In a world that’s ever more intrigued by crystals and essential oils, folks across the globe are looking for ways to incorporate the two into their beauty routines. Where crystals have been turned into face rollers and gua sha tools, essential oils have made their way into perfumes, skincare, and haircare. Today, we’re here to talk about the latter, specifically in regards to eucalyptus oil.
What is Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is from the eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus globulus), which is native to Australia. The oil is distilled from the fresh leaves and branch tops of the tree. Eucalyptus oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties making it a useful oil in many products.
You may be surprised how beneficial eucalyptus oil can be for your hair. From relieving a dry and itchy scalp due to conditions like dandruff or dermatitis and even preventing head lice—this oil may be a great all-natural product to add to your beauty routine. But is it right for everyone? We spoke with the experts to weigh the pros and cons of eucalyptus oil for your hair and scalp.
Even though eucalyptus oil is natural and has quite a few benefits, you shouldn’t use pure oil on your hair or scalp. There are many hair products that are infused with eucalyptus oil to give you all the benefits, without the side effects.
- Type of ingredient: Antifungal, antibacterial
- Main benefits: Soothes the scalp, helps manage dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis, prevents yeast buildup on the scalp
- Who should use it: In general, eucalyptus oil works especially well for folks with dry, itchy scalps—especially those with dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis. However, since it’s an essential oil, it should be used with caution if you have sensitive skin.
- How often can you use it: It’s safe to use daily as long as you’re not sensitized to it.
- Works well with: Like all essential oils, eucalyptus oil must be combined with a carrier oil, such as grape seed oil, marula oil, argan oil, avocado oil, and the like.
- Don’t use with: Eucalyptus oil shouldn’t be used without a carrier oil. In that sense, do not buy a bottle of 100% pure eucalyptus oil and apply it directly to your scalp. This can cause irritation.
Benefits of Eucalyptus Oil for Hair and Scalp
Eucalyptus oil has been used for many years to help heal and treat a variety of conditions. As it is a native plant to Australia, it was used on wounds and to heal fungal infections in Aboriginal medicines. Greek, European and Indian cultures also used it to reduce fevers, minimize coughs and even clean hospital rooms. Eucalyptus oil continues to be used today and has many benefits.
- Soothes the scalp: Eucalyptus oil can help provide relieve to itchy and flaky scalps. “Studies show that eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory properties and may help soothe inflammation in the scalp,” says dermatologist Hadley King, MD.
- Helps manage and treat dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis: Eucalyptus oil is best known for its antifungal properties, which make it a godsend for folks with dry, itchy scalps—and especially for those with clinical cases of dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis.
- Potentially boosts hair growth: “Some believe that the anti-inflammatory properties may make it helpful for hair growth, but there is no clinical data to support this,” says King.
- Prevents oily hair: Eucalyptus oil helps regulate oil production and bacteria associated with an oily scalp. In this way, eucalyptus oil can help balance the scalp’s oil production and lead to less oily roots down the road.
- Treats head lice: In addition to helping soothe dry, itchy, flaky scalps, clean cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline says that eucalyptus oil is beneficial for treating head lice as well (again, largely thanks to the ingredient’s antifungal and antibacterial properties).
- Protects against UV rays: Eucalyptus oil may also be beneficial in protecting your hair and scalp from UV rays. “A recent study also talks about its potential in mitigating photo aging caused by UVB,” says Koestline.
Hair Type Considerations
Anyone with a dry, itchy, flaky scalp—whether due to dandruff or dermatitis or styling product buildup—can benefit from incorporating eucalyptus oil into their routine. Additionally, folks battling an annoying case of head lice may benefit as well. And, on the other end of the spectrum, people with very oily scalps can benefit, as eucalyptus oil can help ensure that excess bacteria won’t form as a result.
As beneficial as eucalyptus oil can be, though, King doesn’t recommend it for folks with sensitive skin because, as with other essential oils, allergic contact dermatitis to eucalyptus oil is possible.
Just remember: Even if you think you aren’t sensitive to it, you might be.
“Despite all of its benefits, it has a very high potential of causing sensitization and serious dermal reactions when used in large quantities,” Koestline says. “Therefore, it is best to trust a professional with regards to using it topically in formulations for skin and hair. It is also not recommended for use on infants and children under 5 years of age. It can cause spasms of the glottis. Ingestion of the oil is toxic and can affect the central nervous system.”
