What is thyme oil? Why do people think it can help with hair growth and other hair care needs?
Are those claims true?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and so much more as we explore the benefits of using thyme oil for hair care.
Let’s get started.
“Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme…”
It’s funny; from Medieval songs to Simon and Garfunkel, there’s a fair chance you’ve heard those lyrics before.
At first, they might seem simple enough – until that last word. Parsley, sage, and rosemary are all pretty well-known herbal ingredients.
Although, unless you’ve dabbled in the world of spices and herbs (or Medieval poetry and herbology), you might be stumped about thyme.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Does Thyme Oil Do for Your Hair?
- 2 The Benefits of Thyme Oil for Hair
- 3 The History of Thyme Herb
What Does Thyme Oil Do for Your Hair?
1. Stress Relief
It should come as no surprise that stress can cause hair loss, which is why it is so important to do whatever you can to calm yourself as the first step to hair care.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, which is why some people like to turn to the soothing powers of essential oils for help.
The science is indeed on their side there – studies have shown that essential oils such as thyme can relieve stress and lower blood pressure as well.
While the latter can be dangerous if that gets too low, as mentioned above, both of these factors taken together demonstrate that essential oils can help calm you down, which in turn can help stop hair loss.
A big reason for that is thyme contains a fair amount of Vitamin B, which has been identified as another stress relieving agent.
2. Alopecia Areata
This autoimmune disorder affects as many as 6.8 million people in the United States alone and can result in massive hair loss in the form of quarter-sized patches all over your scalp.
The aforementioned 1998 study on essential oils treating alopecia areata demonstrated how thyme oil could help.
The randomized, double-blind study was conducted over a period of seven months on 86 patients who were split into two groups, a control group and one given essential oils (including thyme) to massage into their scalp.
In the end, 19 of 43 patients who massaged their scalp with the essential oils experienced improvement, compared to 6 of 41 patients in the control group.
While that isn’t a foolproof ratio, it does show how essential oils such as thyme can dramatically improve your chances of treating severe hair and scalp conditions such as alopecia areata.
Again, these oils work best in this capacity to supplement modern medicine, giving you a chance at slowing and combating the disease.
While at the same time, doctors diagnose your situation and determine the best long-term treatment for you.
Few hair conditions are as potentially dispiriting as dandruff. No one likes having to deal with the embarrassment of having a shower of dry flakes fall from your scalp every time you touch your head.
As mentioned below, dandruff can be connected to dry skin, but whether it results from that or other factors, treating it is an essential component of proper hair care.
Several essential oils can treat dandruff, including lemongrass oil and peppermint oil, and thyme can likewise help when rinsed into your scalp.
4. Scalp Acne
One of the common themes of hair care is that what happens to the scalp dramatically impacts your hair.
When your scalp suffers, your hair probably isn’t far behind, so it’s important to treat any skin conditions your scalp may experience.
One of the most uniquely troublesome of these is scalp acne.
Often caused by clogged pores or similar conditions resulting from poor scalp health or hygiene. This is acne causing your scalp to become pimpled with problem spots, which could cause hair loss.
A 2018 study published in Molecules has shown that there is at least some evidence that thyme and oregano oil can be useful in combating acne.
5. Dry Scalp, Eczema, and Inflammation
Dry scalp is by far one of the biggest and most general causes of scalp and hair problems. The same goes for inflammation.
When your scalp is dry or inflamed, it can lead to folliculitis, which results in damaged hair follicles and potential hair loss. Another consequence of dry scalp can be dandruff.
One potential cause of all those flakes is dry or scaly skin resulting from a scalp that’s been dried out or is suffering from a skin condition such as inflammation or eczema.
Thyme oil can help with all of this. Thyme is a natural anti-inflammatory and can thus soothe scalp inflammation and irritation.
As mentioned above, it is also a useful treatment for eczema to attack several potential causes of scalp dryness, inflammation, and irritation at once.
6. Antibacterial Properties
Adding to the many benefits of thyme oil is the fact that it’s an effective antibacterial agent as well.
This can help stymie bacterial infections, which, if left unchecked, could cause severe scalp problems and potential hair loss.
Its antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant-rich nature can help improve your scalp and rejuvenate hair follicles.
7. Scents and Sensibility
“Vanity and pride are different things,” Jane Austen tells us in Pride and Prejudice. Jane’s insists that the former relates to “what we would have others think of us” whereas the latter focuses on “our opinion of ourselves.”
Whether out of vanity or pride, chances are you don’t just care about having healthy hair for health’s sake, but at least in part because you care how you look.
We all want our hair to look good, and thyme oil can help give you Bridgerton-beautiful, well-coiffed locks. For all the things Austen decries as “odious,” you don’t want your hair to be one of them.
Thyme oil can blend well with essential oils with more noticeable and fragrant aromas such as rosemary oil, lavender oil, and coconut oil.
8. Promote Hair Growth
On top of everything else, thyme is quite nutrient-rich. Given that it can help mitigate so many factors that can cause you hair care trouble, thyme is also an essential oil candidate for promoting hair growth.
