Fish Oil for Hair: Does it Help?

Angela Sheddan

Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan, DNP, FNP-BC

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 9/23/2021

Fact: Americans actually spend about $1 billion annually on fish oil supplements—making it one of the most popular supplements on the market.

In addition to a number of other benefits (like boosting heart health), it’s often touted as being good for your hair. 

Specifically, some say it can increase growth and make it stronger. 

But does it work? What does the science say?

A Little Info on Fish Oil

The fats in certain types of fish have long been reported to be good for your health.

These fats are called omega-3 fatty acids and they’re found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel. 

But what do omega-3s do? It’s been suggested that they can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and lower triglyceride levels. 

They may also lower blood pressure and boost good cholesterol levels.

But fish aren’t the only place you can get omega-3s. They can also be found in food sources like chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed oil, certain fortified yogurts and more.

And they can be found in fish oil supplements. 

One thing to know: some research shows that even though seafood is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, many omega-3 supplements may not be fully effective at preventing this health condition.

But What About Fish Oil for Hair Growth? 

Many fish oil supplements claim to promote hair growth and strengthen hair. But do they actually do that? 

Honestly, there’s not enough evidence on fish oil’s effects on hair loss to say definitively. 

That said, there is some research that has found that omega-3s may prevent hair loss and stimulate growth in some situations. 

A 2015 study looked at women who took a supplement that contained omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with antioxidants. After taking the supplement for six months, a majority of the women reported reductions in hair loss and more hair density. 

Another study done on mice in 2018, looked at mackerel-derived fermented fish oil used as a topical application. It was found that using it this way stimulated hair growth. 

But, it bears repeating, this study was not done on humans.

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Other Proven Ways to Boost Hair Health

If you want scientifically proven ways to help with hair loss and encourage hair growth, consider one of the following hair loss treatments. 

Spironolactone

If you want to address hair loss or thinning, the prescription acne drug spironolactone could help you deal. 

Spironolactone stops testosterone from turning into DHT. It also slows the production of androgens, which can slow hair loss.

Minoxidil 

Another option for hair loss is topical minoxidil for women. This FDA-approved medication is sold under the brand name Rogaine®. It comes in a 2% solution or 5% foam.

Though its mechanism of action isn’t fully understood, minoxidil is believed to work by increasing blood flow to the affected area, so that more nutrients and oxygen can get to the blood vessels near your hair follicles. 

In addition to that, it extends the growth period, which means more hair grows for a longer period of time to replace lost hair.

Practice Healthy Hair Habits

In addition to medication, there are some lifestyle tweaks you can introduce into your routine and bad habits you can nix. Such as: 

  • Use a conditioner after every shampoo to keep brittle hair and bay and make sure hair is hydrated. Some research has shown that hair care ingredients like saw palmetto can help fight DHT.

  • Allow your hair to air dry and skip hot tools to prevent damage caused by heat. When you do have to use hair tools, make sure they are on the lowest heat setting. 

  • Skip tight ponytails and buns, which can lead to breakage.

  • If you have a weave or extensions, look for ones that are light and do not pull on the roots of your hair.

  • Avoid doing multiple services (like coloring, relaxing or perming) at once. It’s best to wait at least two weeks between each service. 

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Fish Oil For Your Hair

Many people praise the benefits of fish oil supplements, and they are one of the most popular dietary supplements out there.

They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are naturally found in certain oily fish (as well as other things like nuts and seeds). 

Research has shown that omega-3s may have a variety of health benefits—like reducing cardiovascular disease. 

There is some limited research that suggests fish oil capsules may also help with hair loss. However, not enough research has been done to make a conclusion on whether it can help you gain control of hair growth.

The good news is that there are a variety of other ways to treat hair loss and encourage healthy hair growth. 

To figure out which one could be a good option for you, speak with your healthcare provider about which treatment for hair loss could be right for you. 

9 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. LeWine, H., (2020, April). Fish Oil: Friend or Foe? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fish-oil-friend-or-foe-201307126467
  2. Cao, J., (2016, August). Fish Oils Are Good For Your Health. USDA Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/fish-oils-are-good-for-your-health/
  3. Le Floch, C., Cheniti, A., Connetable, S., Piccardi, N., et al., (2015, Jan 8). Effect of a nutritional supplement on hair loss in women. J Cosmet Dermatol. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25573272/
  4. Kang, J., Yoon, H., Kim, S., (2018, September). Mackerel-Derived Fermented Fish Oil Promotes Hair Growth by Anagen-Stimulating Pathways. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164340/
  5. Brough, K., Torgerson, R., (2017, March). Hormonal therapy in female pattern hair loss. International Journal of Womens Dermatology 3(1): 53-57. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5419033/
  6. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., Leerunyakul, K., (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Design, Development and Theory, 13: 2777-2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/#:~:text=Minoxidil%20is%20a%20common%20medication,as%20increasing%20body%20hair%20growth.
  7. How to stop damaging your hair. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/stop-damage
  8. Marks, L. S., Hess, D. L., Dorey, F. J., Luz Macairan, M., Cruz Santos, P. B., & Tyler, V. E. (2001). Tissue effects of saw palmetto and finasteride: use of biopsy cores for in situ quantification of prostatic androgens. Urology, 57(5), 999–1005. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11337315/
  9. National Institutes of Health. (2018). Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3-supplements-in-depth

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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