Essential Oils For Haircare Recipes

I’ve been reading and scavenging the net to find out for you what are the most adequate essential oils for haircare recipes, your hair type or to treat your hair condition. Find out what is science and what is common knowledge.

Table of Contents

Essential oils are plant extracts, most commonly obtained by distillation of raw material plant (leaves, flowers, wood, bark, roots, seeds). You can read more in detail about essential oils in:

If you wish to know how to use essential oils in soapmaking or skincare, read the following posts:

In this article I am going to focus more on its strengths to be used in haircare.

It is important to highlight that essential oils quality is critical to fully benefit from its properties. And be attentive to not purchase a fragrance oil as an essential oil. They contain synthetic ingredients and are far from having the same medicinal properties, only being able to replicate the aroma. You can find more about how and where to purchase essential oils in this article: 6 Best Essential Oil Brands For DIY Recipes.

I am also going to clarify whether its medicinal properties are science-based or not, as the internet is filled with unfounded or flat-out false claims. The general lack of study in natural products, and the fact that the essential oil industry is a multimillion-dollar one already, both help to keep this “mystic aura” of “miraculous remedy” as truth. Or that they are a flat-out scam.

I use essential oils mostly for its scent, although it makes sense that some possess medicinal properties. They are natural products afterall. But let’s clarify.

Essential Oils Chart For Haircare Products

Essential oils are widely used as fragrances in natural skincare products, allying their scents to medicinal properties. They both remain strong throughout the usage of haircare and skincare products that don’t undergo a chemical reaction. This is why your handmade soap will not smell as strong as your homemade perfume, when using the same essential oil.

Below you can find a chart with essential oils’ properties and what quantities you may use, grouped by hair type, to help you formulate your own haircare products. 

Be aware that many essential oils lack enough scientific studies to backup medicinal properties’ claims, especially in humans, so I make a distinction between science-based known properties and what is stated on the net. I am not claiming whether these statements are true or false, only showing references to studies done to back them up (or not).

Is it strange that an essential oil works for you but is not backed up by science? Not at all.

There is no standardization of essential oil products used across research studies. As an example, there is a big difference between true and spiked lavender oil. Furthermore, the chemical composition of essential oils varies depending on several factors such as extraction techniques used, the country of origin, the climate, the soil type, and the age of the plant. Studies themselves are also not standardized, making comparisons or objective statements almost impossible to make.

So, feel free to enjoy your essential oils, by their scent, or even by their medicinal properties, even if it’s not proven that they work. As for quantities, I recommend using 1%, but you may increase up to 3% of the final product. Just see what effect it has on your scalp and hair and adjust. Stop if you feel your scalp irritated.

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Essential Oils For Hair Growth

I start with the most controversial: do essential oils really grow hair? Hair growth is a tricky thing: using products that stimulate hair follicles to come to live may or may not work. It depends how severe is your hair thinning issue and its cause and whether you do have hair roots or not. Some hair loss is due to your health condition. Check out How To Grow My Hair Faster And Longer Naturally to know more about the subject.

Still, I believe it’s worth the try. They are natural products and will nourish your hair and scalp with nutrients. I’ve been consistently using rosemary essential oil in my haircare products (first, a conditioner and then the shampoo bar) and I do have small hair growing all the time.

You do need to be persistent and include one of these essential oils in your haircare routine: in hair masks, shampoo, conditioner, hair sprays… Use it for 2 to 4 months before giving up, and trying another. You may still use them just because you love the scent, however.

Essential OilScent Notes and % UsageProperties
science-based
Properties from
common knowledge
Essential oil rosemary

Rosemary
rosemary
Sharp and herbal scent.

Middle Note

1% of product

There are over 200 publications related with rosemary oil (at PubMed).
According to one study, rosemary oil performed as well as minoxidil, a common hair growth treatment, but with less scalp itching as a side effect.
Hair conditioner, anti-oxidant and inhibits acne bacteria.
Info taken from Plants Used In Cosmetics and this article.
“If you want to improve both hair thickness and hair growth, rosemary oil is a great choice thanks to its ability to improve cellular generation.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare

Best known from folk medicine to help with hair growth. I’ve been using a blend of rosemary, peppermint and tea tree essential oils for more than one year in haircare products, and I have small hair growing all the time. While it’s no miracle product, I think it may give some help.
Essential oil lavender

Lavender

lavender
Floral and sweet scent.

