castor oil bottle

Cast Your Vote for Castor Oil!

Can Castor Oil Help Your Hair?

Castor oil is one of those hair products that pretty much everyone recommends for maintaining healthy hair. Any newbie alopecian I come across will either mention having tried it or ask my opinion on it. But what about castor oil for hair growth?

Is there substance behind all the claims of regrowth and the glowing reviews?

In this post, I’ll separate the facts from the fiction to give you the real scoop on castor oil. I think you’ll get a lot from it – but if you’re in a hurry, here are 6 of the most popular castor oils for hair growth… 

A Quick Look At 6 Castor Oils

Sunny Isle Jamaican Black

Hair Thickness Maximizer

Pukka Herbs

Kate Blanc Cosmetics

Pura D’Or Professional

Sky Organics

Quick Links

Background: What is Castor Oil?

It’s funny, I never actually knew what castor oil was made from before researching this article – even though I’ve used it lots! Always more to learn, I guess. 😉

Apparently, castor oil is a vegetable oil that’s pressed from “castor beans” – or the seeds of the tropical African Ricinus Communis plant. These seeds contain a toxic enzyme called ricnin – but don’t worry, that doesn’t partition into the resulting castor oil, even when it’s cold-pressed. Phew.

LA Says: The pressed oil is usually colorless, although you will find yellowish options too, and one of the most popular products – Jamaican Black Castor Oil for hair growth – is dark brown or black. More on that in a sec.

So that's what a castor looks like. Well, I never!

General Benefits and Uses

Castor oil has been used for centuries, for a range of applications. In ancient Egypt, it was burned as a fuel in lamps and given to pregnant women to stimulate labor. Nowadays, it’s used as a biodiesel fuel component and as an industrial lubricant. It is also said to induce labor (although that’s not really recommended) and to start the flow of breast milk afterwards.

Castor oil is also:

  • A natural laxative that can temporarily relieve constipation
  • Used in lots of skincare products thanks to its antifungal ricinoleic acid content
  • A cheap way to make your own products which can be used on the hair, face and the rest of the body

Benefits of Castor Oil for Hair

So. It’s been around for ages. It can help with digestion (when used in small doses). And it makes your skin soft ‘n’ supple. Great. But what we baldies want to know is, can it help our hair??

A quick Google will show you just how crazy people are about castor oil for their mop top. Whether it’s for hair growth, hair loss or simply to improve the appearance of flat, dull or thinning hair, countless articles talk about its merits. How the viscous oil helps with shedding, breakage and regrowth for all hair types.

Here’s what else they say…

1. Boosts Moisture

Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid. This is a “monounsaturated fatty acid” – a healthy fat found in olive oil, avocados and some nuts. When combined with other fatty acids like Omega-6 and Omega-9, plus high levels of Vitamin E, the intensive moisturizing properties of castor oil will leave your hair smooth ‘n’ shiny. Yay!

Thanks to that ricinoleic fatty acid, castor oil makes a great base to create your own haircare products, free from potentially harmful ingredients like preservatives, perfumes, sulfates and parabens. It’s also a humectant (a hygroscopic substance used to keep things moist), which makes a great replacement for your usual conditioner.

So, using castor oil regularly is like having a natural moisturizer to lubricate the shaft (sorry, I went there!), increasing flexibility and strengthening its texture. The stronger and more flexible each strand is, the less chance it’ll get brittle and break. Think of it as yoga, for your hair. 😉

LA Says:  If you want to learn more about hair cosmetics and how they work, check this out.

2. Can Lower Inflammation

Ricinoleic acid is also said to be anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial – so if you suffer from scalp conditions like dry, irritated skin or psoriasis, castor oil can help to create a healthy scalp environment again. Also, since dandruff can be a result of seborrhoeic dermatitis (an inflammatory skin condition that causes red, scaly patches on the scalp), castor oil can help to calm that down.

Basically, when you apply castor oil directly to the scalp, you’re helping the health of each hair follicle. Which in turn can protect against hair loss… and promote hair growth. Woohoo!

LA Says: These studies were based on test-tube and animal trials. More human trials are needed to fully determine the effectiveness of castor oil on inflammatory conditions.

