Rosemary Oil For Hair Loss? Not So Fast… (See Photos)

In 2015, a clinical study showed that rosemary oil improved pattern hair loss and was just as effective as 2% minoxidil (Rogaine®). Since then, interest in rosemary oil has exploded – with many hair loss sufferers switching from Rogaine® to rosemary as a more natural solution. But is this a good move? And if you're already using rosemary oil, how do you maximize its hair-promoting effects? This article uncovers the answers.

Written and reviewed by:
Rob English, Medical Editor

Read time: 20 minutes

The Rosemary Oil, Minoxidil, Hair Loss “Breakthrough” Study

In 2015, a team of Iranian researchers made headlines after publishing a study on rosemary oil, minoxidil, and hair loss.

The team wanted to compare the effects of rosemary oil versus 2% minoxidil on hair count. So they conducted a test on 100 men with pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia). Fifty applied rosemary oil; fifty applied 2% minoxidil.

Their findings? After six months of twice-daily application, rosemary oil significantly increased scalp hair count… and just as much as 2% minoxidil (the active ingredient used in Rogaine).

The implication: rosemary oil might be an effective hair loss treatment. Better yet, it might be just as effective as Rogaine – an FDA-approved hair loss drug with a long list of side effects.

The study made its waves in hair loss forums. Some users claimed the “natural” alternative to Rogaine had finally arrived. Others offered to dump their Rogaine and instead switch to rosemary oil. A few even opted to self-test rosemary oil and track their hair regrowth progress throughout the year.

Fast-forward three years later: is rosemary oil still considered an effective “natural” hair loss treatment?

The answer isn’t what you’d expect.

In fact, when we dive into the data behind the rosemary oil-minoxidil hair loss study, the results are much more surprising… and even more important (and for an entirely different reason).

By the end of this article, we will uncover…

  • What Is Rosemary Oil?
  • The MISLEADING Results Of The Rosemary Oil Vs. Rogaine Hair Loss Study (The Devil Is In The Details)
  • The Evidence: How Does Rosemary Oil Help Slow, Stop, Or Reverse Hair Loss?
  • The Case Study: A Before-After Hair Regrowth Photo Of Rosemary Oil + Another Treatment That Will Get You Thinking
  • Should We Use Rosemary Oil To Reverse Hair Loss? (And If So, How?)
  • Final Thoughts For Anyone Using Rosemary Oil For Thinning Hair

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What Is Rosemary Oil?

Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody plant with fragrant, needle-like leaves and flowers. It belongs to the mint family (lamiaceae) and is native to the Mediterranean region.

While rosemary oil is typically used in perfumes and foods due to its pleasant scent and unique flavor, its benefits also extend to medicine. For decades, cultures around the word have used rosemary oil to treat inflammatory conditions ranging from arthritis to asthma to nerve inflammation. And more recently, studies are demonstrating that rosemary oil may help slow, stop, or even reverse pattern hair loss.

The question is… if we start using rosemary oil, how much hair regrowth can we expect?

Let’s dive back into the rosemary oil-Romaine study to find out.

MISLEADING Results: What Everyone Missed About The Rosemary Oil Vs. Minoxidil Hair Loss Study

At a first glance, the rosemary oil study looks promising.

For one, the study was conducted on humans – not rats. Human hair growth studies are harder to come by. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my ten years of hair loss research, it’s that everything regrows hair on rats – but rarely do those results carry over to humans.

Secondly, the study was done for a realistic length of time – six months. Many human hair loss studies last just three months – barely enough time to gauge a measurable effect on hair growth.

Thirdly, the study’s abstract reveals that rosemary oil not only increased hair count… but it was also just as effective at increasing hair count as 2% minoxidil. That’s huge news! Especially for hair loss sufferers worried about the side effects of Rogaine or who prefer to seek a more natural treatment route.

But there’s one big omission in the study’s abstract: for the rosemary oil and minoxidil groups, how much did hair count increase after six months?

The numbers will surprise you.

Rosemary Oil Versus Rogaine: An Increase In Hair Count… But By How Much?

I dug into the study to find answers (the study starts at page sixteen).

To gauge hair count, researchers took before-after treatment photos and used two dermatologists to independently count specific segments of each participant’s scalp.

The results? An increase in hair count in both groups. But by how much? See this chart within the study:

Having trouble eyeing the difference in hair count between baseline and six months for each group? Me too. So I checked the actual numbers. Here’s the summary:

After six months, the rosemary oil subjects saw a 5.5% increase in hair count. And the minoxidil group? Just a 1.7% increase. And when I saw the standard deviations, I couldn’t believe those hair count differences were actually statistically significant.

And then it gets worse.

Is This Hair Count Increase Due To Rosemary Oil, Minoxidil… Or Seasonality

Hair count changes at that magnitude (less than 10%) might not even be attributable to either topical. In fact, they might just be attributable to a natural phenomenon called seasonality.

Depending on the season, hair cycles can increase (or decrease) our total hair count and density by as much as 10%. Anyone who owns a dog knows how much they shed during certain parts of the summer and winter. Believe it or not, humans also undergo a similar (but less drastic) effect.

Unfortunately, there was no control group in this study, so we don’t know much of that hair count increase we can attribute to normal seasonality… and how much we should truly attribute to the rosemary oil or 2% minoxidil.

And what about photo evidence? Researchers highlighted one before-after photo for each group. Neither photo was very impressive. Here’s a before-after of one rosemary oil subject:

Now that we see the photos and actual hair counts, what’s this study’s key takeaway?

The major finding probably isn’t that rosemary oil increases hair count by 5.7% in six months – or that it boasts a similar effect to Rogaine.

The real takeaway is actually that Rogaine – an FDA-approved hair loss drug – is just not very effective.

The Key Rosemary Oil-Minoxidil Study Finding: Rogaine Isn’t A Very Effective Hair Loss Treatment

I used Rogaine for seven years. During that time my hair continued to thin. If there’s anything to learn from my personal experience (and the results of this study), it’s that Rogaine is not nearly as effective as its manufacturers tout it to be.

