Castor oil, a vegetable oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of castor oil plant (Ricinus Communis L.) and it is majorly cultivated in South America, Africa and India. Castor oil has a unique structure and thus, it offers interesting properties, making it appropriate for various cosmetic preparations for skin and hair. Many people apply castor oil on their scalp and hair to enhance the hair growth.

The composition of Castor Oil

Castor oil is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids. Ricinoleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid present in castor oil, which is responsible for most of its beneficial properties. This pale yellow colored oil is an excellent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds too.Castor oil Plant

Castor seeds contain ‘ricin’, a toxic enzyme, which is poisonous in nature, but during the process of extraction of castor oil from its seeds, this enzyme is denatured. Heating the oil deactivates ricin and all you get at the end is a non-toxic and safe castor oil.

Benefits of Castor Oil for Hair

Let’s have a look at how castor oil nourishes the hair:

Castor Oil for Hair Growth

Castor oil is commonly used to improve hair growth and to fight pre-mature baldness. This oil is a great source of ricinoleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid, which possesses anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These properties of ricinoleic acid make castor oil an effective treatment for hair loss.

Regular application of castor oil prevents hair loss and nourishes the roots. Inflammation of the scalp blocks the flow of the nutrient-rich blood to the hair follicle and thus, the hair follicles are unable to receive the required nutrients. This damages the hair and causes hair fall.Long Hair

The anti-inflammatory property of ricinoleic acid suppresses the production of pro-inflammatory compounds and increases the action of anti-inflammatory compounds. Hence, castor oil enhances blood flow towards the scalp and prevents hair loss.

How often should I use castor oil for hair growth?

For promoting hair growth, castor oil should be applied to the scalp at least twice a week. For maximum benefits, its scalp application can be repeated for 3 to 4 times a week.

Prevents Scalp Infection

Castor oil possesses anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. A bacterial or fungal infection of the scalp may lead to pus-filled boils, irritation, itchiness and redness. It further causes inflammation of the hair follicles, which leads to poor quality of hair and hair loss.

The anti-microbial action of castor oil is attributed to the presence of ricinoleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid. This fatty acid prevents the multiplication and colonisation of bacteria and fungus on the scalp. It helps in clearing out the bacteria and causes its complete eradication.

Once the bacteria or fungus is eliminated, the infection will automatically subside. Hence, people with such infections can rely on castor oil, but it is always better to ask your health-care provider before starting with the castor oil application.

Treats Dandruff

Dandruff is a chronic condition of the scalp that is characterized by visible flakes and it is caused by fungus. The bioactive compounds present in castor oil exhibit anti-dandruff activity.

These compounds inhibit the growth and multiplication of the fungus and enhance their elimination and complete clearance.

Dandruff gets deposited on the scalp and weakens the hair. This affects the growth, texture and strength of the hair.

Castor oil is a natural way to get rid of dandruff and to nourish the hair from its roots. Ricinoleic acid present in castor oil keeps the head skin clean, healthy and maintains the correct pH too.

Besides this, castor oil is completely safe, natural and it does not contain any harsh chemicals like other hair-care products available in the market.

Fights Pattern Baldness

Oxidative stress causes premature aging of the hair and may cause pattern baldness. High levels of free radicals attack the scalp, block the blood flow and reduce the ability to support healthy and long hair. Hence, it can be concluded that oxidative stress can exacerbate the onset of pattern baldness.

Castor oil is a great source of antioxidants. Regular use of castor oil on scalp and hair can reduce the free radical attack and fight against oxidative stress. It scavenges the free radicals and protects the cells against damage and death. Hence, castor oil may be an effective agent in fighting against pattern baldness.

Prevents Dry Scalp

Castor oil is a natural moisturizing agent. Its application on the scalp may help in the treatment of dry scalp and it also helps in clearing out flakes caused due to dry scalp. Itching and irritation associated with dry scalp can also be eliminated with the regular use of castor oil.

It helps in maintaining normal skin pH values and skin moisture. Dry scalp further leads to thinning of the hair and hair fall. By maintaining the proper scalp moisture, you can even improve the health of your hair and prevent unwanted hair loss and hair fall. It further replenishes the natural oils of the scalp and keeps the scalp healthy.

Other Benefits

Castor oil is a magic potion for shiny and healthy hair. It is an effective natural remedy for hair thinning, split ends and dry and rough hair. It smoothens rough hair cuticles and helps in the management of frizzy hair.

It contains vitamin E and other healthy compounds that fight bacterial and fungal infections, inflammation and oxidative stress.

Castor oil nourishes the hair from the roots by enhancing the blood flow towards the scalp. This improves the texture of the hair and prevents hair fall.