The caveat to this, of course, is that thanks to eucalyptus oil’s popularity, many store-bought scalp scrubs, treatments, and shampoos now exist to address any scalp symptoms without having to rush to a dermatologist or trichologist. And, because these products have undergone rigorous testing to even make it on the market, they’re often a safe bet for at-home use.
How to Use Eucalyptus Oil for Hair
The most important thing to remember when adding eucalyptus oil into your haircare routine is that it absolutely must be accompanied by a carrier oil. “I don’t encourage essential oils to be used by people when they can’t measure the way a chemist would for a hair product,” says HairClub hair health expert and trichologist Shab Reslan. As such, Reslan recommends steering clear of eucalyptus oil DIYs and instead putting your faith in professional stylists or highly rated (and tested) at-home products that feature the ingredient but aren’t entirely comprised of it. There are several products that use eucalyptus oil, depending on your specific scalp and hair needs.
- Use as a soothing scalp serum: If you have an itchy or irritated scalp, look for serums that are infused with eucalyptus oil, in addition to moisturizing products like olive oil. Simply massage a few drops in, take a deep breath, and feel refreshed.
- As a scalp mask: Enjoy all the scalp soothing (and possible hair growth!) benefits of eucalyptus oil by using it as a mask. Follow the directions on your particular product (see our suggestion below), however in general you apply the mask to your scalp and hair, let it sit for a period of time and wash out.
- Anti-dandruff shampoo: Look for shampoos that contain eucalyptus oil to help treat and prevent the dry, itchy scalp and flakes from dandruff. Many of the shampoos may also contain other proven active ingredients to help prevent flakes.
- Prevent or treat head lice: Eucalyptus oil is a natural way to help prevent and treat head lice. Look for shampoos or sprays that contain this product to keep your hair and scalp healthy and bug-free.
- Use us a styling product: The soothing benefits of eucalyptus oil can also be enjoyed in styling products, including dry shampoos and pomades.
The Best Products With Eucalyptus Oil
While you absolutely can book an in-salon scalp treatment at your salon or with your dermatologist or trichologist, you can also head to your local beauty aisle or store to stock up on eucalyptus-oil-infused products for your hair and scalp. In using eucalyptus-oil-infused products, you can expect a noticeable improvement not only in the way your scalp feels but in how it looks too.
This little bottle does a whole lot of good for itchy, inflamed scalps. It’s filled with eucalyptus oil, olive oil, and oat kernel to soothe the scalp and provide cooling relief on the spot.
Whereas most dry shampoos exacerbate dry scalp conditions, this one, which is formulated with eucalyptus oil, helps to absorb oil while soothing the scalp. Win-win.
This lightweight, anti-itch scalp lotion is made with eucalyptus oil, avocado oil, and aloe vera to soothe, hydrate, and cool the scalp on contact. Simply apply it directly to your scalp and let it sink in to work its magic.
Looking to soothe your scalp while also deeply cleansing and hydrating your hair? This eucalyptus-oil-infused clay wash (which is actually a jar of powder) will help do just that. It’s formulated specifically for curly hair and has a delicious coconut mint scent. This product also happens to be as close to a DIY eucalyptus oil product as we recommend. All you have to do is mix 2 Tbsp of the powder with 6 Tbsp of warm water, let it activate, and apply it to your scalp and strands. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes (preferably with a plastic cap overtop), then rinse it off to revel in just how amazing your hair looks.
H2O+ Eucalyptus & Aloe Revitalizing Shampoo leaves your hair shiny and smooth and your scalp healthy. It is formulated without harsh ingredients, including parabens and phthalates. Reviewers love the clean eucalyptus scent of this shampoo.
Which oil is best for hair growth?
Although eucalyptus oil decreases scalp irritation which may promote hair growth, rosemary oil is one of the best oils for longer, thicker locks. A study showed it worked as well as minoxidil, but with less side effects.7
Can I leave eucalyptus oil in my hair overnight?
Our experts don’t recommend using pure eucalyptus oil on your hair or scalp for any length of time due to the potential side effects. Products that are infused with the oil are your best bet. Follow the directions on the label, however there are many leave-in treatments that have eucalyptus oil.
In addition to eucalyptus oil, what other ingredients are effective in treating dandruff?
Look for shampoos or serums that contain proven dandruff-fighting ingredients including zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, salicylic acid, ketoconazole and/or coal tar.