In this article, I’ll tell you about the latest research regarding the use of almond oil for hair growth, and how you can get started today using almond oil as a hair loss treatment.
First, you’ll learn about almond oil, its origins, and its chemical makeup which contributes to its overall health benefits.
Second, I’ll discuss the various scientific studies which show almond oil’s benefits and how effective it really is at treating hair loss.
(Hint: In rats, almond oil extracts were shown to be just as effective, and sometimes more, than minoxidil – the leading hair regrowth product in the world!)
Almond oil also has high quantities of magnesium which in itself has been proven to promote hair growth and protect against hair fall.
Third, I’ll provide you with a hair care recipe which you can begin using immediately so you can experience the positive benefits which almond oil has to offer.
What is Almond Oil?
Almond, also referred to as prunus dulcis and prunus amygdalus, is a species of flowering tree with origins in the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, and North Africa.
The flowers produced from the tree range in color from white to pale pink, and they bloom seven to eight months before the fruit of the tree (which we know as almonds) has matured.
Almond oil is an oil, obtained from the seed of the almond fruit, which is composed of a combination of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids.
Used in a variety of industries, from cosmetics to culinary to medicine, almond oil is a highly prized oil and used throughout the world.
Comprised of both omega-9 (oleic) and omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acids, almond oil is beneficial in the treatment of various medical conditions.
Both of these omega fatty acids are vital to human health, and they play a crucial role in a variety of human body processes.
Omega-9 fatty acid, for example, contributes to cardiovascular health and improved blood lipids in Type-2 Diabetics, while omega-6 fatty acid is vital in its contributions to reproductive health and metabolism regulation.
Additionally, omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to stimulate hair growth and contribute to the overall health of the skin and hair.
While research is currently limited, almond oil and its variety of nutrients shows promise in treating various forms of alopecia.
Almond Oil’s Flavonoids and Phenolic Acids as Antioxidants
Two components of almond oil which cannot be overlooked are its flavonoids and phenolic acids.
Both of these constituents make up a large percentage of almond oil, which is seen in the table below.
What does this mean for your hair however?
Both flavonoids and phenolic acids have been shown to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants play a vital role in the slowing down of oxidative stress, and this can have a positive impact on individuals with AGA.
Oxidative stress is a process responsible for various signs of aging, including graying hair and thinning.
Essentially, oxidative stress leads to an imbalance within the body between free radicals and antioxidants.
Free radicals are atoms which “steal” molecules from vital proteins and lipids, causing them to break down.
Flavonoids and phenolic acids, however, playing the role of antioxidant, swoop in and save the day by ceasing the molecule-scavenging process.
In individuals with AGA, supplementation with antioxidants can reduce the damage, such as inflammation and immune reactions, caused by oxidative stress.
The phenolic compounds found abundantly in almond can have other positive effects, too, as seen in a 2014 research study which showed the effect that almond shell extract had on tinea capitis, also known as scalp ringworm.
Scalp ringworm is the result of a fungal infection. This infection penetrates the hair shaft, leading to alopecia and is the number one cause of hair loss in children.
After 6 months of symptoms (including itchiness, redness, inflammation, and hair loss), the 5-year-old patient received an antifungal compound which showed no effect on the infection.
The shell extract of prunus dulcis was then applied, three times daily. Within 3 weeks, the patient had completely recovered from the infection, and without any adverse effects.
Within a month of starting the treatment, the patient’s hair had regrown in the previously bald patch.
This study just further illustrates almond oil’s antioxidant and antifungal properties.
Oleic Acid and Linoleic Acid as DHT Blockers
I’ve previously discussed the effect which oleic acid and linoleic acid have on DHT and its production. To recap:
Individuals with androgenetic alopecia (AGA) have inherited a sensitivity to DHT. This sensitivity leads to the hair thinning and loss seen in patients with male-pattern baldness, and contributes to the miniaturization of hair follicles as illustrated below.
Oleic and linoleic acids, however, both have strong inhibitory effects on 5alpha-reductase. This means that less DHT is produced within the body, leading to less hair follicle miniaturization and damage.
Does this mean that those looking to use almond oil as a treatment will see results?
