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Sunflower Oil for Hair Growth and Thinning: Newbies Guide

Cute mixed-race female after using sunflower oils to reduce hair breakage and mitigate an itchy scalp.

There aren’t many flowers that are more immediately recognizable around the world than sunflowers.

Today it isn’t only the aesthetic beauty recognized in sunflowers, however, but their potential as skin and hair care products.

Nowadays, many women within the Curl Centric community use sunflower oil for hair growth, hair loss, dry hair, and many other benefits.

Although, is it good to put sunflower oil in your hair? What can it really do for you, and what can you do to help get the most out of it?

What Are the Benefits of Sunflower Oil?

African American lady with hair shaft damage after excessive use of coconut oil trying to stimulate hair growth.

Sunflower oil is quite rich in Vitamin E but does not contain protein, sodium, cholesterol, or carbs.

There are actually four different kinds of sunflower oil, with the differentiation coming according to their fatty acid composition.

Some are higher in oleic than others, which is important because sunflower oil’s positive health benefits typically come from the sunflowers with the highest oleic content.

A 2010 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that a diet including “sunflower oil containing 80% monounsaturated fatty acids” improved cholesterol compared to a diet without it, a claim backed up by the FDA.

On the other hand, sunflower oil also has a high omega-6 content. While you need omega-6 to be healthy, too much can cause inflammation.

As with so much in life, therefore, the key is to consume omega-6 (and, in this case, sunflower oil) in moderation, whether you’re pouring it on food or using it for hair care purposes.

That being said, one of the biggest hair care secret weapons sunflower oil brings to the table is its sesame oil content.

It is rich in both omega-3 as well as omega-6 acids, and the former is an anti-inflammatory, so sunflower oil still isn’t as effective in that regard as some essential oils, and you need to watch your intake, this does help offset some of its inflammatory properties.

What’s more, sesame oil can have a huge impact on your hair’s health in several ways, from helping with thinning hair, dry hair, and dandruff to improving scalp health as well as your hair’s sheen and texture.

The Benefits of Sunflower Oil for Hair and Scalp Care

A female with natural curls styled with a DIY mix of sunflower seeds, jojoba oil, and other oils for future hair growth.

1. Hair Thinning

As mentioned, sesame oil can be beneficial for fighting hair thinning. A 2017 study published in Dermatology Practical & Conceptual found that being deficient in certain oils, including sesame oil, can lead to hair thinning.

Other important ingredients for preventing that include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, Vitamin B-1, and zinc.

2. Stimulate Healthy Hair Growth

A cute young lady after trying various hair cosmetics has settled on hair oil since it eliminates frizzy hair.

This is really a product of everything else on this list. When your scalp is dry, infected, lacking in nutrients, or otherwise damaged, hair problems are often likely to follow.

Conversely, when all of those barriers to good hair health are removed, lo and behold, your hair often starts to grow thicker and better than before.

In particular, the fact that sunflower oil is such an effective moisturizing agent is a big win for your scalp.

As it softens your skin, it not only makes your scalp less dry but also makes it more receptive to Vitamin E, oleic acid, and other essential nutrients that can help spur hair growth.

3. Acts as an Emollient

Women sitting on a park bench with sunflower oil treated hair wearing bronze earrings, curly hair and a green jacket.

One of the most important qualities of any hair care product is how well it moisturizes your hair.

You don’t want your hair to appear dried out like lifeless straw, which is why it is so important to get hair products that include emollients, which can both smooth and moisturize skin, including that of your scalp.

Sunflower oil is a perfect all-natural emollient and can, like jojoba oil, do a good job of protecting your scalp against water loss, thus preventing it from drying out.

A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Science examined the effects of different plant oils as skin-soothing anti-inflammatory agents, with subjects reporting that sunflower oil improved their skin’s hydration by 12% to 18%.

4. Antimicrobial Properties

Charming young mixed race female with beautiful curly hair standing outside in front of a black gate looking upward towards the sky.

It should go without saying that inviting microbes and bacteria into your scalp is probably a bad idea for your health as well as that of your hair. Sunflower oil has also been demonstrated to possess antimicrobial properties.

5. Antioxidant Properties

Black women with natural hair treated with sunflower oil sitting on the stairs of an apartment complex, wearing a black mock turtle neck shirt and blue jeans.

Diet after diet over the past couple of decades has trumpeted the value of antioxidants.

Whatever they may do for your heart or waistline, antioxidants can prove beneficial for your hair and scalp as well.

Sunflower oil is rich in antioxidants, tocotrienol in particular, which can help treat free radicals.

These are rogue unstable molecules that can be triggered by things such as UV rays and cigarette smoke and can damage your skin and, in the case of scalp damage, your hair.

Left unchecked, it can even spur hair thinning and hair loss. 

Free radicals occur naturally as a result of cellular metabolism. However, when your skin has too many of them they can start to damage its structural layer.

They can also damage your skin’s DNA, which in turn can accelerate the aging process and thus cause your skin to become prematurely old and wrinkled.

This occurs in part when free radicals disrupt lipid molecules, thus causing tissue damage.

Thankfully, antioxidants can keep free radicals in check.

A 2010 study in Malaysia tracked 38 male and female subjects who suffered from various degrees of alopecia, a disorder that can leave one with large bald patches on their scalp.

17 of the subjects received a placebo, while 21 were given an oral dose of 100 mg of tocotrienol once per day.

The researchers observed that those taking the tocotrienol experienced “increases [in] hair number…compared to the placebo group,” which they ascribed to “the antioxidant activity of tocotrienols…reduc[ing] lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress in the scalp.”

