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Home arrow Beauty arrow Hair arrow Castor Oil for Hair Growth: What You Need to Know

Castor Oil for Hair Growth: What You Need to Know

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: May 19, 2023
6 min read 965 Views 0 Comments
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Can castor oil promote hair growth, or is it nothing more than an old wives’ tale? Find the answer and discover our step-by-step guide to applying castor oil to your hair.

castor oil for hair growth

After months or even years of waiting for your hair to grow, you might quickly snap up any potential remedy.

Castor oil is one such remedy that gets people talking. Some people give castor oil credit for their longer, thicker, and overall healthier looking hair. But like many hair solutions, whether the results are legitimate or just another beauty myth is sometimes unclear.

Explore whether hair growth is possible when incorporating castor oil into your hair care routine.

Castor Oil for Hair Growth: The Truth About It

Castor oil is popular in the beauty industry for its moisturizing properties. It has several purported benefits for hair health, from nourishing the scalp to promoting hair growth. In addition, those who apply castor oil to their hair regularly may witness the following benefits and side effects.

What Is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a unique vegetable oil. It is extracted from pressed castor beans, also called Ricinus communis – a flowering plant from the Euphorbiaceae, or spurge, family. Castor seeds contain the toxic component ricin, but the oil undergoes a filtering process to remove it.

People have long used castor oil as a multipurpose solution to various health and beauty ailments, like boosting hair growth.

These include relief for constipation (it is particularly well-known for its laxative effects), moisturizing dry skin, treating skin conditions, and speeding up wound healing. You can find castor oil in several cosmetics, including skin and hair products.

Castor oil is a rich source of omega-9 and omega-6 fatty acids. These unsaturated fats are great for hair because of their moisturizing effects. The oil is particularly high in ricinoleic acid, which is well-known in the cosmetics industry for helping to hydrate the skin.

The hair can also benefit from good amounts of vitamin E. Vitamin E has potent antioxidant properties that may help to improve poor scalp health by decreasing oxidative stress. In addition, this powerful vitamin helps maintain healthy skin, which may protect the scalp skin.

Benefits of Castor Oil

Using castor oil regularly in your hair care routine has several advantages. It is loaded with nourishing and protective qualities that work to keep your hair in healthy condition. Castor oil’s benefits include the following:

Possible Side Effects of Castor Oil

Castor oil can have some unwanted side effects, despite its natural origin. It should not damage your hair or trigger hair loss, but it may cause allergic reactions in some people. You should be extra cautious when using castor oil if you have sensitive skin.

Studies show castor oil may be a potential cause of allergic contact dermatitis when applied to the skin. It may cause irritation, rashes, itching, and swelling. As it comes into contact with the scalp when using it to boost your hair’s health, the following effects may occur:

  • Scalp irritation, including itchy and dry scalp
  • Dandruff or build-up on the scalp and in the strands

Using it as a stimulant laxative can upset the digestive system, causing abdominal cramping, vomiting, bloating, and dizziness.

Is castor oil safe for you? The only way to answer this question is with a skin patch test. You should always test castor oil on a small patch of skin before applying it to your body or scalp.

How to Apply Castor Oil on Hair: A Step-By-Step Guide

Applying castor oil is a rather simple method. Just keep in mind that castor oil is a staining substance – it can leave permanent stains on fabric, including clothes. So, before you begin the application, start by covering your clothes or changing into old items you no longer wear.

Here are 5 steps to follow when you use castor oil:

  1. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and apply the oil to your scalp using an applicator brush for even application. If you don’t have an applicator brush, just add a few drops to your scalp.
  2. Gently massage the oil deep into your scalp. You can add a pinch of turmeric to the carrier oil as this spice might enhance blood circulation.
  3. Then, add castor oil to the rest of your hair, coating the strands and using a comb to spread it evenly throughout.
  4. Cover your head with a shower cap. Ensure complete coverage to prevent excess oil from dripping and causing stains.
  5. Leave the shower cap on for about 2 hours to ensure you acquire the benefits of castor oil. This leaves enough time to stimulate the hair follicles, shaft, and scalp. Some people prefer to leave it on longer for a deep-conditioning treatment.
  6. When the time is up, wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo. You can then apply conditioner and style as usual. Be gentle with your hair while drying.

How to Choose the Best Castor Oil for Hair Growth

Choosing the best castor oil for your hair can be tricky. You might find the store shelves are packed with different products. To make the decision a little easier, it helps to know that castor oil generally falls into 2 categories: black castor oil and yellow castor oil.

The traditional castor oil is yellow. It is made by cold pressing the castor beans without applying any heat or chemicals. Cold-pressed castor oil is castor oil in its purest form.

Black castor oil, often called Jamaican black castor oil, requires roasting castor beans, followed by a heating method to extract the oil. This processing method makes black castor oil a more alkaline product. It may benefit those with a sensitive scalp as it helps balance the pH level. 

Both types contain ricinoleic acid – the primary active component. They appear to provide similar results when it comes to supporting hair growth. 

You can find castor oil in various hair care products, from shampoos to treatment masks. Always check the ingredients label if you’re going to buy castor oil cosmetics. You can avoid additives by purchasing natural, organic castor oil.

FAQs

How long should you leave castor oil in your hair?

Most recommendations suggest leaving castor oil on your hair for 15–30 minutes. However, the duration also depends on your hair type. Those with dry hair types may benefit from leaving castor oil overnight as a treatment.

How long does it take for castor oil to work?

Castor oil is a restorative treatment. Leaving it on your hair for around 2 hours should give it time to take action. However, how long castor oil takes to work depends on your goals. It could take several weeks or months to see noticeable hair growth results.

Can you put castor oil in your hair every day?

Castor oil is not meant for daily use. One of the biggest risks of using castor oil is that it can build up on your scalp, clogging the hair follicles and potentially causing oily hair and matting. Try applying this oil once or twice weekly to witness results without the possible side effects.

Is castor oil good for hair loss?

Castor oil contains proteins, fatty acids, and potent antioxidants that promote healthy hair. Some evidence supports the idea that castor oil is good for hair loss, primarily due to ricinoleic acid. Still, it’s better to discuss effective hair loss solutions with your doctor.

Does castor oil thicken hair?

Some people swear by castor oil for maintaining a full and thick head of hair. While there is limited scientific evidence to prove the concept, this oil contributes to healthier hair overall. This may support hair regrowth, making way for thicker hair.

A Word From a Trichologist

For stronger, healthier, and shinier hair, you can benefit from castor oil’s nourishing and anti-inflammatory properties. As it supports your hair’s health in several ways, it could provide an ideal environment that makes the hair grow faster.

Castor oil is weighty and sticky. You can dilute it with carrier oils, such as coconut or jojoba oil, for easier application.

If castor oil doesn’t give you results, there are other remedies to try. Check out your diet first. A lack of nutrients like B vitamins, biotin, and protein may stall hair growth and contribute to hair loss. Try filling your meals with hair-boosting foods like eggs, salmon, herring, and walnuts.

You should also get regular trims, reduce heat damage from styling, and drink enough water.

Conclusion

Castor oil, like the other oils, won’t directly make your hair grow, but it can help create a healthy environment that paves the way for hair growth. It can hydrate, soothe, and increase blood flow to the scalp while strengthening the strands to prevent breakage.

Use castor oil sparingly but regularly. Once or twice a week should suffice, as this will give you time to witness the benefits of your particular hair type.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: May 19, 2023
6 min read 965 Views 0 Comments
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