Plants and herbs account for some of humanity’s oldest forms of medicine, and that includes hair care. Clary sage oil is a perfect example of this, but can it really live up to its age-old reputation?
This article discusses the benefits of using clary sage oil for hair growth and other hair and scalp-related benefits.
The History of Clary Sage Oil
Clary Sage has been grown for millennia throughout the Mediterranean Basin, North Africa, and Central Asia.
It is distinguishable from the kind of sage you would use for culinary purposes in part by its color, being a whitish-pinkish hue.
The Greek thinker Theophrastus and Roman historian Pliny the Elder both spoke positively about clary sage, a testament to its long use.
The term clary sage itself takes its name from the Greek word “skeria,” which means “hardness,” which refers to the hardness of the area near the flower petals on the plant.
In the Middle Ages, clary sage was known as Ocultus Christi (“Eye of Christ”) and was prized as a medicinal herb.
Clary sage grows quickly and reasonably tall to a height of around three to four feet.
Their flowers are wrinkled, and the blooms appear in summer, so it should come as no surprise that clary sage prefers warmer temperatures and plenty of sunlight.
However, as is so often the case with essential oils, a little goes a long way, and too much heat can vaporize the oil.
While clary sage is safe to take, you’ll want to be cautious when using chloral hydrate or hexobarbitone, as both of these can have adverse side effects when taken in conjunction with clary sage, including increased drowsiness.
The Benefits of Using Clary Sage Oil for Hair Care
1. Reduce Stress
It’s no secret that stress can cause hair loss – but of course, informing you of that is hardly going to reduce your stress on its own.
The soothing benefits of essential oils are well-documented, and clary sage oil is no exception.
In particular, essential oils such as clary sage oil are associated with soothing olfactory powers, meaning the extra bit of fragrance they grant your hair is more than just pleasing and attractive but can actually potentially help relieve stress.
Not only can clary sage be useful for relieving stress via your olfactory system, but it can also do so by lowering your blood pressure.
It can do this in part by widening your blood vessels, which allows them to become oxygenated easier and thus circulate more.
This has far more implications than simply aiding your scalp – wider, better-oxygenated blood vessels can also significantly help reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
Adding further to its stress relief potential, a study published in 2010 by the Journal of Ethnopharmacology examined their efficacy as an antidepressant.
In their review of different essential oils, clary oil performed the best. How you take clary sage into the body can also have an impact on its effects.
You’ll obviously be applying it in liquid form to your scalp for hair care purposes.
Although, it’s interesting that a 2013 study in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine examining the calming effects of clary sage and other essential oils on female patients found that it was quite effective when inhaled as well.
2. Clary Sage Oil for Hair Growth
One of the most common uses of essential oils in hair care is strengthening hair or attempting to spur hair growth, and clary sage oil is no exception.
It also contains a good deal of nutrients, including Vitamins A, B, and C, as well as potassium and calcium.
3. Improve Blood Flow
This is another way in which clary sage oil overlaps with some of the other essential oils. Like rosemary oil and cedarwood oil, clary sage can help improve cellular metabolism, which in turn can increase the blood flow beneath your scalp.
This matters because stimulating blood flow is yet another way to boost hair growth – and according to the Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy, clary sage can indeed stimulate circulation.
4. Soothing Your Dry Scalp
One of the biggest causes of hair damage or loss can be found in the scalp from which it sprang.
Just as a dried-out flower bed where the soil is dead will cause a clary sage plant to wither and die, so too can a dried-out scalp do the same to your hair.
You naturally don’t want that to happen, which is why an important part of hair care is keeping your scalp soft and well-moisturized, and clary sage can help with all of that.
5. Eliminate Dandruff
Nothing kills your hair’s appearance quicker than dandruff. Few things are more embarrassing than standing there helplessly as a shower of dandruff flutters down from your hair and onto your shoulders like a messy snow flurry.
Dandruff and dry scalp aren’t always the same thing, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any overlap between the two, including clary sage’s ability to help with both.
Just as clary sage oil can help with dry skin, it can help with dandruff, and for the same reason. Smoothing out the skin helps eliminate dry flakes that become dandruff.
Another way that clary sage oil tackles dry skin is by eliminating sebum, an oily, greasy substance secreted by your sebaceous glands.
Sebum is made of different chemicals and fatty acids, sugars, and waxes, which serve to form a barrier between your skin and the air to prevent moisture from evaporating.
According to WebMD, too much sebum can cause dandruff, but, as mentioned below, clary sage oil also specializes in eliminating greasy residue, in part because of its ability to limit sebum buildup.
