Rosemary Oil: Nature’s Answer To Minoxidil?

by Andre
Published: Last Updated on

If you’re already totally bald then Rosemary Oil won’t be turning you into Bradley Cooper anytime soon but don’t close this page just yet.

If you’re looking to either inhibit hair loss around the edges or just help to create a healthy overall scalp environment for your hair, Rosemary Oil might just be the right natural product for you.

Rosemary Oil – The Basics

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis to coin it by its full name) is a herb commonly found in the Mediterranean. It’s no surprise therefore that diets of people from the region are typically high in Rosemary consumption. The oil is usually made through extraction using heat and another oil (such as olive oil) or is extracted through alcohol.

Rosemary’s medicinal potency comes from its high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are molecules in plants that protect them from everyday environmental stresses. Due to their potent ability to collect and remove free radicals, they are adept at this vital protecting role they play. So much so that their therapeutic benefits can be enjoyed by humans too.

Rosemary is so effective it is used as a natural antioxidant in foods to extend their shelf life[1].

Mediterranean diets, which are therefore typically higher in polyphenols, have been found to have anti-cancer properties. Two particular Rosemary polyphenols, carnosol and carnosic acid were found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in mice by up to 36%[2].

Rosemary even appears to have neuroprotective properties which evidence suggests can improve memory[3][4] and cognitive performance, as well as protect against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s [5].

So hair benefits aside, Rosemary ain’t no bad thing to include in your diet.

Rosemary: Health benefits, precautions, and drug interactions
Figure 1: The unassuming medicinal powerhouse, Rosemary

What About Hair, Is Rosemary Really As Good As Minoxidil?

Well, yes and no. Few studies looking at Rosemary’s effectiveness at preventing hair loss exist, but a 2015 study sought out to answer this exact question.

The study divided 100 participants into two groups; one group applied rosemary oil topically to their hair and scalp, whilst the other group used 2% concentration minoxidil instead.

After 3 months neither group had any observable increase in hair count. After 6 months, however, both groups did exhibit a statistically significant increase in hair count vs baseline. The interesting findings were that:

  • There was no difference in the amount of hair growth between the two groups (i.e. rosemary oil was just as effective as minoxidil)
  • The rosemary oil group had less incidence of scalp itching than did the minoxidil group

However, this study compared Rosemary Oil against only a 2% concentration minoxidil solution. 5% concentration minoxidil, in products such as Regaine, has been shown to be up to 45% more effective than 2% concentrations[6]. So Rosemary oil is only as good the less effective 2% solution, but it still appears to work.

But this fact alone doesn’t render Rosemary Oil useless. Unlike pharmaceutical derived solutions, nature has an uncanny ability to produce substances that improve a multitude of issues in one neat solution.

But back to the minoxidil comparison for now. Upon cessation of the use of minoxidil, shedding is a common side effect experienced by users. The amount of shedding is typically less with 2% concentrations than 5% solutions. So what if there was a gentle, natural, multi-beneficial alternative to minoxidil? We suggest Rosemary oil.

For those with most of their hair, Rosemary Oil may be a sensible and gentle introduction to the world of topical solutions. Plus if you’re hesitant about using minoxidil, it’s a solid first step to take.

Rosemary is 100% natural, it has other highly beneficial hair properties (which are discussed below), and it is readily available and cheap. Put it this way, you will almost certainly be helping your hair by applying Rosemary oil topically without running the risk of any side effects.

For those reasons, we’d consider Rosemary Oil a highly effective drug-free preventative or an early-on hair loss inhibitor.

In What Ways Might It Be Beneficial For Hair?

As we already know, inflammation is a key reason for hair loss. For this reason alone, we are always on the hunt for natural products that can make our scalps hair-friendlier and healthier environments. Rosemary oil does this and goes much much further.

Figure 2: This 2019 study found a 4 fold increase in anti-inflammatory activity in the presence of Rosemary Oil

Rosemary essential oil is a proven antibacterial and anti-fungal solution[7]. Fungal infections are one source of inflammation on our scalps, so tackling fungi is one key step to making our scalps friendlier places for hair to grow. Given the high polyphenol content (potent anti-inflammatory compounds), this is one property that we love.