Middle Note

1% of product
“(…) antibacterial, antifungal (…) said to encourage cell growth and so should be used to help with mending and regeneration in all kinds of skin ailments” – From Plants Used In Cosmetics.“Lavender oil can speed up hair growth. Knowing that lavender oil has properties that can generate the growth of cells and reduce stress, researchers on one animal study found that this oil was able to generate faster hair growth in mice.
It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which can improve scalp health.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare

I don’t usually use lavender essential oil for haircare, but that is because I save it for my lotions. You can use it blended with rosemary.
Essential oil peppermint

Peppermint

peppermint
Sharp and filled with herbal menthol scent.

Middle and Top Note

1% of product
Menthol content causes a cold feeling
Peppermint oil has 1221 articles and 187 clinical trial publications.

Peppermint oil is proven to kill several bacteria. See this article from PubMed.

Peppermint contain menthol, which can help fight pain in sore muscles. See this article.
“Peppermint oil can cause a cold, tingling feeling when it increases circulation to the area it’s applied to. This can help promote hair growth during the anagen (or growing) phase.

One study found that peppermint oil, when used on mice, increased the number of follicles, follicle depth, and overall hair growth.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare

I’ve been using a blend of rosemary, peppermint and tea tree essential oils for more than one year in haircare products, and I have small hair growing all the time. While it’s no miracle product, I think it may give some help.
Essential oil tea tree

Tea Tree

tea tree
Sharp, camphorous, and medicinal scent.

Top Note

1% of product
There are over 5000 published articles in PubMed related to tea tree oil.

Good at reducing acne, as it inhibits acne bacteria – powerful antimicrobial.

Info taken from Plants Used In Cosmetics and this article.
“Tea tree oil has powerful cleansing, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. When used topically, it can help unplug hair follicles and increase hair growth.
2013 study even found that a mixture containing tea tree oil and minoxidil was more effective than just the minoxidil alone in improving hair growth, though more studies are needed on using tea tree oil only.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare

I use it blended with rosemary and peppermint, obtaining a wonderful camphorous, minty aroma. As for hair growth, I think it may provide some help.

Essential Oils For Dandruff

Personally, I don’t suffer from dandruff, so I can’t really speak about the eficacy of essential oils in treating this condition. Dandruff is a condition with no cure, but you can – and should – treat and control its symptoms. Flaky, red, itchy scalp are the most common ones.

Essential oils that are anti-bacterial, cleansing and calming may help with dandruff. My advice, as usual, is to give it a try for a couple of months, and use each essential oil alone, to check out if it’s good for you, and making any effect in your hair or scalp. Check out for more information in How To Remove Dandruff Naturally.

Essential OilScent Notes and % UsageProperties science-basedProperties from common knowledge
Essential oil lemongrass

Lemongrass

lemongrass
Strong “lemony” scent.

Top Note

1% of product
There are 297 published articles in PubMed related with lemongrass oil.

“Some research has shown that lemongrass essential oil has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and astringent abilities. Still, more studies are needed on humans before it can be recommended as a mainstream treatment.” – From Healthline.com,
lemongrass oil article.
Dandruff can be a common ailment, and having a healthy, flake-free scalp is an important part of hair health. Lemongrass oil is an effective dandruff treatment, with one 2015 study finding that it significantly reduced dandruff after one week.”- From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare

I was really surprised with lemongrass essential oil. It resembles to a lemony scent. I’ve made a shampoo using lemongrass, and its scent is very lasting.
Essential oil tea tree

Tea Tree

tea tree
Sharp, camphorous, and medicinal scent.

Top Note

1%-5% of product
There are over 5000 published articles in PubMed related to tea tree oil.

Helps to control dandruff. A 2002 study found that antibacterial tea tree oil improves dandruff, reduces itchiness, and improves greasiness.
A review in 2015 found tea tree is commonly used in anti-dandruff treatment products.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare

Camphorous scent, very good, strong and powerful. Careful to use it in leave-in products though, I had no allergic reaction, but it burned…

Essential Oils For Oily Hair

Oily hair is the result of an excess of sebum production in your scalp. Sebum is produced to protect your scalp from bacteria and fungus, and keep it hydrated.

