With so many hair growth products on the market, you may be wondering why you should consider adding another one to your routine.
Shampoos, conditioners, serums, and elixirs are well and good, but one daily product you should also consider adding to your routine are hair growth tonics. Hair growth tonics are easy to use, contain simple ingredients, and take very little time to make and use on a regular basis.
This article will provide you with the information you need to make your own hair growth tonic at home. You can also use the information below to find high-quality store-bought hair tonics for personal use. Are you ready? Let’s jump in!
What’s a Hair Growth Tonic?
A hair growth tonic is a product, typically a liquid though sometimes in a cream or pomade, that is applied to the hair. The purpose of a hair growth tonic is to: 1) promote hair growth; and 2) support a healthy scalp environment.
There are plenty of hair growth tonics on the market that claim to provide miraculous results. The truth? The majority of these tonics just support a healthy scalp which itself will lead to healthy hair growth at a normal rate.
Can a Hair Growth Tonic Combat Hair Loss?
It makes sense for those that are fighting hair loss to use a hair growth tonic. After all, it should promote hair growth, right? The answer to hair loss is often more complicated than that.
Hair loss can occur for many reasons. The most common reason for hair loss is Male Pattern Baldness (MPB), also known as Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA). This is a hereditary hair loss condition triggered by sensitivity to the hormone DHT which is naturally found at the hair follicles.
Other reasons for hair loss include:
- Autoimmune (e.g. Alopecia Areata)
- Illness or injury
So what types of hair loss can a hair growth tonic reasonably address?
As stated above, a hair growth tonic’s main goal is to support a healthy scalp environment. As such, a tonic can be beneficial for those who are suffering from temporary forms of hair loss (stress, illness, medication, etc.).
When there is a more permanent underlying trigger, though, then a hair growth tonic won’t be the be-all-end-all of hair growth. For hair loss from AGA or autoimmune disorders, for example, you’ll need to address the underlying cause first.
How Do Topical Hair Growth Products Work?
There are various ways that topical hair growth products work to treat hair loss and its symptoms, as well as promote healthy hair growth. Let’s take a look at a few such properties.
They Stimulate Blood Flow
Topical hair growth products, such as tonics, can contain blood flow stimulating ingredients. These include menthol, curcumin, and capsaicin.
The majority of such ingredients work as vasodilators. That is, they dilate the blood vessels in the immediate area to increase blood flow.
The ingredients themselves aren’t the only thing to stimulate blood flow. The process of applying a hair growth product can also help to promote healthy blood circulation. How? Through scalp stimulation.
Manual stimulation of the scalp has been shown to increase blood circulation temporarily. This means that during the application process you’re already working to improve the health of your scalp even before the tonic has been absorbed!
They Reduce Scalp Tension
The scalp is a complex structure with various layers. These layers include skin, muscle, nerves, and blood vessels. In the middle of the scalp is a layer called the galea. This is a thick, fibrous layer which connects the muscular layers beneath it to the thinner skin layers above it. What does this have to do with hair growth?
According to the Scalp Tension Theory of Hair loss, the actual trigger for pattern baldness is scalp tension. This is in opposition to the DHT Theory of Hair Loss which contends that DHT sensitivity is the true cause.
The Scalp Tension Theory doesn’t contradict the DHT Theory. In fact, the theory reiterates that DHT does play a role in hair loss. But where it differs from the DHT Theory is in the cause of the excess DHT found within the scalps of hair loss sufferers.
You can read more about the Scalp Tension Theory of Hair Loss here.
So how do hair growth tonics help to reduce scalp tension?
The answer to this question isn’t within the ingredients of the product, but instead the application process.
Scalp massage and manipulation is a great way to reduce scalp tension. The movements involved in tonic application mean that you’re gently stretching the scalp (especially the thick galea layer). This can then decrease inflammation and, over time, reduce chronic scalp tension.
This is SO important if you’re fighting pattern baldness. Why? It’s best and most effective to treat the root cause (scalp tension) then just to treat the symptoms.
They Promote a Healthy Scalp Environment
The ingredients within your hair growth tonic can do more than just directly stimulate hair growth. They can also contribute to a healthier, more balanced scalp environment. What do I mean?
