In previous spotlight articles, we’ve highlighted buzzy ingredients like sea moss gel, along with classic favorites like vitamin C and green tea (to name a few). Today, we’re adding castor oil to the list.
This vegetable oil, made from the beans of the Ricinus communis plant, has been used in both medicinal and non-medicinal applications for centuries and boasts many purported benefits ranging from beauty to health. (We say “purported” because there’s limited research on this ingredient, so findings are mostly inconclusive and anecdotal.)
Okay, now that housekeeping is out of the way, let’s take a look at some common castor oil uses.
The main active ingredient in castor oil is ricinoleic acid, an antioxidant-rich fatty acid that may help moisturize dry skin and lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Castor oil is also thought to have antibacterial properties, which can help with acne and even wound healing.
One of castor oil’s biggest claims to fame is that it is thought to help hair grow. It’s commonly mixed with a carrier oil like jojoba and then applied to the scalp and hair, as castor oil can be very sticky and heavy on its own.
People also put it on their brows and lashes. To do this, use a clean mascara wand or brow brush to apply a tiny bit of oil, making sure that it doesn’t get in your eyes.
Castor oil has been used as a home treatment for dandruff, in part because it’s believed to have antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s commonly mixed with a carrier oil for this application as well.
Castor oil is perhaps best known for being a laxative. It is considered safe in small doses to treat occasional constipation, but it’s not recommended for long-term use. Ingesting castor oil can have some pretty nasty side effects, so it’s important not to misuse it and to check with your healthcare practitioner before taking it.
Castor oil packs (pieces of cloth soaked in castor oil and applied to the skin) are said to help stimulate the lymphatic system and boost lymphatic drainage.
Some studies have shown that, when applied topically, ricinoleic acid has an analgesic effect.
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