3. Helps Circulation

Finally, castor oil is said to improve blood circulation in the body and to boost lymphatic flow (in fact, special castor oil packs are used for this very purpose). This allows nutrients, minerals and oxygen to reach cells faster while ridding the body of harmful toxins.

LA Says: Increasing blood flow to the scalp – whether it’s through products or yoga inversions or scalp massages – is viewed as one of the most essential factors in promoting hair growth. Another tick for castor oil, then!

4. It’s A Team Player

Finally, castor oil works really well as part of a team. Specifically, when you team it with other natural remedies that can help to grow long hair, like coconut oil, almond oil or jojoba.

In fact, ricinoleic acid supposedly boosts absorption in the skin. So if you use castor oil regularly, the ingredients within your other products might actually work more effectively!

LA Says: Whether you pair castor with another natural hair loss remedy or one that contains minoxidil is up to you. Either way, it can help you to absorb it more fully. 🙂

Different Types of Castor Oil

Interested in experimenting with castor oil for your hair? Great! Take your pick from these three types:

1. Organic and Cold-Pressed

This pale yellow oil is extracted directly from the castor seed in a mechanical method called expeller pressing. It’s great for those with fine or thinning hair and an itchy, dry scalp. This is because unrefined oils are less alkaline that the other types.

✓ No chemicals involved

✓ No loss of nutrients

✓ Many brands are odourless

 x Less alkaline – so less toxins/oils removed

LA’s Best Cold-Pressed Oil: Pura D’Or

2. Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO)

Using a traditional pressing method, castor seeds are first roasted, their ashes mixed into the oil for its signature dark brown color and thick consistency. The result is pretty much the most popular type of castor hair oil on the market, used for a range of different applications – from treating acne to relieving muscle pain. 

Particularly handy for those with dense, coarse or curly hair (e.g. Type 4 hair), JBCO is a little stronger in terms of its antibacterial, sebum-removing properties. This is because it’s more alkaline, which opens cuticles a little more.

✓ A powerful cleanser to maintain a healthy scalp

✓ Great reviews in terms of eyelash and eyebrow growth

✓ Warm, roasted aroma and thicker consistency makes it a great massage oil

 x Some people mightn’t like the stronger odour as a hair treatment

LA’s Best Jamaican Black Oil: Hair Thickness Maximizer

3. Hydrogenated

This is the most processed castor oil, which uses a nickel catalyst to heat the seeds. It’s odourless, colourless and makes a useful base if you want to create your own haircare products.

Still, I don’t think it’s as effective as the other types of castor oil for hair – so I’ll only be reviewing Jamaican Black and cold-pressed organic in this article. 🙂

6 of the Best Castor Oils for Hair Growth

So what’s the best castor oil to try? And which type should you start with?

Well, it depends what you’re looking for. If ingesting the stuff or rubbing it on your skin, I’d recommend organic, cold-pressed. These oils will retain their nutrients more than those processed at higher temperatures, like hydrogenated versions.

Black Jamaican castor oil for hair growth seems to be an especially popular choice – or at least, for maintaining healthy hair.

True, heat is applied to roast the castor seeds, but the manufacturers claim this is offset by the benefits of ash for hair. I don’t know how much truth is in that one… but JBCO does get great reviews!

LA Says: I’d avoid hydrogenated castor oil for your hair. Like I said, it’s more processed. Use either of the other two types instead – and check out these top brands to help you narrow your search! 

1. Sunny Isle Extra Dark Jamaican Black Castor Oil

To make this dark oil, castor seeds are roasted and ground manually in a traditional processing method. According to Sunny Isle, the roasting period is longer than other Jamaican Black oils on the market, giving a higher ash content and extra nutritional value for the hair.

It’s also cheap, it comes in a glass bottle (bye-bye, plastic!) and most users love its roasted smell. Those who don’t simply dilute it with a little jojoba or grapeseed oil. Job done.

What the reviews say

With nearly a thousand Amazon reviews, and most of them incredibly positive, this brand is a high king of castor oils.

My main concern is that some of the Amazon suppliers are bogus ones. Products have arrived with a broken security seal, or the oil itself is light-coloured and runny rather than dark and thick.

