Finding beauty products that are natural and chemical-free, yet effective, can be quite a challenge. But one of the most effective, most natural, beauty products is as simple as one ingredient—the oil from Ricinis communis (castor oil).
The castor seed has a long history and many ancient civilizations throughout the world have used this seed for a variety of health and beauty reasons because it really is that effective. Historians note castor seeds in Egyptian tombs dating back to 4000 BC. The Greeks used the oil for body ointments and hair growth and texture. Cleopatra even used the oil to brighten the whites of her eyes. The use of castor oil extends to other cultures, including Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.
So, what makes this oil so special? The oil is rich in fats, mainly ricinoleic acid (85-96%). Not only is this oil incredibly viscous and therefore nourishing and moisturizing, but the ricinoleic acid also has considerable activity to maintain a healthy flora of the skin. The Ayurvedic energetics explain that castor oil has a sweet, pungent, and astringent taste and is cooling when applied externally.1 The sweetness gives nourishment while the pungency and astringency help clear away natural toxins. The cooling nature also helps ease pitta, calming skin irritations and gently cooling the mind and scalp tissues. Take that all together, castor oil is a superb, all natural beauty product delivered to you by Mother Nature. Consider these every day uses for castor oil to bring out your natural beauty!
- Supports healthy hair growth. Castor oil is cooling to the follicles. In Ayurveda, it is said that excess heat causes hair loss by burning the hair follicles. The nourishing aspects of the oil strengthen the roots as well! Try this on your scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes for a thicker and more luscious look! Simply add a few drops of castor oil to the tip of your finger, or for more precision you may choose to use a cotton swab, and apply the oil to your eyebrows and lashes. Or, if you have a clean mascara brush, try dipping it into the oil and brushing it through your lashes for a glossy, clear, and natural alternative to mascara!
- Thickens hair. By nourishing the hair follicles, the hair that is produced is thicker and stronger. In fact, to this day many families in India apply a little warm castor oil to the heads of babies for thicker, richer hair. Pour a small amount of castor oil into the palm of your hand, and use your fingertips to massage the scalp, coating the hair follicles with oil. Pay extra attention to areas of thinning and balding. Leave the oil in overnight or throughout the day for a deep treatment.
- Moisturizes hair. If you have ever tried castor oil, you know how thick and viscous this oil is. The thickness of the oil helps lock in the moisture providing your hair with a natural shine. Coat your hair with a small amount of oil before going to bed, or apply it in the morning for added shine. You can also add a few drops of oil straight into your shampoo bottle!
- Clears occasional skin blemishes. The pungency and astringency of the oil helps clear away natural toxins in our skin and balance the normal flora of the skin. In doing so, skin blemishes, like non-cystic acne, are replaced with a more even look of the skin. Apply a small amount of castor oil to your target area and let it absorb deep into your skin. Try to incorporate this into your routine, and re-apply daily until your skin is radiant and clear.
- Strengthens skin tone. By providing such rich moisture, the oil supports your natural skin tone and more consistent texture throughout the skin. Mix castor oil with a carrier oil like sesame, sunflower, or coconut, in equal parts and apply generously to your skin. You may even enjoy adding essential oils to soothe the senses.
- Maintains hair color. Ayurveda says it is pitta that is the cause of early greying of hair. The cooling nature of castor oil combats the pitta. With your fingertips, massage a small amount of castor oil to the scalp and hair where there is greying or discoloration. Try leaving the oil in your hair for at least a few hours for the best results.
- Moisturizes the scalp. If you have a dry or flaky scalp, consider using castor oil to moisturize the skin and leave your scalp feeling fresh and rejuvenated! You can apply castor oil directly to the scalp, massaging the oil into your skin with small circular motions. If the skin on your scalp is sensitive or irritated, dilute the castor oil in an organic base oil like sesame, sunflower, or coconut.
1 Vasant Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda Volume 3: General Principles of Management and Treatment (Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2012), pp. 396
2 Edwin M Aspen, et al. “Health Aspects of Castor Bean Dust: Review and Bibliography.” U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Public Health Service, Environmental Health Series Air Pollution. 1967