Evening Primrose Oil For Hair Loss

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Arshiya Syeda

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss in 2.1% of all adults in the USA (1). A number of natural solutions for hair loss have been devised over the years, but not many have shown the kind of effectiveness that evening primrose oil has. Evening primrose oil has a significant number of nutrients that have a demonstrated record of aiding hair regrowth. Let us find out more about evening primrose oil and how it can help reduce hair loss.

What Is Evening Primrose?

Evening primrose is a flowering plant often referred to as night willowherb. It is most prevalent in the wild in Europe and North America but has begun to be available in compatible climates on six continents over the years.

Over the years, this oil has come to be known to have therapeutic properties, leading to its use in all kinds of lifestyle-enhancing products. This oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and other fatty acids (2). GLA is known as an effective solution for a number of skin issues, such as acne and eczema.

The Native Americans supposedly used evening primrose for dressing wounds and treating skin inflammation. The plant leaves are said to have been used for sore throats and gastrointestinal complaints (3). Evening primrose oil is now considered effective for atopic treating dermatitis, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and a score of other issues.

But, does it have any effect on hair growth? Find out in the next section!

Benefits Of Evening Primrose Oil For Hair Growth

The use of evening primrose oil for hair regrowth is not a recent trend and has been around for years.

1. Promotes Shaft Elongation

For any oil that promotes hair regrowth, the impact depends squarely on its constituents. Evening primrose oil contains arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid has been found to elongate the hair shafts in humans and promote hair growth in mice (4).

2. Reduces Hair Damage

Inflammation of the scalp is a major reason for hair loss. Some research has been able to show that the sterols isolated from evening primrose oil can help reduce inflammation on the scalp (5). Sterols generally lower the cholesterol in the human body, which reduces inflammation.

3. Improves Speed Of Hair Regrowth

One of the significant constituents of evening primrose oil is tocotrienol or vitamin E. An experimental study conducted in 2010 found that taking vitamin E supplements positively impacts hair regrowth in humans (6). Evening primrose oil, if taken as a supplement, can be really effective in increasing the vitamin E level in your body. This vitamin E can be essential in increasing the speed of hair regrowth as well.

4. Nourishes The Skin

Evening primrose oil is known to have essential nutrients and antioxidants that do not improve the health of your scalp and hair but also nourish the skin (2). When applied to your head, it may improve the scalp skin and promote the growth of new hair. Massaging the scalp may also improve the blood flow in the scalp, which could potentially aid hair growth (7).

5. Increases Antioxidants

Low levels of antioxidants in the scalp cause hair loss (8). Evening primrose oil contains antioxidants that can address this issue (2). Antioxidants are not just essential for the regrowth of hair but also help address a number of other physiological issues, such as skin dryness.

It is evident that the benefits of evening primrose oil for hair growth are many, but how does one incorporate it into their daily routine? Find out in the next section!

How To Use Evening Primrose Oil For Hair Growth

You can use evening primrose oil in two ways:

  • As an oral supplement
  • As a topical application

How you choose to use evening primrose oil mainly depends on your hair fall issue. If you believe your hair fall is related to a physiological or hormonal condition, the intake of an evening primrose oil supplement is generally preferred. Similarly, if you feel your hair fall is related to a medication you are taking or because of a hereditary problem, taking evening primrose orally might be a better option.

On the other hand, if you feel your hair loss is connected to scalp issues such as inflammation, itching, or dryness, you should go for topical application of evening primrose oil.

I. Evening Primrose Oil Supplement

If you are taking evening primrose oil as a supplement, you must make sure that you take it soon after a meal and not on an empty stomach. Be sure to consume no more than 4-6 grams of evening primrose oil in a day. The evening primrose oil dosage for hair loss repair can vary from person to person. If you believe you need a higher dosage, consult a doctor first. Even if the dosage is not high, experts generally do not recommend that you take any supplements without a recommendation from a medical practitioner.

II. Topical Application Of Evening Primrose Oil

Topical application is an effective way of reaping evening primrose oil’s health benefits. A significant difference between evening primrose oil and essential oils is that you do not need to dilute evening primrose oil. However, before you start using it daily, you may wish to do a patch test to check if it works for you or if it causes any adverse reaction. To do a patch test, simply apply the oil to a small area on your forearm and cover it for 24 hours. If you don’t experience any redness or irritation, you can continue using evening primrose oil.

For daily application of evening primrose oil, you need to follow the following steps.