My advice? Buy from a trusted Amazon supplier (ie one with good reviews) or check out the one I’ve linked to below. It’s the extra dark version, which customers seem to prefer.

2. Hair Thickness Maximizer Jamaican Black

Made in the USA and 100% natural – no added fragrances, GMOs or parabens – this little bottle packs a big punch. The glass dropper dispenser means it’s simple to apply a small amount to your bald patches, your eyelashes and also to your eyebrows for growth that even Cara Delevingne would envy!

I don’t know how the brand can call itself “organic and cold-pressed” while still using the traditional roasting method for Jamaican Black oil, though. That’s the only fault I have with it.

What the reviews say

Perhaps even more positive than Sunny Isle reviews, the feedback for this little bottle of castor oil has me wanting to rush out and stock up. Customers love using it for their hair, eyelashes and eyebrows and are happy with its lack of smell. 😉

However, they note that it’s smaller than other castor oil products – and, like me, they’re confused as to why it’s called Jamaican Black when it’s also cold-pressed and yellowish in colour. But hey, as long as it works, right?!

3. Pukka Herbs Castor Oil

I love this brand, namely because of their range of delicious teas and powders like matcha, turmeric and chai. But I also used their organic, cold-pressed castor oil… and I loved that, too! It left my hair feeling soft and moisturized but unfortunately, I didn’t use it consistently enough to notice any real results in terms of growth.

Pukka recommends using it as a massage oil, in a castor oil pack or mixing it with coconut oil for a deep-hydration overnight hair treatment. NOTE: This product is for external use only.

What the reviews say

Customers are really positive about the oil but some say their product arrived in pieces – clearly, a mistake at the bubble-wrapping factory! So make sure to choose a supplier that gets good reviews. This is a UK company and it may be hard to snap up Pukka oil elsewhere. Sorry. 🙂

4. Kate Blanc Cosmetics Certified Organic Castor Oil

If you’re looking for a top-quality, cold-pressed castor oil specifically for cosmetic purposes, you can’t go wrong with this USDA-certified organic one. It’s hexane and paraben-free and is highly recommended for both skin and hair health.

It’s also more expensive than the others on this list. But sometimes a higher price tag = higher quality!

Kate Blanc cosmetics are so confident in their product that they offer a 100% money-back guarantee… within an entire year of purchase! I also love the glass bottle and dropper, plus the very handy eyelash and eyebrow kit for easy application. For external use only.

What the reviews say

To clock up over 6,000 reviews – and still maintain 4.5 stars on Amazon – is a pretty good result. Most customers use Kate Blanc castor oil it for thicker eyelashes and eyebrows but some use it to clear up dark skin spots (from sun damage) and even to get rid of toenail fungus!

Only a few mention using it for hair, however. But those that do are really positive – and with so many reporting increased eyelash/eyebrow growth, surely it could work on scalp hair follicles, too?!

5. Pura D’Or Professional Organic Cold-Pressed Castor Oil

Another USDA-certified castor oil that’s organic and free from harmful hexanes or other nasties, this one should top your list of castor oils. I have a lot of trust in Pura D’Or, which is why I include them in my top shampoos for alopecia. And although I haven’t tried their castor oil, the customer reviews make me very tempted. 

It’s also much cheaper than the Kate Blanc Cosmetics oil. The bonus gift set of an eyebrow brush and an eyelash wand, plus two mascara bottles pre-filled with extra oil for use on the go, is a nice touch.

Oh, and it also comes with a one-year, 100% money-back guarantee. Nice one.

What the reviews say

Over 2,000 Amazon reviews and a 4.6 rating: not bad at all! Customers LOVE this product and just like me, they love the brand, too. They use Pura D’Or castor oil for eyebrows, eyelashes and nails. Some alternate it with Pura D’Or argan oil and have even reported hair regrowth after chemo.

Many people mention how they love the packaging – not just the size of the bottle but the cute little burlap sack it comes in, along with the kit. Clearly, these little extras make a big difference!

LA Says: During my research for this article, I discovered that Pura D’Or actually make a Jamaican Black Castor Oil, too! Like the Hair Thickness Maximizer oil, however, this one is cold-pressed – so I’m not sure how it can be classified as JBCO. But it gets brilliant reviews nonetheless – and is another one I’d love to try.

