Castor oil is one of those items that sounds vaguely old-timey. If your parents ever gave you castor oil as a child, you definitely haven’t forgotten it. This oil, often used as a powerful laxative, has a distinctive, unpleasant taste that’s impossible to forget.
But castor oil has many different uses. It’s a versatile, inexpensive health and skin care item that has many benefits. Made from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant, castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, which is a naturally occurring humectant.1 Humectants – namely castor oil – can help promote better skin, hair hydration, just about everything in between.
Homemade Humectant Hack
Did you know that castor oil is an excellent addition to your manicure routine? This humectant is packed with Vitamin E, which can add hydration to your nails and skin in a dramatic way. It is also antimicrobial and anti-fungal in nature, so you can combat any weirdness that might be growing under your nails with ease.2 This pale, yellow oil has a thick texture, making it easy to massage into your nails and cuticles. Try following these two simple steps during your next at-home manicure or pedicure:
- Soak your hands and feet in a bath of 1 part castor oil, 1 part Epsom salt, and 3 parts water to draw out any impurities, dirt, or bacteria that might be sitting under your nails or on your skin
- When your hands, nails, and cuticles are still damp, rub castor oil directly into your skin to maximize softness and minimize dry, brittle nails
- Paint your nails and enjoy your fresh new look!
Raise Those Eyebrows
Thick eyebrows are definitely back on the style scene, and castor oil is here to help! In addition to the fatty acids that hydrate your skin, castor oil also contains Vitamin E – which can be linked to the hydration and stimulation of hair follicles, aka an increase in hair thickness and hair growth.3
Castor oil is easy to apply at home after your nightly skincare routine, can be left on overnight, and washes away simply with facial cleanser in the morning.
Try applying the oil directly onto your eyebrows each night with a cotton ball, q-tip, or clean mascara wand. If you find this to be too heavy or oily for your skin type, thin it down with a lighter non-comedogenic oil, like olive oil, so it can stay on overnight comfortably. For an extra special vitamin-maximizing boost, mix castor oil with Vitamin E oil before applying to double down on the follicle-boosting effects!
Hydrate Your Hair
Shampoos and conditioners are great for daily routines, but one of the lesser known castor oil uses is that it can be an effective deep conditioner for your hair. Just as castor oil helps your skin and nails, it offers significant benefits for your hair when applied as a deep conditioning hair mask. Try applying castor oil to your dry hair monthly.
To use castor oil as a deep conditioner, coat your hair with the oil when your hair is damp.
A little goes a long way, so try applying with an eye dropper, or just the tips of your fingers. You can apply the oil directly, or mix it with coconut oil first, to create a thinner conditioner that might be easier to spread.
Try warming the oil in a hot water bath for a few minutes for an extra-relaxing touch! Put your hair in a shower cap to keep it warm, and to maximize conditioning intensity. Let your hair soak up this moisturizing treatment for at least 30 minutes. Then, rinse thoroughly, or brush the oil from the scalp to the tips as a leave-in conditioner.
While castor oil is anecdotally linked to being responsible for significant hair growth (aka, those instant inches you were hoping to see), the scientific evidence to back this up is lacking. It is, however, very effective in strengthening the hair shaft and lowering the instances of split ends and breakage – which, in turn, might make your hair appear to have longer and fuller growth.4
The Fungus Among Us
Since gums are a tissue similar to your skin, it is only logical that castor oil can be used to support healthy gums.
Castor oil has antifungal properties, and studies suggest it can help reduce a specific fungus commonly found in plaque. Growth of this fungus, Candida albicans, can lead to some potentially serious gum irritation, bad breath, and yellowed teeth.5
Try including castor oil as an addition to your oral health routine. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurveda dental technique that may help lessen bacteria in the mouth, which in turn can whiten teeth and freshen breath. To try oil pulling, swish a tablespoon of castor oil in your mouth for at least 20 minutes prior to brushing your teeth. Be careful not to swallow it when you are finished (remember that laxative effect?) and spit it into the trash instead of the sink to avoid clogging your drain. Rinse your mouth with water, and then brush your teeth, and floss, as usual.6
Note: 20 mins of swishing can make your jaw and tongue tired if you are not used to this practice! Start with 5-10 mins of swishing and work your way up.
Oil pulling has been linked to everything from better skin to better breath to whiter teeth – so why not add this small use of castor oil to your morning or evening routine? 7
Scalp Calming Applications
Irritation occurs in the skin and scalp in many forms and due to many reasons – these minor-but-annoying symptoms of itching and flaking can occur from exposure to extra cold weather, too much sunshine, or potentially drying hair products. The same ricinoleic acid that serves as an effective moisturizer in your skin and hair care routine also has powerful benefits as an anti-irritation treatment when applied topically.8
For a castor oil use that hydrates your scalp, try massaging the oil into your scalp directly – using your thumbs as anchors by your ears, spread your fingers across your head and rub the oil into your skin until it feels absorbed. This application is known to reduce dry flakes and topical itchiness.9
Fun Tip: Try doing this scalp massage before your hydrating hair mask for optimal castor oil application.
Breakouts No More
No matter what age you are, having acne is a huge bummer. Too often, acne products strip your skin of all its moisture in an attempt to lessen the appearance of acne, which can sometimes backfire in a major way. Luckily, another common castor oil use addresses both of those issues beautifully and benefits your skin as more than just a topical moisturizer.
Castor oil, with its antibacterial properties, and its ability to help lessen irritation, can help ease the redness that comes with acne. And its antimicrobial properties fight against the topical bacteria found in acne, specifically Staphylococcus aureus.10
After cleansing your skin, massage a few drops castor oil into your skin with your fingertips. Try doing this while your skin is still warm from washing, which will ensure your pores are open and the most receptive. Remember to thoroughly wash your face in the morning so the oil is completely removed. The hydrating and bacteria-fighting properties of castor oil serves as a one-two punch for acne prone skin!
Castor Oil: A Common and Useful Product
Want to upgrade your bathroom cabinet to give your regular skin care and hair care routine a boost? There are so many castor oil uses that can be beneficial to you. As with any new skin or hair care treatment, remember to do a patch test on your skin to ensure you are not allergic to castor oil before beginning any of these castor oil uses. By incorporating castor oil into your beauty regimen, you’ll enjoy softer skin and beautiful, glowing tresses.
Learn More About Oils:
14 Outstanding Olive Oil Benefits For Your Skin, Hair & More
Marula Oil Benefits: Why It’s Amazing for Your Skin & Face
Pomegranate Seed Oil: 9 Amazing Benefits (plus, a DIY recipe)