More importantly, just like minoxidil, Rosemary oil is a vasodilator[8]. As we learnt here hair loss occurs as hair follicles slowly miniaturise over time. This miniaturisation, crudely speaking, occurs as more and more DHT bind to our androgen receptors (hair-hormone receptors). This results in less blood flow and nutrients feeding the follicle, resulting in its eventual death.

Opening up and maintaining the ‘structural integrity’ of our capillary network feeding our skin and hair follicles is another vital hair-saving exercise, and is just another tool on offer in the Rosemary work-belt.

If its vasoldilatory properties help us deal with DHT that has already bound to our hair follicles, can it do anything to prevent that DHT from binding in the first place? The answer seems to be yes.

Rosemary Oil Also Blocks DHT?

Rosemary oil tackles hair loss in two other key ways. Firstly, it appears to prevent DHT from binding to hair follicles. Secondly, evidence suggests that it inhibits scar tissue from forming, which, whether you know it or not, is one of the leading underlying causes of hair loss.

Firstly on DHT, a 2013 study looked at the effect Rosemary oil had on hair regrowth in mice who had undergone testosterone treatment which had interrupted their normal hair growth cycles. They found two things.

First, that Rosemary appeared to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase by up to 80% (this is the enzyme that catalyses the production of DHT from testosterone, more on that here). Second, they found Rosemary to be antiandrogenic.

In other words, it both reduced the amount of DHT being formed by the body and reduced the amount of DHT that made its way to our hair follicles. Impressive stuff.

Rosemary also appears to be effective at reducing scar tissue formation, otherwise known as fibrosis. Scar tissue is normally formed in response to injury or exposure to chronic inflammation.

The main way scar tissue is expressed (or formed) is through something known as Transforming Growth Factor-Beta (TGF-B for short). We will revisit how inflammation and hair loss are related in another article.

Rosemary oil has repeatedly shown itself to be an inhibitor of the TGF-Beta pathway, with its presence found to result in less scar tissue and less fibrosis occurring in local tissue areas[9][10][11].

Not bad for something so simple and natural huh?

Suggested Usage

Everyone’s daily routines are always busy, so one factor that’s always at the back of our minds here at is not just efficacy, but also ease of use.

One product that might be less effective than another at stopping hair loss may still be more valuable to us if it is cheap and easy to use regularly. Rosemary Oli certainly falls into this category.

Given that, here are a couple of approaches we suggest for including it in your daily routine:

  1. Pick any high quality 100% Rosemary Essential Oil.
  2. Add a few drops after shampooing. Whilst still in the shower, add a few drops of Rosemary oil onto your hair (part your hair so that more of it reaches the scalp), and massage gently into your head. Massage is a great blood flow stimulating activity so why not kill two birds with one stone.
  3. Consider mixing with a carrier oil and applying after a shower. Similar to the above point, however, some people recommend adding a few drops of Rosemary oil to a carrier oil such as Coconut or Jojoba oils. These can help with absorption into the scalp and are also helpful for hair in their own ways.


Rosemary Oil ain’t no wonder cure, but no one’s perfect anyway, right?

If you still have most if not all of your hair, then Rosemary is an excellent preventative/early intervention step to take with its all-encompassing approach. It’s nature’s drug-free alternative to minoxidil and, compared to 2% concentration minoxidil solutions at least, it’s just as effective.

However, nature shows us what it can really do in solutions such as Rosemary. In one plant we have many many beneficial properties. Rosemary is an anti-fungal and antibacterial agent, it promotes blood flow to our hair follicles, it reduces scarring from chronic inflammation, and on top of all that it also inhibits DHT.

Unlike most pharmaceutical derived drugs, natural-based solutions offer a multitude of holistic health improvements all rolled up into one, that’s one reason why we are so passionate about the power and potential of Mother Nature here at Rosemary is an excellent example of this phenomenon at work.

So why not add Rosemary oil to your daily routine. It’s almost certainly a step in the right direction for healthier thicker hair.

References Used in this Article

1 comment

Brendan R 23 July 2020 - 17:59

Interesting reading…would you rate it over Peppermint Oil?


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