How to Use Thyme Essential Oil for Hair Care
It is important to note that thyme is a particularly potent essential oil. As a result, you don’t want to use too much of it, especially at first.
The general rule for most essential oils is to use them sparingly as a little with them goes a long way, and that’s the case here.
If you use a ton of thyme oil all at once, you may experience a strongly unpleasant stinging sensation.
Some essential oils can even potentially cause burns if used in excess.
Instead, two small drops measured out in tablespoons should suffice. You can either mix these into the shampoo bottle and apply them both all at once or do one and then the other.
The former method allows the whole process to go more quickly, while the latter allows you to really rub the thyme into your scalp.
If you are using the thyme for alopecia areata or similar scalp problems, try:
- Choose a carrier oil such as jojoba oil to apply it.
- Mix up a couple of cups worth the carrier oil with a few drops (i.e., three to five) each of thyme oil, rosemary essential oil, cedarwood oil, and lavender oil.
- Massage this mixture into your scalp daily for about 10 minutes.
- Leave it on for about an hour.
- Rinse it out with light shampoo.
Keep in mind that this treatment varies in terms of how soon it starts working depending on the person.
In some cases, it takes months before significant improvement is seen.
The Benefits of Thyme Oil for Hair
Thyme has been used for centuries to treat many different conditions with varying grades of success, including:
- Bad breath
- Hair loss
- Menstrual cramps
- Oral thrush
- Sore throat
- Urinary tract infection
A couple of those might seem odd (a 2016 study in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal conducted “experiments” to find that thyme can be helpful for “treating” excessive flatulence).
Still, you’ll notice that thyme is quite resilient as an herbal treatment and that treating hair loss is among its many uses.
Part of that comes down to how well it has done in treating other conditions that may cause hair loss.
For example, a 2014 study in the Journal of Acute Disease found that thyme is an effective means of treating anxiety and stress, which, as mentioned below, can have a profound impact on the health of your hair and scalp.
Another study in 2018 published in International Immunopharmacology found that thyme could be an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis (aka eczema).
Recent studies have “thyme and thyme again” proven the efficacy of using thyme as an all-natural herbal treatment, from menstrual cramps to oral thrush.
That doesn’t mean that thyme is or should be thought of as a replacement for modern medicine.
Although it can, in the right circumstances (such as treating Alopecia areata), serve as an effective complement to modern medicine, including with hair care.
Thyme can sometimes make blood clotting go slower and can augment the effects of warfarin and similar anticoagulants, which can cause bleeding or bruising.
While this doesn’t usually happen, you should obviously stop immediately if it does. The fact it can cause extra bleeding means you’ll also need to stop using it a couple of weeks before any surgeries.
Some high blood pressure medications don’t interact well with thyme and can cause an abnormally large drop in blood pressure.
The History of Thyme Herb
As with most essential oils, thyme is an herb that has been used as an all-natural ingredient for millennia, going all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians, who used it for embalming.
The Greeks praised the aroma of thyme, believing it boosted courage.
You probably recognized the lyrics to “Scarborough Fair” from the famous Simon and Garfunkel track alluded to above (or even as the Marianne Faithfull or Civilization 6 version).
However, the song actually goes all the way back to Medieval Britain, showing just how enduring parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme have been.
The song itself refers to a real annual 45-day fair in Scarborough dating back to Henry III’s charter for it in 1253, which operated for decades.
If you’re looking to plant and harvest thyme yourself for hair care purposes, keep a few tips in mind:
- Thyme does best in spring, so plant it after winter’s frost has passed.
- Space the plants out about 12 to 24 inches apart.
- Plant thyme in soil that’s well-drained and fertile with a pH close to 7.
- Thyme likes sunlight, so make sure it gets plenty of it.
- Besides hair care and herbal medicine, thyme is a common ingredient in all kinds of culinary recipes, from stews and meats to curries and vegetable dishes.
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Thyme is certainly a very versatile substance and one which has woven itself into our medicinal, culinary, and cultural consciousness like few other herbs.
In terms of hair care, there is a lot to like about thyme oil.
For one thing, it is quite adept as a natural anti-inflammatory, so if that’s “at the root” of your hair care woes, thyme is definitely an essential oil worth exploring.
It is also quite good for dealing with eczema and scalp irritation, and dryness, and as a result, can help with hair growth while managing hair loss.
If you’re looking for something to give your hair a little bit of extra sheen, thyme isn’t a bad herb to try.
It pairs well with other essential oils as well, making it an effective combination of many products on the beauty side of hair care. Some of our favorite essential oils to pair are olive oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass essential oil, clary sage oil, almond oil, and grapeseed oil.
Whether you find the “true love” sung of in “Scarborough Fair,” thyme is a truly time-tested substance for personal wellness and beauty, including hair care.
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. With over 15 years of experience, Kenneth has been dedicated to hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box alongside his wife. As a team, they promote healthy hair care practices through their comprehensive platform, Curl Centric. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care. At Curl Centric, we aim to help our readers take control of their hair care journey and make good decisions about products, hairstyles, and maintenance techniques. We also have strict editorial integrity; here’s an explanation of our editorial guidelines and how we make money.