Many factors may cause this sebum production excess, but cleaning and balancing the skin on your scalp is the key to reduce greasy hair. Keep it clean and bacteria-free but not too dry or irritated. Find out more about it in How To Stop Hair Getting Greasy.

Essential OilScent Notes and % UsageProperties
science-based
Properties from
common knowledge
Essential oil rosemary

Rosemary
rosemary
Sharp and herbal scent.

Middle Note

1% of product

There are over 200 publications related with rosemary oil (at PubMed).

Hair conditioner, anti-oxidant and inhibits acne bacteria.
Info taken from Plants Used In Cosmetics and this article.
Rosemary oil is noted for its anti-inflammatory, stimulating, and analgesic properties. (…) may help keep excess sebum at bay.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for skin

As a hair conditioner, this essential oil might prevent excess sebum production. I have good results with a blend with this essential oil for my hair, and I am able to keep my hair clean for 2-3 days, when beforehand, I hardly withstood 1 day.
Essential oil tea tree

Tea Tree

tea tree
Sharp, camphorous, and medicinal scent.

Top Note

1% of product
There are over 5000 published articles in PubMed related to tea tree oil.

Helps reducing greasy hair. A 2002 study found that antibacterial tea tree oil improves dandruff, reduces itchiness, and improves greasiness.
“Tea tree oil has powerful cleansing, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare

I use it blended with rosemary and peppermint, obtaining a wonderful camphorous, minty aroma. Tea tree is a powerful cleanser and anti-septic. It will help keep your scalp clean and bacteria-free, and that way might help control sebum production.

Essential Oils For Dry Hair

Dry hair comes from an inability for the scalp to keep hair conditioned with natural sebum. Probably getting more common these days, when we tend to over-wash, use shampoos with strong detergents, style our hair with blow dryers all the time, perform hair chemical treatments. Rooms with air-conditioning, dry winters, dry summers, they all contribute to a dry hair.

What can you do about it? Just give some extra-conditioning treatment to your hair. I do believe that the key ingredient is actually vegetable, nutritive oils and butters, more than the essential oils. Make some hair masks, using oils and conditioning essential oils – a very nutritive and fragrant hair treatment. See more in What Is The Best Treatment For Dry Frizzy Hair.

Essential OilScent Notes and % UsageProperties
science-based
Properties from
common knowledge
Essential oil rosemary

Rosemary
rosemary
Sharp and herbal scent.

Middle Note

1% of product

There are over 200 publications related with rosemary oil (at PubMed).

Hair conditioner, anti-oxidant and inhibits acne bacteria.
Info taken from Plants Used In Cosmetics and this article.
“If you want to improve both hair thickness and hair growth, rosemary oil is a great choice thanks to its ability to improve cellular generation.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare.

Best known from folk medicine to help with hair growth, rosemary is also known as a conditioning essential oil for haircare.
Essential oil ylang-ylang

Ylang-Ylang

ylang-ylang
Floral, earthy, green and sweet notes.

Middle/Base Note

1% of product
There are 145 publications related with ylang-ylang (at PubMed).

Studied for aromatherapy, ylang-ylang increases calmness and helps with mental processing speed.
“While those with oily hair and skin would want to skip this one, ylang-ylang oil is ideal for those with dry scalps, as it can stimulate sebum production. (…) ylang-ylang can improve hair texture and reduce hair breakage.” – From Healthline.com, Essential oils for haircare

Ylang-ylang is a strong floral scent with a hint of … remedy. It does improve once you apply it, as the floral notes become more proeminent. I’ve used ylang-ylang in soap, mainly. I might use it for my next shampoo formula for dry hair.

Other essential oils I’ve read about in this Healthline post that may help with hair growth or itchy, inflammed scalp are Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus or Thyme.

Takeaway

After reading a lot about haircare products, natural hair treatments, and even some scientific papers about haircare, here’s my conclusion: rosemary, lavender, peppermint and tea tree essential oils are the ones with better scientific backup that they actually help with haircare and conditions such as dandruff, or itchy scalp.

That’s why I use three of them in most of my homemade haircare formulas. However, feel free to try the other ones on the list for your hair, and see how to goes.

Besides using essential oils in shampoos or hair conditioners, hair masks are probably the best and most effective way to apply essential oils in your hair. You can make a very simple mask with coconut oil or olive oil and one essential oil of your choice.

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