  • Ensure that your hair is completely dry. If you intend to apply it after a bath, dry your hair entirely with a blowdryer before you start applying it.
  • Take some oil and rub it between your palms. Don’t pour the oil directly onto the scalp.
  • Massage the oil into your hair and scalp.
  • The oil must remain on your head for at least 30 minutes after the massage. You can also leave it on for two hours.
  • Wash the oil out either with a mild shampoo.

Now, let’s talk about the side effects of evening primrose oil.

Side Effects Of Evening Primrose Oil

The use of evening primrose oil is not without the risk of a few benign side effects. Generally, it is always recommended that you consult your doctor before you commence any new treatment.

You should not take evening primrose oil, at least without consulting a doctor, if any of the following applies to you.

  • You are pregnant. Though there is a lack of research, taking up to 6.5 g of evening primrose oil during pregnancy has been reported to be harmful. Do not take evening primrose supplements, especially if you are near the end of your pregnancy (9).
  • If you have epilepsy. There has previously been concern around people with epilepsy taking evening primrose oil as it has been reported to trigger seizures (10).
  • If you have schizophrenia. In people with schizophrenia, treatment with GLA and vitamin E has been found to be associated with an increase in seizure probability (11). Both of these components are found in evening primrose oil.
    In addition to these conditions, evening primrose oil can also react with a wide variety of medicines due to the presence of vitamin E in it (12).
  • Evening primrose oil has antioxidants that may not allow cholesterol medication to work since it blocks HDL cholesterol.
  • You should not use evening primrose oil if you are taking any kind of anticoagulant or blood-thinning medication.
  • If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, no kind of antioxidant intake is recommended. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and is, hence, a strict no-no.

When used as a stand-alone solution, evening primrose oil does not have any side effects. As is evident from the above information, the side effects are a result of its interaction with other medications. It may also cause allergic reactions. You should opt to see a dermatologist if this happens.

When Should You See A Dermatologist?

Consult a dermatologist if you feel that evening primrose oil has not made any impact after eight weeks since you started using it, or if you seem to be experiencing new and unexpected hair loss. You should also opt to see your dermatologist if you experience undue skin dryness, itching, rashes, or other skin-related problems. These could be due to an allergic reaction to this oil or due to other underlying skin issues.

Final Words

Evening primrose oil is an effective plant-based oil that has several components that improve hair growth. Evening primrose oil’s health benefits extend far beyond hair regrowth, and taking it as a supplement or applying it topically can be beneficial. If you have hormonal issues, it is best to take it orally, while if your scalp is itchy or inflamed, you should apply the oil topically. The oil has no side effects, but you must take it under the consultation of a doctor if you are already taking other medication. Start using this oil to experience its hair growth benefits yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many times must I apply evening primrose oil in a day?

For the best results, apply evening primrose oil every day before you take a bath. You can leave it on overnight for similar results.

In how many weeks can I expect results using evening primrose oil?

The time it takes for the hair to regrow varies from person to person. As a general rule, you should see the results in about eight weeks.

Should children be using evening primrose oil?

There is no scientific study that shows whether evening primrose is good for children. Good results have been noticed in adults, but there is nothing substantial reported for children (13). Consult your child’s pediatrician before going ahead with this treatment for their hair care.

13 Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.

  1. Lifetime incidence risk of Alopecia Areata estimated at 2.1 percent by Rochester Epidemiology Project, 1990–2009.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3961558/
  2. Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) Biological Activity Dependent on Chemical Composition.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6116039/
  3. Evening Primrose Oil.
    https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/evening-primrose-oil
  4. Role of Arachidonic Acid in Promoting Hair Growth.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4737836/
  5. The sterols isolated from Evening Primrose oil modulate the release of proinflammatory mediators.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22819447/
  6. Effects of Tocotrienol Supplementation on Hair Growth in Human Volunteers.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819075/
  7. Massage therapies.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc1071543/
  8. Antioxidant enzymes and lipid peroxidation in the scalp of patients with alopecia areata.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12088608/
  9. Evening primrose oil.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20000302/
  10. Complementary therapies.
    https://epilepsysociety.org.uk/living-epilepsy/wellbeing/complementary-therapies#:~:text=Past%20reports%20have%20warned%20that,epilepsy%20and%20your%20current%20treatment.
  11. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Psychiatry.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046018/
  12. Vitamin E.
    https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamine-healthprofessional/#h8
  13. Evening primrose oil (Efamol) in the treatment of children with atopic eczema
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3048953/#:~:text=Good%20therapeutic%20results%20have%20been,desaturase%20metabolite%20of%20linoleic%20acid.
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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).
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