2017 has had its share of beauty trends, and they just keep rolling on in.
However, with this steady influx of shifting beauty movements, it can be confusing to know what’s what.
As conflicting advice and tips surround you, your head may be spinning with questions.
No need to stress – I’m here to sort things out for you!
As you have likely noticed by now, beauty oils have been an extremely hot topic lately.
So let’s explore one of the trendiest products of the moment: castor oil.
Why is it so popular all of a sudden?
What products can you find castor oil in?
And most importantly of all – is it truly beneficial?
We’ll start by taking a look at the origin and history of castor oil, then dive straight into the facts.
Finally, we’ll talk about its variety of uses, the assortment of benefits, and where you can find it.
Are you intrigued?
Just keep reading!
What’s the Deal?
Castor oil has been popping up all over the beauty world lately, and you might be curious as to why.
However, before we tackle the “why” – let’s talk about the “what.”
As in, what is it really?
Castor oil is a vegetable oil created by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant.
The fancy scientific name is Ricinus Communis.
Used around the world for over 4,000 years, castor oil is native to the Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India.
It has been used as a laxative, to induce labor, and even to light torches and lamps.
Fun fact: Cleopatra frequently used castor oil to brighten the whites of her eyes!
Talk about #RetroGlow and a variety of uses!
Castor oil contains a substance called ricinoleic acid, which is an unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid.
This particular element is often pinpointed as the main reason why castor oil has so many health benefits.
It’s also gained major popularity for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Clearly, castor oil has been around for some time now – so what sparked the sudden interest in today’s beauty world?
Well, besides its usefulness, here are some scientifically-proven ways that castor oil can benefit your body:
- Improves immune function
- Boosts circulation
- Promotes healthy digestion
- Balances hormones and improves libido
- Decreases symptoms of arthritis
Not too shabby, huh?
But let’s get to what we’re really interested in – how can we use it for our skin and in our beauty routines.
What Are the Beauty Benefits of Castor Oil?
Now that we’ve covered the general health benefits of castor oil, let’s zoom in on its skincare value.
Here are some key reasons why you should incorporate it into your daily routine:
- Heals inflamed skin – Because skin freakouts are never welcomed with open arms.
- Fights signs of aging – Just another way to treat wrinkles!
- Reduces acne – Goodbye, 13-year-old self-making an unwanted comeback.
- Moisturizes skin – Soak it all in!
- Prevents stretch marks before they start – No more bikini-body phobia.
- Fights dry lips – This comes in handy for these upcoming dry winter months.
- Treats sunburn – However, aim to avoid sunburns in the first place by never skipping the sunscreen!
So does this mean that castor oil is the new coconut oil? Maybe!
The good news is that castor oil can actually serve as a cheaper option!
In addition to lower market costs, the product is recommended to be used much more sparingly than coconut oil due to its thick consistency.
This ends up giving it a cost-friendly perk. Yay!
Looking beyond skincare, castor oil has also been shown to help your luscious locks.
It’s rich in minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids, all of which are particularly beneficial for the hair and scalp.
Castor oil also improves blood circulation to the scalp.
This can not only reduce flakes and itchiness (perfect to use during those pesky changing seasons!) but can also stimulate healthy hair growth.
An animal study from Revista Farmacia revealed that castor oil had a hair growing and regenerating effect.
In addition to experiencing a substantial decrease in shedding during the 35-day period, the subjects’ fur became softer and thicker.
Along with promoting growth, castor oil can also enhance your hair’s shine.
Warm up some castor oil and massage it into your hair, wrap your hair in a towel and leave for half an hour or so (or leave it overnight), then wash it off.
It will lock the moisture in your hair, condition it, and leave your locks with a beautiful, glossy look to them.
Here’s a pro tip: When using the product on your hair, make sure to dilute the castor oil with something like argan oil or jojoba oil.
On its own, it will be too heavy for the hair.
Castor oil can even boost your lashes – The Kardashians have been known to tout this as their lash secret.
All you need to do is dip into the oil lightly using a clean mascara brush for longer and stronger lashes.
Warning: This process can be messy, so just be sure to use a small amount and to only apply at night.
The same technique can also be used for thicker brows.
Plus, if you’ve had a rough night and your face is totally showing it, castor oil can come straight to the rescue.
As one of the earliest known wrinkle treatments, the product’s soothing features can be a great source for under-eye care.
Use your fingertip to gently dab the oil over your under eye area, starting from the outer area working your way inward.
This will take anywhere from five to 20 minutes to absorb, depending on your skin type.
If you’re looking for a natural remedy for acne, castor oil may be just what you need.
When used for acne, it successfully clears out dirt, bacteria, dead skin cells, and excess oils.
With the ability to penetrate the skin deeply and target blemish causes, it doesn’t clog pores and helps cleanse the skin.
If you’re still not sold, keep in mind that castor oil can also soothe dry lips.
Constantly applying lip balm is a nuisance, but just a few small drops on your lip before bed can do the trick. Hello, hydration!
How Do I Navigate Through the Different Types of Castor Oils?
Before you jump right in and go castor oil-crazy, it’s important to distinguish between the different types.
Here’s a breakdown of the difference between the two most beauty-centric castor oils.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil
In order to produce Jamaican black castor oil, the seeds first undergo roasting.
