We may not realize it, but our hair goes through a lot. Sun exposure, air pollution, daily styling, and the products we use to clean and style all affect our hair. Hair products and styling can take a toll on our hair. Let’s not take our locks for granted. Much like our skin, our hair is there, and we wash it but do little else to make sure it’s protected and looking its best.
From washing to adding products like pomades and styling gels to using heat styling products like blow dryers, daily hair care can cause damage. And because a healthy scalp leads to healthy and vibrant-looking hair, this is another aspect of a men’s grooming routine that shouldn’t be overlooked. From your head to your toes, your body care should start with your scalp to maintain healthy hair and keep you looking your best and feeling confident.
You may be even more attuned to your hair and scalp health if you’re a guy with thinning hair. Thick, silky, shiny hair isn’t something any guy takes for granted. Anyone can suffer hair loss (it’s more common than most people think), and men are far more likely to endure hair loss than women. From hereditary genes to age, hormonal changes to lifestyle and medications, hair thinning and loss are very real and challenging to correct.
The good news is with the proper routine and nutrition, as well as choosing your scalp and hair products wisely, you should be able to reverse thinning hair. If you start a new scalp routine with the intention of seeing fuller, thicker hair and don’t see immediate, same-day results, be patient. Hair growth takes time. In the end, everything you do to promote a healthier scalp will be worth the effort.
The Benefits of Scalp Oil
The shine, texture, growth, and overall look and feel of our hair begin at the roots. The scalp is delicate: it has a high number of sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and hair follicles. But the scalp is more than just where hair grows. Our scalp is a barrier against anything irritating or harmful that can cause infections.
For the average person, the scalp contains over one hundred thousand hair follicles. As we age, our scalp grows, so our hair follicles become less dense, causing us to see slightly less hair on our heads. That means the full, thick head of hair we had in our teens and twenties may look a lot different in our forties and fifties. As we age, our sebaceous glands produce less oil, so hair can also feel drier and more fragile than it did when we were young.
Each strand of hair grows out of one follicle, or tube-like structure, that surrounds the root and strand of hair. At any given time, your hair is either growing or in a resting phase where it doesn’t grow, but it also doesn’t fall out. Every few months, your scalp sheds hair, and new strands grow in its place.
Each hair follicle is covered in a shaft of a complex protein called keratin. Keratin is vital for healthy hair because it smooths the strands of hair beginning at the hair cuticle. The hair actually absorbs keratin, making it healthy, full, and shiny.
The Root of Hair Problems
Since every scalp is different, just as every person’s skin is different, there are a number of scalp conditions that can affect how our hair and scalp look and feel. Pollution, nutrition, stress, medications, aging, and genes affect scalp health. For example, hormone imbalances and thyroid conditions can affect how hair grows, and stress and improper nutrition can lead to hair loss.
Other conditions, like psoriasis, can cause scalp inflammation and dry, itchy patches, similar to seborrheic dermatitis, which can cause a scaly, red rash. And, of course, there’s dandruff, which can be caused by several different conditions that lead to an imbalance of the scalp, including dry skin that flakes off. Some guys experience dandruff more in the winter months due to the dry, cold weather.
Another aspect of scalp and hair issues can be traced back to nutrition and body chemistry. A balanced nutrition of vitamins, proteins, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants help fuel the body and keeps everything working optimally, from our organs to our skin and hair. The better we feed our body, the more likely our hair and skin will radiate health and vitality.
So how can you optimize the health of your scalp and have the full, healthy head of hair you want? Using a good scalp oil is an ideal place to start. Scalp oil works on a few different levels to improve scalp and hair health.
First, scalp oil helps stimulate circulation, so hair regeneration happens more quickly. Second, scalp oil brings vital nutrients to the scalp that it may be lacking, resulting in a healthier environment for the hair to grow strong and thrive. And finally, scalp oil can help reduce the stress hair goes through daily, helping maintain a stable and calmer environment for the hair and leading to less thinning hair or hair fallout.
Scalp oil can also protect hair follicles during the washing process. Most shampoos contain oil-stripping ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate that leave hair dry and underhydrated. While they are necessary to help clean the hair, they also strip away the natural oils produced by the scalp. The result can be overly dry hair and a tight-feeling, itchy scalp due to dry skin.
Now that we’ve looked at why scalp oil is beneficial, let’s look at the best scalp oils for hair growth. As with most men’s grooming products, there are many options to choose from when considering scalp oils that are beneficial. In this list, we’ll break down key ingredients to look for and how they help create an ideal scalp environment for healthy, strong hair to grow.
1. Blu Atlas Hair & Body Oil
Balanced hydration is key for scalp health and hair growth. There is a fine balance: the scalp should be hydrated yet stop producing excess oil, which is why Blu Atlas’s Hair & Body Oil is a natural choice for hair growth. With a base of oils from fruits and plants and the addition of hair-strengthening minerals, this oil adds much-needed hydration to the scalp—and it’s beneficial for your skin, as well.
With argan and sweet almond oils for hydration and saw palmetto for reducing inflammation, this oil produces new hair growth. Blu Atlas Hair & Body Oil is highly rated by reviewers online. A medical advisory board of top medical and cosmetic dermatologists backs the science behind Blu Atlas formulations.
Blur Atlas Hair & Body Oil is vegan and cruelty free. It also is synthetic fragrance free, so it is ideal for guys with sensitive skin. It leaves hair feeling clean, adds shine, and deeply hydrates the hair and skin.
Use it by adding a few drops onto your fingers and gently massaging into your scalp. Use the leftover oil on your hands to deliver extra moisture to your face and body. With a clean, fresh scent and a formula that adds vital moisture, Blu Atlas Hair & Body Oil is a multi-tasker grooming product that does it all.
2. Vegamour GRO Hair Serum
The key ingredients in Vegamour’s GRO Hair Serum can help improve the appearance of hair density and reduce signs of hair shedding. Natural ingredients like mung bean for vitamin richness, curcumin for antioxidants, and red clover for boosting hair growth help GRO Hair Serum work to improve scalp and hair health.
Vegamour uses a holistic approach to hair wellness. They use clinically tested plant-based ingredients and no harmful chemicals that can dry or irritate the scalp. This serum is easy to incorporate into a daily hair care routine. Fill the dropper with serum, and massage this leave-in product directly into the scalp on either dry or slightly damp hair.
Reviewers say they notice a significant decrease in hair shedding and more volume with Vegamour’s GRO Hair Serum. They also cite the light, fresh scent of this serum.
3. Aesop Sage & Cedar Scalp Treatment
The Sage & Cedar Scalp Treatment from Australian skin, hair, and body product company Aesop is a pre-shampoo treatment. Their formulation is intended to treat dry, distressed scalps with a blend of soothing, hydrating botanical oils.
Aesop’s thrice weekly pre-shampoo treatment is massaged onto freshly brushed, dry hair. The soothing oil of rosemary leaf, cedar atlas, and sage leaf is left on the scalp for deep absorption for up to 15 minutes. The treatment should be followed by shampooing the hair and styling it as usual. The result is glossy, nourished hair that will smell amazing, too.
The vegan and cruelty-free formula is packaged in a recyclable glass bottle. Online reviewers say this treatment does not leave their hair feeling greasy, heavy, or dull, and they love its soothing quality and say their hair smells fresh and clean in addition to looking healthier.
4. Divi Scalp Serum
Divi Scalp Serum prevents hair loss, stimulates thicker-looking hair, and removes product build-up from the scalp with biotin for vitamin B7, caffeine and peppermint for stimulating circulation, and eucalyptus and rosemary oils for antioxidants and hydration. Divi’s dermatologist-tested, vegan, and cruelty-free formula is also sulfate and paraben free. It’s used once daily, either morning or evening, by applying a small amount onto the scalp. Reviewers say that after application, they notice a slight tingling feeling.
Divi founder Dani Austin created the brand after struggling with her own hair loss struggles. Scalp Serum was recognized by Shape magazine in its Beauty Award issue. Divi Scalp Serum has a natural, botanical scent that leaves hair smelling fresh.
5. Dr. Barbara Sturm Balancing Scalp Serum
Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Balancing Scalp Serum is everything your scalp and hair need for ongoing vitality. The theory behind this formulation is to properly balance the scalp’s own natural chemistry to allow for healthy hair growth. The ingredients in this formulation address scalp dryness and irritation and protection against heat, sun, and pollution, making it one of the best scalp oils for hair growth.
