I’m a Naturopath and Trichologist (scalp and hair specialist), and NEED to spill the tea on the TikTok Rosemary water viral trend.
by Simone Abaron
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or not on TikTok), you’d know that the viral rosemary water hair growth craze has reached fever pitch. Videos have literally amassed MILLIONS of views with @jonathankmonroe, @bellamower, and @theaussierapunzel being just some of the content creators getting involved.
I know more than a thing or two about plant medicines, extract production, scientific research and hair growth, so I’m here to deep dive into the truths and myths behind this trend.
1. There is no scientific evidence that Rosemary water increases hair growth (or health).
Literally NOT-A-SINGLE-PAPER. Not even a case observation. Now, I’m not saying it won’t work, I’m saying that there is no evidence it will.
Don’t believe me? Check it out yourself.
2. There is limited scientific evidence that Rosemary oil increases hair growth
There was 1 scientific study published in SkinMed in 2015 that compared Rosemary oil to 2% Minoxidil, showing that the results were similar.
I have several issues with this paper- first, there was no placebo control, nor was it double blinded. Second, Rosemary oil and Rosemary water are not the same thing (see # 3). Third, 2% is not the gold-standard clinically effective dose of Minoxidil, in fact this study comparing 2% and 5% minoxidil showed that 5% minoxidil was significantly more effective than 2% and placebo. Next, the 2015 study was conducted using patients with androgenetic alopecia- which of course none of these content creators have. And if that wasn’t enough, the study was conducted over 6 months, so if you’re going to pin all your hair growth dreams on Rosemary oil, prepare to be in it for the long haul.
There was 1 other study published in 1998 that combined several different essential oils, including Thyme, Lavender, and Atlas Cedar with Rosemary in a carrier oil. This was also similarly conducted over a 7 month period, and patients were diagnosed with alopecia areata- which again, none of these content creators have.
3. Rosemary water and Rosemary oil are not the same thing
Plants can contain thousands of different phyto-compounds (plant compounds), which can affect the biology and physiology in different ways. When we produce plant medicines, we (i.e. an expert, trained in the field of plant medicines) design the manufacturing method very deliberately, to target the phyto-compounds that are going to produce the desired activity in, or on, the body.
Rosemary oil is usually produced by steam distillation. Imagine a teapot on a stove with a tube coming out of the lid capturing the steam (along with the volatile essential oils) and collecting these oils in a separate vessel- that’s essentially the process of steam distillation. It’s the oil that is collected which is what has been shown to be effective in inducing hair growth (see # 2).
TikTok videos often show Rosemary leaves and twigs being put into boiling water, and it being boiled for some time (e.g. 20 minutes). You are literally boiling away all of the compounds that have been shown to be effective! The only caveat here is that if you pop a tight lid on your pot, you will hopefully capture most of these volatile oils, however you would be heavily diluting them with water and a bunch of compounds that might not be doing anything, or worse might counteract the activity of the volatile oils.
4. Save yourself the time, mess and hassle, buy good quality Rosemary oil
There are so many different brands of high quality Rosemary oil available, produced in the correct way (i.e. via steam distillation), so please save yourself the time, mess and hassle and just use that.
Blend the Rosemary oil with a beautiful nourishing carrier oil like jojoba oil, and now we’re onto something. That will get you as close as possible to the treatment used in the 2015 and 1998 studies.
Better yet, elevate your home brew by creating your very own personalised essential oil blend paired with a growth-hacking scalp brush to promote circulation (and, in turn, growth). Taking Mane Event, a high-quality supplement to intensify hair growth, density and thickness is another must.
5. Scalp, not strands
Last but not least, if you are looking to turbocharge your hair growth, focus on the scalp- where growth begins. Some of these videos show the content creator spraying the Rosemary water through their strands- there is no evidence at all that this will do anything, except make you smell a little like a roast dinner.
Want to know where to start on your hair growth journey without the viral crazes and false promises? Start here >
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity for growth.”