This Great-Smelling Herb Provides 4 “Life Hacks” for Thinning Hair, Oily Skin, and More

Dr. Janet Zand

February 7, 2020

“Life hacks” are great.  These simple changes can make a big difference in your life, helping you use your time better, save money, or get healthier.

For instance, a simple “hack” is seasoning food with herbs and spices. This simple practice helps you often improve your digestion and increase your antioxidant intake. Many herbs and spices are delicious sources of antioxidants.

But you don’t have to limit this “hack” to your dinner table. You can also use herbs to help improve your skin health.

One very popular herb is rosemary. It’s easy to grow, easy to find in grocery stores, and a delicious addition to everything from bread to meat to vegetables. It’s great to keep in your kitchen. In fact, thanks to its antioxidant properties, many chefs and bakers include it to help keep fats from going rancid and flavors from degrading. Of course, it adds plenty of delicious flavor on its own as well!

Eating rosemary can do more than give you a concentrated dose of antioxidants. It can also supply rosmarinic acid. And research has linked this nutrient to a decreased risk of melanoma. So every time you add this tasty herb to your dishes, you’re doing a little bit more to help your body avoid skin cancer. That’s definitely a great life hack!

Rosemary is great to have in the garden too. It has a strong aroma, which is pleasant when you’re sitting outside. And the strong scent can be a deterrent to pests while helping to attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds. It tolerates dry climates, heat, and cold well, so it’s fairly low-maintenance. If you’re just starting out as a gardener, rosemary can help you feel like you have a green thumb! And of course, it’s nice to have a steady supply to use when you’re cooking!

Can Rosemary Regrow Thinning Hair?

The kitchen and the garden are great places for rosemary. But one place we don’t often think to keep rosemary is in the bathroom with our personal care products. That’s a shame. Rosemary’s antioxidant properties mean it can be very helpful for the skin. And it can be particularly helpful for an area of skin you may not want to be showing off: your scalp.

We often think of baldness as a male problem. But many women struggle with thinning hair as they age too. Men typically loose hair in a predictable “receding hairline” pattern. But women lose hair all over. This doesn’t typically lead to baldness. But the gradual thinning is frustrating. And women often don’t know what to do about it.

Plus, because it happens so slowly, you may think it’s too late to do much about it by the time you realize it’s happening. But it’s not.

There are some hair-regrowth remedies available. But many people complain of side effects from these products. And the results typically aren’t dramatic enough to justify the irritation of these effects. So many people decide to just live with the thinning hair.

But rosemary can help. In one study of hair-loss remedies, researchers divided 100 participants with hair loss into two groups. Half of the participants treated their scalps with rosemary oil. The other half used minoxidil, a common ingredient in over-the-counter hair-loss products.

The participants applied the treatments to their scalps for six months. After three months, neither group had significant increases in hair count. But by six months, both groups had noticeable improvements.

So both treatments worked. The participants just had to be patient. However, the minoxidil group did have something to report at the three-month mark: Their scalps were starting to itch. Quite a few more participants reported scalp itching in the minoxidil group than in the rosemary group. Given that the two groups got similar results, I know which remedy I’d prefer to use!

In another study, researchers compared plant-based essential oil to a placebo. For this study, they divided 84 participants with hair loss into two groups. One group of 43 patients applied an essential oil blend that included thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood mixed into a carrier oil blend of jojoba and grapeseed oils. The other group of 41 applied only the carrier oils.  

By the end of the seven-month study, nearly half (44%) of the essential oil group had significant improvement. Only six people (15%) in the carrier oil group had improved. The participants were instructed to massage their scalps with the oil. So if you want an excuse to spend time on a scalp massage every day, it could help you keep your hair! But it will probably work even better if you include rosemary oil in the mix.

Helps Increase Circulation

Of course, the top of your head isn’t the only part of your body that can benefit from topical rosemary. Applying rosemary oil elsewhere on your body may actually increase your circulation. Some people who suffer from cold hands and feet due to poor circulation report that applying rosemary oil helps them feel warmer. Thermal imaging has even helped confirm this effect.

This effect may be a result of rosemary helping to expand blood vessels and improve circulation. And better circulation means more nutrients can reach and nourish your skin. Of course, the warming effect can be pleasant as well. It will be particularly nice if you often have trouble getting enough blood to flow to your fingers and toes and keep them warm.

Great for Treating Oily Skin

Rosemary essential oil is, believe it or not, an oil fighter. You can simply add three to five drops of the oil to your favorite cleanser or shampoo. Rosemary can help neutralize the grease of your scalp and bring your hair back into balance.

Rosemary’s antimicrobial properties make it an especially good solution for oil- and pimple-prone skin. The combination of oil and bacteria can lead to breakouts. But rosemary can help take care of both. Without their key ingredients, pimples are a lot less likely to pop up! Put three drops in a 4 ounce spray bottle and mist your face throughout the day.

Breathing Rosemary Has Many Benefits

You can even help your skin simply by breathing in rosemary oil. Diffuse it throughout your room or simply sniff the bottle of oil. Research indicates that simply inhaling rosemary can help lower stress. In fact, in one study, researchers asked 22 participants to smell rosemary oil for five minutes. Then they measured their saliva levels of cortisol. Compared to a control group, the rosemary group had 23% less cortisol in their saliva.

As you probably know, excess cortisol can trigger unnecessary inflammation throughout the body. This can damage your collagen and trigger breakouts and redness. Because of this, we often discuss strategies for reducing stress and bringing cortisol levels down. Most of them aren’t this easy!

Many people even report that smelling rosemary goes beyond relieving stress and helps them feel more alert. In one small study, 20 participants inhaled both rosemary oil and a placebo oil. After inhaling their rosemary oil, they felt that their alertness improved by about 30%. And they felt about 25% less drowsy than when they smelled the placebo.

The researchers noted that these changes weren’t all in the participants’ heads. Their heart rates, brain waves, breathing, and blood pressure all showed improvement when they smelled the rosemary oil. A similar study indicated that topical application could have similar effects. The 35 people in the study reported feeling quite a bit more energetic and alert 20 minutes after using rosemary oil than when they used a placebo.

If you often find yourself falling into bed at the end of the day without washing your face, try breathing in or applying rosemary oil. It could give you the boost you need to follow through on your skincare routine. And being consistent with cleansing and treating your face is one of the best things you can do for your skin!

Using rosemary oil to decrease stress can be as simple as opening a bottle and smelling the contents. You can also diffuse it to keep the relaxation effects going. If you have pure rosemary oil and would like to use it topically, be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation.

Of course, you can also look for products that include rosemary to take advantage of its benefits in combination with other natural ingredients. And you can certainly cook with it to get a dose of antioxidants and enhance the flavor of your dish. Try it on roasted potatoes for a side that’s healthier – and tastier – than French fries.

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