Castor Oil Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects on Hair and Skin

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Castor is one of the oldest cultivated crops & castor oil is one of the oldest folk remedies used worldwide. Many of castor oil’s benefits are due to its chemical composition. It’s main component is a type of triglyceride fatty acid which is a specific and rare compound called ricinoleic acid. (1)

A report published in the International Journal of Toxicology states that castor oil is now used in more than 700 cosmetic products. That is somethings our mothers and grandmothers have always known.  However, castor oil has a host of other benefits that go well beyond beautiful skin and hair, which many of us may be unaware of. Lets find that out.

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a pale yellow oil which is extracted by pressing beans of castor plant (Ricinus communis) , which is native to India and Africa. Castor oil and its derivatives are widely used in a number of products like cosmetics, perfumes, soaps and lubricants.(1)

It is rich in anti-oxidants, fatty acids, Vitamin E and its anti-bacterial properties. Make it a go-to home remedy for a number of hair, skin and health problems. (2)

When taken internally, the oil is hydrolyzed in the small intestine by pancreatic enzymes, leading to the release of glycerol and ricinoleic acid, along with other beneficial metabolites. (3)

Castor oil benefits

Castor Oil Benefits for Hair

  1. Promotes Hair growth
  2. For Repairing hair damage
  3. Prevents Premature Greying
  4. Treats Scalp Infections & Dandruff
  5. For Eyebrow Growth
  6. For Beard Growth

Castor Oil Benefits for Skin

  1. Treats Acne
  2. Controls signs of Ageing
  3. Reduces blemishes & pigmentation
  4. Moisturizes skin
  5. Prevents Stretch Marks
  6. Boosts wound healing
  7. Treats Ringworms

Castor Oil for Hair Benefits

1. Castor oil for promoting hair growth

It is very good for your hair. Depending on the type of hair, castor oil can be mixed with coconut oil or applied by itself. With regular application and scalp massages, the ricinoleic acid and omega-6 fatty acids in castor oil make hair stronger by improving blood circulation and makes hair grow faster. (4)

Stephanie Johnson, a licensed hairstylist at Fusion in Dallas, says castor oil helps increase hair volume because it’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids and it encourages circulation, which is essential for hair growth. (5)

“Massage it in your palms until warm and apply to scalp before sleep. Shampoo out in the morning. This has to be done regularly, but some have felt an increase in their hair’s volume.”

2. Castor oil for repairing hair damage

Its fatty acids make it an ideal scalp and hair conditioner- it locks down moisture and prevents dryness . Regular application of castor oil is helpful in treating hair which has been damaged by harsh chemical processes like bleaching, ironing and dyeing.

It is also effective on split ends and dry, rough hair and prevents hair fall. (6)

3. For preventing premature greying

Greying happens when hair loses the pigments that maintain its darker color. Pollution too, has shown to accelerate greying.

Castor oil, with its ability to lock in moisture and low reactivity to air, is a non drying oil that acts as a barrier against external pollutants.

4. Castor oil for treats scalp infections and dandruff

Castor Oil Treats Dandruff
Castor Oil Treats Dandruff

Thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, castor oil is an effective medicine to fight scalp infections like bald patches, itchiness, fungal infections and dandruff. (7)

Most people use castor oil as a natural hair conditioner.

Dry or damaged hair can especially benefit from an intense moisturizer like castor oil.

Applying fats like castor oil to the hair on a regular basis helps lubricate the hair shaft, increasing flexibility and decreasing the chance of breakage (8).

Castor oil helps reduce dandruff, a common scalp condition characterized by dry, flaky skin on the head.

Though there are many different causes of dandruff, it has been linked to seborrhoeic dermatitis, an inflammatory skin condition that causes red, scaly patches on the scalp (9).

The antifungal and antibacterial properties of castor oil makes it an effective treatment for dandruff that is caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis.

5. Castor oil for eyebrow growth

Beauticians recommend topical application of castor oil for those who want bolder eyebrows. (10)

6. Castor oil for beard growth

Castor Oil for Thicker Beard, Hair & Eyebrows
Castor Oil for Thicker Beard, Hair & Eyebrows

It can also be helpful for men who want to grow their beards. Castor oil can be applied using fingertips in the area needed and lightly massaged.

