Did you know that castor is latin for “beaver” and that castor oil is so called because it was extracted from beavers’ groins before it was discovered in plants? No? Neither did I until recently.
Following the castor oil challenge that started in the U.S. castor oil has grown in popularity amongst the natural hair community.
Of all oils castor oil has one of the highest proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They form 89% of its fatty acid content.
Castor oil has many medicinal and industrial uses but its benefits to hair can be summarised as follows:[i]
1. Locks in hair moisture.
This is the best oil for locking in moisture externally due to the large proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids. For the most part, castor oil’s fatty acids cannot penetrate the hair follicle, they latch onto the outside of the hair fibre and stop any moisture escaping. This feature means that castor oil needs to be applied at the end of the moisturising process to lock in the moisture.
If you use castor oil and find that it’s “making your dry” it is very likely that you are using the castor oil at the wrong point into your hair regimen process. If you apply it before washing or before you have applied a proper moisturiser it will prevent water molecules (the main source of moisture) from getting into the hair fibre.
2. Attracts moisture from the environment. Castor oil is a humectant. It literally attracts water molecules from air further moisturising your hair.
3. It softens hair as a result of locking in moisture and due to a wealth of omega-9 fatty acids which nourish the hair.
4. It adds lustre and shine to hair.
5. It helps reduce frizz.
6. It can help to reduce premature greying of hair.
7. Other’s argue that castor oil helps to reduce thinness and balding but there is no scientific research to support this unlike for the ingredients that go into Neno Natural’s Hair Growth Stimulator.
8. Regular application of castor oil is reported to promote hair growth (personally, I think it acts more to help with retention, i.e. reduce breakage)
The above said, note that castor oil would not be my first choice for moisturising my scalp, especially not neat, because it is not as light as jojoba, argan oil and coconut oil. It’s also not as rich as the above in say vitamin E (argan oil has a very high vitamin E content) and also doesn’t have a sebum-like structure like jojoba (sebum is the oil that the scalp naturally produces to moisturise itself).
For maximum benefit mix castor oil with another oil, e.g. jojoba, argan, castor or avocado oil.
Refined or unrefined castor oil?
Unrefined castor oil is poisonous! You need the refined version.
You might also like:
THE best oil for natural hair. A mega summary!
The supersonic benefits of argan oil on natural black hair
6 fabulous benefits of avocado oil on natural hair
6 top benefits of coconut oil - a MUST for every natural hair regimen!
8 great benefits of jojoba oil on natural hair
5 benefits of sweet almond oil on natural hair
Get your FREE ebook on How To Grow Long, Healthy Natural Kinky or Curly Hair.
[i] Castor oil (wikipedia); Castor oil (naturalnews.com); What are the benefits of using castor oil on hair (livestrong); Castor oil's many uses for beautiful skin and hair (skinverse);
21/11/2012 09:50:26 pm
Refined or unrefined castor oil?
Heather @ Neno Natural
21/11/2012 11:08:43 pm
Thanks Funmi!! I have corrected myself now. You need the refined version. I doubt you would ever find the unrefined castor oil anyway but if you're coming up with your own product line at least you'd understand why your supplier can't give you the inrefined version :)
14/10/2013 12:59:34 am
I'm using the unrefined one and did not have any problems with it. In fact, to me it seems like the unrefined one is doing a better job than the refined one. Don't ever drink the unrefined one though. The refined one can be drunk to clear the digestive system.
25/7/2015 11:21:00 pm
This word "Refined" itself is a deceiving word. So, do not use any refined oil, its a process where they heat and also add petrol's bi products to get more quantity. Use cold pressing traditional oil to save you and your family from diseases like heart attack, cholesterol. Take Care. Do not watch TV advertisements and be cheated.
12/12/2012 08:18:53 pm
I was wondering if I could mix it with olive oil and vitamin e oil?
Heather @ Neno Natural
13/12/2012 03:54:40 am
Absolutely, you can mix oils together to get the benefits of each one.
9/8/2013 11:06:15 pm
what proportion should i mix olive oil and castor oil and vitamin E capsules .. would it work for hair loss and new growth of my hair
22/9/2013 06:53:28 am
I'm using a mixture of olive oil, castor oil, and vitamin E with keratin (also an oil), and it's doing wonders for my hair. I just mix equal parts. I do about 2 TBS of each in a small squirt bottle. Hope this helps.
4/3/2014 01:57:42 am
Is it possible that we can mix Castor Oil and Jojoba Oil together to apply on hairs.
28/3/2014 11:46:51 am
I am just starting to use Jamaican Black Castor oil... Thanks for all the great tips...
22/4/2014 03:10:03 am
I have alopecia and I started the challenge one month ago to see if I can stimulate hair growth in the bald spots. I used 2 oz. of castor oil to 3 drops each of rosemary, thyme, lavender and cedar wood oils. In the beginning I had very itchy scalp and irritated follicles. I was advised to continue, but shampoo every four days or so with a peppermint shampoo. This helped a whole lot.
4/7/2014 10:41:25 am
I had a quick weave applied to my hair and wore it for 3 weeks. After removing the weave i now have several bold spots. I just saw a dermatologist who says i have alopecia!! To add to this i want to wear my hair natural. I have not found a product that i like. After doing some reading, i think i will this oil. Any suggestions/recommendations
4/7/2014 02:40:10 pm
I found that sticking with the castor oil along with the rosemary, lavender, thyme and cedar wood oils really jump started the hair growth in the bald spots. After the three month challenge, I added coconut oil and I'm still seeing progress. The sides and crowns are growing slowly, but the middle spots are growing much faster. In the meantime, I am not using any chemicals on my hair and wearing a cap until the hair grows back.
30/5/2014 02:48:40 pm
Last year I developed a bald spot on my scalp due to lupus of the skin. It was about the size of a quarter and a nickel put together. The dermatologist said my hair may not grow back due to scarring. I started applying castor oil every night and within a couple months, the spot is no longer visible. My hair has grown back. It's still growing and getting thicker.
31/5/2014 04:51:38 am
4/9/2014 12:46:24 am
hi does it really work??
3/9/2014 07:18:17 pm
I have bald patches I hv started using coconut oil, jojoba oil, castor oil every day after co wash, is this okay as i dont wash it off! i also use this for deep conditioning overnight! Once a week and co wash in the morning
10/11/2015 02:01:52 am
Well applying the castor oil with a mix of other oils is good but there are no substantial evidence of better results of the mix being left for more than 3 to 3.5hrs, so leaving overnight also shall give u the same results as usage of 3-3.5hrs provided the oil mix is applied to the scalp when its luke warm n it is kept warm by wrapping a warm wet towel. Dont forget the shower cap before wearing the towel.
30/4/2015 05:10:36 am
Your information may not be correct. Castor oil composed mostly of monounsaturated fatty acid according to what I have read.
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