9 Nourishing Essential Oils for Hair Health & Strength

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How to use essential oils for stronger healthier hair naturally
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » 9 Nourishing Essential Oils for Hair Health & Strength

Maybe you ditched conventional haircare products years ago, or maybe you’re exploring more natural options. Whatever the case may be, essential oils for hair can be an integral part of everyone’s natural routine. Over the years I’ve found some favorite essential oils proven to strengthen and improve my hair, and they smell great too!

Best Essential Oils for Hair

I’ve always been careful to use essential oils safely and not ingest them unless suggested by a healthcare provider, but I love using them topically. Using them in my hair is one more way to get the benefits of essential oils safely.

A caution along these lines: Always dilute essential oils in the appropriate ratio in a carrier oil (or a beauty product containing oils) as essential oils do not dilute in water. The resources section in this episode of the Wellness Mama podcast gives several helpful charts as a guide.

Remember, it isn’t good to put straight essential oil directly on the hair or scalp, ever.

That being said, here are a few of my favorite essential oils for hair!

1. Ylang Ylang

This floral essential oil (I like this one) has aphrodisiac properties and a strong, distinct odor. It may be too overwhelming to use on its own, but it combines well with other essential oils for hair, like lavender and even lemon. People have been using ylang ylang to help grow their hair for a long time, as it was a popular hair growth remedy in Victorian England. This essential oil works by stimulating hair growth to treat thinning hair and also stimulates production of our scalp’s natural sebum to nourish dry, damaged hair.

Ylang ylang also offers aromatherapy benefits, as it works to relieve stress in the body. Since stress can sometimes cause hair loss, using ylang ylang is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. And for little ones who are frequently around other children, ylang ylang can also help to repel lice.

2. Tea Tree

Tea tree is one of the most popular essential oils for soothing damaged skin, but it’s also great for scalp health. Since this essential oil is antifungal, it’s been successfully used to treat dandruff. In this study, there was a 41% improvement in the severity of the dandruff as well as in the symptoms of itchiness and greasiness. Tea trea was also shown in this 2013 study to slow hair loss and increase hair growth and appearance, without the itching and inflammation that the control group had. And like ylang ylang, tea tree oil also treats head lice.

3. Lavender

Lavender is another favorite essential oil for skin that doubles for hair care. This study found that lavender increased the number of hair follicles for a thicker head of hair. The hair follicles in the lavender group were also deeper, meaning stronger roots for less hair falling out. Lavender essential oil also showed significant help in hair growth in this study that used a combination of several different essential oils, all with no significant side effects.

4. Cedarwood

Many guys like cedarwood essential oil because of its woody, more masculine scent. So if the man in your life objects to using more feminine-smelling oils like lavender and ylang ylang, then cedarwood may be a good option. It stimulates the hair follicles and increases circulation to the scalp to combat thinning hair. Cedarwood has also been helpful at improving dandruff symptoms.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary works well for dandruff due to its ability to minimize scalp itchiness and flakes. It helps to treat both dry, dull hair as well as overly oily hair and can help prevent split ends. In this study, rosemary essential oil was found to be just as effective against balding as the conventional treatment when it was used for at least six months. It helps to prevent premature baldness and stimulates the hair follicles.

6. Lemon

As a citrus oil, lemon helps simulate circulation in the scalp for increased hair growth. It’s also helpful to reduce overly greasy hair. Since there is some concern for phototoxicity here, don’t slather your head in lemon essential oil and then go sunbathing. Use lemon at night (or at least twelve hours before sun exposure), or don’t use more than a 2% concentration. However, if you’re using a few drops in your shampoo then washing it out of your hair, there’s no concern for phototoxicity. I like this organic one.

7. Juniper

Juniper berry has a fruity scent to it and blends well with both lemon and cedarwood essential oils. It’s helpful for overly oily hair and helps strengthen brittle strands. Juniper berry’s antiseptic properties help fight scalp conditions, and its astringent properties tone hair follicles to prevent hair loss.

8. Peppermint

You’re probably familiar with the fresh, invigorating scent of mint. This study showed a blend with 3% peppermint essential oil in a base of jojoba oil significantly increased hair growth thickness and length and deepened hair follicles for stronger hair. (Peppermint oil can safely promote hair growth, but this essential oil isn’t safe to use on young children.)

9. Lemongrass

Lemongrass has potent antiviral and antifungal properties that make it useful for a variety of scalp issues. In this study, several hair tonics were compared, and the one with a 10% dilution of lemongrass had the best results against inhibiting dandruff caused by yeast.