How to use castor oil for hair growth?

Castor oil can be applied directly to hair and scalp, preferably after warming it up. Depending on the dryness of hair, it can either be mixed with coconut oil or applied as it is and kept overnight. Use a mild shampoo the next day.

Those who have slightly oily hair can mix castor oil with coconut oil. Massage the mixture on your scalp and hair. If you have dry hair or damaged hair, use more castor oil and apply it from root to tip.

Whether by itself or mixed with coconut oil, massage the scalp with castor oil to strengthen the hair roots. After that, brush your hair with a wide-teethed comb to help it spread evenly.

It can also be incorporated in hair masks. Beauticians recommend combining castor oil with other conditioning agents like yoghurt and egg yolk for treating dry hair. The mask can be left on for an hour and then washed off with a mild shampoo. (7)

Castor Oil Benefits for Skin

castor oil for skin

1. Castor oil for treating acne

It can be used to treat acne, as it is an effective anti-bacterial agent. Castor oil easily penetrates skin, and hence, its ricinoleic acid can act fast against acne-causing bacteria.

However, it should be using sparingly, as acne is often associated with oily skin and direct application may increase oiliness.  (11)

2. Castor oil prevents ageing

All skin-care experts say that moisturizing is the best way to hold off signs of ageing. Castor oil is an excellent moisturizer. It penetrates skin easily, and aids in production of collagen and elastin- the agents responsible for maintaining suppleness of skin.

By locking down moisture deep inside, it helps soften and hydrate skin, which reduces appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, thereby making skin appear younger. (12)

This is the reason why many plastic surgeons apply castor oil around the area of an incision, because it aids in skin rejuvenation.

3. Castor Oil reduces blemishes and pigmentation

Being rich in fatty acids, castor oil helps fade blemishes and stimulate growth of healthy tissue. As it penetrates skin easily, it can easily absorb through scar tissue, and plump it out. Many dermatologists recommend application of castor oil to fight pigmentation and even out skin tone.

4. Moisturizes Skin

Castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. This types of fat act as a humectant and can be used to moisturize the skin.

Humectants retain moisture by preventing water loss through the outer layer of the skin (13).

Castor oil is often used in natural products like lotions, makeup and cleansers to add hydration as a quality to the product.

Many popular commercial moisturizing creams & lotions contain potentially harmful ingredients like preservatives, perfumes and dyes, which can you harm overall health (14). For people sensitive to such issues castor oil is a DIY option for natural skincare.

Castor oil is thick, so it’s frequently mixed with other skin-friendly oils like almond, olive and coconut oil to make an ultra-hydrating moisturizer.

Though applying castor oil to the skin is considered safe for most, it can cause an allergic reaction in some people (15). Hence it is prudent to test this out by testing it on a patch of skin like the inner elbow.

5. Castor oil reduces stretch marks

There is evidence that massaging stretch marks with oil helps reduce them Castor oil absorbs quickly and penetrates scar tissue. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is an effective cure for stretch marks. Regular, long-term application of castor oil helps in moisturizing the skin, promotes growth of healthy tissues and plumps out the area around scar tissues.(16)

6. Boosts Wound Healing

Studies have found that ointments containing castor oil may be especially helpful in healing pressure ulcers, a type wound that develops from prolonged pressure on the skin. These wounds are seen in immobile people who are chronically ill and bedridden.

Applying castor oil to wounds creates a moist environment that promotes healing and prevents sores from drying out.

Castor oil stimulates tissue growth so that a barrier can be formed between the wound and the environment, decreasing the risk of infection.

It also reduces dryness and cornification, the buildup of dead skin cells that can delay wound healing (14).

One study on 861 nursing home residents with pressure ulcers, when treated with a castor oil based ointment experienced higher healing rates and shorter healing times than those treated with other methods (17).

 

7. Castor oil for treating ringworms

Derivatives of castor oil are used in various medicines, most prominently in those that treat ringworm, which is a form of fungal infection. Castor oil’s antifungal properties prevent the fungi from synthesizing membranes, thereby killing the infection. (18)

How to use castor oil on face?

