Cosmopolitan November 8, 2023



Pumpkin Seed Oil for How: The Benefits and How It Works


I tapped two experts for all the need-to-know info.

I have plenty of hair oils in my arsenal: argan oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil...the list goes on. One that’s currently piquing my interest though is pumpkin seed oil. I know, I know. Another oil. You're probably thinking: "Do these oils even have any real benefits for hair?!" "And there actually a difference between pumpkin seed oil and other popular hair oils like castor oil, rosemary oil, or avocado oil?"

According to experts, there are some impressive benefits when it comes to using pumpkin seed oil for hair. Dermatologist Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD, says that “the hype around pumpkin seed oil for hair loss is well deserved" and that "pumpkin seed oil has been shown to increase hair thickness and density with little to no side effects.” Welp, if I wasn’t already sold on trying this new miracle oil, I certainly am now.

To explain more about the hair health benefits of pumpkin seed oil, I tapped Dr. Geddes-Bruce and pro hair colorist Rex Jimieson for their expertise and thoughts on the ingredient. Keep reading to find out how pumpkin seed oil for works, the best way to use it, and the top products on Amazon to try it in.

What are the benefits of pumpkin seed oil for hair?

Pumpkin seed oil is full of fatty acids and nourishing ingredients that can help give hair smoothness, softness, and shine. It's got zinc, vitamin E, vitamin K, and antioxidants—all of which can help improve hair health and reduce breakage and split ends. But the real benefits of pumpkin seed oil go beyond just the lengths of your hair. When applied to the scalp and roots, pumpkin seed oil is touted for its ability to help make hair grow longer, thicker, and denser and even help minimize hair loss.

Is pumpkin seed oil good for hair growth?

Yes, pumpkin seed oil is good for hair growth. Jimieson points to a study from 2021 that compared the results of testers using minoxidil foam (a popular hair loss treatment) to those using pumpkin seed oil and found that pumpkin seed oil could potentially treat female pattern hair loss. Pumpkin seed oil “specifically works for hormonal hair loss and individuals affected by male or female pattern alopecia should consider using it,” adds Dr. Geddes-Bruce. There are also other older studies that cite potential benefits of taking pumpkin seed oil orally for helping improve hair growth in men with alopecia.

Does pumpkin seed oil really block DHT?

Yes, pumpkin seed oil can really block DHT. "It's anti-androgenic properties make it helpful for treating hormonal hair loss, especially if it is used in combination with other traditional hair loss therapies like minoxidil,” says Dr. Geddes-Bruce. DHT (or dihydrotestosterone) is an androgen that plays a major role in male development, but when there’s an overabundance of it (in men or women), it can lead to things like hair loss and acne. So in a similar way that prescription spironolactone blocks DHT to lessen sebum production to reduce acne, pumpkin seed oil is a natural way to block DHT to prevent hair thinning and ultimately loss.

Can pumpkin seed oil thicken hair?

Jimieson says that consistently using a high-quality pumpkin oil can help thicken hair over time. It's important to remember the thickening effects of pumpkin oil aren't instantaneous and you need to give it three to six months before giving up on it. Dr. Geddes-Bruce adds that by blocking DHT levels, the ideal result is to “see a conversion of the thin, miniaturized vellus hairs back to thicker terminal hairs.” Basically, all your ultra-fine baby hairs will become long, thick hairs.

Can you leave pumpkin seed oil in your hair overnight?

Yes, you can leave pumpkin seed oil in your hair overnight. In fact, it's a great way to give it time to really sink in and penetrate your scalp and strands, yielding a better result. The only thing is that using an oil on hair before bed can be a bit messy, so if don’t want to deal with greasy sheets just work the oil from roots to tips and then pop a shower cap or bonnet on top of your hair. And bonus, the cap will trap heat to your head and help the oil penetrate even better.

How do you use pumpkin seed oil in your hair?

If you don’t want to leave pumpkin seed oil in your hair overnight, Jimieson says to make sure that when you do apply it, you leave it on for at least ten minutes to fully reap the benefits. And Dr. Geddes-Bruce explains that because pumpkin seed oil is so gentle, you can actually use it two times a day. Simply apply a few drops directly to your scalp and massage it in.

Are there any downsides to using pumpkin seed oil in your hair?

In general, there aren't any downsides to using pumpkin seed oil in your hair care routine. Just make sure to massage it in well to prevent the oil from spreading to your skin and potentially clogging the pores on your face, says Jimieson, adding that "any excess oil should be brushed away from the scalp using a natural bristle brush.”

The takeaway:

Pumpkin seed oil for hair is surprisingly beneficial when used regularly, especially in combination with other hair growth-boosting products. While it may not be a singular cure-all for hair loss and thinning, it’s certainly a good place to start, especially if you prefer plant-based treatments over chemical ones. Dr. Geddes-Bruce says that if you’re struggling with hair loss and don’t know the cause, though, the best plan of action is to see a board-certified dermatologist to have your situation evaluated and weigh your options. But, if you’re not having drastic issues and simply want to promote healthier hair growth, pumpkin seed oil is something you should consider adding to your hair routine.

Meet the experts:

Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas.

Rex Jimieson is a hair colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, Illinois.


Why trust Cosmopolitan?

Lisa DeSantis is a freelance writer who has been in the beauty industry for nearly ten years. She began her career in beauty and fashion at QVC and has since written for and contributed to top women's magazines and digital brands such as Health, Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, Motherly, Byrdie and more. She has tested thousands of products and considers herself a professional guinea pig who's always on the search for the next big trends in beauty, wellness, and beyond.