Most of us would love to have smooth, wrinkle-free skin, long eyelashes and a mane of thick shiny hair! Well, everybody, meet castor oil! Yes, we’ve heard of this stuff. It smells weird and people use it for constipation…right? Did you know that it is full of essential fatty acids that will nourish your skin and hair?
There are two kinds of castor oil that are derived from the seeds of the castor bean plant (Ricinus Communis) which is native to the tropical areas of Africa and Asia. The first is cold pressed castor oil which is a simple process where the beans are pressed to extract the oil without any heat involved. The Jamaican black extraction method involves drying and roasting the seeds, pounding them into a paste and boiling that paste in water until the oil rises to the surface.
Jamaican black castor oil is better as a hair treatment to improve texture and shine, especially for women of colour. It is rich enough to nourish and smooth hair without being overly oily. Cold pressed castor oil is better as a topical skin treatment.
Check the ingredients when buying castor oil. Make sure that your castor oil doesn’t contain any other chemicals or oils that can irritate your skin.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
Castor oil is a thick, light yellow oil that has been used as a laxative, eye and skin treatment for centuries. It is a very effective carrier oil for essential oils and a little goes a very long way because it is so thick.
Castor oil may be quite viscous or thick but it absorbs easily and deeply into the skin. It will feel a little “sticky” at first but sinks in quickly. Again, a little goes a long way. Start with one or two drops and add more as needed.
PLEASE NOTE: Castor oil is a strong natural treatment and can cause skin irritation. It is only meant to be used once or twice a week NOT on a daily basis. It is an intensive treatment that should be used sparingly to avoid rashes, itching or other side effects. Some side effects listed at the end of this post.
What are the active ingredients in castor oil?
Castor oil is full of Omega fatty acids including omega 3, 6 as well as vitamin E and several proteins. A very active ingredient in castor oil is a ricinoleic acid which is another omega fatty acid.
The high concentration of Vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant helps to heal and protect the skin.
Ricinoleic acid has several wonderful benefits for your skin and hair. It has antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. It is also an anti-inflammatory which helps to reduce redness, swelling and irritation.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help to hydrate the skin, treat fine lines and wrinkles, repair damage and reduce sensitivity.
What are the benefits of castor oil?
1. Helps hair to grow:
Hair loss can be a result of weak circulation in the scalp as well as skin infections or irritations. Castor oil reduces inflammation while inhibiting the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungal infections. Ricinoleic acid helps to improve circulation and balance the PH of the scalp.
Warm a teaspoon of castor oil until it’s quite hot. Let it cool a little until it doesn’t burn the inside of your wrist. Massage the oil into your scalp a little at a time in small, circular motions. Your scalp will tingle as the blood flow improves. Keep going for five to ten minutes until all the oil is finished.
Please Note: This treatment should be used once or twice a week as a hot oil treatment, not daily.
2. Improves the condition of hair:
Castor oil is a humectant. It attracts and seals in moisture. The vitamin E content also helps to support and strengthen the keratin in the hair shaft. This makes hair smoother and stronger. By improving elasticity castor oil can help to prevent breakage and split ends.
Warm a tablespoon of castor oil if you have long hair or a teaspoon for shorter hair. Rub the oil between your palms and work it through your hair from the roots downward. If your hair oily at the roots then start a little further down where the dryness begins.
Please Note: This treatment should be used once or twice a week as a hot oil treatment, not daily.
There is some anecdotal evidence that castor oil can delay the onset of grey hair. When you apply oil to hair it can make it seem darker. Keeping the scalp healthy also means that hair will grow in thicker for longer but I don’t think that the oil really has any effect on the colour of your hair.
3. Helps eyelashes and eyebrows grow
If your eyebrows are a bit sparse after too much enthusiastic plucking you can help stimulate growth by applying a little pure castor oil to them once or twice a week, no more. While you’re at it, use an old mascara wand that you’ve cleaned properly and run a little castor oil through your eyelashes as well. Be careful not to apply too much.
4. Deeply moisturises dry skin
As I said before, castor oil is a thick oil that penetrates the skin and provides it with essential fatty acids. You will find castor oil as an ingredient in many skincare products. Mainly because of its moisturising properties but also because it is a great carrier oil for other ingredients. You see it in many lipsticks and balms.
