It is important to note that, according to our experts, vitamin E oil is a potential scalp irritant for those with sensitive scalps, and should be used every other day to avoid irritation. Additionally, individuals with thyroid issues or undergoing chemotherapy (two populations who experience hair loss) should consult their doctor before starting any kind of vitamin E oil supplements. As always, we recommend trying a patch test before you apply vitamin E oil all over your scalp, just in case you do have a reaction.
How to Use Vitamin E Oil for Hair
Vitamin E oil can be used topically and is available for dietary consumption through whole foods and supplements. “You can opt for supplements if you are not able to include enough Vitamin E-rich foods in your diet. (Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens are good sources.) In the case of hair regrowth, if you are not using anything else topically, it may be helpful to do both,” Friese says.
- Add to shampoo or conditioner for amplified shine: If your existing hair care products do not contain vitamin E oil, you can add a few drops to either your shampoo or conditioner every other day to take advantage of the shine boosting hydration properties.
- Apply as a transformative leave-in treatment: Friese recommends mixing 3-5 drops to a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil and massaging it directly to the scalp post-shower. The concoction will function as an effective leave-in treatment for both your hair and scalp. This can be done up to every other day for those with no known scalp sensitivities.
- Use as a natural detangler: Those with naturally curly or fine hair may apply their vitamin E oil solution to the hair and scalp before their shower. The moisture of the vitamin E oil may aid in the detangling process before shampoo and conditioner for those with natural hair. Fine-haired users may find that they do not need to condition following this pre-shampoo treatment.
- Consume vitamin E oil-rich foods and supplements: Increasing consumption of vitamin E oil rich foods such as leafy greens, nuts, and seeds may supercharge its benefits. These whole foods have the added benefit of promoting your overall health and nutrition as well.
Rossi A, Cantisani C, Melis L, Iorio A, Scali E, Calvieri S. Minoxidil use in dermatology, side effects and recent patents. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2012;6(2):130-136. doi:10.2174/187221312800166859