Peppermint essential oil can help your beard's growth through various factors. Unlike many other essential oils, peppermint oil isn't anti-androgenic for humans, so its method of growing or regrowing hair isn't through blocking DHT. For those of you that are aggressively balding, this essential oil may be helpful, but isn't generally what you're looking for to halt the balding.
The good news for the guys that only want to grow a better beard, without the potential of hindering progress through blocking DHT, is that peppermint has been shown to be more effective than a 3% minoxidil solution.
Not sure why DHT is so good for beards? Read the article: Understanding the Importance of DHT for Health and Beard Growth
Study Shows Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth
In this study, we can see that a 3% peppermint essential oil solution promotes hair growth by inducing an early anagen stage (the stage in which the hair grows and isn't resting or shedding) and increases vascularization of dermal papillae. Essentially, it enhances blood flow and helps bring more nutrients to the hair follicle, allowing it to grow in fuller, healthier, and faster.
In addition, "PEO showed remarkably increased IGF-1 mRNA expression at week 2, whereas MXD at week 4," the study states. IGF-1 is short for insulin-like growth factor 1, which is a hormone that has anabolic effects. For our hair, this means thicker hair, as IGF-1 controls the differentiation of hair shafts. 3% PEO works faster and remarkably better than a 3% minoxidil solution. And, as many Beard Profile readers know, minoxidil can considerably help men grow their beards. That's not to say that 3% PEO works better than 5% minoxidil, however.
Not only does PEO promote the hair to grow faster and thicker, it also increases the amount of activity of the hair follicles. In essence, follicles don't always produce hair; with PEO, it's possible to kick start additional follicles into producing hair, which would make one's beard appear thicker due to the increased hair follicle density.
[above figure]: the growth promoting activity of hair follicle number. At week 2, the hair follicle number of PEO group was 473% and 218% greater than SA and JO groups, respectively (p < 0.05). At week 4, PEO group had 740% and 307% more hair follicles than SA and JO groups, respectively (p < 0.001), comparable to MXD group. We also found that the number of hair follicles increased as hair regrew.
Anecdotally as well, many men have noticed increased growth from PEO within a few weeks. This includes those that have used both minoxidil and PEO together, and those that have used only PEO. This has also been noted over at The Minox Beard Spot on Facebook.
How to Dilute PEO
Peppermint oil can be diluted in a variety of ways, but the easiest way is to use a carrier oil like jojoba. We have a guide on how to mix beard oils, which uses jojoba and peppermint as an example. It's as easy as counting the number of drops you use compared to the amount of carrier you're using.
Most guys will use a 5% solution, as opposed to the 3% featured in the mouse study. Bear in mind that the higher the percentage, the more you'll feel the menthol from the peppermint. From what we've seen, most guys love the feeling, but some find it a bit overwhelming. Don't go higher than around 5%, and do not use peppermint directly on your face without first diluting it. More is not better when it comes to things like this, so take it easy and play it safe. Most essential oils can be toxic in high amounts and many are certainly caustic if applied directly to the skin. With that said, there's no reason to be scared to use essential oils, so long as you're following basic guidelines.
Where to Buy Peppermint Oil
Essential oils are very common and can be found in many places — particularly peppermint as it's a popular one with a great smell. Anywhere that sells aromatherapy products should have it in stock, but you may be better off purchasing it online as it's usually much cheaper. You'll want to grab a therapeutic grade PEO, like Art Naturals from Amazon.
The kind you buy should be steam-distilled rather than extracted by using an alcohol.
Wrapping up, it looks like peppermint is a great option for those looking to up their beard game, without hindering progress by using DHT blockers like rosemary or lavender (despite them smelling so good!). Stay vigilant when buying products for your beard, scrutinize everything, and beard onward.