Castor oil - Everything You Need to Know

by Kristof Alentijns

What is Castor Oil?

Castor Oil and Beans

Castor oil is a versatile vegetable oil that is highly popular for skincare and hair care.

The oil is rich in ricinoleic acid, which is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory fatty acid known to have a positive effect on skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and flakes.

Castor oil is often referred to as "wonder oil" because it has been used over the years for a wide range of different purposes.

The Egyptians used it to protect their eyes from irritation, and your grandmother probably used it as a remedy for constipation. Today, it is commonly found in skincare and hair care products.

Castor oil gives your hair more shine and can be used in homemade soaps and perfumes. It is an excellent natural massage oil for relieving sore muscles and stimulating blood circulation.

Where Does Castor Oil Come From?

Castor Plant

Castor oil is derived from the beans/seeds of the castor plant, Ricinus communis. This plant is originally native to East Africa, India, and the southeastern areas around the Mediterranean Sea.

The versatile beans of the castor plant are also used in the production of paint, coatings, certain types of plastics, nylon, perfumes, and more.

Castor oil was once used as a laxative and as a means to stimulate blood circulation during breastfeeding. The Egyptians used castor beans as early as 4000 BC.

Why Use Castor Oil?

Castor oil can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Natural moisturizing oil
  • Natural anti-inflammatory effects
  • Can help reduce acne
  • Antifungal properties
  • Makes your hair fuller and healthier
  • Aids in wound healing

Natural Moisturizer

Castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. This fatty acid hydrates the skin by helping it retain moisture.

Castor oil can be used on the body, face, and hair for intense hydration. Because castor oil is thick, it is often mixed with a thinner base oil such as almond oil, argan oil, or coconut oil.

Aids in Wound Healing

Castor oil can help wounds and ulcers heal faster. It creates a moist, antibacterial environment around the wound, which helps speed up the healing process and may prevent scarring.

If wounds become dry, they can develop dead skin cells around them, which can slow down the healing process. Scientific research suggests that wounds heal better when kept moist and not allowed to dry out (source).

Natural Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Ricinoleic acid possesses anti-inflammatory properties. This allows castor oil to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. It can also help soothe and moisturize the skin for people with psoriasis.

Treats Acne

The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of castor oil can be effective against acne. Inflammation is one of the causes of acne, and castor oil can help suppress the inflammatory symptoms of acne.

Acne is often caused by an imbalance of skin bacteria. Castor oil has antibacterial properties that can reduce an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

Antifungal Action

Candida is a fungus that often causes various oral infections. Castor oil has antifungal properties, and research indicates that it may combat an overgrowth of candida on tooth roots.

Keeps Your Hair Healthy

Many people use castor oil as a natural hair conditioner. Dry or damaged hair can be restored with the moisturizing properties of castor oil.

The ricinoleic acid in castor oil nourishes your hair and hydrates the hair follicles, making your hair more flexible and less prone to breakage.

It also moisturizes the scalp, which can help with dandruff and flakes.

Types of Castor Oil

There are two well-known types of castor oil: cold-pressed castor oil and Jamaican castor oil. Both types are made from the beans of Ricinus communis.

The difference between these two types of castor oil is the method of production.

Cold-pressed (yellow) castor oil is made by pressing the castor beans, and no heat is used during the process.

Jamaican castor oil is made by first roasting the castor beans, then cooking and purifying them. This process introduces ash from roasting, giving Jamaican castor oil its dark color.

Uses of Castor Oil

Hair Care with Castor Oil

For Fuller Hair, Eyelashes, and Eyebrows:

Castor oil can help make dry and damaged hair shine and feel soft again. Massage a small amount of castor oil into your hair several times a week and massage your scalp well. Leave it on for 30 minutes to a few hours, then wash it out with a gentle shampoo.

Since castor oil is quite thick, it is recommended to mix it with another oil such as argan oil or almond oil. This makes it easier to massage in and rinse out.

Castor oil is also often used in eyebrow and hair serums to give them a fuller appearance and nourish the hair follicles.

You can apply a small amount of castor oil to your eyebrows and eyelashes just before bedtime. You can do this with a cotton swab or an old mascara brush. You can also mix the castor oil with argan oil or another thinner oil.

Using castor oil a few times a week is sufficient.

As a Hair Conditioner:

You can use castor oil as a hair conditioner to hydrate your hair shafts and prevent hair breakage and loss.

Stronger Nails:

Castor oil can help strengthen your nails. It's also a great oil to moisturize dry hands after washing or during dry winter months. Simply apply a few drops of castor oil to your hands or nails.

Hydrates Dry Lips:

Castor oil is one of the most commonly used ingredients in lip balms because of its strong hydrating properties. Say goodbye to damaged, dry lips.

Mix a few drops of castor oil with coconut oil and apply it to your lips. You can also use castor oil in your homemade lip balms. To learn more about homemade lip balms, read more here.

Soothes Sunburn:

The anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil make it a perfect choice for soothing sunburned skin.

Natural Moisturizer:

Castor oil not only hydrates your body but also helps maintain your moisture balance. Castor oil is packed with healthy fatty acids that are essential for keeping your skin in optimal condition.

Recipes to Incorporate Castor Oil into Your Skincare Routine

DIY Skincare with Castor Oil

Below, you can find some recipes based on castor oil to make your own natural skincare products.

Rosemary Hair Growth Serum

  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon castor oil
  • 1 tablespoon argan or jojoba oil


Mix the three oils in a bottle and shake well.

Apply the oil to damp hair and leave it on for 15-30 minutes. Then rinse with lukewarm water. Since castor oil is a thicker oil, you may need to wash your hair a second time.

As a Scalp Serum for Keeping Your Scalp Healthy

Perfect for combating dandruff, a dry scalp, or yellow spots.

  • 2 drops tea tree oil
  • 2 drops lavender oil
  • 1 tablespoon castor oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil


Mix the castor oil and coconut oil thoroughly, then add the tea tree and lavender oils. If the coconut oil is solid, you can melt it briefly in a double boiler or microwave.

Apply the serum to damp hair and leave it on for 15-30 minutes. Rinse twice with lukewarm water.

Serum for Dry Lips

  • 2 drops lavender oil
  • 2 drops frankincense oil
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 1 teaspoon castor oil


Mix the oils well and apply to your lips when they feel dry.

Frequently Asked Questions About Castor Oil

What Type of Skin Is Castor Oil Best Suited For?

Castor oil is suitable for all skin types, including oily skin and people with acne. Castor oil is a natural cleanser that will help balance your skin's moisture.

How Should I Use Castor Oil Most Effectively?

Because castor oil is a heavy oil that can be challenging to wash out of your hair, we recommend diluting castor oil with another natural oil, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. Some people also find the strong scent of castor oil unpleasant, and using it with another oil - and optionally your favorite scented essential oil - can solve this problem.

Keep in mind that if you use castor oil for your hair, you may need to rinse your hair twice because it is such a thick oil.

How Often Should I Use Castor Oil for Best Results?

Before using castor oil, we recommend doing a patch test on the inside of your arm, just like with any new essential oil, to check for any allergic reactions within 24 hours.

For optimal results, we recommend using castor oil 1-2 times a week.

Can I Use Castor Oil to Treat Acne?

Castor oil is certainly suitable for treating acne. It has strong moisturizing properties that will hydrate your dry skin, and the antibacterial properties of castor oil will fight your acne.

Where to Buy Castor Oil?