The 17 Best Hair Growth Oils, According to Experts and Editors

Hair growth starts with hair health—but a good hair oil can help things along.

collage of best hair growth oils including Dr. Hauschka hair tonil and Briogeo b. Well
(Image credit: Future)

Whether the issue was a bad haircut, a case of COVID, or thinning strands, just about all of us have struggled at some point to grow out our hair. And while the key to healthy hair growth is a healthy lifestyle (i.e., hydrating, eating well, and sleeping enough), there are also a number of topical products, like hair growth shampoos and hair growth vitamins, that can enhance scalp health and stimulate hair growth alongside your regular shampoo and conditioner. One of my go-tos is hair growth oil, which can easily be applied to the scalp to give your hair growth regimen an extra boost.

But how do the best hair growth oils work, you ask? We spoke to Dr. Mona Gohara, a dermatologist who serves as Vice President of the Women’s Dermatologic Society at Yale University and is an active member of The American Academy of Dermatology and The American Society For Dermatologic Surgery, to get the lowdown.

"Hair growth oils are serums that help restore nutrients to your scalp and increase stimulation and hair production," Dr. Gohara explains. "Oils can thicken the cuticle, making the hair appear fuller. As the hydration is absorbed, the cuticle expands giving the appearance of growth."

What to Look for in a Hair Growth Oil

With so many hair oils on the market, it may be difficult to determine which ones are best for your hair type and needs. For that reason, we asked Dr. Peter Young (opens in new tab), a board-certified dermatologist and medical director for Keeps (opens in new tab), to demystify hair growth oils and the best, tried-and-true ingredients to look for when shopping for one. He reiterates the previously stated point that these ingredients support healthy hair growth, giving the appearance of thicker hair, rather than growing net-new hair from nowhere. However, they can still go a long way in terms of giving you the mane of your dreams. 

"Your hair has fat in it, and oils are pretty much pure fat, so putting them on your hair can help restore those naturally-occurring fats," Dr. Young explains. "Oils high in saturated and monounsaturated fats are good because these types of fatty acids penetrate the hair strand more easily. Oils with polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, don’t have the same effect."

Examples of some of these optimal fats? "One option is coconut oil," he says. "In fact, one study showed that coconut oil assisted with decreasing how much protein the hair lost, which basically means it prevented the hair from getting weaker. Another oil that’s high in saturated fat is palm oil (such as saw palmetto oil (opens in new tab)), and some options high in monounsaturated fats are almond oil, olive oil, and argan oil." 

When shopping for hair growth products of all types, he also recommends "plant-based, organic, and raw" ingredients such as biotin, caffeine, and green tea. These, in addition to the aforementioned, are "science-backed ingredients designed to support hair growth and give the appearance of thicker, healthier-looking hair."

How to Use Hair Growth Oil

If you've never used a hair oil before, applying it for the first time can be a baffling experience. It's important to remember that hair growth begins with a healthy scalp. For that reason, Dr. Gohara says, "Hair growth oils are massaged into the scalp to stimulate the hair at the root. Once you’ve shown your scalp lots of love, you can carry the product through to the ends."

How Often to Use Hair Oils

When it comes to how often to use your hair oil, Dr. Gohara reminds us to read the instructions for your oil of choice very carefully. "Following the instructions on your hair growth oil is imperative because some oils have you apply once a day while others are more frequent," she points out. She adds that it's perfectly all right to use multiple hair products at once, so long as you "couple your hair growth oils with a shampoo and conditioner routine to make sure your hair is getting as clean and nourished as possible." Clarifying shampoos, in particular, she says, "are perfect companions for hair growth oils."

Still worried that adding an oil to your regimen will make your hair look greasy? "A lot of hair growth oils are applied before you shower," says Dr. Gohara. "However, if you have one that needs to be applied in the morning, you can always rock a sleek bun or pony!"

The Best Hair Growth Oils

The products on this list have either been tested and vetted by Marie Claire's E-Commerce Writer, Gabrielle Ulubay (aka yours truly), Marie Claire's Beauty Director, Deena Campbell, and Marie Claire's Beauty Editor, Samantha Holender; or have been hand-selected by a hair stylist or board-certified dermatologist. Each one includes ingredients clinically proven to support healthy hair growth and support a healthy scalp, and is highly rated by reviewers. While the *best* hair growth oil for you will vary based on factors such as skin type, hair type, and personal preference, you truly can't go wrong with one of the items on this list. For a more personalized recommendation or if you have any concerns, check with your board-certified dermatologist or trichologist.

Getting Healthy Hair

Hair growth oils can go a long way in supporting your overall hair health, but there are a number of other crucial steps one should take to grow (and sustain) thick, healthy hair. Trichologist and president of the Philip Kingsley clinic and haircare brand (opens in new tab), Anabel Kingsley, reminds us that hair health starts from the inside. Thus, if you want gorgeous, flowing locks, you need to minimize stress (which she says "can exacerbate hair thinning"), drink plenty of water, and follow a healthy diet rich in nutrients such as protein and iron. 

Kingsley also says that hair thinning should first and foremost be addressed "by optimizing the scalp environment and providing internal nutritional support." For that reason, many hair growth oils focus on supporting a well-moisturized, healthy scalp so that hair follicles can thrive.

Finally, if you want longer, healthier hair, be sure to keep up with your trims and to style carefully. Hairstylist and founder of HERcurls Haiya Eliza recommends getting a haircut at least once every three to four months, and to always get it cut in its natural state. "If you're straightening your hair to cut it, then you're damaging your hair in the process of cutting it," she warns, "and if you go to wear it curly, you're not going to have the same shape as you did when you cut it, because you cut it when it was styled a different way. And you've also applied heat to it, so you've damaged and weakened any curls you have."

Too attached to your length to get a hair cut? Haiya says that eschewing haircuts can actually cause more damage—and hinder your length—because the longer you wait between haircuts, the more likely you are to get split ends. "Naturally, we all get split ends," she says. "A strand will split into two, and that split will keep running up the strand until you stop it. So what happens is you have one strand that's become half a strand, and those two strands just keep breaking off as you brush it, detangle it, and so on. So while it's continually growing, it's also continually breaking, and when that happens, you end up losing rather than retaining length."

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