Balancing Scalp Serum can be used daily on a clean wet or dry scalp. Just massage in a small amount of this vegan formulation, and do not rinse out.
Provitamin B5 promotes hair’s natural resiliency, and sunflower sprouts and tara extract protect the hair from outside elements. Tara extract helps the strands of hair lock in moisture. Dr. Sturm’s formula also contains camellia, brown and green algae, and lavender to soothe any irritation caused by a dry scalp.
Online reviewers say this formula dramatically improved their scalp and hair health, and its gentle formula makes it ideal for even those with sensitive skin to use. One reviewer reported that their hair felt strong and soft after using Balancing Scalp Serum, adding shine.
6. Jack Black MP 10 Nourishing Oil
This unique oil from Jack Black can be used on the scalp and skin to promote a more hydrated texture. It’s an intense and highly concentrated blend of argan oil, plum seed, olive fruit, and jojoba oil. A little goes a long way with this formula.
For the hair, it’s meant to condition and also help with hair styling. To use, apply a small amount to clean, towel-dried hair but not directly onto the scalp. Hair can then be styled as per your regular routine.
Because this formula is concentrated in nourishing and antioxidant-rich oils, it’s best to leave it off the scalp and use it more to help add shine and moisture to dry hair.
7. Sienna Naturals Daily Elixir Scalp Oil
Sienna Naturals Daily Elixir Scalp Oil won Cosmopolitan magazine’s Holy Grail Beauty Award for best scalp oil. In addition to nourishing the scalp, this oil also works to help protect the hair without weighing it down. This is a great option if you’re not a daily shampoo person and want to feel fresh between washings.
This lightweight formula contains coconut and fruit oil as well as sandalwood and lavender oil, giving it a soft, botanical scent. The product is applied by adding a small amount onto the fingers and massaging it into the scalp. It can be used daily or as needed.
Sienna Naturals Daily Elixir Scalp Oil can be used by anyone but is recommended for those with curly, textured, relaxed, or color-treated hair. It’s also an excellent option for those with dry and damaged hair, as it works to rebalance the scalp’s natural moisture balance. Reviewers say it gives hair a natural sheen without weighing it down with heavy ingredients.
8. Mielle Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil
Mielle is a Black-owned and women-led global beauty brand. Their Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening oil encourages stronger and healthier hair growth by getting to the root of hair problems: the scalp.
This nutrient-rich, intensive formula nourishes the hair follicles with a blend of antioxidant-rich botanical oils, including rosemary leaf oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, basil oil, and vitamin D. Not only do these oils help hair follicles stay strong and supple but this oil smells luscious and fresh. Hair is more resilient, vital moisture is delivered to the scalp, and hair is left with a fresh, clean scent.
To use, apply a small amount of Mielle Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil to the scalp, and comb through the ends. Add a little more to the ends, and apply a processing cap or towel to the hair, leaving on for ten minutes, before proceeding with shampooing.
Infused with Biotin, which stimulates keratin growth, this hair oil is ideal for textured, dry, or damaged hair or anyone who feels like their scalp is dry and needs a moisture boost.
9. Ouai Scalp Serum
If your hair is thinning and looking less dense than ever before, Ouai Scalp Serum may be an excellent choice for you. Specifically formulated to target the causes of thinning hair, this scalp serum contains peptides that penetrate the hair follicle to prevent breakage and increase moisture to make hair fuller.
With an earthy fragrance of spearmint and ginger, this serum can be applied to wet or dry hair directly onto the scalp. After massaging it in, you can leave it on your hair or shampoo, whichever you prefer. It does not leave behind a greasy residue, yet makes hair look shiny and glossy.
Ouai Scalp Serum contains arctic root and Chaga mushroom to support a healthy scalp barrier and red clover extract to protect the scalp and hair from pollution, styling, and environmental damage. Reviewers say not only does this scalp serum help with their thinning hair, but its formulation also feels cool and refreshing on their scalp and smells great.
10. Ceremonia Aciete de Moska Silicone-Free Scalp Oil
This scalp oil celebrates the Latinx heritage of its founder and is inspired by a popular oil in the Dominican Republic. Ceremonia Aceite de Moska helps promote healthy hair growth by restoring the scalp’s natural moisture barrier and delivering gentle moisture.
