Peppermint has an astonishing number of health and wellness benefits. I have written about many of peppermint’s benefits in previous articles. I have also mentioned peppermint’s hair care benefits, but did not go into detail about how to use peppermint to treat the scalp and achieve healthier hair; that is the purpose of this article.
Peppermint essential oil can be used to kill and repel lice, relieve dandruff, and improve hair growth. We will start with the recipes and how to use them, then we will discuss how peppermint oil effectively treats these conditions. And I will offer alternatives for those who cannot handle the power of pure peppermint oil.
Peppermint Oil Dandruff Pre-poo (aka Pre-shampoo treatment)
- Base oil – jojoba, coconut, almond, or EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), your choice
- Peppermint essential oil
- Plastic applicator bottle with a spout
How much you will need depends on the thickness of your hair. Most people can get away with 2 tablespoons of the base oil and 12 drops of peppermint essential oil. Shake the ingredients well and apply to the scalp and massage. Leave on scalp for at least 15 minutes, before shampooing the treatment out.
If your hair requires more or less product, remember to use 6 drops of peppermint oil per tablespoon (measuring spoon) of base oil.
Peppermint Oil Dandruff Shampoo
- Any Fragrance-free shampoo you prefer
- Peppermint essential oil
Adding peppermint oil to shampoo is a little more complicated than adding it to the base oil. You will need 20 drops of peppermint oil per 1/2 cup/120 ml/4 ounces of shampoo. If the bottle has already been used from, you may need to measure the remaining contents to achieve the right balance. Shake well and store in a dark area when not in use, if the bottle is transparent.
Peppermint Oil Dandruff Conditioner
- Any fragrance-free conditioner you prefer
- Peppermint essential oil
The instructions for creating peppermint oil shampoo apply here as well.
The pre-poo can be used effectively with any other shampoo and conditioner, but I advise using the shampoo and conditioner together if you are not interested in pre-treating the scalp. Of course, you may choose to use all three to treat your dandruff.
You should treat your scalp for dandruff at least once per week until your dandruff disappears. Thereafter, you may use any or all of these on occasion to keep the condition from returning.
Peppermint Oil Head Lice Remedy
- EVOO or regular olive oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- fine-toothed comb
- plastic shower cap
- paper towels
For each tablespoon of olive oil use 6 drops of pure peppermint oil. You will need to cover not just your scalp but all of your hair generously. Then cover hair with the plastic cap. Leave on for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours.
Remove the cap and section by section comb the dead lice and their eggs (aka Nits) from the hair, wiping the comb on a paper towel with each pass. It may be necessary to comb through the hair 2 or more times to insure that you have removed all eggs, especially if you have thick hair. Afterward, you should cleanse the hair and scalp with your usual shampoo twice, then style as usual.
This recipe offers a one-two punch: you are smothering the lice with the olive oil while poisoning them with the peppermint oil. However, if you fail to remove all of the eggs they will survive this treatment, hatch, and you will have to repeat the treatment to be completely rid of these parasites.
It’s extremely important that you apply this treatment over a sink or in the shower. This will help prevent the lice from escaping and finding a new host. As soon as you begin applying this treatment the lice will attempt to leave your hair.
We will discuss aftercare and precautions at the end of the post.
Peppermint Hair Growth Tonic
- Base oils – almond oil, jojoba, canola or safflower
- Peppermint oil
- amber glass bottle (for bulk storage)
As with the dandruff treatment, how much product you will need depends on the thickness of your hair. Use 6 drops of pure peppermint oil for every tablespoon of base oil, also like the dandruff recipe.
Since you will need to use this recipe fairly often to see results, it would be wise to make a few ounces at once and store the excess in the amber glass bottle for later use (up to 6 months).
Massage the oil into your scalp and leave on for 15-20 minutes, shampoo with your favorite shampoo, and style as usual.
How Peppermint Oil Improves Hair Health
Peppermint Oil and Dandruff
Dandruff is a common scalp condition that can be difficult to treat, but peppermint has proven effective for at least one cause of this embarrassing condition – Seborrheic Dermatitis (aka irritated, oily skin).
Peppermint anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties soothe an itchy scalp, helps the scalp absorb excess oils and kills bacteria.