In short, when taken in the right way and in the right quantities, sunflower oil and the antioxidant nutrients it contains can potentially have a significant impact on your hair’s health.

6. Improves Scalp Health

Portrait of charming African American woman with sunflower oil treated curly hair sitting a the stairs of a street corner, intentionally posing outdoors for this photo.

In most cases, as your scalp health goes, so goes the health of your hair. You want to make sure that you do everything in your power to improve your scalp’s health.

Sunflower oil can help with that by adding some much-needed Vitamin E while reducing bacteria.

The former can help give your scalp essential nutrients, while the latter protects you from infections that can cause poor scalp and hair health.

A 2002 study published in Acta Paediatrica found that topical oils such as sunflower oil “significantly accelerated skin barrier recovery” within an hour of application, with the effect lasting for hours.

As mentioned below, scalp dryness can also lead to dandruff, and this is one potential reason why. With sunflower oil improving skin barrier recovery, there is less potential for dandruff to occur.

Furthermore, a 2010 study on mice found that sesame oil helped carry oxygen into the skin, allowing the skin to heal more quickly from cuts and abrasions.

The faster your scalp can heal from any such damage, the better chance you have of minimizing any potential damage to your hair.

7. Smoothing Split Ends and Frizzy Hair

Portrait of charming young woman with curly hair walking down the street with cars in the background.

Some people have reported that sunflower oil helps moisturize their hair.

Whether or not that proves true for you, sunflower oil can indeed help smooth out split ends, and a small amount of the oil can help soften dry and frizzy hair.

The sesame components of sunflower oil can also contain several other ingredients that can help smooth out your hair, including palmitic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid, and stearic acid.

In addition, it has a light texture and low levels of trans and saturated fat, which in turn helps with the moisture content of your hair.

That being said, because it is lightweight it does not saturate your hair too much and thus helps it from becoming too greasy or weighed down.

In particular, winter can be brutal on your hair because it saps moisture from your follicles quite quickly, drying them out and leaving them frizzy, which is why supplementing it with sunflower oil can be beneficial.

Adding to its potential on the beauty side of hair care is the fact that sunflower oil is great for adding shine to your hair.

8. Helps with Dandruff

Young African Woman with type 3a hair sitting on concrete stairs in the city.

Few scalp conditions are more embarrassing than seeing dry flakes of dandruff flutter down from your hair every time anyone or anything touches it.

You don’t want to have to deal with that, which is why it is so important to get to “the root” of what causes dandruff

When your scalp is dry and inflamed, it often becomes itchy, which causes you to scratch it, which can cause skin flakes and hair follicles to loosen somewhat, thus exacerbating your dandruff.

As mentioned above, scalp dryness can be a big part of that, which is why it is so important to treat it. Sunflower oil can do a good job of soothing itchy skin and thus combating dandruff.

How to Use Sunflower Oil on Your Hair

Use Sunflower Oil To Get Long Hair! | Benefits Of Sunflower Oil On Curly Hair + How I Use It

Sunflower oil is easy to acquire and safe to use, though if you have an allergy to sunflowers, you’ll obviously need to avoid it. 

One of the most important things to keep in mind when using any plant extract, essential oil, or other substance to improve your scalp and hair health is that a little can go a long way.

That is especially true for essential oils and substances such as sunflower oil. In fact, too much can cause your hair to become greasy.

Worse still, if you heat your hair up after applying a lot of oil – well, think of an oil-greased fat fryer and you can probably imagine for yourself how painful the consequences can be and how that can cause heat damage to your hair shafts.

Instead, you’ll want to apply sunflower oil sparingly, either in a shampoo mixture or by massaging it into your hair directly.

Let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it out with warm water (again, making sure it isn’t too hot).

If you are new to using sunflower oil, try a bit on your skin before rubbing it all over your scalp.

A couple of ounces of sunflower oil should be sufficient. Measure out a couple of tablespoons or so and rub it into your scalp.

Creating a moisturizing sunflower hair mask can be a great way of treating your hair and scalp at once.

The Artful History of the Sunflower

Female standing outside with her hand on her head in the fall as the leaves from the trees collected around her on the ground.

Like so many flowers, sunflowers’ relationship to the arts has long been in bloom.

Think “Sunflowers” and “Art,” and chances are good you think of Vincent van Gogh’s immortal masterpiece, one of the most famous paintings of the Post-Impressionist movement and modern art writ large.

Van Gogh’s storied and tortured tenancy with fellow Post-Impressionist impresario Paul Gaugin led to the latter producing his own portrait of van Gogh painting sunflowers.

While true to sunflowers’ Mexican origins, Mexico’s great national painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo both painted sunflowers of their own. 

It isn’t just painting where sunflowers reign, either – William Blake put their beauty into poetry, while singers as different as Glen Campbell and Harry Styles have sung about them.

If you want to grow them yourself (and hey, Kahlo herself loved gardening), here are a few tips for growing them:

  • It should come as no surprise that sunflowers love the sun, so make sure that they get plenty of it
  • They do best in soil that’s between 6.0 and 7.5 pH
  • Plant them six inches apart
  • They do best when the temperature is above 55 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit

Related Articles

There is a lot to like about sunflower oil as a hair care product, starting with the fact that it is able to treat a wide range of conditions at once.

It can help soothe your scalp while adding nutrients to it.

It also acts as a moisturizing agent, and it can really help breathe new life into your hair as it helps with frizziness and dryness while making your hair silky-smooth and shiny.

Sunflowers have long been an image of artistry and beauty, and sunflower oil can likewise help your hair look and feel like a work of art.