6. Sky Organics Castor Oil For Eyelashes, Hair & Skin

The biggest bottle on this list is also one of the best value. It’s bpa-free and apparently USDA-certified organic – although I don’t see the label on the bottle. Sky Organics says that it sources the oil “directly from organic artisanal farmers in India.” Whatever the hell that means.

Cringey promotional copy aside, this brand is pretty popular – their castor oil has clocked up 7.5K reviews, with 4.5 stars on Amazon. Wow! Recommended in particular for those with Type 4 hair.

What the reviews say

This is one of the only brands on the list where a huge portion of the reviews are about its effectiveness for hair (not just eyebrows and eyelashes, but scalp hair). The before and after pics look very promising.

Plus, the comments from other alopecians are glowing. Some people complain about how thick the product is – but others mix it with two parts jojoba oil so it’s easier to rinse out. Top tip. 🙂

How To Use Castor Oil For Hair Growth

Now that you know what types you can get and a few of the top brands, how should you use your castor oil when it arrives? Well, by following these quick tips!

Stay Indoors

Castor oil is thick. Like, reeaaally thick. So unlike those times when you might leave a coconut oil treatment in for the day, you probably don’t want to exit your house with any of this sticky stuff in your hair. Keep it indoors and rinse before you leave. 😉

Use Sparingly

The dense nature of castor oil means that a little goes a long way. Don’t overdo it! Whether you use it on its own or mix it with your favourite carrier oil is up to you. It will last for ages, making it a great-value treatment for healthy hair.

Apply in 3 Easy Steps:

  • Start with damp hair – this helps you to absorb the oil better. 
  • Rub a few drops of castor oil into your scalp. Then massage a few extra drops through your strands and into the ends (especially if you’ve got brittle, dry or damaged hair) to improve texture and prevent further breakage.
  • Leave in for a couple of hours to work its magic and rinse.
Hmm, this might not be castor oil but it's a pretty bottle, right?!

How Often Should You Use It?

Well, not that often really. In fact, some hair care experts say you should only apply castor oil once a week – otherwise it might lead to matting issues.

The jury’s out on this one. Personally, my belief is that just like other natural remedies for hair loss, castor oil works best when you apply it regularly. I had quite dry hair before I started using castor oil every second day (alternating it with coconut oil or aloe vera treatments)… but that changed pretty quickly!

So massage a little into your hair every evening – if you have time – and allow it to sit for at least two hours before rinsing. I also apply a more intensive “castor hair mask” once a week. Check out my recipes below!

Homemade Hair Masks with Castor Oil

1) Intensive Moisturizing Night Treatment

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of jojoba, sesame, avocado or coconut oil with 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed or Jamaican Black oil
  • Add 2-3 drops of rosemary or peppermint essential oil – both help to stimulate hair growth
  • Massage the concoction into your scalp and throughout your hair, focusing on the ends
  • Wrap a small towel or scarf around your head (or use a shower cap) and leave the treatment to soak in overnight
  • Rinse it out in the morning with shampoo – probably no need for conditioner as you’ll have gotten enough moisture! Sometimes I skip the shampoo and just use water.


2) Relaxing Hot Oil Treatment

  • Apply a generous amount of JBCO to your hair, massaging from root to top and all over your scalp
  • Cover with a shower cap and blast a hairdryer on medium setting over it for 15 minutes (or get someone to stand over you with the dryer, for that salon feel!)
  • Rinse the oil out with cool water.

Castor Oil for Eyebrows and Eyelashes

Yep, it’s a thing – and actually, pretty effective, too! Each of the products I review here include customer testimonials about castor oil’s ability to lengthen and strengthen lashes and brows. 

It acts as a great conditioning serum and, although evidence of boosting growth is purely anecdotal (rather than scientific), there’s a heck of a lot of anecdotes out there!

How to apply it… 

Option 1: Rub a couple of drops between your fingers (to warm it) and massage the oil along your brows.

