Is rosemary oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?

Rosemary oil is one of the most popular oils used to treat seborrheic dermatitis. In fact, there are multiple lab studies confirming that rosemary oil is active against Malassezia, the yeast implicated in seborrheic dermatitis. Coupled with its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and stress-relieving properties, rosemary oil is a great natural treatment for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. 

(you may also be interested in the best essential oils to treat seborrheic dermatitis)

Let’s take a deep dive:

What is rosemary oil?

Rosemary oil is an essential oil that you can find in the wild. It comes from the Rosmarinus officinalis plant, which is a member of the mint family. The oil is obtained from the flowering tops of the rosemary plant but can also be made from the stems and leaves. It has a piney smell and is known as the “herb of remembrance”.

Plant Therapy Rosemary Essential Oil 100% Pure, Undiluted, Natural Aromatherapy, Therapeutic Grade 10 mL (1/3 oz)Check it out on Amazon

Check it out on Plant Therapy


Is rosemary oil antifungal?

Rosemary oil is a popular ingredient in many natural antifungal skin care products for good reason. It is one of the better studied essential oils and there are quite a few lab studies showing that rosemary oil has antifungal activity. A 2011 study concluded that rosemary essential oil was as effective as gentamycin when it came to antifungal activity againsts Aspergillus flavus.

Rosemary oil was found to have antifungal activity against Malassezia in multiple lab studies. In fact, a recent study compared rosemary oil to selenium sulfide (a common active ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoo) and found rosemary oil to have much more antifungal activity against Malassezia furfur!

Compared to artemis, lavender and pteronia, rosemary oil ranked third for its ability to inhibit Malassezia and was recommended as a natural anti-dandruff treatment.

By the way, if you prefer to listen, this is a video summary of the article:

Is rosemary oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?

While there are hardly any human studies on rosemary oil for seborrheic dermatitis, based on a multitude of positive lab studies showing rosemary oil is active against Malassezia, I would venture to say yes, rosemary oil is good for seborrheic dermatitis.

Rosemary oil is also an antiseptic that can help regulate the skin bacteria.

Rosemary oil is a gentle oil and is easily absorbed by the skin. You can easily apply the diluted oil to your face or scalp to treat seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff.

The oil can soothe the psychological impact of seborrheic dermatitis, increasing healing and reducing stress. Smelling rosemary oil may also reduce your pulse rate and cortisol levels, naturally reducing stress. As stress triggers SD, this indirectly improves SD flares.

Benefits of rosemary oil

Not only does this oil have a pleasant aroma that lasts long, but it’s also great for targeting cellulite and stretch marks. Rosemary oil also helps to flush out toxins, which leads to healthier skin.

This essential oil also improves blood circulation and improve imflammation and can help reduce joint pain caused by heavy lifting or rheumatism.

Rosemary oil has many benefits for skin, such as acne and natural lice treatment. In addition, rosemary oil is used for pest protection.

What is the best way to use rosemary oil for seborrheic dermatitis?

Rosemary essential oil is pretty versatile. You can mix a few drops in almost any of your skincare products to magically transform it into an anti-fungal powerhouse.


If you have dry skin, dilute a few drops of rosemary essential oil in a safe carrier oil like squalane oil. A safe ratio to use is 1 drop of rosemary oil to 10 drops of carrier oil. You can then use this oil on your face once or twice a day.

If you have oily skin, mix a few drops of rosemary oil in with your water-based moisturizer instead.

Rosemary oil also works well in your toner or serum. You can also mix a few drops in with your cleanser but you won’t get the full benefits from the oil as it’s not in contact with your skin for long.

Naturopathica Rosemary Oil-Reducing Moisturizer - Light Hydrating Mattifying Daily Facial Cream - Made in USA, 1.7 oz. (50 ml)Check it out on Amazon


Rosemary oil is a great natural remedy for dandruff and hair growth, and it can also be used as an overnight scalp treatment. You can apply diluted rosemary oil before bed and wash it out in the morning. Use only a small amount of the oil-just enough to cover your scalp-and massage it in for a few minutes. Excessive use of rosemary oil can irritate the scalp.

You can also heat up diluted rosemary oil to use as a pre-shampoo hot oil treatment. Warming up rosemary oil activates it and improves absorption, making it an even more effective treatment. Just make sure you test the temperature first so it’s not too hot.

Avalon Organics Shampoo, Volumizing Rosemary, 11 OzCheck it out on Amazon

Check it out on iHerb


Further reading: The 8 best scalp oils for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff

Side effects of rosemary oil

While this oil sounds too good to be true, as with anything, there are possile side effects. Rosemary oil is gentler than many other essential oils but it can still cause skin irritation and even allergic reactions. Some people may experience a burning sensation when they first start using the oil, but this usually goes away after a few applications.

When used as a facial oil you’re introducing more oil to your skin. If you already have oily skin, this can make your skin more greasy and potentially even clog pores.

Rosemary oil increases circulation, which is great when you have cold feet. However, it may cause facial flushing, worsening redness on your face. If you have rosacea as well, I would definitely give rosemary oil a miss. There are plenty of other essential oils you can use to help your seborrheic dermatitis.

Even though rosemary oil is supposed to increase hair growth, some people have complained of an increase in hair loss while using rosemary oil.

If you’re experiencing any side effects, discontinue use immediately.

To wrap up

Rosemary oil is a good natural option for seborrheic dermatitis. It has anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties, which can help to improve the symptoms of the condition. Rosemary oil can be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

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