How to Apply Essential Oils for Hair

  • Add a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner and lather as usual.
  • In all of the studies, results were seen after consistent use for at least six months. Most of the treatments were used daily until results were achieved.
  • Add some essential oils diluted in aloe vera to a spray bottle and liberally mist your hair. You don’t need to rinse your hair after this. (However, be sure to avoid using citrus oils and then going out in the sun.)
  • Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil and use as a leave-in deep conditioning treatment. After an hour, or even overnight, the oil can be washed out of the hair. Coconut oil and sweet almond both work well for a leave-in conditioning treatment. (If you’ve heard castor oil helps hair growth, bear in mind that this thick oil is hard to wash out unless diluted with other carrier oils.)

How to Do Scalp Massage with Essential Oils

You can do a scalp massage with essential oils for hair diluted in a carrier oil to help reduce the symptoms of dandruff, psoriasis, or stimulate the scalp for hair growth.

  1. Part the hair and apply the oil treatment to the scalp in sections.
  2. Take your fingers and press them firmly onto the scalp, moving the skin across the skull. Do not however allow your fingers to move across the scalp.
  3. Allow the oil treatment to stay on for at least an hour before rinsing/washing out.

Do you use essential oils in your natural hair care routine? Is it something you can see yourself trying?

Using essential oils for hair is a great way to improve hair over time. Try Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Cedarwood and others for great hair!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


79 responses to “9 Nourishing Essential Oils for Hair Health & Strength”

  1. Carole Avatar

    Another excellent carrier oil to use on the scalp is emu oil, as even on it’s own it has hair growth properties.

  2. Ange Avatar

    Thank you , am just about to wash my hair and I already have some lavender oil,
    Going to try it now, thanks again Ange x

  3. Silvia Avatar

    Hi when diluting some of these wonderful EO in the aloe vera to spray on hair and use as a leave in treatment, my aloe Vera bottle says to refrigerate after opening so I do keep my aloe Vera in the fridge( it’s aloe Vera gel- inner fillet kind) so after I do this mixture do I need to keep it in the fridge? Or can it stay out in counter so it doesn’t spoil? Thanks

  4. Carin Avatar

    Fabulous article for those of us who are menopausal and see our hair thinning! I’ve been wondering just how to incorporate the oils into a hair care routine and you’ve answered that nicely! THANK YOU!

  5. Kate Avatar

    For the spray version, are you using aloe Vera juice or diluting the gel with water & adding the EO? Thanks!!

  6. Mary Alberts Avatar
    Mary Alberts

    Will the oils mix well in the aloe? If I use the EOs every day, that means I’d have to wash my hair every day which wouldn’t be good for it either.

  7. Donna Avatar

    I read a post by Resha Nesmuth about detecting parasites using Oregano oil her post said she would talk about more and never did.

  8. Aimee Avatar

    I have issues with dandruff and thinning, so all the oils you mentioned above sound useful. Can I use them all at once? And then you said to put a few drops in my shampoo. Should I add a few drops to the whole bottle or a few drops the the shampoo I am going to use that day?

  9. Darla Avatar

    When you mix in shampoo or conditioner, do you have to dilute in a carrier oil first? What is the ratio of drops to shampoo/ conditioner volume? A few drops per 32 ounces?

    1. Elizabeth Avatar

      Here’s what I do with the oregano oil I use for dandruff: put my normal amount of shampoo in my palm, and put 2 drops of oil in the shampoo. I mix it up with my finger and apply to my head as normal
      Works great!

    2. Elizabeth Avatar

      Great post! Another oil that’s great for dandruff is oregano oil. I stated using it a couple years ago for my super gross flaky-yet-oily dandruff of doom. No store bought shampoo would work for it – I tried them all. Then the Internet told me about oregano oil & after one wash, the hige ugly dandruff was mostly gone. After 2, it was completely gone. Magic. I still use it – 2 drops in my shampoo 2x/week, and while it does make my shampoo smell like pizza, lol, you don’t smell it on my hair after. I’m excited to see what the other ois you talk about can do for me too! Thanks for your blog, Wellness Mama 🙂

  10. Theresa Avatar

    Is it a few drops to the amount of shampoo in my hand? Or a few drops to the entire bottle of shampoo?

  11. Ona Avatar

    Hi Katie! You said: “Add some essential oils diluted in aloe vera to a spray bottle and liberally mist your hair. You don’t need to rinse your hair after this.” Is this something you do on dry hair? Is it as an overnight treatment or can it be sprayed on and used for styling? I have fine, straight hair, so wouldn’t get the benefits I imagine a curly-head would get.

    I’m going to make this tonight, just wondering how to use it.


    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      You’ll have to see what works with your hair type. I find that a little bit of aloe spritzed in gives body after I brush it in the morning (and I add dry shampoo if needed), but see what works on your hair.

      1. Sam Avatar

        Hi Katie. For the leave in spray do I need to buy aloe carrier oil?

        If I have a 30ml spray bottle how much do I use of everything? Can I mix perfume oils with the essential oils?

