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Peppermint Oil for Hair: Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

Katelyn Brenner FNP

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Geoffrey Whittaker

Published 01/06/2021

Updated 09/08/2023

Chewing gum, juleps and your roommate’s half-assed herb garden: the three most likely places you’ve seen mint lately. But if you’re losing your hair, you may have stumbled on a fourth.

Search online for natural treatments for hair loss, and you’ll quickly find peppermint oil listed as an alternative to FDA-approved medications. 

There’s a reason for this. Peppermint essential oil is one of the more popular essential oils. Beyond its refreshing smell and cooling sensation, the touted antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties could — theoretically — make it a valuable ingredient in everything from shampoos and conditioners to other personal care products.

So, what does the science say?

We’ll answer this question below, review the current research, discuss the purported benefits and offer some advice on how to use peppermint oil as part of your hair care routine. We’ll also go over some alternatives for those of you who want mouthwash and hair styling to stay in separate lanes.

Peppermint oil is an essential oil made from, well…peppermint herb. A hybrid of watermint and spearmint, the plant’s official name is mentha piperita.

Like other mints, peppermint contains an organic compound called menthol. This is what gives the peppermint plant its unique flavor, as well as the mild cooling and anesthetic effects you feel when it’s applied to the skin.

Peppermint grows as a leafing plant, but peppermint oil is a highly concentrated, oil-based form of the compounds found in the leaves and flowers.

Like many other essential oils and natural oils for hair growth, peppermint oil is often promoted as a cure-all that can solve just about every ailment under the sun — including many forms of hair loss.

Though peppermint oil is commonly mentioned as an effective essential oil for stimulating hair growth, scientific research into its effects is very limited at this point.

For example, a few studies have found that peppermint oil, in combination with other products, may help treat indigestion. Other research has found that peppermint oil may help with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), tension headaches and abdominal pain.

Because of its uniquely refreshing scent, peppermint is a common ingredient in hair products, such as shampoos and conditioners, but its health benefits haven’t been studied extensively.

Although peppermint oil does appear to have some benefits, scientific research into its potential effects on hair growth is very limited.

Currently, there appears to be only one study that looked at peppermint essential oil’s effects on hair growth. The study compared peppermint oil to two other treatments for hair loss and a non-therapeutic saline solution in lab mice.

Prior to treatment, the mice were shaved, with their hair follicles synchronized in the telogen (resting) phase of the hair growth cycle.

Over the course of four weeks, the mice were treated with saline, jojoba oil, 3% peppermint oil (diluted in jojoba oil) or a 3% minoxidil solution. After four weeks, the mice in the peppermint oil group had significantly more rapid hair growth, beating every other group, including those treated with minoxidil.

The researchers concluded that peppermint essential oil may improve blood flow to hair cells, causing hairs to enter the anagen (growth) phase of their growth cycle. 

This study is certainly interesting. But it’s not conclusive proof that peppermint oil is effective at promoting hair growth in humans. Why not? Several reasons: 

  • It’s an animal study. While humans and mice share some characteristics, the fact that an ingredient produces a certain effect in mice doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll have the same effect on humans. 

  • It was a very small study involving about 20 mice.

  • Since the study has yet to be replicated, it’s far from conclusive evidence.

There doesn’t appear to be much other research looking at peppermint oil’s potential effects on hair growth. But one study from 2016 analyzed the effects of menthol on blood circulation to the skin.

The researchers found that topical use of menthol increases blood flow in the vascular system of the skin — a similar response seen with other topical hair loss treatments like FDA-approved minoxidil

Although these studies are interesting, there’s currently just not enough evidence to say peppermint oil definitely works to promote hair growth in humans. 

Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and many other cultures used peppermint for centuries as a remedy for numerous conditions and health issues. 

Sadly, there’s currently very little research to support most of the purported medicinal benefits of undiluted peppermint essential oil — let alone peppermint diluted with a carrier oil.

Could peppermint oil support general wellness? Sure.

But we don’t have proof that aromatherapy or topical treatments can actually help with:

  • Colds and sinus infections

  • Joint pain

  • Itching

  • Stress

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Headaches and muscle aches

Anecdotally, people may see improvements in these ailments after using peppermint oil — and in time, science may support the claims.

But right now, we (nor the FDA) are going to sit here and say the cooling effect of mint is better for reducing stress than medication, therapy or lifestyle changes, you dig?

Look, we’re not trying to stop you from using peppermint oil.

Generally speaking, we think you should stick with things approved by the FDA for hair growth. But if you’d like to try peppermint oil to see if it improves your hair growth, there are several ways to go about it:

  • Buy hair care products containing peppermint oil. You can find many shampoos, conditioners and other hair care products online and at drugstores with peppermint already inside.

