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Sunflower Oil for Hair Growth: Benefits & Effectiveness

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Sian Ferguson

Published 11/04/2021

Updated 04/14/2024

Sunflower oil is a staple in many kitchen pantries, but its uses may extend beyond cooking. According to (very) limited research on sunflower oil for hair, this natural substance might promote a healthy mane while encouraging growth.

Various oils may be good for your hair — think argan, coconut and jojoba. Most are said to work by nourishing the scalp to create a better environment for hair growth.

But does sunflower seed oil promote hair growth? Can it help with hair loss? And if so, why is sunflower oil good for hair, and how do you use it? We’ll answer all these questions — promise.

Let’s take a deep dive into the benefits of sunflower oil and look at a few alternative ways to stimulate growth.

Sunflower oil is made from the seeds of sunflowers. Because it has a neutral taste and a high smoke point (meaning it doesn’t burn as quickly as other oils), it’s often used for cooking. People also use this botanical oil for cosmetic purposes, including skincare and hair care.

It’s rich in a number of vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin E

  • Oleic acid

  • Linoleic acid

  • Phytosterols

  • Sesamol

Since it’s chock-full of the good stuff, sunflower seed oil is often lauded as a natural hair care ingredient. You’ll also find quite a few skincare products containing sunflower oil.

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Long story short, there’s very little research suggesting sunflower oil stimulates hair growth.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial. It can still help your hair feel softer and look shinier, if that’s your goal. By lubricating the hair shaft, it might also boost elasticity.

There’s an idea that sunflower oil helps with hair growth because it’s high in both oleic acid and linoleic acid, two omega-fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties.

How Fatty Acids in Sunflower Oil Might Support Hair Health

Some research suggests that linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, can activate hair growth cells. However, it’s important to note that this research didn’t involve sunflower oil specifically.

Oleic acid has been found to potentially make skin more permeable, meaning what you put on it absorbs better. In that sense, it could help hair growth medications (like minoxidil) work more effectively.

Sunflower oil is also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant. A small study from 2010 found that vitamin E supplements improved hair growth in people dealing with hair loss.

Another study suggested that vitamin E could increase blood flow to the scalp, which may promote healthy hair growth. But this study was done on mice — not humans — and it focused on vitamin E, not sunflower oil.

This research is fairly shaky — and to make matters worse, sunflower oil might not be able to penetrate scalp tissue effectively. One study looked at coconut, mineral and sunflower oils. It found that coconut oil was best able to penetrate the hair shaft to nourish strands, but sunflower oil can’t penetrate the hair follicle.

Are you picking up on a common theme here? Sunflower oil may have benefits for hair growth based on some of the stuff found in it, but the research is far from conclusive. The science is “meh” at best.

That said, while it doesn’t look like sunflower oil promotes hair growth, there might still be a few benefits of sunflower oil for hair health overall. If hair growth isn’t your primary goal, sunflower oil might still be worth a try.

So if it doesn’t help your hair grow, what does sunflower oil do for your hair? There are a handful of potential sunflower oil benefits for hair.

You could use sunflower oil to:

  • Reduce frizz

  • Calm an itchy scalp

  • Treat a dandruff-prone, dry scalp

  • Condition dry hair

  • Massage your scalp

  • Detangle hair

Many users on natural hair care forums claim that sunflower oil helps their hair feel softer and healthier. Some say it smooths split ends and reduces hair breakage by coating the hair cuticle.

Sunflower oil does contain numerous hair-friendly vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin E and fatty acids.

Since sunflower oil is, well…an oil, it can help lock in moisture. But there’s not much research exploring how effective it is at reducing dryness.

Still, it shouldn’t do any damage — unless you’re allergic to sunflower seeds, of course — so you can go ahead and test it out to see if it works for you.

Some shampoos, conditioners and hair masks contain sunflower seed oil. You can also apply food-grade sunflower oil directly to your scalp and hair.

To be on the safe side, do a patch test by applying a dab of sunflower oil to the inside of your elbow and wait 24 hours. If you don’t have an adverse reaction, you should be able to apply it to your hair and scalp.