        1. Chona Garcia Avatar
          Chona Garcia

          I’m interested in this topic about hair, because ever since I was young I have such a dry brittled hair.

      2. Beth Avatar

        Do you need to refrigerate the mixture with the aloe vera? Also, how long does it last? Thank you

  12. Annette Avatar

    What do you mean when you say: “1. Add a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner and lather as usual.” How many is a few drops? five, ten twenty? And how large a bottle of shampoo do you use? I always buy 32 ounce bottles to save money, so how much would I add to that?

  13. Kaliko Avatar

    Aloha Katie:) have you ever thought of writting about using black cumin seed oil as a carrier oil when dealing with hair. I do like jojoba and almond etc. However studies show that black cumin seed oil is great for hair and I use it all the time. I’m from Hawai’i and I have long hair and it works very well as a leave in oil/carrier oil.
    Mahalo for your post

  14. Kay Avatar

    Thanks for your article! I have a few questions if you can help me out 🙂

    I’m going through a little hair thinning and perhaps some hair loss as I noticed my hair parts is quite larger than before. I narrowed down a few oils I thought would work. I plan to dilute lavender and rosemary oil in a combination of carrier oils like coconut oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and avocado oil.

    Do you think there should be a limit to how many carrier oils or essential oils that you mix together?

    How many times a week should this be done?

    From what I’ve read, it looks like most do a tablespoon of a carrier oil and then a few drops of essential oil. How many treatments are usually in one? Is it for one sitting or more? Not sure if that is ever specified.

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’d start with a single carrier oil at a time and a single essential oil and add in slowly just to make sure your hair likes all of the different oils. Or, if you want to mix them all, try for a few days in an inconspicuous area, like the base of your neck, before using all over.

    1. M.L. Gregory Avatar
      M.L. Gregory

      As with others, I’m confused as well, how can you not move your scalp, is there a way you can post a video to show what and how to do what you’re instructing. THANK YOU!!

  15. Mel Avatar

    I don’t understand this:

    Take your fingers and press them firmly onto the scalp, moving the skin across the skull. Do not however allow your fingers to move across the scalp.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Sorry for the confusion! Think of it this way: you want to press firmly and move your skin across your skull; you do not want to move your fingers across the skin.

      Does that help clarify?

      1. Farhaana Avatar

        Why not rub hands over skin?
        I have dandruff and sometimes I rub oil into my scalp and loosen the dandruff to wash out. It also helps distribute the oil.
        Thank you

      2. Jeanette Avatar

        I am confused about the same and sorry but I’m still unclear on this as well.

        1. William Avatar

          You want to move your scalp (back and forth, or circular motion) with finger staying in one place at a time to improve circulation, not slide (rub) your fingers over the scalp (which might only irritate the scalp and/or loosen hair).

        2. Ellen Avatar

          Pretend your fingers are glued to your scalp and move it around as if you are trying to rip your fingertips off.

      3. Natalie Avatar

        I’m more confused after this answer. Move your skin ? Please clarify. And why don’t move your fingers?

    2. suzie Avatar

      You can first try this on your arm. Fingers are firmly on the skin, keeping each finger on the same spot. i.e. if you have a beauty mark, you will press a finger on the beauty mark and should never move off of it – hence, firmly. As you massage, your fingers remain on the beauty spot, but you are moving your muscles and everything beneath the skin. You can feel the changes in the bones and muscles.

      Now do this on your scalp. You don’t want to be moving the hair, only the scalp – awakening what lies beneath the surface.

  16. Allison Thompson Avatar
    Allison Thompson

    Love this article. I’ve been looking for ways to help strengthen my hair as I get older. One of the things I notice is that although my hairdresser cares for my hair well, I still need to find something to strengthen it. Am going to look at getting some lavender or peppermint essential oil that I can add to my shampoo or conditioner when washing my hair.

    Again thanks for such a great article.

  17. Georgie Avatar

    Hi thank you for the great post on essential oils I will definitely be going out to get some peppermint eo. I have thinning hair and to try and combat it naturally I have tried the mix castor oil, almond oil and rosemary. Does anyone find that your hair can come out more when using the oils ? Am I using too much ? I would really like to experiment more with the oils to get the right balance . Any help welcome



      1. Christy Avatar

        Congrats on beating the cancer! What a tough journey that must have been! I believe you are referring to Jamaican Black Castor Oil -mentioned in a previous WellnessMama post
        “There is a special type of castor oil called Jamaican Black Castor oil that has extremely good reviews. I tried it as well and it seemed to work about the same as regular castor oil on my hair, but it seems that it might provide additional benefit for those with thick or dry hair (my hair is fine/oily).”
        (from post entitled “How to Use Castor Oil for Hair”

        Just remember to check with your medical provider, since some supplements/oils can interact with medications and cause unintended side effects. God Bless!

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