Curious controversy of peppermint oil and hair growth
While writing this article we were taken on a ride, ride made of peppermint oil and cooling sensation of the controversy we had found in the scientific research. But in the style of our blog, let’s first look at the science and chemical structure of peppermint oil and understand its composition, before jumping into understanding why peppermint oil can be good, and almost essential, for promoting healthy hair growth.
What is peppermint oil made of?
Peppermint oil comes from peppermint (Mentha × piperita), a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint. Indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, the plant is now widely spread and cultivated in many regions around the globe. Peppermint oil has two main constituents: menthol and menthone.
Menthone is an organic compound commonly found in plants and insects to deter predators, including herbivore animals, with the minty flavour. It is a type of turpentine, same compound that you find in painting supplies, that has a characteristic, pungent smell, though admittedly, menthone has a much better smell! Essentially, menthone, is what gives peppermint its fresh and invigorating aroma.
Menthol is a crystalline organic compound with a well-known and researched local anaesthetic and anti-irritant qualities. Menthol is commonly added to anaesthetic gels applied topically to relieve muscle tension and pain. It is also a common ingredient in skin-soothing balms and ointments. In other words, it is menthol in toothpaste that tingles your mouth and gums, while menthone is what makes your breath smell fresh. Simply put, menthol is the active ingredient when it comes to its possible healing effects on our bodies, including peppermint oil effect on hair growth.
Peppermint oil and blood vessels in scalp controversy
Some people believe menthol’s cooling sensations and anaesthetic properties induce a vasoconstrictive effect, i.e. shrinkage of blood vessels. However, an overwhelming amount of scientific research repeatedly shows a vasodilatory effect, i.e. expansion of blood vessels. When you apply a menthol-based product topically, it increases blood flow, while also numbing and cooling the skin or scalp. While it “feels” cooling, it doesn’t actually make it so. This is what leads some people to think of it as a vasoconstrictor. (Source and Source). (We went a little mad in trying to understand this, and only reading a number of those papers we understood this peculiar “controversy”.)
Blood flow in scalp and hair growth
Vasodilation, or expansion of blood vessels has a direct effect on blood flow. And increased blood flow has been proven to increase activity in the hair follicles and therefore directly impact by increasing hair growth (Source). Which can be one of the main reasons why in a recent, notable study, peppermint oil outperformed minoxidil, a well known hair loss and hair re-growth product. The graph shows the difference in performance between peppermint oil, minoxidil, jojoba oil and a saline solution (placebo), defining peppermint oil as THE oil for hair health. (Source)
The role of peppermint oil in helping hair growth can be attributed to its ability to promote healthy blood flow in scalp. The latter ensures the nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the hair follicles, therefore feeding the hair shaft and supporting the function of the hair root.
The “root” of peppermint oil for hair growth
These outstanding qualities of peppermint oil made it one of the active ingredeients in The Hair Fuel, our signature, all-natural hair growth mask. Coupled with refreshing smell as well as its blood flow improving, a.k.a. hair growing, properties – made it an invaluable contributor and a final “cherry-on-top” touch to the your hair growing journey.
It is important to add peppermint oil to the roots of your hair – where it is growing from and let it stay on your scalp to maximise absorption.
How-to apply peppermint oil for hair growth at home
In addition, you can also incorporate peppermint oil to your hair oiling routine, simply by mixing 10-15 drops of it into 2 tablespoons of your favourite hair oil and applying the mixture onto your scalp. A combination with 5:50:50 peppermint : castor oil : carrier oil can be applied overnight and washed off first thing in the morning. Otherwise keeping the mixture for 30-60 minutes prior to hairwashing also works in a similar way.
Another powerful method would be to apply essential peppermint oil 10-15 minutes before derma-rolling, or 60-90 minutes after it or sooner if there is no significant bleeding after using a dermaroller. Using peppermint oil in combination with the derma-roller increases the blood flow to the area where you need it the most for hair growth.
Important to note, that adding peppermint oil to the conditioner might produce some nice smells in your shower, but given that conditioner is applied on the lengths of your hair and not the roots – you will miss out on its hair-growing qualities altogether.
A perfect travel companion
We thought to include a bonus, as all these qualities of peppermint oil may well make it the perfect travelling companion on the go. Its blood vessel expanding abilities and anaesthetic properties can aid various other health conditions, including providing relief for headache, nausea, as well as relieving itching and burning sensation from sunburns and mosquito bites. Peppermint oil and menthol are commonly added to anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners due to its soothing properties. Its aroma has been known for centuries for its calming effect as well – which can help in the times of stress and overwhelm. Just a few drops on wrists and forehead can help you ground and centre yourself in a stressful situation!
Thoughts? Questions? Have you used peppermint oil or peppermint oil-based products before? Let us know in the comment section below!