Are CBD Hair Products Safe—and Can They Really Help Promote Hair Growth? We Asked the Experts
CBD is everywhere in the beauty sphere, and is particularly popular across the hair care category. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of the active ingredients in cannabis and can be found in skin and hair formulas, where it allegedly treats a variety of concerns. But with so many sensationalized ingredients on the market, it can be easy to write off CBD as yet another fad that doesn't hold up, or—on the other end of the spectrum—something that might do more harm than good. To break down how this ingredient actually works in hair and whether or not it is safe to use, Neera Nathan, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and expert for Vegamour, a company that makes CBD hair products, and Shab Reslan, a trichologist and HairClub hair health expert, share everything they know about CBD.
How Does CBD Benefit Hair?
Though more research is needed, CBD shows promising signs of improving hair health and promoting hair growth. A 2021 case series published in the medical journal Cannabis found that participants who applied topical CBD to their scalps saw regrowth over a six month period. Another peer-reviewed study out of Kangwon National University in Korea, published in the Journal of Pharmacopuncture, concluded that CBD might have a modulating effect on the hormones that cause alopecia.
"CBD oil can prolong the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle," Reslan says. "The anagen phase is known to shorten over time, causing miniaturization, 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."
Another added benefit, according to both Dr. Nathan and Reslan, is that CBD may decrease inflammation. Dr. Nathan explains that inflammation and scalp irritation hinders normal hair growth—which is where CBD comes in. Reslan agrees, adding that, per 2019 research published in Molecules via the National Center for Biotechnology Information database, our skin and hair follicles already have cannabinoid receptors—or built-in mechanisms that help our body absorb and reap the benefits CBD. Ultimately, these receptors allow CBD to impact the follicle and calm the scalp's inflammatory response, explains Reslan.
Is CBD Safe for Your Hair?
Given that our skin and hair contains these cannabinoid receptors, which are receptive to both the cannabinoids made by our own body (called endocannabinoids) and to external ones like CBD, using CBD-infused products is safe for our scalps, says Dr. Nathan. When this agent is applied topically, evidence suggests that it may act on these receptors and, in turn, help promote hair growth.
While CBD is generally safe to use on any skin or hair type, Dr. Nathan recommends performing a patch test on your wrist to make sure you aren't allergic to it. (She points to the American Academy of Dermatology Association's guide on how to safely test products before using if you need pointers.)
How to Use CBD on Hair
Both Reslan and Dr. Nathan say that the best way to use CBD on hair is to apply it directly onto the scalp. Dr. Nathan recommends massaging the product in for at least a few minutes, noting that massaging alone has hair growth benefits.
Dr. Nathan adds that you'll want to use CBD hair products regularly for at least a few months—results take time—and recommends finding formulas that also contain other ingredients that support hair growth. Reslan says you can easily find hair products formulated with CBD (the ingredient is often added to topical scalp treatments, shampoos, and conditioners), but recommends starting with a topical scalp oil.
CBD Hair Products to Try
If you're hoping to give CBD-infused hair products a try, consider something like Vegamor GRO Hair Serum ($58, sephora.com), which is suitable for all hair types and contains other nourishing ingredients, like turmeric and red clover, to help prevent hair loss and reset scalp health. Alternatively, look to Fekkai's CBD Scalp Calming Hydrating Conditioner ($20, ulta.com); it boasts CBD, aloe vera, and carrot root extract to strengthen strands and protect against damage.