Beauty is subjective. Yet across cultures and periods of time, humans have always been enamoured with one particular feature: hair. We’ve spent millennia of study trying to preserve our crowning glory, using everything from lead and animal fat to magic spells to keep it healthy.
Hemp, a material interwoven into human industry and medicine, naturally finds itself amidst the hodgepodge of ingredients we’ve applied to our hair. In Chinese traditional medicine, hemp oil is used as a remedy for hair fall. Persian physicians would prescribe topical treatment with cannabis leaves to stimulate hair growth.
Thanks to modern science, we’ve left toxic metals and hoping on a prayer in the past. Yet hemp and cannabis-derived oils and shampoos are still making their way onto our bathroom shelves and scalps. How exactly is cannabidiol interacting with our hair?
CBD and Hair Loss
There are several factors that contribute to hair loss. Anything from stress and temperature to genetic predispositions can trigger fall out and breakage.
CBD may help mitigate loss by going straight to the root of the problem (no pun intended). Cannabidiol’s anti-inflammatory properties can help calm conditions that exacerbate hair loss. “For scalp and hair issues that are triggered by inflammation such as psoriasis, dermatitis especially in women who have hair loss in women. If women patients don’t want to use traditional medicine. CBD oil can help with those issues,” says dermatologist and surgeon Michelle Henry.
CBD can also help support hair growth as you grow older. “CBD oil can prolong the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle. The anagen phase is known to shorten over time, causing miniaturisation, which is why it becomes increasingly difficult for [older] women and men to grow their hair out as long as they were once able to,” says trichologist Shab Reslan.
CBD and Hair Regrowth
Current research suggests that CBD does mitigate hair loss to a certain degree. However, can it grow back what was lost?
A recent study conducted by physician Gregory Smith and hair loss expert John Satino found that CBD increased growth by an impressive 93.5 percent after the trial period of six months. However, results can vary between sex and area. Men appeared to show better results than women, and growth seemed better toward the crown than the temporal areas of the scalp.
The above research is currently the only direct link we have between cannabidiol and hair growth. Most claims revolved around compounds in CBD rather than the cannabinoid itself.
Cannabidiol is rich in Omega 3, 6, 9, fatty acids that have been linked to improved hair density. It also contains gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). GLA has been found to block the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a major catalyst in male and female pattern baldness.
How Does CBD Compare To Minoxidil And Finasteride?
Reducing DHT production is also the main action of finasteride, one of the only two FDA-approved medications for hair loss and regrowth. The other treatment, minoxidil, works through shortening the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle–the same activity CBD may achieve.
Smith believes cannabinoids could work to complement the limited approach we have today: “Using cannabinoids is a novel approach and is actually using of [an] innate system designed to promote hair shaft elongation, increase hair shaft volume, and increase life of the hair follicle, whereas everything else out there is sort of peripheral. They are more of a support system. The cannabinoid therapy is synergistic with the other currently available treatments”.
What Kinds Of Products Are Out There?
Those looking to integrate CBD into their hair care routine will find that the cannabinoid has already embedded itself thoroughly into the niche. From your typical shampoos and conditioners to gummies that purport to support hair health, there’s a product for every user. However, it should be noted that currently, the efficacy of oral ingestion versus topical CBD application for hair remains unknown.
You can try a simple, concentrated approach by massaging CBD-infused hair oil directly onto your mane and scalp. Liquid shampoo, shampoo bars, and conditioners abound that let users cleanse and nourish at the same time.
CBD can even reach beyond your crowning glory. Products such as eyebrow oils and beard balms let you tap into its potential benefits for targeted areas of the face. As CBD is a potent moisturiser, the compound may also help hydrate the skin underneath, easing flaking and keeping pesky beardruff at bay.
Is CBD Safe For My Hair?
Hair health is a delicate balancing act, and everyone’s working with different needs. Products that work for dry hair can exacerbate problems for individuals with naturally greasy hair. Even texture influences your regimen. For instance, experts recommend avoiding too much protein if you have curly hair. That includes keratin, a hero ingredient in several hair care products.
Whether hair has been treated or coloured will also change the products you can use on it. Bleaching is a harsh process that strips hair cuticles of moisture, leaving them more sensitive and dry. CBD, as a natural ingredient, shouldn’t damage dyed hair. “Additionally, one of the amino acids in CBD Oil, tyrosine, helps to maintain hair colour,” says Kevin Wachs, founder of personal care brand Earthly Body.
Given the dearth of clinical trials that look into CBD and hair, there’s not enough evidence to definitively say which hair types or textures it may damage. Neera Nathan, a dermatologist for CBD hair care brand Vegamour, says that while generally safe, she recommends doing a patch test before use.
Users should also purchase from reputable suppliers. As CBD’s popularity surges and consumers become savvier, brands are becoming more transparent about the CBD profile of their product. Yet finding products that don’t deliver the amount promised–or worse, don’t contain cannabidiol at all–is not unheard of. Carefully review lab results, which many brands make available, to ensure that you’re getting exactly what it says on the label.
While definitive findings remain sparse, early signs point to CBD’s promising potential within the sphere of hair care. Time and more clinical data will tell whether treating hair loss with cannabinoids can measure up to traditional medications.
Like with all products for hair and skin care, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before committing to long-term, regular use.