This study highlights why it’s important to look beyond a study’s abstract – especially when it comes to hair loss. While the summary may make a study’s results look enticing, the reality is that if an abstract is void of numbers, there’s probably a good reason.

Now back to rosemary oil. Should we even bother? Well, a 5.7% increase in hair count is modest… but appreciable. And all seasonality aside, there’s a good chance both test groups would’ve lost hair over the same period had they not sought either treatment.

So, should we include rosemary oil into our natural hair regrowth regimen?

Maybe. In fact, there’s some evidence that rosemary oil (when combined with another hair loss treatment) may become exponentially more effective at recovering lost hair. (Wait until you see the before-after photos).

But first, it’s critical that we understand the science behind rosemary oil – how it promotes hair regrowth, why, and how we can use these mechanisms of action to our advantage. The evidence points to five key mechanisms in which rosemary oil encourages hair regrowth – and we’re going to cover all of them.

The Evidence: How Rosemary Oil May Help Fight Pattern Hair Loss

Let’s start by breaking down the components of rosemary oil.

Rosemary plants contain a volatile oil which can be extracted using a process known as steam distillation. This volatile oil (rosemary oil) contains a number of bioactive antioxidants – rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, ethanolic acid, 1,8-cineole, and camphor (to name only a few). And fortunately for us, these specific compounds within rosemary oil have a variety of pro-hair effects.

In fact, when applied topically, rosemary oil may…

  1. Reduce inflammation
  2. Act as an antibacterial agent
  3. Reduce androgen activity (read: decrease DHT)
  4. Prevent fibrosis
  5. Increase blood flow

…all of which will may slow, stop, and partially reverse hair loss.

So let’s take these one-by-one, and then explain how each relates back to thinning hair.

1. Rosemary Oil Is Anti-Inflammatory

Certain acids in rosemary oil – like rosmarinic and ethanolic acid – have a direct impact on inflammation. In fact, these acids can significantly attenuate (or reduce) the inflammatory process, and in doing so, help fight hair loss.

It all has to do with cytokines and the COX-2 enzyme.

The Cytokine-COX 2-Inflammation Connection

When our tissues get injured, our injured cells begin to release small proteins called cytokines.

Cytokines are signaling proteins. They tell our cells whether to induce or reduce inflammation. After our bodies receive an acute injury (like a cut or a bruise), certain “pro-inflammatory” cytokines arrive to that injury and start telling our tissues to attract more inflammatory cells to the damaged site.

At the same time, our damaged tissues also begin expressing an enzyme called cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2). COX-2 increases the production of another inflammatory mediator: prostaglandins. (We’ve covered prostaglandins before).

Together, cytokines and the COX-2 enzymes (via prostaglandins) help control how many inflammatory cells actually arrive at an injury site. The larger the injury – the more inflammatory cells our tissues need to heal.

Once these inflammatory cells arrive at the injury, they start releasing enzymes to break down and help “digest” our devitalized tissue. And after our injured tissue is digested, our cells then begin the healing process – creating new cells to replace the damaged ones. The end-result: repair, replacement, and closure of the wound.

Once the damaged cells are replaced and our tissue is repaired, we no longer need the pro-inflammatory cytokines or COX-2 enzymes. As our tissues become more and more repaired, the number of cytokines and COX-2 enzymes present slowly begin to decrease.

And that’s a quick summary of the acute wound-healing process. In minor injuries – like a paper cut or a stubbed toe – we typically heal perfectly and without issue. Our cytokines and COX-2 enzymes arrive onsite, signal inflammatory cells to digest our injured tissues, and then our bodies make new cells, repair the injury, and those cytokines and COX-2 enzymes slowly disappear.

However, there’s one distinction we need to make…

An acute inflammatory response is much different than a chronic inflammatory response.

In Chronic Inflammation, Cytokines And COX-2 Enzymes Never Go Away

In an acute injury, cytokines and COX-2 enzymes eventually go away. In chronic inflammation – the kind of inflammation we see in ulcers, or infections that won’t heal, or even autoimmune diseases – these cytokines and COX-2 enzymes don’t disappear. In fact, they stay chronically elevated. And the result? Those tissues stay chronically inflamed.

Unfortunately, chronic inflammation is part of the hair loss cascade.

While the “source” of the inflammation remains mysterious, there’s evidence that chronic scalp inflammation – either from bone growth, mechanical tension, genetic predisposition, or an unidentified factor – contributes to scalp scarring, and that this scalp scarring eventually chokes our hair follicles of blood, oxygen, and nutrients… shrinking the follicles and leading to baldness.

The net: if we want to keep our hair, we absolutely have to minimize the chronic inflammation in our scalps.

And since the triggers of chronic scalp inflammation are elusive, the best way we currently know how to do this is to reduce the proteins and enzymes involved in the pro-inflammatory process.

In other words, if we want to stop the chronic inflammation that precedes hair loss, we need to reduce the pro-inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins (as a result of increased COX-2 enzyme activity) that continuously encourage that inflammation.

Enter rosemary oil… and its anti-inflammatory mechanisms which help fight hair loss.

Rosemary Oil Decreases Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines And Prostaglandins To Help Fight Chronic Inflammation (And Hair Loss)

Two notable examples of pro-inflammatory cytokines are 1) interleukins, and 2) tumor necrosis factor.

In rat models, scientists have demonstrated that ethanolic and rosmarinic acid (two compounds inside rosemary oil) not only reduce COX-2 (and thereby prostaglandin) activity, but they also reduce the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin beta.

Furthermore, certain polyphenolic compounds derived from rosemary have been shown to reduce neutrophil influx into inflamed tissue and lower the excretion of inflammatory cytokines.

In other words, rosemary oil can significantly dampen the inflammatory process. And when it comes to chronic inflammation and hair loss – the more we can dampen that inflammation, the better our odds of stopping hair loss and recovering significant amounts of hair.