The ingredients you use in your hair growth tonic will often have various properties. The most common properties in hair tonic ingredients include:
This means that a properly formulated hair tonic can reduce inflammation and protect against bacteria, microbes, and free radicals.
In the grand scheme of things, the properties above aren’t likely to lead to the fastest hair growth. They can support a healthy environment, however, and that’s crucial for long-term success.
High-Quality Ingredients for Your Hair Growth Tonic
When it comes to choosing ingredients for your hair growth tonic, you can never be too picky. You want to choose ingredients with proven skin and hair benefits, and of course avoid ingredients that may trigger further hair loss.
The list of ingredients below is far from exhaustive. The ingredients on the list do share one thing in common, though, and that’s they have been scientifically tested in relation to hair and/or skin health.
Does this mean that all of these ingredients will be right for you? Nope! The list does offer a solid starting point, however.
Let’s dive in!
Hyaluronic Acid (HA), also known as hyaluron and various other names, is a common ingredient found in cosmetics. While the name may throw some people off (“why would I want to apply an ACID to my scalp?!”), it’s actually a great addition to any hair care product.
HA is a naturally-occurring molecule within the body. It works alongside collagen by drawing water to the skin so as to make it appear smoother and plumper.
While it has many known cosmetic benefits, it can also be beneficial for the hair and scalp. For example, this molecule:
- Hydrates and moisturizes
- Promotes healing
- Combats oxidative stress
While hyaluronic acid may not fight the cause of your hair loss directly, it does create a healthy environment for hair growth. This is crucial if you want long-term success on your regrowth journey.
There are so many carrier oils to choose from that the decision can be overwhelming.
Almond oil is one of the silent heroes of the cosmetic industry. It can be found in thousands of beauty and hair care products, but it almost never gets the attention it deserves.
What’s so great about almond oil?
Almond oil is obtained from the seed of the almond fruit. This “fruit,” which we simply know as the tree nut almond, is composed of a combination of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids.
Fatty acids like those mentioned above play an important role in the hair growth process. How?
First and foremost, fatty acids contribute to the structure of the cell membrane. In many cases, they are even one of the building blocks of the membrane. Without its presence, the membrane would break down and lead to cellular damage and death.
Fatty acids also play a role in the hair growth process.
One study on the topic shows that fatty acids promote hair growth by stimulating anagen pathways. In other words, fatty acids can promote and prolong the anagen (active growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.
To learn more about the benefits of almond oil for hair growth, go here.
Grapeseed extract is the product of crushed grape seeds. It’s used in cosmetics as a secondary ingredient, and it has many benefits.
When it comes to hair growth, the two main benefit of this ingredient are its ability to:
- Promote the proliferation of hair follicle cells.
- Convert the hair cycle to anagen (active growth) phase.
These benefits alone are enough to make it a worthwhile addition to a hair tonic. But grapeseed extract has many other proven benefits, too.
For one, grapeseed extract increases blood flow to the immediate area. This increases oxygen and nutrient delivery to the hair follicles which may have been previously deprived due to hair follicle miniaturization.
Grapeseed extract also contains antioxidants which fight against free radicals. This means it can literally fight against signs of aging, including wrinkles and hair loss.
And while not the final benefit of grapeseed extract, the last one we’ll mention is its antibacterial properties. This is great news for those with recurrent fungal infections (thought to contribute to dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis).
You can learn more about grapeseed extract here.
While growing new hair is the end goal, you want to do so in such a way that the hair is healthy, strong, and flexible. One way to do so is with coconut oil.
Coconut oil is commonly found in foods and cosmetics. It’s high in saturated fats and, as such, resistant to spoiling. But what about its properties as it relates to skin and hair?
First, coconut oil is highly penetrative. One study showed that hair can absorb up to 26% of its weight in coconut oil after six hours of application. This lends itself to its next beneficial property.
Second, coconut oil is effective at preventing breakage and other damage to the hair. When hair is saturated in coconut oil, it reduces the strand’s ability to absorb water. This means coconut oil prevents protein loss even when hair is at its weakest point.