Safety

An interesting study assessed the safety of castor oil used in the cosmetic preparation and it was concluded that castor oil is safe to use topically. The compounds present in castor oil are not toxic and completely safe. However, it is suggested that castor oil, when diluted with a carrier oil, is safer and less irritating to the skin.

How to Use Castor Oil for Hair Growth

Before applying castor oil on your hair and scalp, apply some oil on a small patch of your skin. If there are no adverse reactions on the skin patch, you can go ahead with castor oil.

Do not apply castor oil directly on your scalp and hair. Always dilute it with a healthy carrier oil of your choice. Some of the carrier oil options include:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Almond oil
  • Jojoba oil

Why do we need carrier oil for Castor Oil?

  • Castor oil has high viscosity and it is thick. Mixing it with a carrier oil will make it light and easy to apply.
  • You can mix 2-3 oils together for a better effect. For example- mix olive oil + argan oil + castor oil together.  For dandruff, Tea Tree Oil can also be added. Add them to a jar and shake well.
  • To fight dry scalp, slightly heat coconut oil with a few drops of castor oil. Apply this warm oil properly on your scalp and hair. Repeat this procedure regularly to restore the moisture and to replenish the natural oils of your hair and scalp.
  • The absorption of castor oil is enhanced when it is applied to damp hair. In such a way, it becomes easier for the oil to absorb into the roots.

Note: Castor oil can be applied on damp hair, but not wet hair.

  • Once you have applied castor oil, massage it for 3-5 minutes and wash your hair after 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • To further enhance the effect of these oils, cover your hair with a warm and moist towel and leave it for 30-45 minutes. This heat treatment will further nourish your hair.

You can even prepare castor oil masks for your hair:

  • For soft and lustrous hair, you can even add a few drops of castor oil to a raw egg. Mix it well and apply on your hair, leave it for 15-20 minutes. Wash your hair using a mild shampoo.
  • To prevent hair-fall and hair loss, mix castor oil with onion juice. Apply it to your hair and scalp and leave it for 45 minutes. Wash your hair using a mild shampoo.

Note: The health of your hair and scalp will start improving only when you apply castor oil regularly. Irregular application of this oil is of no use. You can see the positive results of castor oil at least after 4-5 weeks.

How to Store Castor Oil

  • Store castor oil in a cool and dry place. Do not store it in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure you close the bottle’s cap tightly. Exposure of castor oil to air for a long period of time leads to spoiling.
  • Keep the bottle away from the sunlight. Direct exposure of castor oil to heat and direct sunlight can cause spoiling. Keep it in a closed cupboard. Do not keep it near the window or on the shelf where sunlight falls directly.
  • Check the date before using castor oil. Do not purchase a castor oil, which has an old manufacturing date.

Allergy to Castor Oil

Individuals who are allergic to castor oil must strictly stay away from it. The two potential allergens present in castor oil include:

  • Ricinoleic acid
  • 12-hydroxysteric acid

Signs and symptoms of castor oil allergy include:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Bumps or boils on the skin
  • Rashes

Individuals who are allergic to any other seed oil must ask their doctor before starting with castor oil.

References

  1. Vinay R. Patel, Gerard G, Lakshmi C, Castor Oil: Properties, Uses and Optimization Of Processing Parameters In Commercial Production, Lipid Insights, Volume 9, 2016 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015816/)
  2. Final report on the safety assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate, International Journal of Toxicology, 2007 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18080873)
  3. Trueb RM, The impact of oxidative stress on the hair, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume 2, 2015 (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/ics.12286)
  4. Adel Kadri, Néji Gharsallah, Mohamed Damak, Chemical Composition And In Vitro Antioxidant Properties Of Ricinus Communis L. Essential Oil, Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Volume 5, 2011
  5. Chaitanya Sravanthi Kota, Sarvani Manthri, Antibacterial Activity Of Ricinus Communis Leaf Extract, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 2011 (http://ijpsr.com/bft-article/antibacterial-activity-of-ricinus-communis-leaf-extract/?view=fulltext)
  6. Ayuba L, Agboire S, Ishaq M, Gana A. K, Aliyu U, Efficacy of Castor Oil in the Control of Throat, Skin and Enteric Bacteria, Advances in Food Science and Engineering, Volume 1, Issue 3, 2017 (http://oaji.net/articles/2017/5456-1507600669.pdf)
  7. Gurmeet Kaur, Mallesha Honnaiah, the Anti-dandruff activity of Ricinus Communis Leaf L. extracts, International Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Research, Volume 4, Issue 3, 2012 (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269275144_ANTI-DANDRUFF_ACTIVITY_OF_RICINUS_COMMUNIS_L_LEAF_EXTRACTS)