2. Rosemary Oil Is Antibacterial

Despite what we our eyes see, microorganisms are currently crawling across every surface of our bodies. And while most skin-surface bacteria are innocuous (or even beneficial), some can produce inflammatory byproducts that increase inflammation in our tissues. And when pro-inflammatory bacteria and fungi colonize our scalps, they can create a chronic inflammatory state – the same state that kickstarts the hair loss process.

Fortunately, rosemary oil can help.

Rosemary Oil Helps Fight Off Pro-Inflammatory Microorganisms In Our Scalps

Some studies show that rosemary extracts are antimicrobial, and can significantly reduce the colony sizes of pathogenic bacteria (like Staphylococcus aureus) and biofilms (clumps of bacteria stuck to a surface – like skin).

In other words, rosemary oil might help fight hair loss by killing off the bacteria that puts our scalps in a chronically inflamed state. And when combined with its anti-inflammatory mechanisms – this can be a one-two punch to help stop hair loss in its tracks.

3. Rosemary Oil Reduces DHT Levels

We’ve all heard of the “dreaded” hormone DHT and its relationship to hair loss. And while there are serious misconceptions about DHT’s role in hair loss, most evidence suggests that increased scalp tissue DHT precedes hair follicle miniaturization and contributes to hair thinning and baldness.

Fortunately, rosemary oil may reduce tissue DHT levels.

Rosemary Oil May Reduce Tissue DHT By Blocking Androgen Receptor Activity

This study evaluated the anti-androgen effects of rosemary leaf extract on hair growth in mice. These mice had their dorsal areas shaved and were treated with testosterone (a precursor of DHT) in order to interrupt hair regrowth. A subset of mice were then treated with topical rosemary leaf extract to see if it would have any impact on the rate at which their hair regrew.

The findings? The rosemary-treated mice showed improved hair regrowth, which the investigators attributed to the inhibitory effect of the rosemary extract on androgen receptors.

Androgen receptors are the places inside a cell where DHT binds. I wrote about androgen receptors here, but to recap: if a cell has no androgen receptor, testosterone can’t convert to DHT and then bind to that tissue site.

Many people are already experimenting with powerful androgen receptor blockers – like spironolactone – to help fight hair loss (and with some success). But unfortunately, synthetic androgen receptors are too powerful – and despite their benefits for hair recovery – often exert feminizing effects. For instance, men who are becoming women often use spironolactone to reduce androgen activity and help aid their gender transition.

Fortunately for us, these anti-androgenic effects also exist in the natural extract from Rosemary – and without the feminizing side effects. And the less DHT that converts in our scalp tissues, the better our chances for hair recovery.

4. Rosemary Oil Prevents (Or Reduces) Fibrosis

Fibrosis (scar formation) is one of the biggest roadblocks to successfully treating pattern hair loss. It’s the end-result of long-standing chronic inflammation in the scalp. And in pattern hair loss, fibrosis occurs around the hair follicles – which decreases blood flow, oxygen, and nutrient levels – and essentially “chokes” out the hair follicle. The final result: a shiny (scarred) scalp, and miniaturized (or dormant) hair.

The good news? Rosemary oil helps prevent fibrosis – and may even stop this process from happening.

Rosemary Oil’s Acids Protect Against Scar Tissue Formation (By Inhibiting TGFβ-1)

There aren’t any known studies describing the effects of rosemary oil on follicular fibrosis. With that said, multiple rat studies have shown that polyphenols within rosemary – such as rosmarinic acid – are protective against scar formation in other organs like the heart and liver.

One study evaluated the protective effects of rosmarinic acid on scar formation in rats with experimentally induced heart attacks. The investigators found that rats treated with rosmarinic acid had improved heart function, decreased cardiac scar tissue size, and reduced expression of collagen.

Other rodent studies showed that rosmarinic acid can reduce scar tissue formation in chemically-induced liver fibrosis, and through a variety of signaling pathways… the most notable of which is a reduction in the expression of transforming growth factor beta one (TGFβ-1) – a signaling protein that’s elevated in balding scalp tissues.

The net: rosemary oil decreases TGFβ-1, which attenuates scar tissue formation and helps stop the hair loss cascade.

5. Rosemary Oil Increases Blood Flow

A byproduct of perifollicular fibrosis (scalp scarring around hair follicles) is a reduction in blood flow to our hair follicles. This is actually a huge factor in pattern hair loss – because without blood flow, we get less oxygen and nutrients to our hair follicles – and eventually, they thin (and disappear).

Fortunately, rosemary oil not only helps prevent fibrosis, but it also increases vasodilation in the areas in which it’s applied.

Rosemary Extract Can Increase Blood Vessel Diameter At Injury Sites

In this study, researchers examined the effects of rosemary extract on rats that had received soft-tissue reconstruction surgery with skin flaps.

Skin flaps are frequently associated with skin necrosis (skin death) due to their compromised blood flow. The investigators found that rats treated with rosemary extract under the skin had better skin graft survival than rats that were not treated.

Moreover, the rats receiving rosemary extract were also found to have larger diameter blood vessels. And what did the researchers infer? The vasodilatory effects of rosemary extract were largely responsible for improved skin graft survival.

Ironically, increased vasodilation is the exact mechanism of action that minoxidil (Rogaine) may work… Maybe those researchers who tested rosemary oil vs. minoxidil were onto something…

So… Should We Use Rosemary Oil For Hair Loss?

The short answer is: maybe! And beyond the evidence already presented, there’s one reader anecdote that makes an very strong case for why.

Before-After Photos From Someone Using Rosemary Oil + Another Natural Treatment

I recently discovered this blog post, written by a man who’d read my first book on natural hair recovery.

He decided to commit to the first book’s scalp stimulation techniques (mainly, the massages). But he took it a step further… He also combined these massages with the application of rosemary oil.

Over the course of two years, his results are nothing short of astonishing.


The big takeaway? There might be hair regrowth synergies with this dual treatment: massaging + rosemary oil.

Can We Explain The Above Hair Regrowth Results With Actual Studies?