Almond oil contains high levels of oleic acid, and to a lesser extent, linoleic acid. As inhibitors of DHT, there’s no doubt that the supplementation of almond oil will have a positive effect on those with alopecia.
And, while there have been no human studies yet performed to show the beneficial effects of almond oil on hair growth, the study below does provide proof as to almond oil’s hair growth effects.
Almond Oil’s Impact on the Hair Growth Cycle as Seen in Rats
As mentioned above, there are a variety of components found within almond oil which contribute to its hair growth abilities. It does help, however, to see an in vivo example of almond oil in action.
A 2009 research study titled In vivo hair growth activity of Prunus d. sought to do just that, and it asked the simple question, does almond oil contribute to hair growth?
The study consisted of 30 rats, all of which had a 3cm2 section of hair shaved from their dorsal region and an application of a commercial hair remover to ensure thorough removal. The rats were then split into six groups of five.
The six groups were a) control; b) prunus dulcis (petroleum ether extract); c) prunus dulcis (methanol extract); d) prunus dulcis (chloroform extract); e) prunus dulcis (water extract); and f) minoxidil.
The rats received one daily application of one of the above six treatments for a total of 30 days, and skin biopsies were taken at the 10-day, 20-day, and 30-day marks.
Additionally, hair was plucked randomly from the backs of each rat on the 15th, 20th, 25th, and 30th days of treatment, and hair length was determined as mean length ± SEM of 25 hairs.
What Did the Study Reveal?
Ultimately, the researchers discovered that the petroleum ether extract of almond was most effective at converting hair follicles in the telogen (resting) phase to anagen (active growth) phase, and was also an effective promoter of hair length.
In fact, the petroleum ether extract was just as effective as the minoxidil treatment!
Find out more about how long Rogaine takes to work here.
And, while the petroleum ether extract did perform more favorably, the three other extracts (methanol, chloroform, and water) did show themselves to be more effective than the control results.
While researchers were unsure of the reason for the almond extract’s effectiveness, they hypothesized that an increase in the number of epithelial cells, located at the base of the follicle, were responsible for conversion from telogen to anagen phase, as well as a prolonged period of active growth.
Can Almond Oil Be Used in Humans with Similar Results?
While there have yet to be any human studies done on the use of almond oil for treatment of alopecia, the results above do show promise and provide future researchers with a starting point.
As members of the mammalian class, both human and rat hair growth cycles are similar.
Both species experience the anagen (active), telogen (transition), and catagen (resting) phases of hair growth, and both experience hair loss for similar reasons.
This means that the effects seen in scientific studies done on rats can, in at least some part, be assumed to be similar on humans.
Sweet Almond Oil Versus Bitter Almond Oil: Which Is Best?
To understand the difference between sweet almond oil and bitter almond oil, it helps to understand the difference in the almonds.
Almonds are a term that typically refer to the nuts you buy from the store. These are sweet almonds, and they come from the sweet almond tree (Prunus Dulcis, var. Amygdalus).
But there’s another variation of almond, known as bitter almond. These come from the bitter almond tree (Prunus dulcis, var. Amara).
As their names suggest, the main difference between these two almond variations is in their flavor.
Sweet almonds tend to be, well, sweeter. This is the type of almond that’s often used in cooking, or eaten as a snack.
The bitter almond, however, is also used in cooking. You may find it in flavorings and oils.
So, what about the almond oil for hair growth?
While bitter almonds can be used for oils and flavorings, the emulsification process also yields glucose, cyanide, and the essential oil of bitter almonds.
Due to this, the oil variation which you’re most likely to find in cosmetic products (and what I personally recommend) is sweet almond oil.
How to Use Almond Oil as a Treatment for Regrowth
While there are certainly beneficial effects associated with oral consumption of almond oil, the most direct way to treat hair loss with the supplement is through application to the scalp.
This can be done in a variety of ways, though for many, adding almond oil to shampoo can be the easiest manner.
Make a DIY Almond Oil Shampoo
- Water (1/2 cup)
- Liquid Castile Soap (1/2 cup)
- Aloe Vera Gel (1/3 cup)
- Olive oil (1 teaspoon)
- Almond Oil (2-3 teaspoons)
- Geranium Essential Oil (10 drops)
Combine all ingredients and take special care to mix thoroughly. Now, with wet hair, work the shampoo into a lather, massaging into the hair and scalp until completely covered.
