A quick search of almond oil for hair growth will probably bring you to this:
A blogger singing the praises of almond oil as a nourishing, hair growing miracle.
But, as always, not everything is as it appears.
Before you purchase any kind of almond oil, you need to read this post.
I’ll break down the science (or lack thereof) on almond oil to give you the real information on almond oil.
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Does it promote hair growth?
What clinical trials on almond oil are available?
Is almond oil right for you?
What’s the best almond oil?
I’ll answer these questions and more.
Just keep reading.
Quickly, make sure you take the free hair quiz later in this article.
- 1 What Is Almond Oil?
- 2 Almond Oil for Hair Growth: How It Might Work
- 3 What Does the Research Say About Almond Oil?
- 4 How to Use Almond Oil for Hair
- 5 Almond Oil Vs. Coconut Oil for Hair
- 6 Almond Oil for Different Hair Types
- 7 The Bottom Line: What Does It All Mean?
What Is Almond Oil?
Almond oil is exactly what it sounds like: An oil extracted from almonds.
There are two kinds of almond oil:
Sweet almond oil and bitter almond oil.
The only difference between these two oils is where the almonds come from on the tree.
White flowers produce sweeter almonds, whereas pink flowers produce more bitter almonds.
There are relatively no differences between the two oils.
Both contain high levels of oleic acid and a small amount of linoleic acid.
An analysis of almond oil also found trace amounts of arachidonic acid (1).
Almonds also contain high levels of vitamin E, minerals, and antioxidant phenolic compounds. But, are these present in the oil? More on this later.
Keep reading on to the next section to understand how these compounds might benefit hair.
Key Takeaway: Almond oil contains high levels of oleic acid, small amounts of linoleic acid, and trace amounts of arachidonic acid. Almonds themselves contains high levels of vitamin E, minerals, and phenolic compounds.
Almond Oil for Hair Growth: How It Might Work
Here’s the deal with almond oil:
There are compounds that are beneficial for hair growth and some that are not so beneficial.
We’ll take a deep dive into how each one impacts hair, while taking into account the actual amounts present in the almond oil.
Oleic acid makes up 68 percent of almond oil (1).
It’s an omega-9 fatty acid that the body naturally makes.
When included in the diet, research suggests it reduces inflammation (2).
However, when applied topically, its effects might not be so favorable.
Let me explain why.
The skin has a barrier between the environment and the lower layers of the skin (3). It works to prevent microbes and environmental pollutants from damaging skin cells.
When this barrier is impaired, these pathogens can invade the skin and cause damage.
The skin that makes up the scalp, which contributes to hair health, is much the same.
Here’s where oleic acid factors into this equation:
Oleic acid increases skin barrier permeability, which can allow pathogens to damage the scalp (6). This can increase the chances of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are factors in forms of hair loss (7, 8).
However, this can also allow for deeper penetration of other topical ingredients. Deeper penetration means enhanced activity of ingredients.
Over time, though, it could cause issues.
And there’s one other thing:
Oleic acid activates protein kinase C, a molecule responsible for relaying a bunch of different signals in the body (9).
But, when it comes to the hair follicle?
Although, this doesn’t mean much if the oleic acid is at a relevant concentration.
Sadly, almond oil is one of the highest oleic acid oils, only second to hazelnut and shea nut oil.
Key Takeaways: Oleic acid can be problematic because it increases skin barrier permeability and activates protein kinase C which may inhibit hair growth. It can enhance the penetration of beneficial ingredients.
Why is linoleic acid so good for the hair?
By promoting barrier function, it boosts skin and scalp health by preventing damage to skin (3). This may reduce hair loss associated with unhealthy scalp conditions.
There isn’t much research to back this up, though.
The only study we have is this one:
A man with a linoleic acid deficiency and hair loss was instructed to apply safflower oil to his scalp (12). Safflower oil is one of the highest linoleic acid oils available.
After continued use, researchers found that his hair loss and depigmentation reversed.
These results haven’t been confirmed by any other studies. So, we can’t say for sure whether linoleic acid is the key to regrowing lost hair.
We also can’t extrapolate it to the application of other oils like almond oil.
- Linoleic acid boosts barrier function which is good for the scalp.
- One study demonstrated that a linoleic-acid rich oil regrew hair in the presence of a linoleic acid deficiency.
- No studies have confirmed these findings and can’t be extrapolated to the application of other oils.
One analysis of the fatty acid profile of almond oil found something interesting:
The presence of arachidonic acid in trace amounts (1).
Arachidonic acid in high amounts can be problematic. It’s a main contributor to inflammation (13).
But, in trace amounts?
Arachidonic acid has been shown to play a role in hair growth (14).
There’s a chance that almond oil could stimulate hair growth through the presence of arachidonic acid.
For this to be true, arachidonic acid would have to exhibit effects at a very small concentration.
One study has shown an observable effect at a concentration as low as 0.5 percent (15).
However, the only analysis that detected the presence of arachidonic acid didn’t specify the concentration.
So, we can’t say whether the concentration would be high enough to potentially stimulate hair growth.
- Arachidonic acid is problematic at high amounts but plays a role in hair growth.
- One analysis detected trace amounts of arachidonic acid in almond oil.
- Concentrations as low as 0.5 percent have exhibited effects, but the analysis didn’t specify the exact concentration of arachidonic acid in almond oil.
- We can’t predict whether or not trace amounts of arachidonic acid applied topically might impact hair growth.
Almond oil’s best quality is this:
Ultra high levels of vitamin E.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It prevents the oxidation of fats by free radicals, called lipid peroxidation.
Interestingly, hair loss patients exhibit higher levels of lipid peroxidation in their scalps (16).
For this reason, researchers have conducted studies to examine the effects of antioxidant vitamin E on hair loss.