Interestingly, these results start to make sense once we look at evidence demonstrating the combined efficacy of mechanical stimulation with certain hair loss topicals.

For instance – just look at this study measuring the combined effectiveness of dermarolling plus Rogaine (we’ll get to why this is relevant in a minute).

The study sought to determine which treatment is more effective for hair regrowth: Rogaine by itself, or Rogaine + once weekly dermarolling (wounding) sessions.

As we already know, Rogaine is a vasodilator – just like rosemary oil. And dermarolling (or microneedling) is another form of mechanical stimulation. In other words, the mechanisms of action within this hair regrowth study match up to the purported mechanisms of action of rosemary oil plus massaging.

So what were the results?

After twelve weeks, the Rogaine + once weekly dermarolling sessions resulted in 4x the hair regrowth of just Rogaine alone…. And those results were significant.

Just check out the before-after photos:

Remember: Rogaine and rosemary oil are both vasodilators. Dermarolling and massaging are both forms of scalp mechanical stimulation.

Two different hair loss treatments; yet two similar mechanisms of action at play. And when we compare those photo sets to our one-off case study, it’s harder to deny that these mechanisms of action may promote a strong, synergistic hair regrowth effect.

The bottom line: research shows that mechanical stimulation increases the efficacy of vasodilators like Rogaine or rosemary oil. Combining both mechanical stimulation and a vasodilator might be better than just doing one (or the other). And that means that rosemary oil might be a critical adjunct to your hair recovery regimen… especially if you’re using it in conjunction with mechanical stimulation exercises.

At the same time, we can’t necessarily say that microneedling and massaging elicit the same sort of inflammatory responses. After all, microneedling creates acute inflammation at the top-most layers of the scalp, whereas massaging might elicit less inflammation here, yet more inflammation in deeper scalp layers depending on how hard you go. There’s also the argument that microneedling simply increases topical absorption via micro-wounding, which massages may not necessarily do.

So, there’s still much to be explored before we can actually claim that microneedling + Rogaine is similar mechanistically to massaging + rosemary oil. As research emerges, I’ll keep this article updated.

Summary: Will Rosemary Oil Stop Hair Loss And Regrow Hair?

Based on the evidence, rosemary oil has a mild effect on pattern hair loss – one that’s equivalent to 2% minoxidil (Rogaine). And while rosemary oil may make a good “natural” alternative to Rogaine, it probably won’t regrow a significant amount of hair – at least not on its own.

With that said, rosemary oils and extracts have been shown to reduce inflammation, exert antibacterial effects, reduce androgen activity, prevent fibrosis, and increase blood flow… All of which can help slow or stop hair loss while simultaneously encouraging hair regrowth.

And if we extrapolate from anecdotes and related studies, rosemary oil’s hair regrowth effects may drastically enhance if combined with mechanical stimulation exercises like massaging or microneedling. So if you’re going to use rosemary oil, you should probably use it in conjunction with mechanical stimulation.

Final Thoughts

Rosemary oil is well-absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and skin. But when it comes to hair regrowth, most of the literature only studies its topical application. I don’t know if ingesting rosemary oil is a good idea. The reality is that too high of a concentration of its volatile oils will probably irritate your stomach, and maybe even make you sick.

So if you’re going to use rosemary oil for your hair, stick to topical applications. Apply a generous amount twice-daily (just like Rogaine), and leave it in overnight if you can.

Lastly, there aren’t really any studies comparing rosemary oil’s effectiveness for hair regrowth versus other essential oils. The truth is that there may be a better vasodilator out there… And some evidence suggests that peppermint oil (from the same plant family as rosemary) may also encourage hair regrowth, and through similar mechanisms of action.

Is peppermint oil better than rosemary oil? Is there another essential oil better at regrowing hair than both rosemary and peppermint? Maybe. We don’t yet know.

My final advice? Experiment! Combine oils from species within the mint family. Try applying rosemary oil or peppermint oil (or both) regularly. Try combining them with mechanical stimulation exercises. And above all, stick to your plan! Then come back in a year and report your results.

220 thoughts on “Rosemary Oil For Hair Loss? Not So Fast… (See Photos)”

  1. Hi Rob, interesting article.
    Having give. Detumesance a serious go and seeing hair loss only becoming more aggressive as a result, I am beginning to think that even going as far as topical lotions etc won’t help IF there are other things at play.
    I wonder wether stress and / or hormone imbalance can render detumesance and topical lotions, perhaps even diet, useless if severe enough.
    In those cases I think we might be fighting a losing battle.

    • It definitely pays off to uncover the underlying / root triggers of anyone’s hair loss. Send me an email. We can troubleshoot and try to figure out what’s going on. The good news is that complete hair regrowth (from a slick bald scalp) isn’t a myth. It’s been demonstrated in the medical literature by a 78-year old bald man after he slipped, split open his head on hot coals, and during the healing process, accidentally regrew his entire juvenile hairline. Now it’s just a matter of us identifying the exact mechanisms of action that allowed that regrowth to happen. For some people – detumescence therapy and mechanical stimulation are enough. For others, it takes more work. But I think we’re getting closer and closer to solving this puzzle.

    • Jasper:

      I am now in my 13th month of DT therapy. During the first 2-3 months, I experienced massive shedding to the point where my crown became practically bald. Despite the anxiety this causes, you just have to keep going with sincere belief that the method ultimately works. (You can try Toppik fibers or Couvre to mask the shedding and ease anxiety). After 6-8 months, the weak hairs you lose during the initial shedding period will grow back stronger and fuller.


      • Thanks James. For what it’s worth, my experience was similar – though I think that with the right technique and intensity management, you can slowly ease into the massages – increasing scalp pliability over the course of a few months – and even set a benchmark for session shedding (ie: “find an intensity that will evoke ~15 hairs to shed, and no more, over the course of your session.”). Eventually people find that they can up the intensity without upping the shedding. It does take time, but I think this is a good workaround for people worried about massage-induced shedding.

