There are many natural hair loss treatments on the market that claim to stop thinning and loss and even induce hair growth. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these claims are unfounded with no scientific evidence to back them.
Grapeseed extract, on the other hand, is one ingredient which may just have the research available to back its claims.
Without further ado, let’s look at the benefits associated with grapeseed extract for hair and how you can get the most from this ingredient.
What Is Grapeseed Extract?
Grapes have been used for 6,000 years, both as a delicious edible treat and for the treatment of a number of medical conditions (1). But what is it about these sweet, round berry fruits that lends itself to medicinal use, and what provides them with their curative powers?
The answer, of course, is their abundance of vitamins, nutrients, and complexes which can be found within the skins and seeds.
Grapeseed extract is the product of crushed grape seeds, and it’s been a staple in the diets and medicine cabinets of cultures all around the world.
How Can Grapeseed Extract Be Used to Prevent Hair Loss?
Grapeseed extract has a number of general health benefits (2).
From its use in the treatment of gout to its ability to control sugar levels, there’s no doubt that grapeseed extract has a number of extraordinary benefits (3, 4). But what about its use in the treatment of hair loss?
Well, there’s a number of ways in which supplementation with grapeseed extract can help individuals with male-pattern baldness, and the below ways are just a few.
Grapeseed Extract Increases Blood Flow
Blood flow is the most important factor when it comes to the health of your hair. When blood flow is restricted then the miniaturization of the hair follicles is sure to follow.
This means the follicles are no longer able to support strong and healthy hair growth. One way to reverse these effects, however, is to increase the blood flow to these follicles. This will allow them to receive the nutrients they require.
Grapeseed Extract Promotes Hair-Cycle-Converting Activities
You know that the miniaturization of hair follicles can make it difficult for hair to regrow, but what exactly leads to the miniaturization of hair follicles?
For individuals suffering from Androgenetic Alopecia (also known as male-pattern baldness), sensitivity to the sex hormone DHT leads to the miniaturization (6). As the follicles become smaller, the hair cycle shortens.
Grapeseed extract, however, has actually been proven to jumpstart the hair cycle and push the follicle from telogen (the phase in which the most hair is lost) to anagen (the phase in which active hair growth occurs) (7).
Thus far, these results have only been seen in mice. But as the hair cycles of mice and men are quite similar, there’s good reason to believe these results may be applicable to humans, too.
Grapeseed Extract Is Full of Antioxidants
Antioxidants play an important role in the fight against hair thinning and hair loss. And, fortunately, grapeseed oil is one natural and easy-to-obtain source of these free radical fighting molecules (8).
Grapeseed Extract is Antibacterial
MRSA is a difficult-to-treat infection which is seen in humans.
Scientists have been researching treatment options for years, and in 2010, researchers found that grapeseed extract is actually an effective treatment for this debilitating, and sometimes fatal, bacterium (9).
If grapeseed extract is effective at treating MRSA, then surely it’s an effective treatment for a number of less deadly bacterium found throughout the human body and on the scalp.
For those with hair loss, one of the most important things you can do is to keep your scalp and hair follicles healthy and free of infection.
This will make treatment for hair loss more effective, and it will keep your hair follicles from irreparable damage.
What Does the Research Have to Say About Grapeseed Extract and Hair Loss?
While no research has been done to directly link the use of grapeseed extract to hair loss treatment in humans, a few studies have shown the numerous benefits that grapeseed extract contains and how it can help to minimize hair loss and encourage hair growth.
One such study, performed in 1998 by Japanese researchers, has proven that grapeseed extract is successful at promoting hair cycle conversions.
The study consisted of three groups of mice. All mice in the study were of the same age (8 weeks at the start), and the three groups each received topical applications of either A) control, B) 1% Minoxidil, or C) 3% proanthocyanidins purified from grape seeds.
The age of the mice is actually vital to the results of this study, as scientists know exactly when each phase of the hair cycle occurs at different ages.
For example, from ages 5 weeks to 14 weeks, the dorsal hair of C3H mice is in the telogen phase.
This is known as the resting phase and is actually the hair cycle phase where hair loss is most common.
This study lasted for 19 days, and the results can be clearly seen to the left.
Group A, the control group, showed the smallest amount of hair growth (about 30 – 40%). Group B, the minoxidil group, saw a hair coverage of about 90 – 100%. And, astonishingly, Group C, the group which received a topical application of 3% proanthocyanidins from grape seeds, saw hair coverage of about 80 – 90% of the shaven area.