One study demonstrated a benefit with oral vitamin E supplementation (17):
21 volunteers were randomly designated to receive vitamin E supplementation while 17 received a placebo.
After 8 months, the vitamin E group had a 34.5 percent increase in hair growth while the placebo group experienced a 0.1 percent decrease.
These results suggest vitamin E may reduce oxidative stress that is associated with hair loss.
But, does it work topically?
Currently, there’s no studies examining the effects of topical vitamin E oil on hair growth (18).
So, although the mechanism is promising, we can’t say that topical vitamin E would work the same as oral supplementation for hair growth.
- Almond oil has high levels of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant.
- Hair loss patients exhibit higher levels of free radical damage in their scalps.
- One study suggests vitamin E supplementation may promote hair growth.
- We can’t extrapolate the results of the oral supplementation study to topical use, as in almond oil application.
Antioxidants and Minerals In Almond Oil?
Here’s where some bloggers go wrong:
They attribute the benefits of almond oil to its antioxidant and mineral content.
While it does contain high levels of vitamin E, most of the antioxidants are concentrated in an almond’s skin. The skin isn’t used for producing almond oil.
And, contrary to popular belief, there are also no minerals found in almond oil.
Minerals are hydrophillic or water-soluble compounds. Oils are 100% hydrophobic. They can’t contain hydrophilic compounds like minerals.
The potential hair growing benefits of almond oil can’t be connected to any sort of mineral.
Key Takeaway: Antioxidants found in the skin of almonds aren’t used to produce oil. Oils can’t contain minerals because they are water-soluble substances.
What Does the Research Say About Almond Oil?
Unfortunately, there is no research on almond oil for hair growth.
Absolutely none. Zero.
While the properties of almond oil are promising, we can’t make any potential claims on almond oil.
Key Takeaway: There is no research on almond oil for hair growth. We can’t make any claims about its topical application for hair growth.
How to Use Almond Oil for Hair
Although there is no data to back up the benefits of almond oil, you may still choose to use it.
So, if you’re going to use it, remember this:
Quality is absolutely key.
Below, I’ll explain how to use almond oil for your hair and the best almond oil to use.
Almond Oil Hair Mask
Almond oil can be used as a hair mask.
Because of almond oil’s high oleic acid content, it’s probably best to avoid using it on your scalp. You don’t want to risk disrupting the barrier function.
It might be better to use it on the ends of your hair. Although it won’t effectively penetrate the hair shaft, it can act as a barrier to prevent frizz and damage.
Best Almond Oil for Hair
Here’s the thing about almonds:
They’re heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides (19).
These pesticides can contaminate the almond oil and cause serious issues.
Because of this, you always want to opt for an organic almond oil.
Almond oil extracted using cold processing will also preserve the vitamin E content, which can be destroyed by heat. This also avoids the use of toxic chemical solvents.
Key Takeaway: The best of the best when it comes to almond oil is cold-pressed, organic.
Almond Oil Vs. Coconut Oil for Hair
Remember earlier when I talked about how almond oil probably doesn’t readily penetrate the hair shaft?
This is because the molecular structure of the fatty acids are too big.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, has a special kind of fatty acid:
Lauric acid’s tiny molecular structure allows it to penetrate the hair shaft easily. Here, it grabs onto proteins and preserves them.
This maintains the integrity of your hair and prevents damage and breakage.
In this case, coconut oil comes out superior to almond oil for hair.
Key Takeaway: Coconut oil contains a special kind of fatty acid called lauric acid. It has a small molecular structure that allows it to penetrate the hair shaft and protect it from breakage.
Almond Oil for Different Hair Types
If you’re using almond oil, is it right for your hair type?
Find your hair type below to determine if almond oil is right for you.
Almond Oil for Curly Hair
The kinks and coils of curly hair make it hard for sebum to travel down the hair shaft. Oils like almond oil can provide the much-needed nourishment that sebum provides.
Almond oil has a thick, viscous consistency that can easily weigh down hair.
For coarser curly hair, the consistency of almond oil may help tame frizz. However, if you have thinner curly hair, the consistency of almond oil may weigh hair down too much.
Key Takeaway: Although almond oil may provide nourishment to dry, coarse curly hair, it may weigh down thinner curly hair.
Almond Oil for Natural Hair
It’s understandable that when transitioning from chemical straightener to natural hair, you want your hair to grow fast and look its best.
Almond oil, however, may not be your best option.
Because transitioning hair is so close to the scalp, you don’t want to risk reducing scalp barrier function. Especially when chemical relaxants may have already damaged your scalp.
Instead, opt for some more skin-healthy oils like coconut oil or hempseed oil.
Key Takeaway: Chemical relaxants may damage the scalp. If you are transitioning from relaxed to natural, you may want to opt for an oil that is more skin-friendly for your scalp. Try coconut or hempseed oil.
Almond Oil for Straight Hair
Straight hair is kind of like thinner hair:
A thick oil like almond oil may weigh down hair strands.
Although it might be beneficial as a hair mask, using it as a daily oil is probably not an option if you have straight hair.
Even then, there are better oils to use as a hair mask. Coconut oil is your best bet!
Key Takeaway: Almond oil’s thick consistency may weigh down hair. A hair mask might be a better use of almond oil if you have straight hair. However, coconut oil is a better masking oil.
The Bottom Line: What Does It All Mean?
When it comes down to it:
There really is no research to back up almond oil for hair growth.
There are some benefits associated with some of the constituents of almond oil. But, it’s definitely not enough to deem almond oil as a holy grail for healthy hair.
Although almond oil isn’t much of an investment, your money is better put towards oils like coconut oil or essential oils with research to back their hair-growing benefits.
Have you ever tried almond oil before? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment below!