      • Thanks Rob: I agree that the intensity (and frequency) of the massage, especially during the first few months, can exacerbate the shedding. I was definitely going hard on my scalp at the beginning. Your e-book (which I didn’t get until last October) definitely helped out, because I started to put more time in between scalp sessions (not unlike lifting weights) and applying more gentle pressure. It’s all about long-term results and patience with this method.

        In any event, I think anyone starting out with DT therapy should be prepared for shedding because it definitely freaks you out and makes you want to quit…. luckily, I kept at it and now starting to see tangible results

      • Thanks for sharing your experience, James. I’m now in the fifth month and the shedding can definitely be a bit scary. However, I noticed that I barely lose any hair throughout the day anymore – which supports the thesis that the hairs that one loses during the massage sessions would have fallen out anyway.
        Thanks again, it’s experiences like yours which help overcome phases of doubt which naturally creep in every now and then.

      • Hey Rob:

        You mentioned find an intensity that will evoke 15 hairs and no more. Will the technique still work if you keep the intensity that’s causing more than 15 strands to fall?

        The reason I’m asking is because I may be going hard on the pinches/presses. I just completed month 6 and haven’t seen much change yet except for some small thin hairs on the hairline. I’m afraid that if I ease off the intensity after going somewhat hard for 6 months and my scalp being so used to it, that my scalp won’t be stimulated by the less intense massages. Would that happen?

      • Hey Jeff,

        The technique still works at higher intensities (so long as you’re not creating friction against the skin), but typically people panic at higher intensities due to the amount of hair shed. These hairs eventually come back (you’re just knocking out hairs already on their way to the telogen phase of the hair cycle), but I’ve found that most people would rather ease into the regimen (and reduce/eliminate hair shedding) rather than go full-force and see a regression before recovery.

        I don’t think a decrease in your intensity will hinder your progress, or even reduce the efficacy of the massages. But please keep me posted as you experiment! From the progress you describe, it sounds like you’re where most people are around month six.


      • Thanks for the response, Rob! I’m glad to hear the great news about both being on the right track and that the intensity won’t hinder the progress. I’ll keep you updated in a couple months on where I’m at!

    • Hey Jasper,

      Stick with it man. I’ve been on this mission for about 5 years now. With various sheds and regrowths in between. And I can tell you that STRESS IS THE biggest problem in my sheds. I’ve gotten to the point where after 14 months I’ve regrown MOST of my hair, to have a few weeks of stress, bad eating, bad sleeping and bam bad sheds. I can safely say at least for me stress is probably the biggest factor in sheds.

      Keep in mind if you are shedding at the same rate you are regrowing or faster you will have issues. You need to keep shedding at bay, as you regrow.

      I will also say that I am OCD by nature and the moment I see some sheds, I start to go into OCD mode and stress about the shed, which in turn creates more sheds.

      All bad food, bad sleep, bad lifestyle, bad mindset creates STRESS in the body. Stress boosts cortisol – which impacts your hormones.

      You can’t ever let the idea that you are fighting a losing battle get in your head. I am one of the people who is on the testimonials. It’s like riding a bike, you are going to fall off, get back on get better, until you figure out exactly what’s causing your sheds. But I can say STRESS IS probably the biggest reason for sheds.

      • Thank you for writing this. I was just about to give up, feeling stressed and down in general about the shedding. But giving up is not an option, I must stay positive and keep the stress out. Thanks

      • I agree with the stress bit and shedding. I was doing great for about 5-6 months, getting some decent regrowth. I got cocky and decided that my hair was looking great so I eased off on my regimen which included the massages, onion juice, several different oils, daily brushing , derma roller etc. All of sudden I hit a stressful time in my life and have so much shed going I feel like I’m back to square one, it’s crazy. I’m kicking myself in the ass for allowing this to happen….It’s like working out, you just can’t stop or your body will just slide into the worst entropy possible, same with the scalp. You must maintain a steady regimen to keep your hair, it’s a freaking uphill battle of not becoming complacent.

  2. I want to add that I believe detumesance is a very effective treatment along with diet. Just that in some cases it may not be enough.

  3. What about stinging nettle? Or angelica sinensis?

    What about onion juice mixed with garlic?

    Or having a green dirt with black kale and red cabbage?

    Or chamomile ?

    Or Californian poppy?

    There are a lot of potent herbs that can change things that’s all I’m saying. But I’m not sure anyone has really done robust study of the most potent herbs in conjunction with other extracts to formulate a direct answer.

    • It’s a good point Enrique – and one that’s covered at the very end of this article. The net: we don’t know which plant extracts or essential oils provide the biggest impact in terms of hair regrowth. There’s some evidence that peppermint oil (coming from the same plant family as rosemary) might be similarly effective. With cross examination studies limited / non-existent, we can only go off what we know. And right now, we know that rosemary oil might increase hair count, and that vasodilators (like Rogaine or rosemary oil) combined with mechanical stimulation (like dermarolling or massaging) probably have synergistic hair regrowth effects.

    • The onion works, but you have to make sure that you’re scalp is super clean. Exfoliate your scalp before adding any ointments such as onion, essential oils etc… I’m not an affiliate for this company, but essentially this is what you have to do in order to keep good scalp health:

      Go to this channel to see this woman’s incredible results using onion juice which inspired me to start using it, albeit the smell is considerable it does work (just be consistent) make sure to look at all her videos concerning the onion mask:

      My regimen includes: Scalp cleaning with a similar exfolliant such as the one in the youtube video, detumesance, derma roller and essential oils/Onion ACV garlic juice everyday.

      Hope this helps

  4. As always, a solid analysis, and very promising.

    The one challenge I would find is applying the oil and leaving it on overnight,
    then waking up, trying to massage a slick scalp. I’ve already tried it with other oils, and it was near impossible to pinch properly. But, when there’s a will there’s always a way.

    Thanks again Rob!

    • Great points. In those cases, someone might need to rinse the oil out of their hair before their massage session. If anyone has advice here, I’d love to hear it!

