What Is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is a light yellow oil that comes from the castor bean in Africa, South America, and India (1). It’s thicker than most oils and it doesn’t have much of a scent, but it does have lots of properties that make it a great choice for your beauty and wellness rituals.
Castor oil is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory, which means it can keep acne-causing microbes and bacteria at bay while soothing inflammation (2). It’s rich in ricinoleic acid, which may sound scary but it’s really helpful in reducing acne-causing bacteria (2).
It’s also got lots of healthy fatty acids that promote healthy tissue growth, and it has humectant properties that draw moisture into the skin (2). No matter your skin type, both the fatty acids and increased moisture are key for maintaining healthy, happy skin!
Finally – and this is my favourite reason for using castor oil – it has a comedogenic score of one, which means it’s very unlikely to clog your pores and cause blackheads (3).
As you can see, castor oil is kind of a skin care powerhouse. It’s great for all skin types, but especially for those with acne prone and irritated skin. Let’s talk about how you can use it in your beauty and wellness rituals.
Castor Oil for Skin
The oil cleansing method is a way of cleansing and moisturizing your skin in one step with just plant oils. This is why I started using castor oil, as it’s often the foundational oil in do-it-yourself recipes.
Castor oil is great for this skin care ritual because it’s inexpensive, it’s got so many amazing properties, and it’s going to help draw out impurities in the skin (mostly those pesky blackheads).
If you’re not into using oils to cleanse your skin, you can still use castor oil as a facial oil! While I don’t recommend using just castor oil as it’s a bit thick and heavy, when mixed with rosehip or argan oil it offers lots of benefits for all skin types. It will help to moisturize dry skin and reduce inflammation in sensitive skin, and the antibacterial benefits are amazing for acne prone skin.
Face Mask Ingredient
In the oil cleansing method, you massage the oils into your skin to cleanse and remove impurities. But you can get the same effect by mixing castor oil with your clarifying clay masks.
I usually mix just a couple drops with some water and clay, as too much oil could create a weirdly textured mask!
Castor Oil for Hair
Castor oil is well known for improving circulation, which makes it a great scalp oil. Increased blood flow and nutrients can speed up hair growth and improve your overall hair health while the antifungal and antibacterial properties are great for irritated, itchy scalps.
Simply massage a couple of teaspoons into damp hair. It’s best to leave overnight (use a shower cap or towel to prevent the oil from staining your pillows) and remove with shampoo in the morning.
Hair Mask Ingredient
If you’re nervous about using pure oil on your scalp (trust me, as someone with oily hair a scalp oil can be a little intimidating), you can add castor oil to your clay based hair mask.
I mix ½ cup bentonite clay, ½ cup green tea, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, and 1 teaspoon castor oil and apply to wet hair for thirty minutes. After rinsing the mask, I follow with shampoo and conditioner. The clay clarifies your scalp, the green tea provides antioxidants, the apple cider vinegar balances your scalp’s pH, and the castor oil moisturizes and reduces inflammation.
Overall, you’ll have softer, more manageable hair. I use this mask maybe twice a year when my hair just becomes too unruly and needs a little reset!
Moisturize Dry Ends
If your hair is on the drier side, you’re probably familiar with using hair oils to moisturize your ends. This is new to me, but I find castor oil to be a great option as it’s thicker than most oils, so it’s not as messy.
Castor Oil for the Body
Bring all of the healing benefits of castor oil to your whole body with a do-it-yourself body oil. I love using olive and argan oils, but castor oil adds a bit of a thicker texture, it offers more emollient and humectant properties, and it’s great for reducing the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy.
I have dry, sensitive skin, so I mix about ¾ cup of olive oil with about ¼ cup argan oil, around 3 tablespoons of castor oil, and about fifty drops of essential oil (which is totally optional). If you prefer different oils, like coconut or rosehip, you can totally substitute those!
I love cuticle oils. They’re such a simple way to make your nails look healthy. At night, after my skin care routine, I like to add just a tiny drop of castor oil to each nail to moisturize, reduce irritation, and keep them healthy.
Castor Oil for Health & Wellness
Massaging your muscles is a great way to reduce soreness, aches, and pains, but you can take it to the next level with castor oil. Since it improves circulation, the increased blood flow will help reduce sore muscles, allowing you to get back to the gym (or wherever you work out) faster and with less pain!
Heal Minor Cuts
The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make castor oil a great natural remedy to reduce pain and irritation while encouraging healing. I’ll even use it on blisters to speed up recovery.
Tip: My go-to for any kind of cut or wound is to cover with fresh aloe and follow with a little bit of castor oil.
Reduce Joint Pain
I haven’t tried this, but I’ve heard so many good things about castor oil packs. They’re easy and affordable to make and they can help reduce joint and muscle pain.
What Kind of Castor Oil is Best?
As with most oils, quality is everything. When it comes to finding quality castor oil, look for oil that is cold pressed, cold processed, and hexane free. There should be no other ingredients aside from castor oil – anything else is just a filler.
To improve the shelf life of your oil, store in a dark, cool place. Even a small bottle lasts a long time (usually at least a year) so when I open a new one, I write the date on the bottle so I know how long I’ve had it and when it’s time to toss.
A Note on Taking Castor Oil Internally
There is a lot of information out there recommending castor oil to induce labour, as a laxative, to treat parasites, headaches and insomnia, and more. While the research is interesting, I’m not comfortable recommending these methods. I’m not a doctor and everyone’s health is incredibly unique, so when it comes to using natural remedies, especially internally, I always recommend talking to your doctor about what’s right for you!
How do you use castor oil? I’d love to hear from you!
Sarah Price is the Social Media Manager for Well.ca. When she’s not posting to Instagram, she’s planning blog content, reaching out to PR contacts, and working with Influencers!