To use, massage oil into the scalp and let sit for 15 minutes, and then shampoo as usual. It can also be used as an overnight treatment. Ceremonia Scalp Oil can be used on any hair, from textured and damaged to thinning and dry.
This product contains maracuja oil, which helps strengthen hair and protect against hair loss. Additionally, other botanical oils like acai and rosemary oil help deliver antioxidant properties to the hair, protecting it from styling and the environment.
Reviewers online tout Ceremonia Scalp Oils’ pleasant scent and say it helps relieve their dry, itchy scalp problems while keeping their hair healthy looking. This formula is vegan and cruelty free and also contains no silicone or sulfates.
Healthy Scalp and Hair 101
Now that we understand what it takes to keep our scalp healthy and create optimal conditions for hair growth, let’s look at how to achieve and maintain healthy, luxurious hair.
We’ve already seen that healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp, so it’s vital to build scalp treatment into your grooming routine. Make time, either daily or weekly, to perform the scalp treatment of your choice to help set the foundation for healthy hair growth. Adding this to your grooming routine will ensure you’re giving your scalp the best treatment to promote healthy-looking hair.
What happens if you add a weekly or daily scalp regimen to your routine? You may not see immediate benefits, but over time, your scalp will be in better condition, and your hair will reflect your dedication to keeping it healthy. With a dedicated scalp routine, your scalp will feel better, and your hair will look shinier, fuller, and healthier.
Other healthy scalp and hair tips include:
Evaluate and Adjust Your Shampoo Frequency
Washing your hair too frequently or with shampoos containing harsh ingredients can strip away your hair’s natural oils and weaken the scalp’s protective barrier. Depending on the season (we sweat more in warmer temperatures) and your daily routine, including workouts, it’s recommended to wash your hair about two to three times a week.
If you’re a daily shampooer and want to cut back, consider trying dry shampoo in between washes to absorb the oils at the base of the hair follicles. Or wash daily but with a very gentle shampoo that doesn’t contain sulfates, which strip away the scalp’s natural oils.
Invest in Protection
Your hair and scalp need protection from the sun, just like your skin. If you’re out in the sun for extended periods, wear a hat, or add a hair-formulated SPF to your routine. These products can be sprayed into the hair to add UV ray protection from the sun. The same holds true for cold conditions. If you’re outside and exposed to cold, dry air, protect your scalp with a hat to keep your scalp from getting too dry.
Get Adequate Nutrition
Maintaining a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet helps our overall health. When our bodies are healthy, our skin, hair, and nails look their best, too. Evaluate your current diet, and make sure you’re getting enough nutrients from food.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein and biotin, two nutrients essential for hair growth. Berries contain antioxidants, which also support healthy hair, as do leafy green vegetables. Nuts, seeds, and avocados are healthy sources of vitamins, including vitamin E, which supports healthy hair growth. Vitamin E also protects the skin and the scalp from oxidative stress and damage.
Limit Styling and Heat Treatments
Keep your hair styling routine by keeping it as simple as possible. The less heat styling and products added to your hair, the better. Heat causes breakage and damage and dries out the scalp.
If you style with heat, consider using a heat-protective spray before you style to help protect the hair from high temperatures. This also applies to the water temperature when shampooing. Use lukewarm water instead of hot water to keep the scalp’s moisture balanced.
Choose Products Wisely
Which ingredients go into your hair care and styling products matter. Avoiding sulfates, alcohol, and other chemicals that damage hair and dry the scalp will help keep hair healthy and provide the best environment possible for hair growth. If you have sensitive skin, you are likely choosing gentle products that do not irritate your skin’s texture.
The same applies to shampoo and styling products—the more delicate the formulation, the better for your scalp and hair. Avoid shampoos and conditioners that have synthetic fragrances and colors, as these tend to cause irritation.
Remember that the time and effort you put into your scalp routine will pay off in how your hair looks and feels. It may not be overnight, but after a few weeks of adding a scalp treatment routine to your grooming schedule, you will have more luxurious, thicker, fuller hair. It takes time, but the results will appear. Having the hair you want will result from the dedicated scalp routine you start today.