      • Hello, middle-aged woman here, so what works for my thinning hair might not work for you guys. I’ve been using diluted conditioner + a few drops of glycerine as a “base oil,” which is working out very well. No worries about getting grease on the pillowcase. I use about 1/4 Suave conditioner (the cheap kind–no silicones, so it feels “clean”) 3/4 water, a squirt of glycerine (probably optional), and a few drops of lavender oil, since that’s what I had on hand. I put it in a little spray bottle – I spray into the palm of my hand and use my fingertips to massage into the scalp. (You could apply directly to the scalp with a spray or squirt bottle, too.)

        My intent was to combat my itchy winter scalp, but there is a LOT less hair in the shower drain, and I can tell by the look of my hairline that it’s growing in thicker, so the lavender oil appears to work for thinning hair as well, at least for this chick–your mileage may vary. Keeps my scalp fresher between shampoos (I have long, dry hair, so I shampoo less often) and cured that patch of psoriasis as well (which may have been a factor in my hair loss along with hormonal changes/getting older).

        Thinking of experimenting with rosemary and/or mint (I’m here because I Googled it), but maybe I shouldn’t mess with what works, eh?

  5. Thanks Rob. Great Article,with solid consideration of the stats, which most people tend to forego, when considering research. Additionally, while I had a modicum of success with rosemary oil i.e. increased vellus count, its effects did not seem to go past that, but as the gentleman in your article shows it can work, provided the reasons for your hair loss and the properties of rosemary oil align. As with any natural product not all oils are created equal, and may vary in their ratios of active ingredients depending on a number of factors (seasonality, sun/water exposure, substrate grown in, subspecies or strain of rosemary etc), and therefore vary in strength of ‘life giving properties’ to hair. To hedge your bets, if you want to give rosemary ( or indeed any other herbal) a go, it might be worth mixing, fresh, dried/extract and essential oil in a single batch to apply, in an appropriate delivery mediun, as each offers different strengths in terms of the phytochemicals available……the real trick is working out why your hair is disappearing in the first place.

    Thanks again Rob

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Greg. And you’re absolutely right — the key is in finding out what the most significant contributing factors are to anyone’s individual hair loss. And I agree with your advice about mixing. Despite our best efforts, without third party testing, we never really know what’s inside a supplement. I was just speaking with someone yesterday who runs a supplement company and he told me it took him two years of searching to find a reliable, quality source for one single ingredient. I wish all supplement companies were as determined to provide solid products.

      I haven’t looked into the quality of different rosemary oil brands, but if I find anything promising (or alarming), I’ll be sure to share it here.

    • Hey Barry – that’s right. The rosemary oil was used without any carriers. There’s evidence that the volatile oils in rosemary extracts have decent skin penetrability. I’m not sure if combining it with a carrier like propylene glycol or emu oil would be necessary, but if you try it, keep us posted!

      • It maybe the case that rosemary oil/extract, may have different effects at different concentrations i.e. at 100%, as noted by the scalp tingling it may exhibit vasodilatory properties, possibly just from the terpenes present, thus overiding the benefits of the polyphenols/flavanoids present. However at lower doses, the polyphenols/flavanoids may exhibit greater influence, thus supporting an anti-inflammatory role. Whilst there’s no research I can think of that looks as dose-response curves for rosemary, studies of other common hair loss topicalsi.e. Green Tea, support different roles at different concentrations, sometimes with larger concentrations negating the benefits. With that in mind, and from prior experience, I might use essential oil at 100% and extracts (in appropriate carrier oil) seperately, specifically with essential oil after massage,to enhance bllod flow, and the extract to do its job over night, with a specific focus on DHT (if you think it is an issue), inflammation and fibrosis.

      • Greg – which carriers have you experimented with? The peppermint-hair loss study on rats showed that peppermint oil – diluted from 100% essential oil to 3% peppermint oil in the carrier jojoba oil – was more effective than 3% minoxidil, jojoba oil, and saline solution at increasing hair growth rate, follicle depth, and hair thickness in rat hairs in the telogen phase. This leads me to believe your sentiments are correct. If we assume the rosemary oil study was done with 100% rosemary essential oil and no carrier, maybe it’s possible that those results would’ve been better had a carrier (like jojoba) been present.

      • EDIT: it appears the rosemary oil was actually a lotion, and standardized to include at least a certain threshold / percentage of volatile oils for every test subject. In the words of the authors, the rosemary oil “was standardized to include at least 3.7 mg [of] 1,8 cineole per mL”.

        This leads me to believe that 1) the rosemary oil might’ve been combined with a carrier, and 2) it might’ve been diluted. Unfortunately, we don’t have any more information beyond that.

  6. I always thought essential oils was too strong for direct skin contact and a carrier should be used. Also, since I already have a few food allergies I’m in general worried about developing new allergies from such strong oils applied directly to the skin. I love rosemary as a spice. I tried onion over night for a while and it was too much. The itch, head ache the smell. Probably too long application time.
    I’m going to do a check up first for mineral and vitamin deficiency, thyroid function and such before I give this a try. Thanks for an interesting and well written article.

    • Thanks Nicklas. Please let me know how you progress. Oftentimes allergenic reactions are compounded (and even triggered) by seemingly unrelated things – for instance, the microbiome’s influence on gene expression and microorganism colonization of other parts of the body. If you find rosemary oil too strong for your scalp, it might be best to dilute it or combine it with a carrier (as you say).

  7. Hello!

    Interessting and informational as always 🙂
    Thank you for the work and Research you put into These articles.

    One question, what do you generally think of raw veganism as a diet?
    spec. for reversing or halting hair loss/ thyroid condition (was tested postive for hypo)

    Thank you for your thoughts on that!


    • Thanks Birigt. And good question about raw veganism. While I haven’t tried strictly raw veganism, I have experimented with veganism for hair loss and wrote about my experience here:

      A small percentage of people have a polymorphism which allows them to function better on a plant-based diet. While I’m not one of them, I still encourage everyone to self-test and find out which diet their bodies react to best.

