People seeking to stimulate beard growth today often turn to essential oils in an attempt to avoid products heavy in chemicals. Most commonly, this results in consideration of substances like rosemary oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil.
Though it is somewhat less well known, amla oil has also emerged as a potential option. Could it be the next big thing in beard growth?
What is amla oil?
Amla oil is an essential oil derived from Amla berries. While other oils that are brought up in relation to beard growth or the treatment of hair loss tend to serve various purposes, amla oil is primarily sought after as a potential aid for hair growth.
Where does amla oil come from?
Amla oil (or Indian gooseberry oil) comes from the amla berry, which is also known as an Indian gooseberry –– and which grows on amla trees. These trees are found primarily in India and other nearby regions.
Production of amla oil is a two-part process. First, the gooseberries are dried. Then, they are soaked for several days in a bowl with a base oil –– most typically coconut oil, sesame oil, or mineral oil. The resulting mixture produces amla oil.
What does amla oil smell like?
As is often the case with essential oils, people react differently to amla oil’s scent. Some find that there is little smell to speak of. Others find the smell unpleasant and have described its scent as musty or reminiscent of motor oil. These fragrances are sometimes more noticeable following application.
What skin types work with amla oil?
Amla oil will work best for people who do not have skin sensitivities. However, some are allergic to gooseberries, for whom application of amla oil may cause contact dermatitis.
It is also important to note that you may not always know which base oil an amla hair oil or beard oil product has been in contact with during production. In addition, sensitivity to a substance like mineral oil, coconut oil, or sesame oil can also result in irritation.
Amla oil is best used by those with normal or dry skin types and no known allergies to related substances.
What is the comedogenic rating of amla oil?
Amla oil is associated with a low comedogenic rating –– meaning it is relatively non-comedogenic. However, as with skin irritation, it is important to remember that the uncertainty of the base oil used in production means comedogenic ratings are not always reliable. For this reason, the oil is unsuitable for men with oily skin.
What Are the Benefits of Amla Oil for Your Beard?
As stated, natural amla hair oil is sought after primarily for hair growth. But it is better to think of the oil with regard to more specific potential benefits.
Nourishment of Both Hair & Scalp
Amla oil’s chief benefits have to do with the scalp. A blend of high vitamin C content, phenolic compounds (or polyphenols), essential fatty acids, and antibacterial elements help to make the oil useful as a dry scalp treatment or for soothing an itchy scalp.
The oil’s antibacterial properties, in particular, lead to a healthier scalp, and can even help to reduce dandruff.
The aforementioned vitamin C content in amla oil can help to make a beard shine. This is why some top-quality beard oils and conditioners include drops of amla beard oil within larger recipes. Additionally, the fatty acids in amla oil penetrate the follicles in beard hairs, softening them in the process.
Where these benefits are concerned, amla oil essentially acts as an effective conditioner. It is reasonable to suggest that the oil repairs dry, damaged hair.
May Help With Acne
Amla oil has been found to have high antioxidant properties. In fact, some studies have shown the oil to be a more potent antioxidant than vitamin C.
This high-antioxidant content helps amla oil to combat acne effectively. It can help treat blemishes and help users avoid the scars that result from persistent breakouts.
What Are Some Side Effects of Amla Oil for Your Beard?
While amla oil is a great product for some of the purposes described above, it also has its drawbacks. Most notable is that while it can be a great beard oil and hair moisturizer with respect to hair quality, it does not help with beard growth. Quite the contrary: It can stunt beard hair growth.
Inhibits Beard Growth
Amla oil can, in theory, improve hair follicle health and stimulate growth primarily because it has been found to be a potent 5α-reductase inhibitor. 5α-reductase is an enzyme that acts on testosterone in such a way as to produce DHT –– a hormone that in turn affects hair growth.
The significant factor that is sometimes missed, however, is that DHT affects hair in the scalp and beard differently. In the scalp, the production of DHT inhibits hair growth –– meaning that amla is believed to be effective as a hair treatment oil. The beard, by contrast, needs DHT –– meaning that amla’s capacity to inhibit DHT production can, in turn, inhibit beard growth.
Thus, to say that amla oil supports hair growth is accurate. However, this is only true for follicle stimulation in the scalp –– not the beard.
Additional Side Effects
Amla oil is not regularly associated with other common side effects. Furthermore, there is no known risk associated with using excess oil, as there is with some other natural hair oil treatments.
In some cases, however, it can lead to an irritating skin condition known as Lichen planus pigmentosus. People who are regularly exposed to UV rays are more susceptible to this condition (source).
Premium quality organic amla oil has its benefits. Amla oil’s purity results in few if any side effects, and it can improve the health, shine, and softness of hair. There are some indications that its use as an organic scalp oil can combat hair loss as well.
When applied to your beard, however, amla oil may result in hair loss when applied to your beard and certainly does not promote growth.
The issue with this oil is ultimately in advertising. If you see an ad or product description comparing amla oil to beard growth oils or suggesting that it is purely beneficial to your beard, the information is unfortunately misleading. Amla oil may boost hair growth in the scalp, but it inhibits beard growth –– to the point that even as a small part within your preferred beard conditioner can cause these side effects.