Can Black Seed Oil Help Prevent Hair Loss? We Asked the Experts

Is using black seed oil for hair the magic hair growth ingredient the Internet says it is?

Google "black seed oil for hair" and the first thing you'll notice is that a) there are tons of articles on the topic, and b) most of them are related to hair loss. That being said, it's only one of many ingredients that are touted as natural hair loss solutions, so what makes this any different? And is it legit? Here's what you need to know about black seed oil for hair, according to top experts.

black seed oil
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What Is Black Seed Oil?

Black seed oil—technically called nigella sativa oil—is extracted from the seeds of a flowering plant that grows in Southwest Asia, the Middle East, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa, says Kamara Brown, a StyleSeat hairstylist. (FYI, it bears mentioning that black seed oil is also sometimes referred to as black cumin seed oil, black onion seed oil, kalonji oil, and other pseudonyms.)

Black seed oil is well-known for its medicinal properties in Eastern culture, says Krupa Koestline, a clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants; it's been used to treat everything from bronchitis to diarrhea to skin disorders. "Most of these therapeutic properties are due to the presence of thymoquinone (TQ), which is a major active chemical component of the oil," she says.

TQ and nigella sativa oil itself have been shown to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiviral properties, according to a 2017 study review published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine.

Black Seed Oil Benefits for Hair

So what about black seed oil's purported benefits for hair? "Black seed oil is often promoted as a natural treatment for hair loss," says Brown. In fact, many shampoos and conditioners contain it, she adds. Theoretically, this benefit would likely be due to all of those aforementioned benefits of TQ… but theoretically is the key word here. There are some studies that indicate black seed oil may help with hair loss, but it's not enough to convince the experts we spoke with, both of whom underscore the fact that there needs to be more data and evidence to back up any hair growth claims.

For example, one study found that an herbal oil containing, among other things, black seed oil, helped reduce hair loss in men and women. The issue there is that black seed oil was only one of many ingredients in that oil. Another study found that a combination of coconut oil, black seed oil, and candlenut seed oil did help stimulate and speed up hair growth. The only problem? This study only had three participants, and again, black seed oil wasn't the only ingredient involved.

Point being, although there's a historical and anecdotal precedent of this ingredient helping with hair loss, there's not enough scientific literature to support its use as such. If hair loss is your primary concern, it's important to talk with your dermatologist or a trichologist to determine the root cause (pun intended) and best solution, rather than blindly relying on black seed oil, notes Brown.

Is Nigella Sativa Oil Worth Using for Hair Loss?

As far as any other benefits for your hair go, nigella sativa or black seed oil itself is moisturizing, says Koestline, though she says that there are other hair oils better suited for hair loss specifically. Brown says if you are curious about black seed oil, it's a good option to try if you have a dry scalp or eczema; in other words, focus on using it as a scalp treatment rather than for your hair. She suggests putting it in a bottle with an eyedropper applicator so that you can apply it to the scalp. (Doing a patch test beforehand to make sure you're not allergic is also a good move, she notes. Apply a small amount on your inner forearm and wait 24 hours to make sure no reaction or irritation develops.)

TL; DR: Black seed oil has a long history of benefits and uses (so it's certainly worth trying), but the scientific jury is still out as to whether or not it's a good hair loss solution.

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  1. Dulal MSR, Sheikh H, Taher MA, Rahaman MSU, Rahman Z, Malek MA. Formulation and finding out the efficacy of the herbal hair oil over simple coconut oil (purified) - a formulation and clinical study in Bangladesh. Int J Pharm Sci Res. 2014:1801-1805. doi:10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.5(5).1801-05     

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