    • As a vegan myself, I’m rather skeptical of a raw vegan diet. However, if you follow a carefully planned and diverse whole-food, plant-based diet, you don’t risk developing any nutrient deficiencies and you certainly won’t develop any thyroid issues as a result of that diet. Personally, I had some minor thyroid issues while I still was an omnivore. I just went to a thyroid specialist a couple days ago and my thyroid is as healthy as it gets. I’ve been vegan for almost a year now. Generally, a whole-food, plant-based diet is one of the most anti-inflammatory diets, thereby theoretically improving scalp and hair health. I’ve always had medium severe acne for example, and now it’s finally gone.

      From what I’ve read, going whole-food, plant-based can work well for everyone. Just keep in mind that going vegan by itself doesn’t necessarily mean eating healthily. Many vegans choose to be vegan for ethical reasons and may still eat huge amounts of fat, sugar, salt and processed foods.

      Just sharing my thoughts! 🙂

    • Grey hair appear due to the cell’s inability to get rid of peroxides. Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) has been found to assist the situation since it is the holy grail of antioxidants – it helps get rid of the heavy duty molecules produced from oxidation. Peroxide belongs into this category. Production of SOD declines as we age.

  8. Hi Rob

    I did research on Rosemary oil sometime ago and will look to use it when emu runs out.

    Those pics are amazing. Note this guy did a massage which was based on your old book and massage version and still got great results.

    By looking at his scalp he suffered significant loss , and you can see the scalp hardened.

    My theory is
    Detum massage will allow topicals oils to work by causing blood flow , less hardened scalp skin. A scalp with fibrosis will prevent topicals from doing any magic to a good effect.

    Also in far Eastern culture oil massages were done regular basis as it was seen healthy for hair.

    But as I understand Rob , you and JD never used any oil topicals at all ?

    Also the guy looks as if he has diffused thining along with mpb. If so , he’s using a fat based topical which helped.


    • Hey Paz – the results are very impressive, and the evidence so far seems to suggest that a topical vasodilator + mechanical stimulation can be an effective hair regrowth protocol. To answer your question – JD and I didn’t use any topicals. For a long time I never endorsed / advocated for the use of any topicals because I feared they would detrimentally inhibit certain signaling proteins in one of mechanical stimulation’s biggest mechanisms of action: acute inflammation generation. However, evidence and anecdotes like this lead me to believe there might be some serious benefit to a combined approach, especially for better hair regrowth.

      I’m excited to see your progress photos! I know we’ve been emailing each other and in your last email you were excited about progress. Keep up the great work and let me know if anything comes up.

  9. Thanks for enlightening us further Rob

    As one of the commenters said above I think rosemary oil can be much more effective if it is diluted with carrier oils rich in nutrition and active compounds.

    I make a mixture of oleuropein, nigella sativa oil and coconut oil with 1-2 drops of peppermint, lavender and rosemary oil. All of which are shown to be potentially effective in treatment of alopecia. I apply the mixture on my scalp, wrap my hair and go to sleep.
    The reports of the researches done on the oils I listed above seem to be more extensive and elaborate than the rosemary experiment summary but nevertheless all were done on mice except nigella sativa oil experiment. So reading this article my enthusiasm declined to a more realistic level. I now know it may not yield the same successful results on humans. However if one thing looks promising it is that these experiments were done on multiple treatment groups whose results vary dramatically. For example Oleuropein compared to control and MXD treatment groups promoted much more hair growth on mice. Maybe it may work to some degree on humans as well.

    Is it okay if I post the links?

  10. Hello Rob!

    Another question.
    Do you think the diet reccommondation desplayed in you ebook apply for both sexes?
    In Terms of generally regulating hormones? (thyroid, sex hormones)

    Do you also have female Clients? Or even before after Pictures of females Clients doing your protocol?

    Thank you!

    • Hey Birgit – yes. The dietary recommendations are designed to optimize hormonal profiles for both sexes – not just men or women. I’d love to work with more female clients 99% of the people who read the book are men, and I’ve only ever been contacted by a handful of women. In general, the literature suggests that these methods should work for both men and women.

  11. Hi Rob,

    Sorry this is quite off topic but what do you think about cryotherapy for hair loss ?

    This article seems to indicate that it’s a quite effective way to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy.

    What are your thoughts on this ?

    Could it help at least a little when it comes to MPB ?

    If yes how many times could we apply ice to our scalps while doing mecano stimulation ?

    Thank you for your help.

    Best regards,


    • Hey Kev – thanks for sharing. I actually discuss the benefits of cold thermogenesis in the book extensively. The evidence suggests that regularly cold water therapy / cryotherapy boasts protective effects for testosterone levels, as well as potential increases to brown fat and an increased resistance to stress. With that said, you probably don’t need to combine mechanical stimulation and cold immersion therapy simultaneously to reap an effect. You could probably just take cold showers / cold water dunks regularly and continue with the mechanical stimulation exercises as-is. Chances are they both don’t need to happen at the exact same time.

      • Thank you for your insight Rob. I actually don’t apply the ice pack while massaging but a few minutes after the massaging sessions. It feels very good ! Thank you again for taking the time to answer to all of us. God bless you

  12. Hi rob,

    I’ve read about pumpkin seed oil which contains a lot of magnesium and other extracts. What is your take on this?

    Also there is a seaweed from Korea known as ecklonia cava which I have the literature here as follows; I want to know after reading about Stopandtalkhis extract, what is the difference from Rosemary oil research and ecklonia cava, or what is your view on it?

    • Hey Enrique – I had to edit out the bottom half of your comment since was an article copied/pasted from another website. But to answer your question – I’ll write about these soon. In fact, I’m posting an article about pumpkin seed oil next week.

      Many supplements tout antioxidant and anti-androgenic capabilities. But few stand up to the science.

