Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on October 29, 2022
If the proponents’ word is anything to go by, elderberry seems to be the superstar of medicine. The elderberry extract hails as a legitimate immune-boosting superfruit, supporting a range of benefits, including skin health and hair growth.
When summer approaches, it is often accompanied by untimely breakdowns, blemishes, and skin burns. But are there any elderberry benefits for skin and hair? Will it help improve skin health and reduce acne?
Previous research has demonstrated elderberry’s most prominent features, virus resistance, and immune support. For this reason, we have high hopes as we dissect the claims behind its skincare usage.
Elderberry Benefits for Skin and Hair
Elderberries have had many vital contributions to human health and managed to seize the attention of nutritionists, scientists, and cosmetologists. These dark-violet berries originate from the European Elder tree, often referred to as the tree of life.
Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplies one of the best sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory berries. From being Hippocrates’s “chest of medicine,” to a healing nymph for the European pagans, the stories surrounding this medicinal plant are interesting, to say the least.
It is no surprise that the claimed health benefits of elderberry only keep growing. With its host of nutrients, there sure is a key to all this success. Can elderberry be the next aloe vera for our skin health?
Before we dive into the studies, let’s discuss a couple of the use cases in more detail: hair loss and acne.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Losing hair is a common part of pattern hair loss for both men and women. However, losing too much too quickly is when hair loss becomes a dermatological concern.
With age, hair growth will slow down for most people. The following reasons can contribute to a premature cycle or excessive shedding of hair:
- Using excessive hair products can begin accumulating in the roots and damaging them. Hair treatments may also leave behind waste materials that block the follicles. This can include dyes, gels, sprays, keratin, etc.
- If you put your hair up in tight ponytails or arrange them in a way that strains the roots, they can begin shredding over time.
- Nutrient deficiency in the diet, such as iron and vitamins, can cause poor hair growth and health.
- Hereditary factors such as hormonal changes, genetics, or pregnancy commonly trigger hair loss.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is a skin infection caused by the bacteria Cutibacterium acnes. It can also occur when dead skin cells or oil block the hair follicles on the skin. It will start as mild rashes and extend to lesions, whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples.
Acne is fairly common among teenagers, given their hormonal changes. Generally, it goes away after running its course but treating with safe and healthy home remedies or supplements can accelerate the healing process.
With an elderberry supplement, you are investing in the best edible plant-derivative antioxidants. But, research shows that there is more to it than just being an antioxidant. Elderberry combines the best of nutrients and minerals to supply many bioactive functions. (1)
Its anthocyanin and flavonoid-rich composition will grant you many benefits, including but not limited to:
- Alleviating cold and flu symptoms
- Providing immune support
- Reducing allergies and asthma
- Helping in cancer prevention
- Supports gut health
- Potential treatment for COVID
- Supporting healthy cholesterol and blood pressure
- Lowering blood sugar
Now, let’s take a look at the specific studies for beauty applications.
Is Elderberry Good for Your Skin?
Antioxidants and polyphenols have contributed to the cosmetic industry for eons now. These bioactive compounds extend a lot to the skin’s healthy aging, hydration, and color. (2)
This gives us reason to believe that topical application of polyphenol-rich compounds, like the elderberry, can improve an individual’s skin health while providing visual anti-aging benefits. (3)
Scientists are preoccupied with researching the black elderberry extract and its effects to build up further on that idea.
A 2019 trial brought elderberry to the limelight as an effective therapeutic agent for alleviating skin-photoaging. It utilized elderberry extract and commended the work of pharmaceutical industries in bringing palatable elderberry supplements to the front. (4)
A 2018 study also discusses the bioactive properties of elderberry and declares it a great antimicrobial agent for skin and tissue health. It concluded elderberry is one of the most polyphenol and anthocyanin-rich compounds found in nature. (5)
The topical application of the berries also shows potential for use against more severe dermatological infections. In 2011, an animal study tested elderberry extract for healing third-degree skin burns. Its antiseptic response was commendable and also significantly reduced inflammation. (6)
It’s worth noting that other products, like a turmeric supplement, are also incredibly useful at reducing oxidative stress and may see amplified results when paired with elderberry.
