Castor oil has been used for centuries in traditional beauty treatments for hair because of its beneficial fatty acids and vitamin E content. Today, it’s used in over 700 cosmetic products and remains popular as a natural remedy for various hair issues, including castor oil for hair dryness, breakage and castor oil for hair growth.
Castor oil comes from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. After being extracted from the seeds, the oil is filtered and steamed to remove ricin, a toxic component that could cause rancidity. What’s left is a vegetable oil rich in compounds such as ricinoleic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid, proteins, antioxidants and more.
These chemical components, especially the fatty acids, allow for the many castor oil benefits for hair. When massaged into the scalp and strands, the oil has moisturizing, soothing and circulation-stimulating properties, making it a useful home remedy for many common hair-related issues.
Benefits of Castor Oil for Hair Growth and More
Studies suggest that castor oil benefits the hair due to its high content of ricinoleic acid and other fatty acids, amino acids, flavonoids, vitamin E and minerals. Here’s how you can use castor oil for hair growth and more.
1. Hydrates Hair
Research shows that the fatty acids in castor oil, especially ricinoleic acid, make it an excellent hair and scalp moisturizer. Rubbing the oil into hair strands helps reduce dryness and breakage, and massaging it into the scalp improves dandruff and eases itchiness or irritation.
2. Improves Hair Texture
Just like coconut oil for hair, castor oil can leave your hair smoother and shinier. It works as a natural detangler and has been proven to reduce hair felting, a disorder that causes hair to become entangled and matted, creating a hard stony mass that resembles a bird’s nest.
3. Reduces Hair Breakage
Castor oil has hydrating and nourishing properties, helping you avoid hair breakage and damage. The fatty acids in the oil have enhanced penetration, making them able to provide a soothing, strengthening effect in the hair follicles.
4. Promotes Hair Growth
Castor oil also improves blood circulation to your follicles, helping your hair grow. For this reason, the oil can also be applied to your eyebrows for hair growth.
5. Improves Scalp Health
Castor oil has moisturizing and soothing properties, allowing it to ease dryness and irritation of the scalp. It also works as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and healing agent.
Studies indicate that the ricinoleic acid in castor oil protects the scalp and shaft of the hair from fungal and microbial infections.
How to Use
When choosing castor oil for hair at the store, opt for a pure, cold-pressed product from a high-quality brand. Castor oil can be used on your hair strands, scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes.
It can be used on your skin, too, and may help reduce acne, aid wound healing and provide hydration.
To use castor oil on your hair, follow these steps:
- Section your hair so it’s easier to apply the oil evenly.
- Take a small amount of castor oil, and warm it up in your palms. Then, starting from the ends, gently massage the oil into your hair, working your way up to the roots.
- Distribute the oil evenly. Then cover your hair with a shower cap or plastic wrap to keep the oil from dripping.
- Leave the oil on your hair for at least 30 minutes or even overnight for deeper penetration.
- When you’re ready to remove the oil, wash your hair with a gentle shampoo and conditioner.
- Repeat this process once or twice a week or as desired to achieve optimal hair texture and health.
When using castor oil for hair, be sure to start with only a small amount because too much can make your hair greasy. In addition to boosting overall hair hydration with this type of treatment, castor oil can be applied to hair as a detangler or frizz smoother.
Castor oil can be paired with various other ingredients to enhance its benefits for hair (and skin), including:
- Essential oils: Add a drop of a soothing essential oil, such as lavender, rosemary or peppermint.
- Coconut oil: Combine castor with coconut oil for its moisturizing properties, which can help hydrate the hair and improve its shine and softness.
- Jojoba oil: Like coconut oil, jojoba has nourishing and soothing properties when applied to the hair and scalp.
- Vitamin E oil: Vitamin E oil is a great antioxidant and scalp soother, which can help repair damaged hair and improve its texture.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera has moisturizing properties that can help soothe dry scalp and relieve itchiness or irritation.
- Avocado: Mashed avocado is rich in healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that nourish the hair and improve its appearance.
Risks and Side Effects
It’s possible to experience an allergic reaction to castor oil used topically, which could result in redness, irritation and swelling. If this occurs, discontinue use immediately, and consult your health care provider if the symptoms don’t improve within a few hours.
It’s always a good idea to do a patch test before applying any new product to your hair or skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. To do this, simply apply a few drops of castor oil to one small area of your skin to ensure there are no adverse effects.
Keep castor oil away from your eyes. If you are using it on your eyebrows, start with a very small amount, and be extra careful not to get the oil into your eyes.
- Castor oil comes from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant and contains a number of chemical compounds, such as ricinoleic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid, proteins and antioxidants.
- Castor oil benefits hair by providing hydration, soothing hair strands, relieving scalp dryness and irritation, boosting circulation, and promoting hair growth.
- To use castor oil for hair growth and more, section your hair, and apply a small amount of oil evenly, starting from the ends and working your way to the scalp. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and then wash it out.