  • Add peppermint oil to your regular hair care products. Your favorite shampoo doesn’t contain peppermint? After dispensing the shampoo into your hand, add one to two drops of peppermint essential oil — or add three to five drops per ounce of liquid for shampoo or conditioner still in the bottle.
    Apply peppermint oil directly to your scalp. Want to go the DIY route? Mix one to two drops into a tablespoon of jojoba oil, coconut oil, shea butter oil or another carrier oil, then massage your scalp with the oil before washing your hair with shampoo.

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When applied topically or taken orally in normal doses, peppermint oil is generally safe for most people — we’re hard-pressed to find toxicological research that says otherwise.

That said, you do need to be careful. When applied topically, peppermint oil may cause skin irritation and rashes. Peppermint oil shouldn’t be applied to the faces of infants or children, as the menthol in the oil could be harmful if inhaled.

When taken orally, peppermint oil may cause dry mouth, heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain and, in rare cases, allergic reactions.

To reduce your risk of experiencing side effects from peppermint oil, start with a small amount (one to two drops) mixed into your shampoo, conditioner or a carrier oil, then adjust over time based on your comfort level and preferences. 

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Starting to lose your hair? A range of treatment options are available to help slow down or stop thinning and even regrow some of your “lost” hair.

Consider these options.

  • Minoxidil. Minoxidil is a medication that improves blood flow to encourage hair growth. While it’s typically used as a topical medication in the form of minoxidil foam and minoxidil solution, oral versions are also available. When used daily, it can help to slow down hair loss and may even help you grow back “lost” hair.

  • Finasteride. Finasteride is an oral medication that blocks DHT, the hormone that causes male pattern baldness. Used on its own or with minoxidil, finasteride can slow down and stop hair loss. Sometimes, it can even stimulate new growth in parts of the scalp with thinning.

  • Saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is an herb that may block the hormone DHT, keeping your hair as thick and healthy as possible. It’s available over the counter and as an ingredient in our DHT-blocking shampoo.

  • Biotin. Although biotin doesn’t have any direct effects on male pattern baldness, it’s an essential vitamin for healthy, consistent hair growth. Various multivitamins and supplements for hair contain it, as do our biotin gummies, which make it easy to maintain optimal levels of the B vitamin for healthy hair, nails and skin.

  • Other options. Check out our volumizing shampoo and conditioner or our thickening shampoo with saw palmetto, and learn more about DHT-blocking shampoos to incorporate hair protection into your routine.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Alternative medicine practitioners are big on natural ingredients. Whether it’s rosemary oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil or castor oil, you have every reason to wonder if the antimicrobial, nourishing or hair regrowth claims made on behalf of these products are anything but nonsense.

As for the potential benefits of peppermint oil for hair, it’s too early to say.

Here’s what we know:

  • Although research into peppermint oil’s effects on hair growth looks promising, there just isn’t enough scientific evidence available to confidently say whether it works.

  • While peppermint oil might be a skincare booster that reduces dandruff and other issues with a quick scalp massage, science hasn’t really proved it to be reliable yet.

  • If you’re losing your hair, using peppermint oil may help stimulate growth.

  • However, there’s also a real possibility it won’t have any noticeable effects on your hair’s thickness, growth rate or overall appearance. 

If you want to protect the follicles you have, we suggest checking out the hair loss treatments currently on the market — many of which are available online from Hims.

That’s just one of the ways we can help you look fresh up top again — just maybe not minty-fresh.

8 Sources

  1. Zito PM, Bistas KG, Syed K. Finasteride. [Updated 2022 Aug 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/.
  2. Patel P, Nessel TA, Kumar D D. Minoxidil. [Updated 2023 Aug 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/.
  3. Bazzano, A. N., Var, C., Grossman, F., & Oberhelman, R. A. (2017). Use of Camphor and Essential Oil Balms for Infants in Cambodia. Journal of tropical pediatrics, 63(1), 65–69. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5301968/.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-b). Peppermint oil. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/peppermint-oil.
  5. Craighead, D. H., & Alexander, L. M. (2016). Topical menthol increases cutaneous blood flow. Microvascular research, 107, 39–45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5406845/.
  6. Oh, J. Y., Park, M. A., & Kim, Y. C. (2014). Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs. Toxicological research, 30(4), 297–304. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289931/.
  7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Menthol. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Menthol.
  8. Singh, R., Shushni, M. A., & Belkheir, A. (2015). Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of Mentha piperita L. Arabian Journal of Chemistry, 8(3), 322-328. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878535211000232.
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.