6. Eliminating Greasy and Oily Hair
If anything is a bigger hair-based turnoff than dandruff, it’s stroking someone’s hair or your own and coming away with a handful of greasy oil.
Add to that the fact that greasy oil can kill your hair’s luster and make it appear dull, and it should come as no surprise that combating oily hair is another big goal for essential oils, clary sage included.
Of course, removing oil altogether won’t do, since this will dry out your hair, setting in motion all the problems produced by dry scalp as mentioned above.
The real solution is to maintain a balance where you have just enough oil to keep your scalp and the roots of your hair follicles from drying out.
Clary sage oil does just this, mitigating oil production from the glands on your scalp and ensuring that your hair doesn’t become overly greasy.
As mentioned above, sebum can collect on your scalp, causing greasy buildup.
Since clary sage is adept at limiting this buildup, it can do a great job of maintaining that all-important balance, ensuring your scalp is neither too dry nor too oily.
7. Lovely Fragrance
There’s no denying that one of the most appealing aspects of hair care and one of the reasons it’s such a huge industry is that we all want a head of hair that’s as healthy as it is appealing.
Everyone wants a good, thick, healthy head of hair, but what really sells hair care products is their ability to help you get the lusciously attractive locks that people love – fragrant qualities and all.
The fine fragrance of clary sage oil is pleasant and combines well with citrusy and fruity scents.
8. Antimicrobial and Antibacterial Properties
It doesn’t matter how sweet your hair smells or how lovely its sheen is if you have a bacterial infection or have microbes taking up residence in your scalp or hair follicles.
Your hair isn’t aren’t going to look good or last long. Clary sage oil can help address this issue as well.
A 2015 study in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology provided further confirmation that clary sage can act as a natural antimicrobial agent.
The study reviewed how it can be used “to treat wounds and skin infections,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for your scalp.
In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why it can be a good idea to rub it into your scalp as part of your hair care regimen, as the antimicrobial agents can help ensure that any abrasions on your scalp do not become infected.
Another 2015 study published in Botanical Studies delved into the antibacterial powers of clary sage further, analyzing how it interacted with cell membranes.
While it acknowledged that more experiments need to be done, the study nevertheless noted the antimicrobial nature of clary sage in its interaction with the cell membranes in a beneficial manner.
9. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
One of the reasons clary sage can combat dry scalp is that it can address one of the core reasons for scalp dryness, namely inflamed skin.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology tested its efficacy on rats and found it to be an effective anti-inflammatory substance.
What’s more, a 2020 study in Advances in Traditional Medicine found that not only does clary sage oil have anti-inflammatory properties but that it also possesses antioxidants as well, which can also help with hair care.
How to Use Clary Sage Oil for Hair Care
One of the first things to remember about using essential oils is that a little goes a long way.
You don’t want to drench your scalp with them – on the contrary, doing so is not only a waste of oil but could be severely painful and even leave burn-like marks.
Instead, you should try to be more sparingly with essential oils such as clary sage extract. As is the case with many essential oils, you should only need a couple of drops to get the job done. Two or three drops would be best for optimal results.
Another thing to think about when using essential oils as hair care products is that they work best as a team.
As mentioned, there are many similarities in the benefits different essential oils can grant, but there are still slight differences as well.
Because you only need to add a couple of drops to get the full effect of essential oils, you can try mixing different ones together with ease without overwhelming the shampoo into which you might mix them all.
For example, clary sage oil pairs particularly well with jojoba, cedarwood, and lavender – not quite “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme” but not a bad combo at all.
Of course, you don’t have to mix these essential oils into your shampoo, and can apply them directly on their own.
On the one hand, this can make it easier to more directly massage the clary sage into your scalp, but on the other hand, mixing it into the shampoo can help the whole process go faster.
The most important thing to remember about clary sage or any essential oil is that it works best when used the right way.
That may seem simple enough, but far too many people use essential oils as though they are some kind of wonder drug that can cure everything or transform their hair into a bed of silken majesty overnight.
No substance can work such miracles, but that doesn’t mean that clary sage can’t do wonders for your hair when applied properly.
It is a great stress-relieving agent that, as demonstrated, can help fight hair loss and keep your existing hair healthy.
Different essential oils have different strengths, and clary sage oil is strong in preventing sebum buildup and the greasy texture that can come with it while keeping your scalp from drying out or becoming too oily.
Add to that its unique fragrance and ability to mix well with other fragrances and essential oils, and it’s no wonder why clary sage oil has been a hair care mainstay for millennia and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.