Olive oil, a rich source of bioactive compounds, has been used for centuries in traditional medicine – and culinary practices. But you may not have known that olive oil scalp treatment may be able to calm and soothe your scalp, strengthen your hair follicles, and possibly even stimulate hair growth, according to some data. We go into the evidence supporting the use of olive oil for thicker, longer hair.
In recent years, benefits of olive oil for scalp health and hair growth have gained scientific interest. This article aims to review the scientific evidence supporting the use of olive oil as a scalp treatment, particularly for dry scalp conditions as scalp health is essential for hair growth.
We explore the properties of olive oil that contribute to its efficacy, including its moisturizing effects, nutrient composition, and potential mechanisms of action. The findings highlight the potential therapeutic value of olive oil for promoting scalp health and hair growth.
Olive oil for scalp health
The scalp is a vital environment for hair growth, and maintaining its health is crucial for optimal hair quality. Dry scalp conditions, characterized by flakiness, itchiness, and discomfort, can disrupt the hair growth cycle. This happens due to the skin around the hair follicle becoming infected that can inhibit hair growth. Dead skin resulting from flaky scalp can also clog the pores and hair follicles themselves – all of which can slow down the growth.
Olive oil, with its diverse composition of fatty acids, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds, offers promising therapeutic potential for scalp health and hair growth.
Moisturizing properties of olive oil
One of the primary benefits of olive oil for hair and scalp health, is its exceptional moisturizing capacity. Olive oil acts as an emollient, penetrating deeply into the scalp and forming a protective barrier to prevent water loss. This moisturizing effect alleviates dryness and reduces the risk of developing scalp conditions, such as dandruff and psoriasis, which can hinder hair growth. Olive oil can also help nutrient delivery of other oils that you might mix up with it – for example peppermint or rosemary.
Why moisturising your scalp is important for hair growth?
Scalp moisturization is important for hair growth because it helps create an optimal environment for healthy hair follicles. A few reasons why scalp moisturization is beneficial:
- Hydration: Just like the skin on the rest of our body, the scalp also needs proper hydration to stay healthy. A well-moisturized scalp helps to maintain the natural moisture balance, preventing it from becoming dry, flaky, or itchy. Dryness can lead to a compromised scalp barrier, which can negatively impact hair growth through bacteria penetrating deeper into your scalp and affecting hair bulb at its root.
- Reduced Breakage: Dryness and lack of moisture can make the hair brittle, prone to breakage, and more likely to split. Moisturizing the scalp helps to keep the hair shafts hydrated, reducing the risk of breakage and split ends. This allows the hair to grow longer and appear healthier.
- Scalp Health: A dry or unhealthy scalp can be a breeding ground for various scalp conditions, such as dandruff, itching, and inflammation. These conditions can hinder hair growth and lead to hair loss. By keeping the scalp moisturized, you can minimize the risk of such issues and maintain a healthy environment for hair follicles to thrive.
- Product Absorption: A well-moisturized scalp enhances the absorption and effectiveness of other hair care products: shampoos, serums and other treatments. When the scalp is properly moisturized, these products can penetrate the scalp more effectively and provide the necessary nutrients to support hair growth.
Olive oil contains a range of nutrients that are beneficial for scalp health. It is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, including oleic acid, which can improve hair elasticity and strength. Oleic acid can also promote reduction in blood pressure and widening of blood vessels – an essential process that can stimulate hair growth. However for this effect to occur, oleic acid needs to be ingested internally, rather than applied topically (i.e. on scalp) to increase the vasodilatory effect on scalp’s blood vessels.
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Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial Properties of Olive oil
Dry scalp conditions are often accompanied by inflammation and microbial imbalances. Olive oil’s bioactive components, such as polyphenols and squalene, possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. They help alleviate scalp inflammation and combat microbial overgrowth, reducing the incidence of scalp infections and dandruff. Its anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe and calm irritated or inflamed skin, in conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or sunburns. Olive oil for dry scalp can be an excellent and easy-to-access solution.
Natural compounds in olive oils can help against local scalp inflammation
Scalp inflammation is one of the main reasons behind hair follicle minituarisation and hair thinning. Polyphenols – a diverse group of natural compounds found in olive oil – can regulate inflammation by topical application on scalp by:
- Inhibiting inflammatory enzymes involved in the production of inflammatory substances.
- Modulating (inhibiting) signaling pathways involved in inflammation, playing crucial roles in genes that promote inflammation.
- Antioxidant activity: polyphenols can scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Free radicals can contribute to scalp inflammation by promoting the production of pro-inflammatory molecules. By neutralizing free radicals, polyphenols can help reduce oxidative stress and the subsequent inflammation associated with it.
Anti-inflammatory polyphenols found in olive oil are Oleuropein, Hydroxytyrosol, Tyrol, Oleocanthal and Ligstroside.
Research suggests that there are multiple mechanisms of how olive oil for hair benefits scalp health. Olive oil may also stimulate blood circulation in the scalp, promoting nutrient and oxygen delivery to the hair follicles, thus supporting hair growth. However this specific action in topical application is much less, as compared to consuming olive oil as part of healthy diet – which improves your cardiovascular health.
To benefit your hair growth from olive oil, you can massage your scalp, use it as a pre-shampoo treatment and overnight oil soaks. It is important to note that individual responses may vary, and you should consider potential allergic reactions. Patch testing is advisable, especially for individuals with known allergies to olive or other plant-based oils.
Blood flow to scalp and olive oil
Olive oil effect on blood flow should be especially highlighted, since blood flow plays a crucial role in promoting hair growth. The active ingredients in olive oil, oleic acid, is responsible for triggering a nitric oxide synthase (NOS). This process is known to cause vasodilatory (expanding) effect on your blood vessels and an improvement of blood flow to scalp, leading to better hair growth. However topical application of olive oil is not effective in promoting scalp blood flow. The lowering of blood pressure happens primarily by ingesting olive oil as food supplement.
How to Use Olive Oil for Hair Growth
Despite oleic acid being only partially efficient when applied directly on the scalp, it is an excellent carrier oil for essential oils, such as peppermint or rosemary essential oils. Both of these oils contain ethanol as carrier for its active compounds and olive oil has been shown to improve absorption of ethanol molecules.
Therefore best way to use olive oil for hair growth, is to mix essential oils known to promote hair growth with warm (but not hot) olive oil in the ratio of 10 drops of essential oil to 30 ml / 2 tbsp of olive oil and massaging your scalp for 10 minutes twice a week. You can leave this mixture on your scalp for an hour or even overnight. Wash off with your usual shampoo and conditioner routine.
Conclusion: can olive oil grow your hair?
Scientific evidence supports the potential of olive oil as a therapeutic agent for promoting scalp health and hair growth. Its moisturising properties, nutrient composition, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects contribute to its efficacy in treating dry scalp conditions which then indirectly can support your hair growth. These qualities are the primary reason to include olive oil in the formulation of this hair growth mask and other scalp treatments that stimulate growth of healthy hair and promote scalp health.
Olive oil in pharmacological and cosmetic traditions, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (1)
Mechanism of oleic acid-induced skin penetration enhancement in vivo in humans, Journal of Controlled Release (2)
An Overview of the Modulatory Effects of Oleic Acid in Health and Disease, Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry (3)
Oleic acid content is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure induced by olive oil, (4)
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