Uses for Castor Oil: The Natural Beauty Booster You Need In Your Makeup Cabinet

January 2, 2023
dropper bottle

For more than one thousand years, castor oil has been a beauty-boosting must. It’s a staple in Ayurvedic medicine and formerly used by famed royalty, Queen Cleopatra herself.

A vegetable oil derived from the Ricinus communis plant, castor oil is pressed and produced for safe use in foods, medicine, skin care products, and even as fuel for lamps and industrial lubricants. 

As a humectant rich in vitamin E and ricinoleic acid, one of castor oil’s biggest benefits is its ability to hydrate by trapping moisture in both hair and skin. When applied, this extra moisture can lead to glowing skin, growing hair, and increased shine. 

Ready to level-up your beauty routine with this all-natural oil? Read on to learn more about this historic beauty secret.

Types of Castor Oil

The first step toward incorporating castor oil into your beauty routine is determining the type of castor oil that’s right for you. While there are a wide range of castor oil products, there are three main types of castor oil to consider:

  • Cold-pressed
  • Refined
  • Jamaican Black Castor Oil (also known as JBCO)

While refined (or your standard castor oil) remains a cost-effective option, dermatologists recommend cold-pressed for its purity and deep moisturizing process, considering it the “highest quality organic castor oil,” rich with vitamin E and omega 6 and 9 fatty acids.

Cold-Pressed versus JBCO

To this day, however, the use of Jamaican Black Castor Oil for hair growth and shine retains its cult-like following, alongside its rich part in Jamaican heritage and history. Originating in Africa, castor oil seeds made their way to the Caribbean during the triangular trade from 1740 to 1810 and exploded in local popularity for its healing qualities and use in natural medicines. 

Jamaican Black Castor Oil primarily differs from cold-pressed castor oil in the way the oil is extracted from the plant beans. In order to make Jamaican Black Castor Oil, oil producers first roast the beans before grinding them into a paste, resulting in the ashy, black color of the oil. The oil is then boiled and skimmed off the top of the heated water. 

Cold-pressed castor oil, conversely, is produced by placing the raw un-roasted beans through a press at high temperatures. The main difference? By roasting the beans first, Jamaican Black Castor Oil changes its alkalinity due to the ash incorporated into the oil, resulting in the opening of the hair shaft cuticle. 

While this can be good for soaking up other nutrients and many swear by Jamaican Black Castor Oil for its incredible hair growth effect, board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Nikki Hill, encourages users of Jamaican Black Castor Oil to apply a cuticle-sealing technique after use and to only apply it to the scalp to avoid breakage and hair damage from the extra alkalinity.

Beauty Benefits of Castor Oil

Once you’ve chosen your preferred castor oil, it’s time to reap the benefits of this natural oil. Use in one of the following ways for best results:

Reduce Cellulite  & Wrinkles 

Thanks to the fatty acids found in castor oil, rubbing the oil on scarred or stretch marked areas can stimulate the lymphatic system and potentially reduce the scar’s appearance. While research on the connection between castor oil and scar reduction is still evolving, the oil can potentially help soften the air and smooth out fibrous tissue. Consider applying morning and night for best results.

Recommended Product: Handcraft Blends 100% Pure Castor Oil

Moisturize For Supple Skin

As a triglyceride, castor oil is attributed with moisturizing skin and hydrating it due to its humectant properties. Best used to trap and retain other beauty-boosting products, castor oil moisturizes and replenishes for a more even skin tone, according to Fleur & Bee. When using castor oil, be sure to first test on your skin to avoid any potential allergic reactions. 

Recommended Product: Sky Organics Castor Oil USDA Organic Cold-Pressed 

Strong, Healthy Hair

Quite possibly the most popular use for castor oil in beauty routines is strengthening hair follicles for healthier, shinier hair. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that castor oil could improve hair, eyelash, and eyebrow growth but no concrete evidence currently exists.

Recommended Product: iQ Natural Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Is Castor Oil For Everyone?

The short answer? No.

In spite of its age-old history, research into castor oil is relatively new.

And, although castor oil contains nutrients and minerals with beauty-boosting properties, it’s important to note that the scientific community currently offers little scientific proof on its effects and overall skincare and hair benefits.  

While castor oil contains possible beauty benefits such as hair growth and supple skin, castor oil can also cause allergic reactions for some skin types and a condition called “hair felting” for people with long hair. (Hair felting is the process of hair becoming twisted and tangled to the point in which it needs to be cut off and removed.)

When using castor oil for skin care and hair growth, consider if it’s right for you and test first on a small patch of skin. 

Have you had a positive experience with castor oil? Send us your thoughts and feedback!

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Photo: Alesia Kosek via Pexels

Dana Drosdick
Dana is a marketer living in Saratoga Springs, NY with a passion for all things related to stewardship, faith, wellness, and personal enrichment. Her work has been featured in various Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, The Odyssey Online, and The Banner Magazine. Follow her at @danadrosdick on Instagram for foodie trends, her latest book recommendations, and far too many photos of clementines.


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