What does this have to do with the hair cycle?
Considering that the mice were receiving applications from 8 weeks old to 10 weeks old, the researchers knew that, naturally, the mice’s dorsal hairs would be in the telogen (resting) phase.
The applications of 1% Minoxidil and 3% proanthocyanidins actually caused hair to grow much quicker than in the mice who received applications of the control.
This means that the follicles in groups B and C actively went from the telogen phase (resting) to the anagen phase (active).
Is It Possible to Use Grapeseed Extract for Hair Growth in Men with Male-Pattern Baldness?
While no human studies have been done, the above research study does highlight the abilities of grapeseed extract to promote hair growth.
This means that grapeseed extract has a very promising future as a treatment for men with male-pattern baldness.
Are There Side Effects Associated with Grapeseed Extract Supplementation?
Grapeseed oil extract is a safe supplement for the majority of individuals.
Keep in mind, however, that an allergic reaction is possible with any form of supplementation, and it’s best to be aware of the warning signs.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to grapeseed oil extract include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth, tongue, lips, or throat, and increased temperature.
Should you experience any of these symptoms, it’s vital that you seek emergency medical help right away.
Prior to supplementation, it’s best to speak with your doctor about your preexisting medical conditions and current medications.
Certain individuals, such as those with a blood clotting disorder, should speak with their doctor about possible side effects and whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
And, as always, women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or who are currently nursing should consult with their obstetrician before use.
How to Increase the Effects of Grapeseed Extract for Hair
Whether you’re applying it to your scalp directly, or using a shampoo or other hair product that contains grapeseed extract, you’ll want to be sure you’re using it most effectively so as to increase the chance of good results?
That’s where scalp stimulation comes in.
Scalp stimulation is just what it sounds like. And the two easiest ways to do it on your own are scalp massage and microneedling.
Scalp massage is manual stimulation of the scalp which involves the use of a specialized massaging tool, or your fingertips.
These techniques have been used for years as a way to reduce stress and relieve pain and inflammation (11, 12). However, more recent research has come out that shows just how beneficial massage can be to hair growth.
The scalp is a complex “organ” which consists of multiple layers. These include the skin, subcutaneous, galea, subgalea, and pericranium layers.
But what does this have to do with hair loss? According to the tension theory, quite a bit actually.
The galea is a fibrous layer that covers the entirety of the scalp from just above the eyebrows to behind the ears. The tension theory postulates that tension which is put upon the galea by the nearby muscles can activate Hic-5, an androgen receptor co-activator which improves the function of a cell’s androgen receptors (13).
An increase in androgen receptor function means that DHT is more easily able to attach to the follicles, and trigger even further miniaturization in those with AGA.
So, where does scalp massage come into play?
Well, if tension on the galea is the problem, muscle relaxation is the solution.
Scalp massage has been shown to stretch the dermal papilla cells in the subcutaneous tissue and, as a result, increase the surrounding hair thickness (14).
But there’s also reason to believe that massage would also alleviate tension on the scalp so as to regulate Hic-5 activation and reduce the amounts of DHT which can attach to the follicles.
This practice can also increase blood flow – an obvious side effect of manual stimulation – which is useful for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the follicles.
If increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation is important to you (as it should be), then microneedling is the next logical step in your hair growth journey.
Microneedling is a procedure that involves the use of tiny needles attached to a base.
The tool is then either rolled over the scalp, or ‘stamped,’ so as to induce temporary wounding to the area.
As these wounds heal, the surrounding skin and follicles undergo a three-step process which includes inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling (15). This leads to an increase in skin collagen levels and it can also trigger new skin cell proliferation (16).
And if it seems counterintuitive to use microneedling to grow hair, you’ll be happy to know there is a body of research that supports the practice.
A variety of studies have shown that not only can microneedling induce hair growth in men and women with alopecia, but it can even do so in those who were resistant to more conventional treatment methods (17, 18).
The procedure can also be combined with topical treatments – whether that be minoxidil, or even grapeseed extract – to enhance results (19).
So there you have it. Grapeseed extracts and oils may be an effective addition to your hair care routine although there is yet to be any strong evidence that it improves hair growth outcomes.
Even if it doesn’t directly induce hair growth, its anti-microbial and antioxidant properties are likely to play a beneficial role in the health of your scalp and hair.