Wash your face and neck and gently pat dry. Take a cotton ball, lightly dip it in warmed castor oil. Gently massage all over your skin and leave it for 10-15 minutes.

When it is absorbed, wash with lukewarm water while massaging gently. This will keep your skin well-moisturized and increase blood circulation. This will also help you fight acne. You can use steam before doing this to open your pores, which will help the skin absorb the oil better.

However, in Indian climate, extra-oily skin can act as a magnet for dirt and microbes, so it is advised to wash the face with cold water after some time. It can be applied topically on joints before massages.

Additional benefits of Castor Oil

Castor Oil for constipation

Castor oil is a well known laxative. Hence, it is effective for those suffering from constipation.  When taken orally, ricinoleic acid gets released in the intestine and acts as a laxative. (19)

Castor oil for treating ringworms

Derivatives of castor oil are used in various medicines, most prominently in those that treat ringworm, which is a form of fungal infection. Castor oil’s antifungal properties prevent the fungi from synthesising membranes, thereby killing the infection.

Castor oil as a disinfectant

Being anti-microbial, castor oil is a good disinfectant. It can be used to treat cuts and scrapes. It can also reduce inflammation and reduce pain.(20)

Castor oil for treating joint pains and arthritis

In Ayurvedic medicinal tradition, castor oil is held to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Topical application and massaging on inflamed joints can provide relief, as it absorbs easily and stimulate production of antibodies. (21)

Castor oil boosts immunity

Those who follow naturopathy believe castor oil strengthens the immune system by increasing white blood cells and fights infections. Research also suggests that it can be a cancer deterrent. (22)

Treating dryness of eyes

This is a common problem for most people who spend hours staring at screens. Castor oil, along with glycerine, is used to generate artificial tears to prevent dryness in eyes and treat associated symptoms like itchiness, redness and fatigue.

Castor oil in Hindi

Castor oil is also known as Arandi Ka Tel in Hindi. It is known by different names throughout India.

Scientific Name – Ricinus communis
Origin – Africa and India
Other Names – Arandi Ka Tel (Hindi), Aamudamu (Telugu), Erandela Tela (Marathi), Amanakku Enney (Tamil), Avanakkenna (Malayalam), and Rerira Tela (Bengali).

Average composition of castor seed oil / fatty acid chains

Acid name Average Percentage Range
Ricinoleic acid 85–95
Oleic acid 2–6
Linoleic acid 1–5
α-Linolenic acid 0.5–1
Stearic acid 0.5–1
Palmitic acid 0.5–1
Dihydroxystearic acid 0.3–0.5
Others 0.2– 0.5

Here are some ways that castor oil can be used for self-care and better health.

Castor Oil Side Effects

1. Castor seeds contain ricin, which is highly toxic. Also, the allergenic compounds found on the plant surface can cause permanent nerve damage.

This makes the harvest of these plants a major human health risk.  Hence it is recommended to buy quality products which guarantee proper purification and processing.(23)

2. Before using, it is always recommended to take a local allergy test by applying some castor oil to the inside of the elbow and leaving it overnight. In case of any itchiness or occurrence of rashes, consult a doctor immediately.

3. Consumption of castor oil may cause nausea or stomach upsets. It is an effective laxative, so is not recommended for people with sensitive digestion. Overdose is likely to cause diarrhea. It is best to consult a doctor before self-medicating. (24)

Castor oil side effects for hair

It is a heavy, sticky oil. Leaving castor oil for long on hair or scalp may lead to excess sweating and attract a lot of dirt. This may in turn leave your hair grimy and dirty.

Castor oil side effects for skin

People with sensitive, oily skin should be careful while applying castor oil. It is a thick oil, and may result in clogged pores and excess oiliness. This may cause acne breakouts. Moreover, leaving on castor oil for a long time may attract a lot of dirt and cause excess sweating.

Castor oil and pregnancy

Studies show that castor oil is effective in inducing labour. Pregnant women must consult a doctor before having castor oil orally. (25)

Castor Oil FAQs

What is Castor oil?

It is a pale yellow oil obtained from the seeds of castor plant (Ricinus communis) , which is native to India and Africa. Castor oil and its derivatives are widely used in a number of products like cosmetics, perfumes, soaps and lubricants.

