The jury is still out on whether castor oil promotes hair growth, with mixed options all over the map. While some can’t stop raving about its hair-enhancing prowess, others find it to be a downright nightmare when it comes to application and rinsing. It’s a tale of two extremes. This is enough to convince us it’s worth digging through clinical research and real-life experience to see the truth. Stay with us because we’re here to cut through the noise and give the verdict on whether castor oil can help you regrow your hair and breathe new life into your scalp.
What is castor oil?
Castor oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the castor plant (Ricinus communis). It’s rich in various active compounds, including ricinoleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid that can act as a humectant and moisturizer), antioxidants, minerals, and proteins. In terms of consistency, cator oil is volatile and very thick and sticky, which, as you guessed, makes its application on the scalp not quite easy.
Benefits of castor oil for hair
Castor oil offers an array of benefits that can boost your hair’s vitality. It’s packed with essential nutrients that nourish and strengthen the hair from root to tip, helping reduce split ends and breakage. Its moisturizing properties also help hydrate and condition the scalp, which can aid in restoring shine and luster to damaged strands and taming frizz.
Moreover, castor oil’s high ricinoleic acid content stimulates blood circulation, giving your hair follicles more nutrients and oxygen to grow healthier hair. Additionally, it has antimicrobial properties that help combat scalp infections, fostering a clean environment for hair growth.
Does castor oil make your hair grow?
Castor oil might benefit hair growth since it nourishes the strands and protects against breakage and thinning hair. That’s the theory, at least, since there are actually no studies and reports on the uses and benefits of castor oil with regard to hair growth. It’s also unlikely to reduce hair shedding—no studies or FDA approval support it.
Despite the lack of evidence, people are still praising the hair growth-stimulating effects of castor oil. One Redditor says, “I was bald for a bit because of chemo; but that was more than 10 years ago. My hair grew back, but my part was wider than usual. I started using black castor oil about 2 years ago and am convinced that my part has since narrowed. My hair seems to grow faster now too. But one thing I suspect, that I’ve never seen anyone else talk about, is that it has slowed the growth of grey hair. Now that’s a little difficult to prove, I know, but I have a lot of sisters, and they all are mostly grey, and I have very little grey. The only downside, as far as I am concerned, is applying it as it is very gloopy.”
Another one: “I found that castor oil used in small amounts helped keep hair somewhat smooth, but it also weighs hair down a little.”
But again, there are mixed options. Others haven’t seen major changes but actually have been displeased by how castor oil made their hair greasy. Some have even seen hair fall because of castor oil. “I used to use castor oil 2-3 times a week, for 2-3 months at a time. It was very troublesome to rinse off. Better off without it,” says a Redditor.
What about eyebrows?
Regular use of castor oil as part of your eyebrow care routine can help improve the appearance of your eyebrows, but to say that it can promote their growth is a bold statement. Again, there’s no study on this matter.
Is castor oil right for you?
Castor oil is ideal for dry or flaky scalp and brittle hair. However, for those with oily hair, it may be too heavy and could result in greasiness.
Does it clog hair follicles?
Castor oil, when used in moderation, is unlikely to clog hair follicles. It’s a relatively thick oil, but its molecular structure allows it to be easily absorbed by the skin. However, using excessive amounts or not properly cleansing the scalp and hair can potentially lead to build-up and clogged follicles. You can avoid this by applying castor oil sparingly and ensuring thorough cleansing.
Is it safe to use castor oil on hair?
Although it’s generally considered safe, applying castor oil to the scalp has a slight chance of causing skin irritation. So start slow and try not to overdo it. You may as well do a patch test—rub a small amount of castor oil on your elbow area to test for any allergic reaction before use.
Also, people with long hair should be cautious about using castor oil, particularly when combined with coconut oil (which is often blindly recommended on the internet.) It can be very difficult to remove from strands, which can turn into a nightmare for someone with long hair.
Even more worrying is that in a 2017 study, a 20-year-old girl developed a rare condition called acute hair felting after applying a mix of castor and coconut oils to the hair. The study found that the high viscosity and sticky consistency of castor oil can cause the hair strands to stick together. As the hair was washed and exposed to friction, the strands twisted and tangled because of the electrostatic attraction of hair fibers. This can result in a messy and tangled appearance that resembles a bird’s nest.
To give you an idea, it looks like this:
How to use castor oil?
If you’re still tempted to use castor oil, here’s how to do it safely:
Direct scalp massage
You can directly apply pure castor oil to the scalp. Bear in mind that it’s very slippery, so it will be challenging to make it all stay on your head.
For starters, opt for cold-pressed or organic castor oil, as they retain more of the beneficial nutrients. Apply by warming up a small amount of oil in your hands and massaging it into the scalp. But first, divide your hair into smaller sections to ensure an even application of the castor oil.
Then apply the oil by gently massaging it into the scalp, focusing on the areas where you want to promote hair growth. You can also apply a small amount of oil to the length of your hair to moisturize the strands.
Once you have applied the castor oil, leave it on your scalp for at least 30 minutes to let it absorb. After 30 minutes, rinse thoroughly with a mild shampoo to remove the oil.
Mix it with a carrier oil
Castor oil is quite thick and viscous, so some people prefer to dilute it with a lighter carrier oil like rosemary or grape seed before applying it to the scalp. You can also mix it with aloe vera gel to reduce the viscosity.
For a more intensive treatment, you can apply castor oil to your scalp and leave it on overnight. Before bedtime, apply the oil to your scalp using your preferred method (direct massage or carrier oil mixture). Cover your hair with a shower cap or towel to protect your pillowcase from staining. Leave the oil on overnight and wash it out in the morning. Although we don’t recommend this method, some people prefer this.
How to pick the best castor oil?
There are a few things to consider before shopping for castor oil, such as the purity level, extraction method, or concentration of hexane.
A 100% pure castor oil means it’s not mixed with other oils or synthetic ingredients that could impact the active compounds.
The castor oil should also be hexane-free. Hexane is a chemical solvent used to extract oil from plant seeds to make the process easier. This solvent, in most cases, causes impurities to remain in the oil.
Cold-pressed indicates that the oil was extracted from castor seeds without applying heat. This ensures that the oil retains more of its natural nutrients and beneficial compounds for hair.
Jamaican black castor oil is also a popular option. This variety of castor oil is made by roasting the castor seeds before pressing them. The roasting process gives the oil a dark color and a distinct smoky aroma.
Products we recommend
Sky Organics Cold-Pressed Castor Oil
This castor oil will do the job for dry hair and flaky scalp. It’s 100% pure, unrefined, and cold-pressed, with no added ingredients, fragrances, alcohol, or preservatives. It’s an Amazon best-selling product for a reason. P.S.: You can also use it for your lashes, brows, and skin.
Pura D’or Organic Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Or you can moisturize your hair and reduce flakes and itching caused by a dry scalp with this organic Jamaican black castor oil. It’s rich in vitamin E, omega fatty acids, and minerals with hair-strengthening benefits.
Healing Solutions Castor Oil
USDA-certified, this castor oil is 100% pure. It’s undiluted, free of hexane and other chemicals that would make the oil less effective.
Castor oil is just very thick and can act as a protective layer at best. It’s more effective to use on eyebrows, to nourish the scalp and reduce shaft damage. But it does not promote hair growth, and there’s no actual evidence providing otherwise. Only applying castor oil alone won’t magically make your hair regrow; it just provides additional protection.