Essential oils for alopecia: the benefits and how it works

Carla St. Louis
Studies have shown that essential oils benefit your skin.Cleveland Clinic

Disclaimer: While the information shared in this article is substantiated through documented public studies by credible institutions, it does not constitute as medical advice. Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions prior to using EOs.

If you haven’t heard, you can use essential oils (EOs) to fix a bunch of skin & hair issues. Whether you’re dealing with stubborn acne, hyperpigmentation, or dry skin there’s an essential oil to treat it. Garlic oil also has a reputation for treating acne (along with a turmeric face mask), and a 2009 study shows it can be used to treat alopecia areata. EOs can also be used to help reduce anxiety and aid you in getting a restful sleep. Studies have shown that EOs may relieve congestion and headaches, too.

Best Practices: How to Use an Essential Oil

Before you use an essential oil, do a patch test prior to applying it to your skin. You may develop dermatitis or an allergic reaction due to its strong concentration of ingredients, a 2002 paper explains.

  1. Use it as a cleansing oil, a mixture of a carrier oil and essential oils that’s used to remove debris and make up from your skin. According to Healthline, you must dilute your blend with 15 drops of essential oils per 6 teaspoons of carrier oil.
  2. Indirect inhalation - (also known as aromatherapy) by adding a few drops into your humidifier or facial steamer.

Continue reading for a rundown on which essential oils to use so you can get glowing, even skin and treat alopecia areata.

For Hair Growth:

Hair loss happens for many reasons. Hair loss occurs after stopping the pill, says a 2021 article. It can also happen due to stress, pregnancy, or product build up. When you’re creating an oil to moisturize your scalp use pumpkin seed since it tackles the culprit behind thinning hair. It stops the formation of testosterone which causes thinning hair in women. This is important because testosterone activates dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Another example of EOs aiding in hair growth includes a 1998 double-blind trial that involved participants with alopecia areata. They massaged EOs (compared to carrier oils) into their scalps daily, resulting in more hair. The essential oil blend included thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood oils. Speaking of lavender, it’s also an effective treatment for alopecia areata, says a 2016 study. A 2016 abstract found that garlic extract oil contributed to a healthy scalp by protecting keratinocytes, cells that grow on your scalp and in your hair follicles from UV damage. Turmeric oil is beneficial for treating hormonal hair loss because it contains curcumin, an ingredient that decreases the level of DHT, says a 2021 article published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

For Acne:

Acne is the worst but it's actually treatable. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Mediators of Inflammation shows that bergamot and sweet orange oils decreased the growth rate of “sebaceous gland spots” (read: acne) in male hamsters. Even cinnamon bark, noted for it’s antibacterial properties, can lead you to clear, beautiful skin. According to a 2008 study in Letters in Applied Microbiology, cinnamon bark is noted for its ability to get rid of stubborn, antibiotic-resistant strains of acne. Geranium oil calms skin irritation, inflammation, and it also improves skin elasticity.

For Acne Scars or Hyperpigmentation:

You can use EOs to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation in your skin. According to a 2005 paper, participants who applied evening primrose oil to their skin saw an improvement in moisture, elasticity, firmness, and roughness. Other EOs that are proven to reduce dark spots contain vitamin C such as lemon, carrot seed, and turmeric oils.

For Skin Tightening:

There’s no denying it–sagging skin makes you look older. There are many EOs you can use for a youthful look–for example, licorice extract is great for improving your skin’s elasticity. So it's no surprise that a study published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences tooted the benefits of neroli oil–specifically, in staving off free radicals that prematurely age your skin. It’s not the only lifesaver. A 2012 article published by the Journal of Dermatology Research and Practice shows that green tea extract does the same thing.

For Face Steaming:

What if I told you the secret to glowing skin was easier than you thought? Well, if you haven’t already heard, face steaming works wonders on your skin. You can use a face steamer without essential oil–but honestly, it just works better with it. When you add a few drops of it to your face steamer, you’ll notice a difference in your skin’s appearance after continuous use. For example, if you want shiny, pretty skin use lemon oil. A 2021 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition says that lemon peel makes you look younger by protecting your keratinocytes from oxidative, stress-induced damage. EOs that are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial work well when face steaming because of their ability to calm your skin.

For Healing Wounds:

Wound healing is tricky because you also want to reduce your chances of developing hyperpigmentation. EOs that contain beta-caryophyllene–such as lavender, rosemary, and ylang-ylang oils–help heal skin wounds, according to a 2019 study conducted by Indiana University. A 2021 study published in the Journal of Pharmaceuticals shed light on the beneficial properties of helichrysum oil (for diabetic rats). While a 2021 abstract explained that ajwain seed oil paired with a nanofiber mat quickened the wound healing process.

For Blackheads:

The trick to tackling acne is simple: you must remove the sebum that’s clogging your pores. Both oregano and tea tree oils are antibacterial and reduce inflammation–and can be used to unclog pores, says a 2017 clinical trial. EOs with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiapoptotic properties are safe options in fighting sebum.

To Treat Sunburn:

When it comes to nursing a sunburn, experts recommend using chamomile oil. You just can’t go wrong with this lifesaver. It has emollient, moisturizing, and wound healing properties similar to aloe vera. If your sunburn involves peeling, use lavender oil. It’s a savvy option due to its proven ability to heal wounds at a faster rate, according to a 2020 review. Manuka oil performs similarly like aloe vera and lavender, expediting the wound healing process and lessening inflammation. A 2010 study found that tulsi and peppermint oils have the best sun protection factor (SPF) values to protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays. A 2011 article found that sesame seed oil resists 30 percent of UV rays.

To Hydrate Lips as Lip Balm

Dry, chapped lips can happen in any weather. It can also age you and make you appear unhygienic. A 2018 study says that daily use of argan oil will improve your skin’s elasticity and moisture. And it’s not just argan–borage oil normalizes your skin’s barrier function so your lips stay hydrated. A 2017 paper showed the benefits of frankincense oil–namely that it helps with wound healing by creating fibroblasts so no more chapped lips.

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