Leave in for up to 3 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
This unique combination of ingredients contributes to hair growth and strength, and will protect the hair shaft from damage which may lead to brittle or dry hair.
The liquid castile soap acts as a gentle cleansing agent, leaving your hair free from pollutants, hair product, and DHT buildup.
The aloe vera balances the pH level of your scalp, promoting healthy hair growth. Olive oil, the main moisturizer within this recipe, hydrates the hair and penetrates the hair shaft, leaving you with strong, healthy locks.
Of course, almond oil contributes to this shampoo’s hydrating effects, as well as fighting any microbials (such as fungus or bacteria) found on the scalp.
Last, but not least, geranium essential oil has been shown to increase circulation to the scalp, delivering essential nutrients and promoting hair growth.
Are There Side Effects Associated with Almond Oil Supplementation?
As with any supplement, it’s best to approach use with caution and understand that no matter how rare side effects may be, they can still occur and in a variety of ways.
As a culinary agent, almond oil is safe for human consumption, though you should limit the amount which you consume. Moderation, as they say, is key.
For individuals with chronic conditions, or for women who are nursing or pregnant, consult with a medical professional before supplementing with almond oil. Drug interactions may occur as a result of almond oil’s variety of minerals and vitamins.
What to Look for in an Almond Oil
There are plenty of almond oils to choose from on the shelves of supermarkets. But what should you look for when selecting an almond oil for internal or topical use?
The first thing you’ll want to consider is how it’s processed.
There are two main ways that almonds are processed to create the oil. They are expeller pressed and distillation extraction.
As the name suggests, the expeller pressed almond oil is extracted from the almond with the use of a mechanical tool. The oils are extracted all at once using either cold or hot plates.
The second method, distillation extraction, utilizes water or steam. This breaks down the plant materials until only the essential oils are left behind.
So, which is the better of the two?
If you’re looking for the method that includes the most essential elements of the almond, then distillation extraction is your best bet.
There is a certain chemical compound within almonds – amygdalin – which is only present in oils that are extract using distillation. This is because water is necessary for the emulsification of the compound to occur.
Amygdalin been shown to play a significant role in activating cells which control cell proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death). This can contribute to the overall benefits of the oil.
Almond Oil Versus Coconut Oil: Which Is Better?
There are plenty of carrier oils that provide benefits to the hair and scalp. But there are some oils which are more popular than others, like coconut oil.
Coconut oil is a carrier oil that’s high in fatty acids and nutrients. It’s commonly found in foods, as well as cosmetics and supplements.
One of the greatest benefits that coconut oil has over almond oil (and most other carrier oils, actually) is its penetrative abilities. This means that coconut oil can penetrate into the individual hair strands so as to protect against damage and breakage.
Almond oil does have its own benefits, though.
One benefit is its non-comedogenic makeup. This oil is less likely to clog the pores and hair follicles, which means it’s better for those with oily skin.
Almond oil also has a neutral scent, and this can be of benefit to those who’re sensitive to smells.
And almond oil can also be great for strengthening the hair follicles. This means that it can strengthen hair from the inside-out.
So, is coconut oil or almond oil the better choice? The answer it will depend on your skin type and your needs.
You can’t really go wrong with either oil, though, especially as it pertains to hair growth.
While human research has yet to be done on the use of almond oil in the treatment of pattern baldness, preliminary studies done on rats do show almond oil to be an effective promoter of hair growth.
Further, almond oil’s antioxidant and antimicrobial properties contribute to its use as a hair loss treatment, and may provide those with alopecia relief from DHT’s most common side effects, including inflammation, sensitivity, and hair follicle miniaturization.
Is almond oil effective for those suffering from advanced alopecia? While its application may provide some relief, don’t expect almond oil supplementation to make a huge difference to your hair.
For that you need to fix the underlying cause – then you can use almond oil to accelerate that new hair growth if you want to.
*This article was reviewed by Dr. Anil Simhadri