Studies have also proven peppermint essential oil capable of killing food-borne bacteria and even staphylococcus and other common bacteria that lead to contagious illnesses. This combination of talents makes peppermint a natural for treating the most common cause of dandruff, which is Seborrheic Dermatitis.
Other Causes of Dandruff
Dry skin, contact dermatitis (aka sensitivity to ingredients in hair care products), Malassezia (a yeast-like fungus), and not shampooing often enough are all causes of dandruff.
It has not been proven whether or not peppermint oil would be effective against most of these other causes of dandruff, but I doubt it would hurt to try.
Peppermint Oil and Lice
As stated above, peppermint essential oil is highly toxic to lice; unfortunately, it does not kill the eggs. However, once the hatched lice are dead you can easily remove them and their eggs with a fine-toothed comb and a lot of patience.
It is also recommended that you soak the comb in rubbing alcohol after use and then wash thoroughly with soap and water. The alcohol will not kill the eggs either but, without a host, the lice will die.
To keep lice from making their way back onto your scalp, I would advise using the peppermint shampoo at least once a week, until you are certain that lice are no longer living in your home or on your loved ones.
Since lice appear to hate the aroma of peppermint oil as much as spiders do, but have even more reason to fear it this action should effectively prevent re-infestation.
You should also treat your home after treatment to insure you, your family, and your visitors don’t experience future outbreaks. The article ‘House Cleaning Tips For Lice’, by the Center for Lice Control, offers a list of steps you can take to put an end to the lice infestation at your house.
Do not use peppermint oil on young children; their skin is far too tender and it could cause painful irritation/reaction. Never use pure peppermint oil on your skin undiluted. It will have the same unpleasant effect on you that the diluted oil has on small children.
Alternatives to Peppermint Oil for Lice Treatment
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- neem oil
- tea tree essential oil
- cinnamon leaf essential oil
- aniseed essential oil
- nutmeg essential oil
Before using any of these oils on yourself or your children, please, investigate the possible side effects and sensitivities, as well as the mode of use. It may differ from that of peppermint essential oil.
Peppermint Oil and Hair Growth
Peppermint essential oil improves hair growth by acting as a vasodilator. Applied topically, peppermint oil expands blood vessels in the scalp by relaxing the smooth muscle cells within the vessel walls. This is the same thing prescription drugs for heart disease and over-the-counter hair loss treatments like Minoxidil do.
A quote from a 2014 study that compared the effects of peppermint essential oil to Minoxidil:
“From week 2, [3% peppermint oil] grew hair more rapidly than [saline] and [jojoba oil]. At week 3, [3% peppermint oil] remarkably promoted hair growth than [saline] and [jojoba oil], even greater than [3% Minoxidil]. At week 4, [3% peppermint oil] showed hair growth about 92%, whereas [3% Minoxidil] about 55%. … Histological analysis showed that 4-wk topical application of [3% peppermint oil] and [3% Minoxidil] induced very thick and long hair growth and promoted the elongation of hair follicles from dermis to subcutis. These results indicate that the hair follicles of [3% peppermint oil] and [3% Minoxidil] groups at week 4 were in the anagen stage. We also observed a slight increase of epidermal thickness in [3% peppermint oil] group.”1
If you have any questions about these recipes, their ingredients, or you wish to share your own experience using peppermint for your hair’s health comment below or tweet me on Twitter.
1Ji Young Oh, Min Ah Park, and Young Chul Kim. “Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth Without Toxic Signs”. Toxicological Research, December 2014. Web. September 2019
How to Add Essential Oils to Shampoo”. WikiHow, March 28, 2019. Web. September 2019
DeGrandpre, Zora. “Home Remedies for Head Lice: What Works?” Healthline, December 5, 2018. Web. September 2019
White, Adrian. “Can Peppermint Oil Benefit Your Hair?” Healthline, August 17, 2017. web. September 2019
Ji Young Oh, Min Ah Park, and Young Chul Kim. “Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth Without Toxic Signs”. Toxicological Research, December 2014. Web. September 2019
Parker, Kimbry. “How to Use Peppermint Oil for the Scalp”. Leaf.tv, n.d. Web. September 2019
Gould, Hallie. “The Same Ingredients Found in Toothpaste May Make Your Hair Grow Faster”. Byrdie, April 26, 2019. Web. September 2019