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Eucalyptus Hair Products Can Cleanse, Clarify, & Do So Much More

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Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking, "Gee, I hope my hair doesn't grow today." However, there's no easy fix to instantly becoming the modern-day Rapunzel. Luckily, eucalyptus for hair growth may be making that task a bit easier, and it may be the missing ingredient for a healthy, voluminous mane.

The aromatic plant, often used in bath rituals, is one of the most notable essential oils recognized today. It's high in antioxidants, boasts tons of anti-inflammatory agents, and in some cases, plays a role in reducing stress. However, its benefits for hair are proving a more recent discovery, and now, brands are packing hair products — particularly shampoos with the distilled oil.

According to a 2010 study by the Journal Of Lipid Research, cyclooxygenase-2 — a compound found in oils such as eucalyptus, thyme, and clove — was discovered to be a major player in inflammation and circulatory homeostasis. This, according to scientists who conducted the study, directly translates to benefits for scalp health. However, clinical studies haven't yet confirmed those predictions that eucalyptus oil is a catalyst for hair growth.

"Eucalyptus has a direct impact on reducing overgrowth of bacteria and fungus that naturally live on the scalp that become exacerbated with poor diet, lifestyle factors, and genetics," William Gaunitz, WTS, certified trichologist and founder of the Gaunitz Trichology Method says. Its potent properties make it a wonderful clarifying agent. "Eucalyptus is known for its ability to purify and soothe the scalp," Rachel Zipperian, Senior Scientist for Herbal Essences says. "The soothing properties associated with eucalyptus make it ideal for those who struggle with scalp build-up." And according to Karen Dwyer, Product Development Manager at Hempz, it creates an environment conducive to healthy growth. "Eucalyptus helps stimulate the hair follicles, which ultimately improves the overall health of hair and scalp, creating a more flourishing head of hair."

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That said, it's also beneficial for dandruff-prone scalps, explaining why the vast majority of hair products including eucalyptus are shampoos. "Because of its ability to clarify, eucalyptus is an ideal aid in helping to eliminate annoying dandruff," Zipperian says. And Gaunitz agrees. "Eucalyptus is able to decrease the bad fungus and bad bacteria numbers on contact ultimately reducing the symptoms of dandruff and possibly seborrheic dermatitis dramatically."

And while the instant tingle may create the illusion that pure eucalyptus oil is aiding the scalp, it may be doing the opposite. "The neat, undiluted oil could be problematic," Zipperian says. "Lots of plant extracts and oils have allergies associated with them when concentrated — think poison ivy." That said, a well-balanced product containing eucalyptus will render more fruitful results. "Any powerful astringent oil should be rotated or combined with another type of naturally astringent oil to make sure that scalp microbials are not going to build a tolerance to it," Gaunitz says. "When someone is dealing with a bacterial or fungal overgrowth on the scalp it should be rotated with something like neem oil or tea tree oil or castor oil to create a well-rounded defense for a healthy scalp especially when trying to regrow hair."

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But that doesn't mean that eucalyptus hair products are unsafe for daily use. In fact, they're encouraged. But Dwyer still insists consulting with a professional before incorporating the ingredient into your hair routine. "All hair types and skin types respond to ingredients, oils, and fragrances differently," she says. "It’s best to consult with your doctor if using products that contain something new to you and or if you have concerns. It’s best to test a small area of your skin, scalp, or hair to make sure you don’t have any negative responses and if so, end use immediately and consult with your doctor."

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Experts:

William Gaunitz, Evolution Hair Loss Institute and Advanced Trichology Products in Arizona.

Rachel Zipperian, Senior Scientist for Herbal Essences.

Karen Dwyer, Product Development Manager at Hempz.

Studies:

Carvacrol, a component of thyme oil, activates PPARalpha and gamma and suppresses COX-2 expression. Hotta, M., Nakata, R., Katsukawa, M., Hori, K., Takahashi, S., & Inoue, H. (2010, January).