If you’re feeling creative, you can use sunflower oil to make DIY deep-conditioning hair masks, leave-in conditioner or scalp treatments. If you’d like, add a few drops of sunflower oil to your regular conditioner.

You can also put a few drops in your palms, then run your hands through your hair to tame frizz and smooth split ends.

Can I Use Sunflower Oil on My Hair Every Day?

It depends on your hair type and hair care habits. If your hair is short and thin, daily applications may make your hair look greasy or weighed down. But thick, curly hair that craves moisture might be up for a daily dose.

It’s best to play around with your hair care routine to see what works best for your hair type.

Sunflower oil is odorless and lightweight — but don’t get too eager with the oil! Apply small amounts, bit by bit, to avoid over-oiling hair.

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As you can see, sunflower oil can be good for your hair — but evidence that it promotes hair growth is limited at best.

Having said that, there are plenty of legit, science-backed hair growth treatments worth trying.

Finasteride Hair Growth Medication

Seeing a few extra hairs in the drain every morning? Comb lookin’ a little fuller than you remember? Finasteride is a daily prescription medication that can help.

It comes as a tablet or in topical form and stops your body from converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes male pattern hair loss.

The best part? The oral version of this hair loss treatment is approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), and both the tablet and topical form are backed by plenty of research.

A study found that over 99 percent of men who took finasteride for ten years didn’t experience worsened hair loss, and 91.5 percent noticed regrowth. Impressive, right?

If you think you’re experiencing male pattern baldness, we’ve got you covered. Hims offers finasteride online after a consultation with a healthcare professional.

Minoxidil OTC Hair Growth Treatment

Minoxidil is an FDA-approved, over-the-counter topical treatment you apply directly to your scalp. It doesn’t require a prescription, making it easy for anyone to try.

Unlike finasteride, which is for genetic hair loss, minoxidil can be used for a few types of hair loss. It essentially makes hair follicles enter the growth phase of the hair growth cycle. Plus, it increases blood flow to the scalp to help encourage growth.

A review of minoxidil from 2019 found that it boosted hair growth in men and women with pattern hair loss.

You can use topical minoxidil foam or minoxidil liquid solution, depending on your preferences. For best results, you should apply it every day.

Learn more about the hair growth cycle in our blog.

Finasteride and Minoxidil Together

Some things are just better together — peanut butter and jelly, burgers and fries and, yes, even finasteride and minoxidil.

Even though topical finasteride isn’t approved by the FDA yet, a building body of research shows that, like its FDA-approved oral counterpart, it actually works.

One study found that 94.1 percent of men dealing with hair loss showed more hair growth when taking finasteride and minoxidil than just one of these medications.

Only 80.5 percent of those using just finasteride and 50 percent who used minoxidil alone saw improvement — still impressive, but not as impressive as the dual-action treatment.

So if you’re serious about stopping hair loss in its tracks, this combo is one of the best places to start.

We offer a two-in-one topical finasteride & minoxidil spray and a Hair Power Pack with minoxidil, finasteride and some other hair-loving products.

Shampoo and Conditioner for Hair Loss

Looking for an easy thing to add to your routine? Specialized hair care products are worth considering.

Depending on your hair type and needs, try:

High-quality hair cosmetics and styling products can help prevent your locks from getting dry and brittle — a recipe for frizz and hair breakage.

To keep your hair looking its best, think about your unique hair type when buying hair care products. Specific hair products are made for specific hair types — ingredients that work for curly hair won’t always work for straight hair, for example.

Other Oils for Hair Health

Want to try hair oil but find that sunflower oil just doesn’t do it for you? There are plenty of other options.

You could try:

Some research also supports using certain essential oils for hair growth, like rosemary oil and tea tree oil.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Sunflower oil is a natural ingredient often used in hair care and skincare. While some people claim to use sunflower oil for hair growth, the available research just doesn’t back this up.

Here’s what to keep in mind about this natural ingredient:

  • There’s very little evidence that sunflower oil actually improves hair growth. While it contains linoleic acid and vitamin E — which are both somewhat linked to hair growth — there’s little evidence that sunflower oil itself boosts hair growth.

  • But it may promote overall hair health. Applying sunflower oil might make your hair feel softer. It could also tame frizz, soothe a dry scalp and add shine.