Coconut oil also has as major components lauric, myristic, and oleic acids all of which can inhibit the 5-alpha reductase enzyme
To learn more about coconut oil for hair growth, go here.
How to Make Your Own Hair Growth Tonic
With so many products on the market targeted at growing hair, you may be wondering whether you should even bother to make your own at home.
There are many reasons that someone might want to make their own hair growth tonic, including cost, the ability to avoid certain ingredients (like SLS and SLES), and customization.
So, if you’d like to give your own hair growth tonic a go, here’s how.
Pick High-Quality Ingredients
As mentioned above, my list of ingredients aren’t exhaustive. You may have other types of oils and extracts in mind for your own tonic, and that’s great! One thing you should do, though, is ensure that you’re buying legitimate and high-quality ingredients.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies are looking to skimp on quality in order to increase their profits. This results in an inferior product. This is why you should always purchase from an established brand and a trusted source.
Whether you’re purchasing oils, extracts, or herbs you should think about how it’s sourced. Was it grown locally? Were pesticides used? How was it stored and packaged?
The answers to these questions will help you to find only the best ingredients for your own tonic.
Go for Quality Over Quantity
There are so many ingredients, particularly oils and herbs, that companies claim have amazing hair growth capabilities.
You should keep your tonic simple — just three or four ingredients. This will keep costs down, but it also ensures you focus on the quality of your ingredients.
So pick just a few ingredients that fall into one of these two categories: 1) a carrier oil; and an herb or extract.
The carrier oil will form the base of your tonic. This is what will ensure the other ingredients are spread thoroughly and absorbed into the scalp.
The herbs and extracts will often be the active ingredient (though, carrier oils can function as an active ingredient, too). This means they’ll provide the majority of the “hair growth” properties. If you can find a fresh source, that’s best. Though dried can be another way to obtain these ingredients for use at home.
There will be a lot of trial and error as you create your own hair growth tonic. You may need to adjust for things such as consistency, ease of application, scent, and more.
So if it takes a few times to finally get the product right, don’t fret.
How can you make this experimentation stage easier?
- Always write down your recipes. This enables you to refer back to the recipe afterwards so you can adjust the ingredients based on your experience with the product.
- Start small. You don’t want to make a huge batch of something that may not work for your needs. This is why you should make small batches (enough for one or two uses) to test the waters.
- Store your product properly. From ingredients to the final product, you should store your products so as to prevent spoiling. For most ingredients, this will mean storing in a cool, dry space. There may be some ingredients that also need to be stored in dark containers, so read up on the ingredients you’ve picked.
This stage in the hair tonic creation process will likely take the longest. So be patient, and take things slowly.
How to Effectively Apply a Hair Growth Tonic
The ingredients of your hair growth tonic matter. But do you know what’s almost as important as the ingredients in your tonic? How it’s applied!
There’s no one application technique that will work for everyone. In fact, I’d recommend you find your own technique that you enjoy. But in the meantime, here’s a look at how I apply hair growth products to my hair:
- Apply a nickel-sized amount of hair tonic to one palm. Dip the fingertips of the opposite hand into the tonic, and then gently apply to the scalp.
- As you use your fingertips to apply the tonic, begin to work your fingertips in small circular motions. Start at the hairline, and slowly work your way through the scalp.
- Once the majority of the product is in your hair, you can now use the fingertips of both hands to work the tonic in. Start at the hairline, apply gentle pressure, and slowly work your way towards the crown.
- You can (and should) work your way backwards every now and again to ensure you’ve spread the tonic to all areas of the scalp. Continue with the circular motions as you do so.
When you incorporate scalp massage into your hair tonic application, you improve the spread and absorption of the product. You also incorporate other benefits, such as reduction in inflammation and chronic scalp tension.
For best results, you’ll want to leave the tonic in for at least a few hours. I’d encourage you to leave it in overnight and then rinse out in the morning with lukewarm water.
If you’re intimidated by the thought of making your own hair growth product at home, then tonics are a great way to start. They are simple (containing just a few ingredients), fast and easy to make, and even easier to use.
Should you expect a hair tonic to be the only thing you need on your hair growth journey? Absolutely not. But it can be a valuable addition to your current routine.