  13. Hi Rob,
    I read about your message method over a year ago, I’m 30 years old female with no bald spots just thinning hair, I immediately started messaging my scalp twice daily for 20 min and I ditched shampoo and started No poo ( only water) to wash my hair, now after almost a year of messaging I didn’t see any results or improvements.. is it the reason that the messaging doesn’t work for female as much as males?

    • Hey Bebe – it’s tough to answer your question without more information. Are you doing the mechanical stimulation exercises discussed in the book, or your own interpretation of the massages in the Detumescence Therapy study? As far as male versus female success rate – I wish I could answer this better. I rarely get the chance to work with women as 99% of the people who read the book are men. But I’m finally working with two women now so will have your answer in the next four or five months. From a scientific perspective, these techniques should work for everyone.

  14. Hi rob,

    Which Rosemary oil is the best to buy from?

    I’m from the UK and need your advice as to which one is 100% organic Rosemary oil?

    What is your take on the Korean seaweed that I sent to you?

    • Hey Enrique – I can’t yet comment on the seaweed. And as far as the best brands, I don’t have any in mind. Just look for something steam distilled, organic, and at 100% concentration (so that you can dilute to the concentration of your choosing).

  15. Thanks for the very informative and well-researched article, Rob!

    I might try incorporating rosemary oil into my routine. I’m just not sure how to do it most efficiently. What would you recommend? Using it while doing the massages? Leaving it on overnight?

    • Great questions – and I don’t currently have a great answer!

      In rat studies, it looks like 100% peppermint essential oil diluted to 3% peppermint oil in a jojoba carrier oil, applied and left to dry 6 days per weeks (over the course of a few months) resulted in 1) increased dermal thickness, 2) increased hair follicle depth, 3) faster hair growth, and 4) thicker hair – and better results than either 3% minoxidil, 100% jojoba oil, or saline solution. Taking that into account, my recommendation would be to apply rosemary daily, diluted, and in a carrier oil and leave in overnight (at a minimum).

      If you’re going to go 100% rosemary oil (like in the highlighted study inside the article), I’d just make sure your skin doesn’t feel too irritated hours after it’s left in. And if there is no irritation, try leaving it in overnight as well.

      Let us know how it works!

      • Thanks!

        Regarding the carrier oil: couldn’t that potentially be harmful by clogging the pores etc.? Isn’t that also one of the reasons why you advise against the use of any shampoos?

        I think I might try the 100% rosemary oil first, but yeah, essential oils are super powerful.

        How much do you think should be applied? A few drops or more? On the entire scalp or just the problem zones?

      • Hey Manuel – to clarify my position on the shampoo-hair loss connection: chronic and long-term shampooing consistently strips the scalp of sebum, and as a response, the scalp begins overproducing sebum and at a faster rate. Excess sebum production is something we often see in balding scalps, and while the evidence is limited, excess sebum production may be correlated to (or even a response to) chronic scalp tension / inflammation. It’s not necessarily that shampooing directly causes hair loss. Rather, it’s the overproduction of sebum as a result of shampooing that may contribute to hair loss.

        Conversely, fat-based topicals like coconut oil or emu oil may actually downregulate sebum production. I’ve noticed this in myself when applying them consistently over months. And contrary to popular belief, I’ve never seen sound evidence to suggest that fat-based oils clog pores in a way that negatively impacts hair growth. Conceptually this makes sense: a hair follicle is nourished by the capillary networks that support it (underneath the skin), and not the dermis/epidermis layers of our skin – despite those layers being closest to the surface and thereby external oxygen.

        RE: rosemary dilution–

        Over the past two nights, I’ve tried two techniques: Night one: rosemary oil diluted to 3% in an olive oil carrier. Night two: rosemary oil + peppermint oil at 100% concentrations (no carriers). Last night I could feel the menthol’s tingling effect on my scalp for hours. It was a bit intense and even kept me up. I’m wondering if 100% strength will lead to irritation after a few days/weeks. I’ll keep experimenting and let you know.

        But in general, I think you should apply the oils everywhere on the scalp and not just your problem areas. And that you should always heir on the side of more liberal use – regardless of your dilution.


      • Sorry, you might have addressed this already, but how do you dilute the rosemary oil to exactly 3%. Or how would you go about diluting it to any other specific percentage. I plan on trying it at 100% first, but I know that I have had scalp irritation from other topicals in the past and have a feeling I might also get some irritation from a 100% concentration as well.

      • If you have 100% essential rosemary oil, you can use two droppers to measure out a ratio of 3 drops of rosemary oil to 100 drops of carrier oil. It’s easiest to do this in a big batch and do something like 30 drops of rosemary oil to 1,000 drops of carrier oil and leave it all in an airtight vessel. That way, you’re not stuck doing these ratios every single night.

        I don’t think you need to be perfect with your measurements. It’s likely that eyeballing will be fine.

  16. Hi Rob .

    After doing the massage this Evening on the front , I’ve noticed more flakes dropping off. Like dry skin. I know Jd mentioned this. I’m scratching it off. But I’m wondering could this substance be blocking any pores ?

    Also using oil would mean washing hair with shampoo ?? Which we are trying to avoid?

    I’m in month five . My widows peak is getting stronger, I notice it’s not stuck to forehead . Bit more bounce to it.

    Overall I’m impressed as I said in the email. I will think about using topical Rosemary at 100 percent maybe at month 7. So far my success has come from just massage , and a bit of emu to treat dry skin.

    The logic is becoming clear Rob.

    Diffused hair loss is treated by diet , stress management , fat based topical.

    Mpb is treated by mechanical simulation along with the above.

    I think women will have more luck with diet, stress / hormone management and oil topicals. ?

    Thanks Rob. Will update you soon.

    • Thank you very much for your progress report! Sounds promising.
      I’m now almost two months into the massages. I considered adding rosemary oil to my routine right away after having read this article, but I think it makes more sense to give the mechanical stimulation therapy a couple more months and possibly add rosemary oil later on.

      I’m so happy that I managed to stop using any shampoo almost three weeks ago – I don’t want to risk a relapse by putting oil onto my scalp. 😀