  • There are better options available for hair growth. If hair growth is your goal, try evidence-backed hair loss treatments like finasteride and minoxidil. Medicated shampoos and conditioners can also help.

To determine what’s best for your hair health, it’s never a bad idea to speak with a healthcare professional. They can help determine the cause of your hair loss and find an appropriate treatment plan.

Set up an online consultation for hair loss through our telehealth platform. There, you can talk to a licensed provider and access treatments.

19 Sources

  1. Rele, A., Mohile, R., (2003). Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J Cosmet Sci. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12715094/
  2. Ryu, H., Jeong, J., Lee, C., (2021). Activation of Hair Cell Growth Factors by Linoleic Acid in Malva verticillata Seed. Molecules. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/8/2117/pdf
  3. Sunflower Oil Fatty Acid Profile. National Sunflower Association. Retrieved from https://www.sunflowernsa.com/uploads/35/sunflower-oil-fact-sheet_062510.pdf
  4. Beoy, L., Woei, W., Hay, Y., (2010). Effects of Tocotrienol Supplementation on Hair Growth in Human Volunteers. Tropical Life Sciences Research. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819075/
  5. Yano, K., Brown, L., Detmar, M., (2001). Control of hair growth and follicle size by VEGF-mediated angiogenesis. J Clin Invest. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC199257/
  6. Finasteride (2018). Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a698016.html
  7. Yanagisawa, M., et al. (2019, January). Long-term (10-year) efficacy of finasteride in 523 Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia. Clinical Research and Trials. 5, 1-5. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337105943_Long-term_10-year_efficacy_of_finasteride_in_523_Japanese_men_with_androgenetic_alopecia
  8. Badri, T., Nessel, T.A. & Kumar, D.D. (2020, May 4). Minoxidil. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  9. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S. & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 13, 2777–2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
  10. Hu, R., et al. (2015, June 2). Combined treatment with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia: a randomized and comparative study in Chinese patients. Dermatologic Therapy. 28 (5), 303-308. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dth.12246
  11. Rossi, A., Mari, E., Scarno, M., et al. (2012, October). Comparative Effectiveness and Finasteride Vs Serenoa Repens in Male Androgenetic Alopecia: A Two-Year Study. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, Volume 25, Issue 4, pages 1167-1173. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/039463201202500435
  12. Ogbolu, D., Oni, A., Daini, O., Oloko, A., (2007). In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria. J Med Food. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17651080/
  13. Widianingrum, D., Noviandi, C., Salasia, S., (2019). Antibacterial and immunomodulator activities of virgin coconut oil (VCO) against Staphylococcus aureus. Heliyon. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817632/
  14. Dias, M., (2015). Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. International Journal of Trichology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/
  15. Hanana, M., Mezghenni, H., Ayed, R., et al., (2018). Nutraceutical potentialities of Tunisian Argan oil based on its physicochemical properties and fatty acid content as assessed through Bayesian network analyses. Lipids in Health and Disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6003034/
  16. Vilareal, M., Kume, S., Bourhim, T., et al., (2013). Activation of MITF by Argan Oil Leads to the Inhibition of the Tyrosinase and Dopachrome Tautomerase Expressions in B16 Murine Melanoma Cells. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723062/
  17. Gad, H. A., Roberts, A., Hamzi, S. H., Gad, H. A., Touiss, I., Altyar, A. E., Kensara, O. A., & Ashour, M. L. (2021). Jojoba Oil: An Updated Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Uses, and Toxicity. Polymers, 13(11), 1711. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8197201/
  18. Chen, X., Liu, B., Li, Y., Han, L., Tang, X., Deng, W., Lai, W., & Wan, M. (2020). Dihydrotestosterone Regulates Hair Growth Through the Wnt/β-Catenin Pathway in C57BL/6 Mice and In Vitro Organ Culture. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 1528. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6989660/
  19. Lee, S. W., Juhasz, M., Mobasher, P., Ekelem, C., & Mesinkovska, N. A. (2018). A Systematic Review of Topical Finasteride in the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia in Men and Women. Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD, 17(4), 457–463. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6609098/
Editorial Standards

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.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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