I’ve been experimenting a lot with castor oil lately as a natural beauty remedy. I already use it in my oil cleansing blend each day, and I’m enjoying the results from using castor oil packs on my skin.
Years ago, a friend mentioned that she loved castor oil for hair and eyelashes. I was really skeptical because castor oil has a very thick and sticky consistency that I couldn’t imagine using in hair. I did some research and found out that I had been seriously missing out on a simple and really effective traditional beauty remedy…
Benefits of Castor Oil for Hair and Skin
Castor oil is an age-old beauty treatment that has been largely replaced over time by fancier beauty products with more ingredients and a bigger price tag.
Castor oil has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties and is high in vitamin E, minerals, proteins, and omega-6 and -9 beneficial fatty acids. Its unusually high ricinoleic acid ratio makes it beneficial to skin and hair.
In fact, castor oil has traditionally been used topically for acne and other skin conditions, as well as hair loss, rashes, and more. If you want to try it for skincare, I recommend this handcrafted castor oil cleansing blend.
What Does Castor Oil Do for the Hair?
Castor oil can be used on the scalp to help prevent and remedy hair loss and it is effective at this for several reasons. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties make it beneficial against follliculitus, dandruff, and scalp infections and its ricinoleic acid content helps increase circulation to the scalp and improve hair growth.
Ricinoleic acid is also said to help balance scalp pH which can also help replenish the scalp’s natural oils and undo some of the damage of harsh chemical hair products (and even damage from no-poo, due to over alkalinity). The antioxidants in castor oil also support the keratin in hair and help make hair stronger, smoother, and less frizzy.
“Three Times the Growth!”
There are hundreds of testimonials from people who used castor oil to increase their hair growth 3-5 times the normal rate. A friend of mine was struggling with postpartum hair loss and even once her hair loss slowed, regrowing her hair was difficult.
She measured her hair growth for a month and it grew almost half an inch. The next month, after using castor oil hair treatments twice a week, her hair had grown almost 2 inches. She tested this again the following month and noticed the same result and that her hair was dramatically thicker.
What Type of Castor Oil for Hair?
There are several options for castor oil hair treatments. I prefer to make my own, but there are some pre-made options (this is a good one that I’ve tried in the past).
To make my own, I mix castor oil with another hair-healthy oil (options listed below) and herbs to help support scalp health. Unrefined and cold-pressed hexane-free castor oil is preferred.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil
There is a special type of castor oil called Jamaican black castor oil that has extremely good reviews. I tried it as well and it seemed to work about the same as regular castor oil on my hair, but it seems that it might provide additional benefit for those with thick or dry hair (my hair is fine/oily).
How to Use Castor Oil Treatments on Hair
Castor oil can be very beneficial for hair growth if used correctly. Small amounts of plain oil can be used for an all-over treatment. Like many things in life, more is not always better, and only a few drops are needed per treatment. The additional oils are completely optional.
I personally use this castor oil 1-2 times per week. It can be used more often, though I didn’t see any increased results with using it daily.
When to Use
I’ve found that this treatment works better on damp but not wet hair. I keep a spray bottle of water in the bathroom and just spritz my roots before applying.
For maximum benefit, I leave the treatment on for several hours or overnight. After applying, I use a shower cap or towel to avoid getting the oil on furniture or a pillow.
How to Remove the Oil
Removing the castor oil can be difficult, especially with natural shampoos. I’ve found that using a small amount and leaving it on overnight will result in most of the oil absorbing into the hair and scalp and make cleanup easier. In fact, I’ve been able to use dry shampoo and not wash on a few occasions. When I do shampoo, I use a natural shampoo or mud shampoo as normal.
An alternate way is to crack an egg and whisk until smooth and then massage the egg into the scalp. This helps break down the oil and adds additional nutrients to the hair. It is messy though, so I’d recommend doing this in the shower.
Another less-messy way is to condition your hair before getting in the shower, massaging conditioner into the scalp to help remove the castor oil. Then, shampoo as usual.
With any new oil, herb, or product, test a tiny amount on your inner arm to make sure you don’t have a reaction. While reactions are rare, some people will notice irritation from castor oil.
I’ve also used this in combination with my hair growth serum with great results. (I use the serum first to dampen hair, then apply the castor oil.)
It is also important to support the body nutritionally and hormonally with hair loss, as this can often be a sign of an internal problem.
BONUS TIP: I rub a tiny amount of castor oil on my eyelids at night to help eyelash growth as well. It is also part of my eyelash growth serum recipe.
Castor Oil Hair Serum Recipe
- Combine the ingredients in a dark-colored dropper bottle.
- Shake to mix.
- Use the dropper to apply to the scalp. I part my hair right above the ear on one side, add a few drops of castor oil, part again about ½ inch from that part, add more castor oil, and so on until I’ve coated my whole scalp.
- Then, I massage for 5 minutes to make sure entire scalp is coated and to help increase circulation.
My Own Results with Castor Oil…
Last year, when I was under extreme stress for a short period of time (finishing my book *ahem*), I noticed increased hair loss. My Hashimoto’s makes me more susceptible to hair loss when I’m under stress, and I was stressed about my hair loss (vicious cycle).
To combat this, I experimented with natural castor oil treatments both alone and mixed with other oils. I too noticed that my hair seemed stronger and that there was definitely less hair in my brush each day after a few weeks of castor oil treatments. Additionally, I started seeing tiny new hairs all around my hair line.
I split my head open when I was younger, requiring 8 staples in my scalp. Where the scar is, I have a patch of super-curly hair that falls in a perfect ringlet, even though the rest of my hair is wavy/straight. The castor oil seemed to help make this hair patch smoother, though it grew at a faster rate than the rest of my hair.
Now, I’ve made these castor oil hair treatments a regular part of my weekly routine and often do them at night, while wearing my blue blocker glasses and reading or watching a movie with my hubby.
This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Ever used castor oil? What was your best oil blend?