Can CBD Help With Hair Loss? We Investigate
Bianca is a contributing writer for Byrdie specializing in natural hair and skincare. You can find her work in xoNecole, The Everygirl, POPSUGAR, Travel Noire, and more.
CBD is the darling of the beauty industry at the moment. If you’re like us you’re intrigued by the hemp plant-derived cannabidiol. We know that CBD can benefit those with anxiety. There are also claims that CBD can smooth wrinkles, hydrate, and even get rid of acne. The scientific jury is still out on substantiating those claims, but what we do know is that CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. So how can those properties benefit hair? To get more information on how CBD might be able to benefit our hair and help with hair loss, we talked with Michelle Henry, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, Harvard-trained Mohs surgeon, and Cantu Partner.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of using CBD for hair loss. We want to share the differences between CBD and hemp seed oil. These are two variations of Cannabis sativa that are both hitting the skin and hair care market. They each have anti-inflammatory properties, but they are created differently. On the one hand, CBD oil is derived from the stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant which means there are higher concentrations of CBD in its makeup. On the other hand, hemp seed oil is made from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant.
Now that we’ve given you that tidbit of information, it’s time to talk CBD for hair loss.
Meet the Expert
is a board-certified dermatologist, Harvard-trained Mohs surgeon, and Cantu Partner.
Type of ingredient: Hydrator and anti-inflammatory
Main benefits: Soothes the scalp, regulates oil production, and anti-inflammatory
Who should use it: In general, anyone can benefit from using CBD in their haircare routine. However, if you are dealing with excessive hair loss or scalp issues, you will want to check in with a healthcare practitioner before use.
How often can you use it: It’s safe to use as needed.
Works well with: Most hair care products and can even be dropped into masks and treatments for added benefits.
Benefits of CBD for Hair
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CBD is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, so much so that it is proven to help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. But, how does that benefit translate to our scalp? For starters, CBD naturally boasts a high concentration of antioxidants like vitamins A, C, making it an antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory option. “The actual active (cannabinoid) is anti-inflammatory and can help psoriasis and eczema,” Henry tells us. “For scalp and hair issues that are triggered by inflammation such as psoriasis, dermatitis especially in women who have hair loss in women. If women patients don’t want to use traditional medicine. CBD oil can help with those issues.”
Hemp seed oil has also entered the haircare chat, but because hemp seed oil is derived from seeds it doesn’t carry as many anti-inflammatory benefits as CBD oil. However, for those that are looking to moisturize a flaky or irritates scalp, Henry tells us hemp seed oil does just that. “Hempseed oil is going to help lock in moisture in the hair and scalp. What people forget is that the scalp is an extension of the face. What’s become more popular is the skifinification of the scalp and extension of skincare, so we should use similar ingredients. Do all the things we would do on the face (moisturize, nourish) on the scalp to help with hair loss and stimulate hair growth.”
Because hair loss and irritation can be attributed to many other factors, talking with your healthcare provider about your unique concerns is the best option.
Hair Type Considerations
CBD can benefit a range of hair types. However, Henry notes that research on CBD’s ability to promote hair growth is limited. “I have not seen any studies about [CBD oil] directly stimulating hair growth. However, reducing inflammation is encouraging hair growth and protecting the hair.” We can thank Phytocompounds —antioxidant effects and antimicrobial properties— for that. When applied to our skin, the hemp plant can molecularly connect to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our bodies and reduce inflammation—this includes our scalps. Before you run out and purchase a CBD product for your hair, there are a few things to keep in mind. As we noted at the start of the story, CBD and hemp seed oil are different. Hemp seed oil does offer up fatty acids, which are excellent hydrators of the hair and scalp. However, CBD has a higher level of anti-inflammatory benefits. So when looking at the label of products, you’ll want to be mindful of your needs and the ingredients in your product of choice. The labeling can be a bit confusing, but we hope our breakdown helps.
How to Use CBD for Hair
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When using CBD oil on your hair and scalp, you’ll want to follow the same practices you would with any other hair care ingredient if you’re using a CBD-infused shampoo, conditioner, or styling product used as recommended or as often as your hair type calls for. When it comes to applying CBD oil to the scalp, six to eight drops are typically more than enough for any oil you plan to use on the scalp, and we’d apply that same cadence here.
The Best Products with CBD and Hemp Seed Oil
Made with a blend of 100 mg CBD oil-enriched, arnica flower, hemp, and tamanu seed oils, this oil calms and moisturizes the skin and scalp.
Formulated with cannabis Sativa seed oil, ginseng root, and horsetail extract, this formula moisturizes and softens each strand to encourage thicker, healthier-looking hair.
