Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/29/2023
No one has ever put on a flower crown with the thought that it might boost their hair growth — that would be silly. But crushing those flowers down to an extract and turning them into a topical treatment? Now we’re talking. At least, that’s the theory behind geranium oil for hair growth.
The effects of geranium oil on your hair — along with what it can do for the rest of your body and mind, like as a depression treatment — is still a matter of scientific debate. There are any number of extracts, oils and other natural ingredient treatments for both encouraging hair growth and preventing hair loss that are currently being explored as the next great protector of your head of hair. We’re not here to legislate that debate — there’s not enough scientific evidence to do that yet.
Instead, what we’re here to do today is explore the “so-far” science of geranium oil for hair growth. Studies have looked at this topical tool for its benefits, and you’re likely here looking for answers because you’ve seen someone claiming that it’s just the oil you need.
Before you click “buy” on that essence, shampoo, conditioner or supplement though, scroll through the information we’ve collected below.
Geranium plants are a type of flower—that much you likely already know. Some of them look and smell like roses, which is why you might have heard them called rose geraniums. But we’re not florists, and you’re not here to admire the aesthetics.
What you’re really here for is answers about why something would be advertised on a bottle of shampoo or other hair care products if it’s not proven to help your hair. The short answer is that supplement brands and cosmetic brands can play it fast and loose with these claims, in part because the FDA doesn’t hold them to the same standards as prescription drug makers.
Here’s some context: for a prescription drug to hit the market as an FDA-approved treatment, it has to be rigorously tested. A supplement maker, meanwhile, can point to a few modest studies, say “it has been shown to produce benefits” and leave it at that.
And geranium oil has been shown to do just that — provide benefits.
The internet is practically full of sources saying that geranium oil is good for hair, that it promotes healthy production of sebum (oil) and that this can help protect and encourage healthy hair growth. But when you actually start looking for clinical studies and peer-reviewed sources to support this information, the winds abruptly shift.
While there are studies that suggest geranium oil can benefit your hair growth, the number is limited — very limited. In fact, we only came across one that met our criteria for inclusion here.
The 2017 study looked at both lab and biological results of using geranium sibiricum extract on hair follicles in mice and human hair cells. It found that, within their experiment, geranium extract was actually more effective than an FDA-approved treatment for hair loss called minoxidil (we’ll get to that in a moment).
The study concluded that geranium extract accomplished this feat — promoting significant hair growth in mice cells — by regulating cellular responses and growth factors.
Geranium oil has also been studied for a dozen cosmetic and other uses, and so far, has shown some pretty promising results. A 2005 study, for instance, found that geranium oil had anti-inflammatory properties that could protect against edema. Other studies have shown that rose geranium might have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Oh, and in 2021, a study found that topical applications of geranium oil could reduce signs of skin aging.
But specific studies for hair growth? Not much to talk about beyond mice and petri dishes.
There are many unanswered questions about if, when and how these same results could be replicated in human tests. For context, questions that would still need to be answered include:
Whether this treatment will even work in humans
What the appropriate dosages or concentrations would be for medicating humans
Whether or not geranium oil poses short or long term risks when used for hair growth
How long it will take the FDA to approve a treatment, if enough research materializes.
And for one final granule of context: it’s not as if geranium oil is somehow special in its modest promise for hair growth benefits. Geranium is just one of dozens of plants, naturally occurring compounds and other potential super-treatments that are being explored for their benefits.
We’re not saying that it won’t eventually make the cut, but until someone comes out and shows a more definitive answer about how to use geranium to make your hair grow, every company adding it to their products is really making educated guesses. Until that changes, it will at least give your hair a nice floral scent.
You have better options to consider for hair health, anyway. Minoxidil, for one, is a powerful and effective medication for encouraging hair growth in men and women. This generic version of Rogaine increases blood flow to the hair follicles in your head, which can promote healthier growth over a period of several months, according to studies.
Likewise, many other shampoos, vitamins and other products designed to boost hair health and growth have more scientific backing than geranium oil. Especially if you have a deficiency, vitamins can help your hair grow better, protect hair from damage and in some cases, thicken hair that has begun to thin. We make multivitamins with biotin, if you’re interested.
If geranium oil is a solution for hair loss — or a tool for hair growth —it’s going to be a while until the medical community confirms it. In the meantime, other treatments offer proven and concrete benefits to you now.
In the big picture, you’ll want to tailor your hair loss treatment to your individual needs. That means determining the true cause of your hair loss (whether it be immune reaction, stress, genetics or something else) and creating the appropriate treatment plan for dealing with it.
We can help with both of these needs, by the way. Our hair loss treatments are a great place to get in contact with experts who can help diagnose the cause of your hair loss and pair you with the treatments you need for a healthy scalp and hair, whether they’re dietary changes or medications like minoxidil.
And if your hair loss is serious and causing meaningful damage to your self-confidence, our online therapy resources are a great place to get support as you work through those feelings.
But if you’re just starting to see early signs of hair loss, now is the time to act. Get moving on protecting your hair today — while it’s still there to protect.