What is castor oil called in Hindi?

Castor oil is also known as Arandi Ka Tel in Hindi. It is known by different names throughout India, like Aamudamu (Telugu), Erandela Tela (Marathi), Amanakku Enney (Tamil), Avanakkenna (Malayalam), and Rerir Tel (Bengali).

Is Castor oil good for skin?

Yes. Castor oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which is beneficial for skin. Castor oil can be applied to fight acne, moisturize the skin, reduce scarring and treat ringworms.

Does castor fight acne?

Studies show castor oil is rich in anti-microbial agents. Hence, it can help fight acne and prevent breakouts. Applying castor oil topically on your acne can help kill the infection and heal wounds.

How to apply castor oil on my face?

Dip a cotton ball in a mixture of castor oil and coconut oil. Apply lightly on the skin and massage it. Leave it for 10-15 minutes and wash it. This increases blood circulation, moisturizes skin and prevents acne breakouts.

Is castor oil good for hair?

Castor oil is widely used in cosmetics and traditional medicines for preventing hair fall. It is also known to aid hair growth. Castor oil can also be used on eyebrows and beards. Anecdotal evidence suggests application of castor oil results in thick, shiny hair.

How to use castor oil for hair growth?

Mix castor oil and coconut oil and slightly warm it. Massage this mixture on the scalp, and apply it from root to tip of the hair. You can keep it overnight and wash it off the next day with a mild shampoo.

You can also mix castor oil with other moisturizing agents like yogurt, honey or egg yolk to make a hair mask. Apply it on your scalp and hair, leave for an hour and then wash it off.

How to use castor oil for relieving constipation?

You must take castor oil orally to relieve constipation. However, check with your doctor to determine the correct dosage. Self-medicating is not recommended when consuming castor oil internally.

Are there side effects of castor oil?

Castor oil is a potent laxative, so overdose can result in diarrhea. It is also a thick, sticky oil which may not be suitable for sensitive and oily skin. Leaving castor oil for long on your hair and skin can attract a lot of dirt and cause sweating. This can be a big problem in India’s hot and humid climate.

Also, castor oil contains ricin, which is a highly toxic agent. Improper filtering and processing of castor seeds can leave traces of this substance in the oil. It is best to buy organic castor oil from reputed brands and consult your doctor before using it.

References

  1. Castor Oil: Properties, Uses, and Optimization of Processing Parameters in Commercial Production NCBI
  2. 7 Incredible Castor Oil Benefits for Beautiful Skin and Hair NDTV
  3. Can I Use Castor Oil for Hair Growth? Healthline
  4. Ethnopharmacological survey of home remedies used for treatment of hair and scalp and their methods of preparation in the West Bank-Palestine NCBI
  5. Beauty buzz: Hotter tips Daily Mail
  6. 6 Amazing Benefits Of Castor Oil You Must Know NDTV
  7. 5 Castor Oil Benefits For Skin And Hair Which Will Convince You To Switch Today  NDTV
  8. Preliminary study on the development of an antistretch marks water-in-oil cream: ultrasound assessment, texture analysis, and sensory analysis NCBI
  9. Antioxidant, Antimicrobial, and Free Radical Scavenging Potential of Aerial Parts of Periploca aphylla and Ricinus communis NCBI
  10. Here’s How You Can Use Castor Oil On Eyebrows NDTV
  11. Castor Oil WebMD
  12. Overview of medically important antifungal azole derivatives NCBI
  13. Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation NCBI
  14. Characterization and evaluation of antibacterial and antiproliferative activities of crude protein extracts isolated from the seed of Ricinus communis in Bangladesh NCBI
  15. The Castor Bean Plant: So Striking, So Poisonous NYTimes
  16. An examination of the effect of castor oil packs on constipation in the elderly NCBI
  17. Castor oil for induction of labor in post-date pregnancies: A randomized controlled trial NCBI
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Amrita Singh

Amrita Singh is a graduate of Mumbai University. She has spent most of her life playing sports and cuddling cats and has annoyed parents & professors alike. Now a Vitsupp health writer, she enjoys writing about all things health.

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