As an overnight treat for your skin warm a few drops of castor oil between your hands and press it into your skin. It might feel sticky at first but it absorbs quickly. If it’s too thick for you, add a few drops of coconut oil to thin it out.
Please Note: Only do this once a week or your skin may become irritated or dried out.
For dry nails and cuticles combine:
1 tablespoon castor oil
1 tablespoon glycerine
Apply the mixture to your nails and cuticles and leave on for half an hour. Rinse your hands and apply hand cream.
Foot soak for dry, tired feet:
1 handful sea salt – boosts circulation and relaxes tired muscles
5 drops clove oil – boosts circulation
1 tablespoon castor oil – softens hard or dry skin
Mix the ingredients together in a bowl of quite warm water. It needs to be hot but not uncomfortable. Soak your feet until the water is cool.
5. Treats Blemishes
Castor oil can be used to treat skin tags, warts and acne. Because of it’s antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Please Note: Castor oil should be used as a spot treatment on the specific blemishes, not over large areas of skin.
Skin tags: According to the NHS, skin tags are collagen fibres surrounded by skin. They are usually found on the neck, armpits or under breasts. They are caused by ageing, hormonal changes, obesity or type 2 diabetes.
Treatment: Mix equal amounts of castor oil with baking soda depending on how many skin tags you have. Only mix enough for one use. You’ll need to mix more every time you apply. Apply the mixture to your skin tags twice daily. The castor oil and baking soda will dry out the skin tag until it simply falls off. Be careful when applying or it will dry out the skin around the skin tag as well.
Warts: They are skin growths caused by a virus called HPV or human papillomavirus. They are usually found on the hands and feet and are not dangerous. Castor oil helps to get rid of warts because of the antiviral properties in ricinoleic acid as well as other acidic properties in the oil. It kills the virus and dries out the wart.
Treatment: Simply apply castor oil to the wart with a cotton bud twice a day. You can also use the castor oil and baking soda mix on them. If you have been picking at your wart and it has become infected you can mix a drop of tea tree oil with the castor oil.
Acne: Some of the main causes of acne are clogged pores, bacterial infections or unbalanced skin pH. Castor oil can help to treat all these problems. Because it is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, castor oil will kill the bacteria causing the infection and reduce redness and swelling. This helps to heal the breakout more quickly and prevent scarring.
Castor oil also helps to soften dead skin cells that make them easier to exfoliate away which prevents blockages. Ricinoleic acid helps to balance the skin’s pH. This prevents bacterial and fungal overgrowth and infection.
You can apply castor oil to spots directly with a cotton bud or make an acne oil from the following:
When you first feel a spot developing:
1/2 teaspoon castor oil
1 drop tea tree oil
2 drops of chamomile essential oil
Apply the mixture to the spot twice a day after cleansing.
For active and inflamed spots:
1/2 teaspoon castor oil
1 vitamin E capsule
2 drops of frankincense essential oil OR 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder.
Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl. Put the small bowl in a slightly larger one and pour boiling water into the larger bowl. Let the castor oil mixture warm for a few minutes before applying it to the active acne area. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water. Wash your face with your normal face wash to remove the rest of the oil.
You can use castor oil as a deep cleansing treatment once a week. It softens dead skin cells and helps to loosen stubborn dirt and sebum.
Once a week, warm about a tablespoon of castor oil until quite hot and set aside to cool down while you remove most of your makeup with a normal face wash. Use a warm washcloth to warm your skin or steam your face to dampen and warm it. Test the castor oil on your wrist to make sure that it has cooled enough. Apply the oil to your face in gentle circular motions. You can do a mini facial massage while you are at it. You will start to feel tingling in your skin as the circulation improves.
Here’s how to do a facial massage!
Dip your washcloth in warm water, wring it out and use it to wipe away the oil in circular motions to exfoliate even further. Use your normal face wash to remove the rest of the oil, dirt and dead skin cells. Your skin will be soft and smooth. Apply your usual moisturiser.
7. Heals dry lips and plumps them
Castor oil may smell a bit “funky” and it does NOT taste nice but it works wonders on dry or cracked lips. It helps them to heal. Cracked lips are usually dry and inflamed. Castor oil will moisturise them and reduce the inflammation. Simply apply a drop of castor oil to your lips when they are really dry and chapped. It’s a thick oil but will soak in quickly to protect your lips.
