Courtesy of Byrdie and written by Del Sandeen
Essential oils are practically magic. These potent, highly concentrated oils are derived from the seeds, roots, stems, bark, leaves, and flowers of plants and trees. Each EO has different properties — from calming your senses to boosting hair health — making them perfectly customizable for DIY potions, including for those targeted to black hair.
Some want to believe that essential oils can make hair grow faster, but there are no guarantees. What they can do for sure is keep hair healthy and strong, which diminishes breakage. This is super important for African American hair since it tends to be fragile and prone to dryness. Ultimately, healthy, nourished hair grows faster than damaged hair.
Here’s an introduction to powerful essential oils for hair. Keep in mind this list isn’t comprehensive, but it’ll get you started.
Benefits: Promotes the health of hair follicles
Even just a whiff of peppermint is instantly refreshing. Add it to your shampoo or conditioner, and your scalp will feel it, too. Peppermint EO has shown to keep your follicles healthy, which is one of the keys to hair growth.
Benefits: Promotes hair health and moisture retention
If you love a strong fragrance, ylang ylang EO is for you. The heady, full-bodied aroma is intoxicating. The scent is also beneficial if you want to mask the smell of other products. For example, Jamaican black castor oil is another potent ingredient for nourishing hair, but not everyone loves its smoky, nutty aroma. Ylang ylang can take care of that and boost the power, too.
Benefits: Calms, promotes hair health, relieves dry scalp
Whether it’s the fresh herb, the tea, or the essential oil, rosemary is one of the most calming scents. Adding a few drops of rosemary EO to shampoo or conditioner can also help alleviate a dry, itchy scalp.
Benefits: Relieves stress, diminishes dandruff
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils. Not only are lavender-scented products often used to promote restfulness and peaceful vibes, but lavender EO is wonderful for your hair, too. It relieves dandruff and promotes a healthier scalp.
Benefits: Strengthens hair, improves scalp health
Clary sage helps purify the scalp and strengthen hair. Combine a few drops with lavender or rosemary essential oil, then mix into a shampoo, conditioner, or hair mask.
Benefits: Antibacterial, relieves itchiness and dandruff
Tea tree oil is powerful stuff; use it very sparingly. It’s best to dilute it with water, a carrier oil, or other hair product. Once you do that, massage it into your scalp to alleviate itchiness or dandruff. If you only co-wash and need to dissolve any buildup on your scalp, this mixture can also help with that.
Benefits: Antiseptic properties, calms
The woody aroma of sandalwood is one of its most beloved characteristics. Add a few fragrant drops to your conditioner to help soften dry hair.
Benefits: Calms, relieves itchiness and dandruff
Cedarwood essential oil is a scalp soother. To boost it, pair it with complementary rosemary EO for a healthy hair tonic.
Benefits: Stimulates the scalp, strengthens hair
Bergamot essential oil is so versatile. It mixes well with other oils, including clary sage, jasmine, ylang ylang, sandalwood, and rosemary, as well as Jamaican black castor oil.
Benefit: Calms, promotes shine
Like the cup of tea, soothing chamomile essential oil is the quintessence of calm. It also conditions and promotes lustrous, shiny hair.
Essential Oil Safety
Just because a product is natural, doesn’t mean it’s 100-percent safe for you. Nearly all essential oils must be diluted in another product, such as a carrier oil or conditioner. Using them directly on your skin, including your scalp, can lead to minor or major irritation.
Some EOs aren’t compatible with certain medical conditions. Do your due diligence before using any EO; this is particularly important for pregnant or nursing women, for anyone who experiences seizures, and for children.
Always purchase from a reputable health retailer and stick to brands you know to be safe. If in doubt, do not use the essential oil.