Peppermint oil is made from the leaves of the peppermint plant (Mentha x Piperita). The oil is often extracted from either fresh or dried peppermint leaves using alcohol as a solvent.
Like all of the essential aromatic oils, peppermint oil is extremely volatile and prone to lipid peroxidation, which is why it must be used carefully and stored in dark bottles (heat, oxygen, and light make it rancid very easily).
When it comes to peppermint oil for beard use; the oil is most commonly used in small quantities in beard oils to enhance the aroma. And due to the fact that pure essential peppermint oil is potent stuff, usually, just a few drops per 1oz dropper bottle is plenty enough.
But here’s the question; is peppermint oil really good for facial hair use? Some say it helps with growth, but how much of this is really based on evidence?
- Peppermint essential oil (PEO) is a popular ingredient in beard oils.
- Consumption of peppermint and spearmint tea ORALLY can lower androgens in animals.
- Spearmint tea (ORALLY) is used by hirsutism-battling women to reduce beard growth.
- When applied directly to the skin, there’s NO EVIDENCE of topical androgen reduction.
Why Peppermint Oil Could be Bad for Beard Use
It’s without question that peppermint oil has a really nice scent. And in my humble opinion, scent-wise, its one of the best smelling essential oils to use in beard products.
Apart from the nice scent, a lot of people are saying that you can use peppermint oil for beard growth, as it would naturally enhance circulation to the facial hair follicles.
Sure, but sadly, peppermint oil has some potential issues.
Even though I like the scent and have seen the claims of peppermint oil boosting facial hair growth rate, I never use peppermint oil in any of my DIY beard oil recipes, and I try to never buy – and avoid recommending – any beard products that use peppermint extracts or oil.
Well, before I started this website and got more into growing a beard and learning about it, I spent most of my days writing about men’s hormonal health.
And since the same androgenic hormones that I wrote about happen to be the exact hormones that trigger and fuel beard growth in men (testosterone and DHT), it’s only natural that some of the stuff I read about crosses paths with beard care as well.
One of such cases is the mint-family of plants, peppermint, spearmint, menthol, etc.
As it happens, many of the plants in the mint-family are fairly potent at lowering testosterone levels.
Peppermint (which is a hybrid between watermint and spearmint) is one of the troublesome androgen suppressing compounds, and for that reason, I’m inclined to say that it shouldn’t be put near the beard (androgenic-hair).
Here’s some research:
The first one is a rat-study, where 48 rodents were assigned to four different groups1.
- The first group received water (control).
- The second group got 20g per liter peppermint tea.
- The third group was given 20g per liter of spearmint tea.
- And the fourth group got 40g per liter spearmint tea (double-dose).
So what happened?
Well, when compared to the control group; the group getting 20g/L of peppermint saw their testosterone drop by 23%. The group with 20g/L spearmint tea saw a 51% reduction, and the fourth group with the double-dose of spearmint saw their testosterone production dropping by a whopping 76%.
Mind you, the human equivalent dose of the above is just ~5 grams of peppermint or spearmint leaves infused in a cup of water. And the pure oils produced from the leaves are far more potent than just using the leaves or drinking the tea.
Sure, humans are not rats, but the endocrine system is fairly similar, which is why studies like this are conducted.
Since testosterone is the primary androgen, and facial hair is androgenic hair, this paints a really bad picture for the purported use of peppermint oil for beard growth.
Spearmint (which peppermint is a hybrid of) has been studied more extensively, and in a 2008 study it was noted to have potent antiandrogenic effect in male rats2, and a 2014 study showed that it likely causes oxidative damage in the hypothalamus (brain substrate regulating testosterone production) and trough that causes lower testosterone production3.
If the animal evidence isn’t enough, there are also studies on women who battle with PCOS-induced high testosterone, which causes a nasty side-effect of facial hair growth (hirsutism).
Luckily the women can effectively reduce their facial hair growth by using the plant oils and extracts of the mint family.
One study effectively showing how 2 cups of spearmint tea per day resulted in a 30% reduction in testosterone4, and further replication of the study which also saw that spearmint tea reduced hirsutism (facial hair growth) and slashed testosterone levels5.
Those are great results for women who want to get rid of their beards.
But for men who seek to have high testosterone levels so that they could grow their beards more and keep the gains coming, that’s absolutely horrible news.
To be fair, there is a study where peppermint oil increased hair growth on rats, due to its effects on circulation and promotion of growth hormone (IGF-1)6, but with the possible testosterone suppressing effects, I’m still on the fence about recommending it.
And since a lot of the people who use peppermint oil for beard growth also use minoxidil to grow their beards, it can be hard to gauge the true effects, since minoxidil is so effective that it should enhance your facial hair growth anyway, even if you’d accidentally suppress testosterone with peppermint oil.
Peppermint essential oil could lower testosterone levels when ingested orally – and it’s unclear whether this happens or doesn’t happen when it’s applied topically to the skin.
Since it can also increase IGF-1-related hair growth when used topically, some people recommend and use it for beard growth purposes, and I think with the current state of research, this is OK.
Do the possible benefits outweigh the possible risks? Or is it a plus-minus scenario where nothing truly changes?
That’s what we don’t know yet.
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