Castor oil attracts and seals in moisture. To make your own castor oil lip balm as a short-term treatment for dry or cracked lips:
3 tablespoons castor oil
1 tablespoon of beeswax or vegan alternative
1 tablespoon shea butter
5 drops mint or vanilla essential oil
You will need:
A pot to melt the ingredients together
Small tins or containers to store your lip balm
Melt the wax over a very low heat so as not to burn it, add the shea butter and melt it into the wax. Add the castor oil and stir gently to make sure everything is melted together. Take the mixture off the heat and add the essential oil. Stir to make sure it’s all mixed. While the mixture is still warm and liquid, pour it into your tins and containers. Allow them to cool and set.
You can also make a very simple lip scrub by combining a few drops of castor oil with a teaspoon of brown sugar. Only use this once a week.
8. Inflammation from sunburn
We all know that sunburn is uncomfortable. Most of that discomfort is caused by inflammation and swelling. As you know by now, castor oil is an anti-inflammatory so it will reduce the redness and swelling associated with sunburn. You can combine castor oil with coconut oil 1:1 and apply it to the sunburned area once a day for the first two days after burning until the pain subsides.
All the omega fatty acids and antioxidants in castor oil penetrate deeply into the skin and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin which will plump up the skin, improve elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
It also softens and hydrates the skin which is especially good for the little lines and bags around the eye area.
Once a week, warm half a teaspoon of oil between your hands and tap it into the problem areas with your fingers. No dragging! Press the rest of the oil into your skin with your palms. Allow it to sink in and apply your usual night cream and go to bed! Wrinkles need rest!
Here is a facial tapping massage that you can try.
10. Scars and Pigmentation
Castor oil for scars and pigmentation is NOT a quick fix. It will take a few weeks to see results and then you need to keep it up. For the same reason that castor oil helps to soften wrinkles, it also helps to heal scars by providing the skin with essential fatty acids that encourage the production of collagen and elastin. Here is another article on how you can treat hyperpigmentation.
Scar tissue tends to harden which makes the skin appear more textured. Castor oil helps to soften the scar tissue and skin.
The omega 3 fatty acids in castor oil help to hydrate the skin, encourages the production of healthy skin cells and generally improves the overall appearance of scars and pigmentation.
There is very little that can be done about melasma which is a form of hyperpigmentation generally caused by hormonal changes in the body. There is some evidence that castor oil helps to lighten melasma over time. There is no scientific study on this but there are many women who have reported positive results.
Here are a couple of masks you can use as a weekly treatment:
Turmeric and castor oil:
1 teaspoon castor oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 Vitamin E Capsule
Make sure that you exfoliate your skin properly before using this mask or the dead skin will be turned yellow by the turmeric. Combine the oils and then add the turmeric to form a paste. Apply it to your skin and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and use your regular face wash to make sure that all the oil has been removed.
Deep moisture brightening mask:
1 teaspoon castor oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon yoghurt
Combine the castor oil, lemon juice and honey. Add the yoghurt last and whip together well. Apply the mask to your skin and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and use your regular face wash to make sure that all the oil has been removed.
Possible Castor Oil Side Effects
Castor oil is generally safe to use but there are a few possible side effects that you need to keep in mind:
Nut and seed allergies: People with nut or seed allergies could potentially have reactions to castor oil because it is derived from the seeds of the castor plant.
Itching and rashes: Castor oil can cause irritation on sensitive skin. Before applying castor oil to large areas of skin or to your face, do a patch test on the inside of your arm to see if it becomes red or itchy. You may be allergic to castor oil if you have reddened or itchy skin after your patch test.
Laxative: Castor oil is a very good laxative but can be too strong for some people. It is definitely not good for small children. It can cause severe diarrhoea if overused or if you are allergic to it.
Pregnant Women: Castor oil is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Ingestion causes irritation in the small intestine if ingested and acts as a laxative. This causes contractions in the abdomen and can be problematic. As with everything else, consult your doctor before using any remedies during pregnancy.
Castor oil tastes horrible it also smells weird but it’s bursting with antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Be careful when buying castor oil. It should be pure castor oil and the cold pressed version is usually best for application to the skin.
I’m using it as a weekly anti-ageing treatment at the moment…mama just turned 40 and it stings a little…but just a little…
Try it! Let me know what you think!