Made with a 3:1 broad-spectrum cannabinoid complex with a blend of baobab and castor oils, rosemary, cedarwood, and other herbal extracts, this rich multitasking formula can be used as a scalp treatment, leave-in, or as an addition to any hair mask.
With a blend of three natural, raw ingredients: 100% pure and certified organic hemp seed oil, pure shea butter, and coconut oil, this hydrating formula can be used on the hair, scalp, and body.
CBD oil is an anti-inflammatory hydrator that soothes the scalp and regulates oil production.
CBD can benefit a range of hair types. However, Henry notes that research on CBD’s ability to promote hair growth is limited. “I have not seen any studies about [CBD oil] directly stimulating hair growth. However, reducing inflammation is encouraging hair growth and protecting the hair.”
When it comes to applying CBD oil to the scalp, six to eight drops are typically more than enough for any oil you plan to use on the scalp, and we’d apply that same cadence here.
Does CBD Really Promote Hair Growth?
In this day and age, there is no greater beauty buzzword than CBD. You’ve likely seen the popular ingredient formulated into every kind of product, from skin and makeup to hair—and all of them promise a plethora of beauty-boosting benefits. One such claim is that CBD-infused shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in formulas promote hair growth. But does this ingredient of the moment truly deliver?
Before we dive into CBD’s impact on hair loss and regrowth, it’s first important to understand what this agent really is. “CBD stands for cannabidiol,” says Dr. Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “It is an oil that is derived from hemp plants and is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.” Studies, including this one published in Essays of Biochemistry, show that our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids to maintain healthy homeostasis in the body—so, products that contain CBD are supposed to help keep that bodily balance, which includes clear skin and strong, healthy hair, in check.
To get a definitive answer on whether CBD actually promotes hair growth, we turned to the experts. Keep reading to learn what Dr. Graf and Dr. Neera Nathan, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the expert consultant for Vegamour, Neera Nathan, MD, have to say on the matter.
Does CBD stimulate hair growth?
Lots of research points to the fact that CBD can, in fact, stimulate hair growth. According to Dr. Nathan, our skin and hair contain receptors that respond to external cannabinoid use, like CBD. When this oil is applied topically, those receptors then help promote new strands. Dr. Graf agrees, adding that properties in CBD hair products can strengthen hair and ultimately prevent hair loss. Think of it this way: Hair growth slows or stops due to a number of reasons, including hormonal and environmental changes, shrinking hair follicles, and stress. The antioxidants in CBD help promote a healthy scalp, which then encourages stagnant or slow hair follicles to grow, Dr. Graf says.
What are the other benefits of using CBD in your hair care routine?
Dr. Graf explains that CBD-infused hair products have many benefits. “They can reduce the inflammation of your scalp, moisturize the hair follicles, improve blood circulation, and result in overall healthier hair,” she says. Reducing inflammation, adds Dr. Nathan, is one of the most important ways that CBD actually impacts the hair growth process. “Excess inflammation or irritation in the scalp can hinder normal hair growth,” she says, “so this can be an important benefit for the scalp and hair.”
How can you best apply CBD to your hair?
Just about anyone can use CBD in their hair, regardless of their hair type, texture, or level of color treatment, but it’s particularly helpful for those who regularly experience breakage. “CBD strengthens the proteins in your hair, which improves its overall appearance—and protects strands from breakage in the future,” notes Dr. Graf. And since CBD is a natural ingredient, it will not affect dyed or processed hair, she explains. According to Dr. Nathan, who agrees that the agent is safe for virtually everyone, consistency is key—working the ingredient into your routine for several months will deliver the best results. She does caution those with a history of sensitive skin or allergies to perform a test patch before fully committing; try applying the new product to your wrist and monitor the area for a reaction.
What are a few CBD-infused hair care products to try now?
Incorporating CBD into your hair routine is also fairly easy, since several brands have formulated it right into their offerings. Dr. Nathan suggests products that can be applied directly to the scalp—like a CBD oil or hair mask—and have other nourishing ingredients that support hair growth for added benefits. Be sure to gently massage these formulas into the scalp for at least a few minutes, since the massage alone should stimulate hair growth. As for a few products to try? Consider Vegamour’s GRO + Advanced Hair Serum ($68, vegamour.com) or Cantu’s Hemp Seed Oil ($6.99, walmart.com); both are beloved by many and proven to show great results. Dr. Graf also recommends CBD-infused shampoos and conditioners; she likes the CBD For Life Conditioner ($25, cbdforlife.us), which contains oils that lock in moisture and promote growth.