There may be many health benefits that come with eating olive oil. But did you know that all those fats, vitamins, and antioxidants in olive oil may help your hair, too?
Olive oil has been used in hair treatments for a long time. In fact, the Ancient Greeks used it as a conditioning treatment. While it’s certainly tried and true, there aren’t many studies that explore the benefits of olive oil as a topical hair treatment.
That said, there is one study that promotes one of the most compelling potential benefits of olive oil for hair: hair growth. We’ll get into it below.
Aside from the hard research, there are many anecdotal stories that show olive oil improving hair growth.
Here’s a look into olive oil for hair growth: are there benefits?
Why Does Hair Loss Happen?
According to the Mayo Clinic, hair loss (also known as alopecia), can be caused by a number of reasons. It may be caused by genes, hormonal changes, a medical condition, or just as a normal part of aging. Hair loss on the head can happen to anyone, but it’s more common in men.
The most common form of hair loss is a gradual thinning on the top of the head. For men, this often starts with a receding hairline. For women, it’s usually a broadening of their part. That said, women can also experience a receding hairline.
People typically lose somewhere between 50 and 100 hairs a day. This is normal and not noticeable, as hair is always growing in at the same time. Hair loss becomes noticeable when there is not new hair growing in.
There are many treatments for hair loss, from medication to topical shampoos to hair transplant surgery. However, there is one treatment you may already have in your pantry: olive oil.
Olive Oil For Hair Growth
As mentioned above, there have not been many studies on olive oil for hair loss. However, there have been small studies with rather promising results.
In a small study on mice, researchers found that topically applying oleuropein, a bioactive compound in olive oil, can positively impact the hair growth cycle.
How does it work? It upregulates genetic pathways that induce anagenic hair growth. Anagenic hair growth is the active growth phase, when the root of the hair is dividing rapidly and adding to the hair shaft.
While the results are promising, this was a study on mice, so we can’t say for sure if it would have the same effect on humans.
Olive Oil For Hair Thickness
In another study, researchers found that gently massaging the scalp with a nutrient-rich oil, like olive oil, might have a positive impact on the thickness of hair. In the study, those who gave themselves a four-minute scalp massage each day for six months had thicker hair at the end of the study.
And that’s not the only research – another study found that scalp massage may help with a form of hair loss called androgenic alopecia. While researchers aren’t sure exactly why this helps, they hypothesize that a scalp massage gently stretches hair follicles, which might promote hair thickness. Another possibility is that increased blood circulation at the hair follicle might promote growth.
Would you like to try your own scalp massage for hair thickness? Here’s how.
Olive Oil Massage For Hair Thickness
An olive oil scalp massage is an easy, inexpensive way to work toward healthy hair growth and away from a dry scalp. If you keep up with it, you might see your hair grow with increased thickness thanks to the natural oil's moisturizing and nourishing fatty acids. While hair length isn't a result for everyone, a scalp massage is also super relaxing and is a must-try home remedy for a scalp health to try right alongside hair masks -- you wouldn't skimp out on your moisturizer or the rest of your skincare routine would you? Consider it a win either way!
Here’s how to do it.
- When your hair is wet or damp, gently apply about two tablespoons to ¼ cup of olive oil onto the hair.
- To give your olive oil a boost, add a couple drops of rosemary and/or peppermint essential oils. These are believed to promote hair growth. As a general rule, add one or two drops per tablespoon of olive oil.
- Use your fingertips to apply light to medium pressure to the scalp. Move in small circles.
- Do your best to cover all areas of the scalp while you massage.
- For best results, massage your scalp every day for at least five minutes at a time.
- If you’d like some added shine and moisture, you can leave the olive oil on your hair for 15 minutes.
- Once you’re finished, shampoo your hair to remove the olive oil.
Olive Oil For Breakage Prevention
Another cause of hair that feels thin is unwanted breakage. Interestingly enough, studies show that showering can cause damage to all hair styles and textures.
Why? Hair is at its weakest point when it’s wet. And it’s at this weakened point when we shampoo, adding products and friction to the hair. When there is friction, cuticles are raised, which can cause breakage.
However, applying olive oil prior to washing creates a protective shield that can minimize breakage.
Who Should Use Olive Oil For Hair Growth?
Olive oil is recommended for those with kinky, frizzy, and curly hair textures. These hair types are more porous, which means they can lose moisture easily. As curly hair has many twists and turns, these are also the points that are more vulnerable to breakage or split ends.
Olive oil is also recommended for those with very dry hair, as olive oil helps delivers a serious boost of moisture to make for a healthy scalp. While those with more oily hair could experience the potential benefits with the use of olive oil for hair growth and reinforcing hair strands, olive oil might give hair an oily appearance and weigh it down.
Side Effects of Olive Oil on Hair
There are a few other side effects worth noting. While some people have no problems at all, everyone’s hair is different. Here are some potential side effects of using olive oil in the hair.
- Some users report that oils cause build-up on the scalp and hair, making the scalp more irritated.
- In more extreme cases, some say that olive oil can cause dandruff. As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe told Mind Body Green, “Dandruff is caused by a yeast on our scalp, and if you use olive oil, you are feeding that yeast, which might make dandruff worse.” That said, she has no qualms about using olive oil on the ends of the hair.
To avoid unwanted side effects of olive oil for the hair, a good rule of thumb is to keep it light. If your hair reacts well to olive oil, you can always increase the amount you use.
What Kind of Olive Oil Should Be Used For Hair?
Especially for a quick scalp massage, any olive oil would do fine. However, those looking to get the most nutrients from their olive oil should go with an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
As Dr. Chambers-Harris, a trichologist and founder of Alodia Hair Care, told Byrdie, “I would recommend going for an organic, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) that's unrefined and not treated with any chemicals or heat—it's the highest-quality available, and much healthier for your hair.”
If you’d prefer not to use your favorite EVOO for your hair, there are plenty of professional options on the market.
Olive oil is a common ingredient in hair products, so you could get the benefits without using up your favorite dipping oil.
Whether your favorite EVOO is for your locks or for your loaf, (or both) — enjoy!