Does hair growth oil really grow your hair?
We decided to hit the books and go deep into the databases for this one. Long story short: Some oils are a gimmick and have negligible to zero impact on your hair growth. But there are some oils that can actually help your hair grow.
The composition of every hair growth oil is different and whether it has a chance of working or not depends on its ingredients. If you haven't seen any growth from using these oils, there are a couple of other things you need to check, too.
What ingredients grow your hair?
For all the duds and hype on the market, there are some ingredients that can actually grow hair. These are both natural and manmade substances which have been scientifically proven to stimulate hair follicles. Each of them work in different ways, so whether they are effective or not will depend on what's causing your growth issue, and what your hair growth goals are.
Some hair growth ingredients reactivate inactive follicles so your hair grows back looking fuller. Others thicken individual strands, some speed up the growth rate, and some extend the anagen or growth phase of your hair cycle, giving your hair more time to grow before the natural resting and shedding processes take place.
So yes, in a nutshell there are ingredients that can grow your hair. In fact, there are so many with the science to back them up, that we can't list them all. So here are just a dozen for starters:
How to check the ingredients list on hair growth oils
Now that you're familiar with some of the ingredients that grow hair, it's time to become an ingredients detective.
So flip it around to the back of the bottle, where you'll see the ingredients listed in INCI format. See if you spot any of the ingredients from the list above (hint: there are four of them on this bottle).
If you've looked at the lists and are still not sure, you can ask us any ingredients questions in the comments section below.
Check the concentration of the hair growth ingredients
If you see any proven hair growth ingredients in there, that's a good sign.
Now move onto phase 2: Concentration. This is hard to know for sure because brands don't have to list the exact percentage of an ingredient on their labels.
But we can estimate how much they contain for most ingredients, at least within a range. That's because in several countries, brands have to list ingredients in a specific order, using the correct INCI name. If they are following the system correctly, the ingredients will be listed in order of concentration.
Ingredients should be listed in descending order, so the ones the product contains the most of are towards the top of the list.
But ingredients don't have to be at the top of the list to work.
The necessary concentration for an ingredient to be effective depends on the type of ingredient. For instance, if the ingredient is a carrier oil, it would need to be towards the top of the list to have an impact on your hair growth because carriers oils are less potent.
Essential oils or other highly concentrated extracts can be at or close to the bottom, since they only have to be present in small concentrations to work - as low as 3% has been shown to increase growth for at least one essential oil.
The problem is knowing which form of the extract you're dealing with, as INCI doesn't require manufacturers to specify whether they're using an macerated extract (infused from the herb into the oil, which would need to be higher in the list to be effective) or an essential oil, or other concentrate (both of which can be low on the list).
Use these ingredients to check how concentrated it is
Luckily, you can use other ingredients on the list to tell if the product doesn't have a high enough concentration of the hair growth ingredient in question - even for an essential oil.
For instance, if the hair growth ingredient comes after certain ingredients which have to be used at extremely low concentrations, then you can be pretty certain that the product does not contain a good amount of that star ingredient.
Preservatives are a good example; they're usually at, or very close to, the end of the ingredients list. That's because the amount used in products is typically very low, like 1% or under. Preservatives include ingredients like iodopropynyl butyl carbamate, phenoxyethanol, or any paraben. Antioxidants like sodium benzoate (which can be a preservative too), tend to go into the formula at low concentrations also, so they're another good marker to use.
If you see a hair growth ingredient included after any one of these ingredients, chances are it's not being included as an actual active ingredient, but just for claim purposes. Methylparaben for example, goes into the formula at a maximum of 0.4%. This is a percentage that very few active ingredients would be expected to work well at, so most hair growth ingredients that come after it will probably have little to no effect.
DHA Hair Care Experts