This gives the oil its dark color and burnt smell.
Jamaican black castor oil has greater purifying components due to its increased pH level, which ensues from the roasting of castor seeds.
This is believed to lead to more clarifying properties.
As a result, this type of castor oil can be particularly useful for reducing acne and cleansing the scalp.
It is also believed to help open your hair cuticles.
Cold Pressed Castor Oil
Cold pressed castor oil is made by pressing organic castor seeds with no heat involved.
The lack of heat means that there is a lower risk of degrading the oil’s natural healing properties.
Consisting of a yellowish color and thicker texture, this is the purest form of castor oil.
It’s typically cheaper than Jamaican black castor oil, and it is mostly known for its soothing properties for skin care.
Overall, most of the difference between the two types of castor oil truly comes down to their processes.
Both kinds have significant healing and moisturizing properties, and it’s really all a matter of preference!
Where Can I Find It?
As castor oil is still an up-and-coming product, it’s not always the easiest to spot it on its own.
But chances are you could be using it already!
Castor oil is often added to products such as shampoo, moisturizer, and lipstick for hydration purposes.
It is also used in several acne prevention products – particularly those that contain benzoyl peroxide.
To buy a plain ‘ol bottle of it, your best bet is to go to a pharmacy or organic store.
If you can’t seem to locate it in the hair or beauty section, there is a good chance you can find it in the medicine aisle.
If you prefer, you can also choose to simply purchase online (which is often a cheaper option).
When searching for a high-quality version, it’s important to keep an eye out for certain terms and labels.
Here are the top ones to make sure to look out for:
- Cold-pressed. This means that the castor oil has been extracted on its own, without the addition of heat and chemicals.
- Virgin. When a bottle is labeled this way, it means that castor beans are cold pressed for the first time. This ensures that the product is high-quality, and offers enhanced health benefits through essential nutrients, fatty acids, and minerals.
- Hexane-free. Not familiar with the term? Hexane is a popular solvent, which is frequently used to extract oils from vegetables. While it’s said to be non-toxic and presents only a low risk to humans and animals, there is still a great deal of controversy in many places when it comes to inclusion in foods and consumer products.
- USDA certified organic. The label means that the castor plant has been given the “go ahead” from USDA organic inspections. This guarantees that there are no risky chemicals or pesticides involved in any step of the castor oil making process.
Are There Any Side Effects I Should Be Worried About?
While I have highlighted some lovely benefits of castor oil, it’s important to note that there are a few potentially not-so-delightful side effects.
First, it can cause irritation.
The International Journal of Toxicology confirms the safety of castor oil for human use, but the pure product can still be severely irritating to exposed skin if your body isn’t a fan.
A bad reaction may lead to an itchy and uncomfortable rash.
If you’ve never used castor oil before, I recommend trying it on a small patch of skin first, such as the back of the wrist, to make sure that your body is game for some castor oil lovin’ before using it all over.
Second, using castor oil on the skin may speed up the absorption of other ingredients.
This means that if you use cosmetic products that contain castor oil, your skin may absorb the other ingredients in the product more quickly than normal.
If you’re sensitive or allergic to any substances, always be sure to read ingredient labels on all cosmetic products carefully to avoid any trouble.
Remember: As exciting as new trends can be, your health comes first. If you’re noticing any kind of weird reaction, it might be time to hop off the castor oil train!
Speaking of weird reactions, here’s a little best practice tip: Because of that extra thick factor I mentioned earlier, it’s advised to mix castor oil up with a carrier oil (ex. coconut, almond, or olive oil.)
Adding it to shea butter also promotes an extra-moisturizing effect.
Additionally, always be aware of expiration.
Keep in mind that good traditional cold-pressed castor oil will be clear and odorless – it will vary from a light straw color to gold.
If it’s dark brown, it’s definitely time to toss!
Finally, experts often heavily advise against taking castor oil orally.
Pregnant and nursing women, in particular, are warned not to ingest the product, as this may cause acute inflammatory intestinal disease, abdominal pain, and appendicitis.
An overdose of castor oil may also lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
Although I previously mentioned it has been used successfully as a laxative, I suggest leaving castor oil in your beauty routine – not your diet!
There are a variety of DIY projects using castor oil out there, such as this Castor Oil Scrub for the Face.
All you’ll need is the product itself, a carrier oil of your choice, water, and a washcloth!
I’m loving the simplicity here.
If you want to explore haircare options, there are Castor Oil Hair Serum Recipes – which also require only a few items, and are just as easy!
Let’s be real – who doesn’t love a not-so-complicated (but still effective) beauty project?
I know I do!
The beauty industry is constantly evolving and switching things up on us, and it’s always exciting to get the inside scoop on the latest trends.
Keep in mind that what works great for one person may not be quite right for you.
Know your skin type, and perform a patch test before trying a new ingredient, such as castor oil.
Better to be safe than sorry!
Castor oil may become a significant part of your beauty routine or just a small enhancement to your tried-and-true process.
Whether you try the product to strengthen your hair, boost your lashes, or hydrate those pesky chapped lips, I hope that you find a use (or multiple!) that work wonderfully for you.
Beauties, have you tried castor oil in your skincare regimen? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments!