Rosemary Oil vs. Minoxidil: Which Is Better for Hair Growth?

Adapting a safe and effective hair growth treatment is important to maintain good scalp health. Topical herbal hair growth remedies, like rosemary oil, and medications, such as minoxidil, are well-known compounds, but people are generally confused about which one to pick. Read the article to understand the differences between them and the existing scientific background.

Rosemary oil and how it works

Rosmarinus Officinalis (rosemary) is a medicinal indigenous plant around the Mediterranean Sea. It is known for its antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-androgenic (anti-hair fall) properties.

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Androgenic alopecia (AGA) (pattern hair loss) is one of the major reasons for hair loss in people. This type is caused by excessive testosterone (androgen) production. Rosemary plant extract has been found to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), inhibiting hair growth, hair fall, and thinning. Some reports suggest that compounds such as carnosic acid, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, and similar are present in rosemary plant extract and are known to increase blood circulation by inducing vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) in the area of application. An increase in blood flow has been linked with increased oxygen and nutrient outreach, which is one of the reasons for reduced hair growth.

Topical application of rosemary leaf extract (2 mg/day) on mice has been reported to show improved hair regrowth in mice models subjected to hair loss-inducing treatment. Further clinical studies are needed to test its efficacy in humans. For visible effects, rosemary oil should be applied 2–3 times a week for 5–6 months.

Minoxidil and how it works

Minoxidil is an FDA-approved over-the-counter topical drug used for hair loss treatment in people with AGA. Topical minoxidil works by opening scalp cell potassium channels, resulting in vasodilation, which increases the blood flow of hair follicles. It also suppresses the pathway involved in AGA development and increases the growth or anagen phase (hair cell's growing and dividing phase).

A concentration of up to 5% minoxidil has been reported to be effective and safe for daily use. Clinical studies on hair regrowth have reported up to 40% increased hair regrowth with regular twice-a-day application of minoxidil for 16 weeks.

It has been observed that people who do not respond to minoxidil will always be non-responders. On the other hand, people who start responding to any concentration can stick to the same minoxidil concentration.

A topical solution of minoxidil should be applied on a clean and dry scalp on the affected area. The concentration and amount of minoxidil can be decided after consulting a dermatologist. After applying the minoxidil solution, rub it gently till it gets absorbed properly. You can wash your hair after 5–6 hours or as per your dermatologist's advice.

Rosemary oil vs. minoxidil: which is better?

A clinical trial comparing 2% minoxidil with rosemary oil in people experiencing AGA-led hair loss reported the following results:

  • No hair regrowth was found in both the groups (2% minoxidil vs. rosemary oil) till the end of 3 months.
  • More frequent scalp itching in people using minoxidil for hair growth as compared to rosemary oil.
  • No significant differences between rosemary oil as compared to 2% minoxidil for AGA-led hair loss.
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Topical minoxidil may lead to potential side effects like contact dermatitis, pruritus, scalp irritation, and facial hypertrichosis. These adverse effects are more often seen with 5% minoxidil as compared to 2%. Additionally, minoxidil does not cause acute side effects, and these side reactions subside after discontinuation or dosage decreases, depending on the condition. Being an herbal alternative, rosemary oil may exhibit mild side effects such as scalp dryness, leading to itching.

Some of the pros and cons of both rosemary oil and minoxidil are as follows:

Rosemary oil

Minoxidil

Based on your experience, you can choose any of the solutions. However, some alternative solutions can be tried in cases where minoxidil and rosemary oil might are not viable options due to their side effects or any other reason.

Alternative solutions for hair growth

Hair fall can be due to multiple reasons, such as heredity, nutritional deficiency, hormonal imbalance, poor quality or harsh hair care products, or any disease treatment-induced hair fall. Rosemary oil or minoxidil may not cater to all types of hair fall and require people to try some other therapies, such as:

Red light therapy

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Red light therapy has been a recently introduced remedy in the market that has been investigated in several studies, suggesting the beneficial role of low-level red light on hair follicles. Studies have reported that low light radiation of 650 nm wavelength has been shown to proliferate hair follicle cells and reverse miniaturized hair follicles. There are multiple devices available in the market.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

This is a newly introduced therapy for hair loss and thinning. PRP has a high concentration of platelets extracted from the patient's blood plasma and injected at multiple spots on the scalp. This is a non-surgical and safe procedure that has been shown to contain important growth-promoting compounds to enhance cell proliferation and hair growth.

Dietary supplements

A balanced diet plays a crucial role in forming stronger hair with high density. If one's daily meal routine lacks nutrition or any nutrient deficiencies are present, individuals could consider incorporating nutritional supplements after a doctor's guidance. These may include supplements rich in antioxidants, proteins, folic acid, iron, biotin, micronutrients, vitamins A, B, C, D, and similar to support healthy hair growth. Nutrafol and Viviscal are FDA-approved nutraceutical supplement tablets that do not contain any hormones and can be taken to support hair growth.

Hair loss is a common issue faced by a huge amount of the population. Rosemary oil and minoxidil are both safe and efficacious for supporting hair growth. On one hand, minoxidil is an FDA-approved medication, while rosemary oil is an herbal and cost-effective treatment. You may be recommended to choose one of those based on the hair loss causes and other individual factors. It is always advisable to consult a board-certified dermatologist for a complete evaluation of your condition.

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