Is Elderberry Good for Acne?
Elderberry’s efficacy with regards to acne treatment remains unresearched. However, building on the elderberry benefits for skin and its characteristics as a supplement indirectly helps the case.
In 2020, a report applauded elderberries for their effectiveness in treating skin wounds but encouraged more medicinal validation on the matter. However, it also revealed the Sambucus genus to be one of the most effective plant species for skin-wound healing. (7)
The International Journal of Molecular Sciences examined the importance of plant-derived antioxidants, such as elderberry for skin health. Many properties, namely astringent, capillary-stabilizing, and microbe resistance, displayed beneficial results. It can help eliminate skin marks, tighten bores and fight Cutibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne. (8)
Does Elderberry Make Your Hair Grow?
Exhaustive evidence supports the correlation between oxidative stress and hair loss and emphasizes the oral supplementation and topical use of antioxidants to relieve the problem. Testings with elderberry beverages and supplements have proven it to be an important dietary source for reducing oxidative stress. (9, 10)
Therefore, we can deduce that including elderberry gummies or syrup in the diet can also influence scalp health. It may not provide miracle hair growth, but it can help indirectly by supporting a healthy environment for hair to thrive.
How to Take Elderberry for Skin and Hair
You can switch between several options when making elderberry part of your skincare routine.
Elderberry seed oils are the most effective topical solution for gaining elderberry benefits for hair and skin. They are a blend of fine, natural ingredients and also provide the optimum consistency and elderberry quotient.
Elderberry oils are readily available at health stores and can be a worthy investment for topical use of elderberry.
Elderberry gummies are the most effective oral solution for supporting skin and hair. When paired with a topical solution, the results may be even better. Elderberry gummies combine vitamin C and zinc with the elderberry extract, so you are getting additional ingredients that support immunity and the reduction of systemic oxidative stress.
Gummies also present a more practical way of consuming elderberries compared to elderberry capsules. These chewable, mildly sweet supplements are ideal for individuals who dislike swallowing medicine or looking for a more enjoyable form of intake.
Elderberry syrups are thought of as alternatives to gummies. Unfortunately, this approach leads you to invest in a pricier, less effective option that often lacks the extra immunity provided by vitamin C and zinc.
Indeed, having elderberry tea is better than going with no elderberry at all. However, it is less likely to have a positive influence on skin health due to its lesser quantity of elderberry extract. The warm temperature, however, may help if you’re dealing with cold and flu symptoms.
How much elderberry should I take for skin and hair growth? The amount of elderberry consumed largely depends on the condition. But, for general health and wellness or beauty applications, between 150 to 300 mg of elderberry per day is safe and effective in gummy form.
When using topical solutions, make sure to read the bottle for application directions as it likely varies between products. If the application of elderberry oil triggers irritation or itching, consult a dermatologist before you make it part of your skincare regimen.
- Learn More: How much elderberry should you take a day?
Potential Side Effects
What are the side effects of elderberry? The human skin is a sensitive organ, so all topical solutions should be used with caution. While elderberry is generally very safe and well-tolerated, you should understand a few things when you are using elderberry for hair and skin.
- People with diabetes should be cautious of their elderberry dosage as it may influence blood sugar levels.
- Consuming raw elderberry leads to gastrointestinal problems.
- Your skin may be sensitive to one of the ingredients used in elderberry oil. Make sure you perform a background check of the brand you are buying from.
Who should not take elderberry? Pregnant and nursing women should avoid consuming or applying elderberry due to a lack of research on the subject. While it is generally safe for children, we cannot claim the same for babies or pregnant women.
- Learn More: Does elderberry interact with medications?
Final Thoughts on Elderberry for Skin and Hair
Is elderberry good for skin and hair growth? The answer appears to be, yes. Elderberries are both, directly and indirectly, good for skin and scalp health. The product is a powerhouse that exhibits one beneficial property after another, most notably its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.
Indeed, it would be more promising if we had direct research targeting elderberry for skin and hair, studying its use in various conditions. Until that happens, the available information seems to show that elderberry can be a great addition to your skincare routine.
- Our Picks: Best Elderberry Supplements