Option 2: Dip a spare mascara wand or eyebrow brush in the oil first – handy if you’ve scored a free gift with one of the above castor oils! 😉

Does Castor Oil Really Work For Hair Growth?

We’ve looked at castor oil reviews for hair growth pretty closely. We’ve seen lots of positive comments. And on the surface, it seems like castor oil deserves all the hype it gets online.

But now it’s time to do a bit of myth-busting. Because while castor oil comes with many internal and external benefits, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims that it helps hair growth. Any testimonials or reviews about using castor oil to regrow hair are purely anecdotal.

In fact, in this 2018 Allure article, cosmetic chemist and author Perry Romanowski confirms that “it’s a total myth… Castor oil will not grow hair”. 

So ok, castor oil for hair growth might be an old wives’ tale. There’s no clinical evidence to support the claims that it miraculously regrows hair… and trust me, I’ve done some serious digging!

Some good news… 

Romanowski goes on to admit, however, that castor oil works as an effective conditioner, to improve the flexibility of hair fibers.

Which is surely a better alternative to using a ton of chemicals for moisture, right?! Plus, it has those antimicrobial properties to fight off fungal or bacterial overgrowth on the scalp (which lead to inflammation). So there are definite pluses to using it.

LA Says: Maybe it is a myth. But surely it’s been around so long for good reason? I don’t see the harm in using it topically. For most people, anyway – keep reading for a word of warning.

Harmful Side Effects and Precautions

It’s rare, but there can be bad side effects to castor oil. Some people might be allergic to the seeds and using their oil can actually increase, rather than reduce, inflammation – doing more damage than good to the scalp. Yikes. 

Also, that matting thing I mentioned? It can occasionally develop into a rare disorder called hair felting – where the hair gets tangled into a hard mass. The condition is irreversible, so if this happens, the only solution is to cut off the affected hair. Double yikes! 

LA Says: Now, this is rare. But if you notice that castor oil seems to mat and tangle your hair, rather than moisturizing and softening it, quit using it.

Oh, and castor oil also has some bad side effects if you consume large amounts of it. I won’t get into those here though, because we’re talking specifically about topical use.

castor in small bottle
Another pretty little bottle of castor oil!

Tips For Applying Castor Oil

Even though negative side effects are rare, it’s best to be prepared. Here are a couple of precautions to bear in mind when using castor oil for the first time, or when switching to a new brand… 

DO: Avoid Stains

It’s best to wear old clothes when applying castor oil to your hair. The cold-pressed yellow one, and especially the dark Jamaican one, are likely to stain your favourite white dress. Bummer.

Oh, and those fancy linen bed sheets that you got as a wedding gift? If you don’t want them covered in oil, remember to wrap your head or use a shower cap whenever you’re going for the overnight treatment.

When you rinse your hair the next morning, make sure there are no traces of castor oil left – otherwise your towels may suffer! 😉

DO: A Patch Test

Some people might experience an allergic reaction to castor oil when applied to the skin or scalp. So make sure to apply a small amount – perhaps to the inside of your elbow – and leave it for 24 hours.

If you don’t have any negative reactions, feel free to try it on your hair next! 

DON’T: Expect Miracles

As I’ve mentioned, there is no scientific evidence to back up castor oil as a hair regrowth treatment. Customer reviews are positive, and I personally have noticed how it’s improved the texture/health of my own hair – but please do not put all your hopes in castor oil to suddenly cure your alopecia. There is no miracle cure. Yet! 

Remember, hair loss can be caused by a range of factors – the root of the issue that may need to be addressed first.

Alternative Products I’d Recommend

Don’t fancy using the syrupy oil on your noggin? Don’t worry, it isn’t for everyone. Luckily, there are plenty of great products out there which use black castor oil as their base.

For instance, check out:

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Combination Pack

The holy trinity of haircare. A sulfate-free shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioning treatment that contain a dollop of shea butter and apple cider vinegar to balance the PH levels of your hair. The balance of peppermint, coconut and JBCO oils give you a castor-oil based product that isn’t sticky… and that smells great!

Shiny Leaf Premium Cold Pressed Castor Oil Shampoo & Conditioner

Another sulfate-free shower companion, this twinset contains coconut oil, keratin amino acids and aloe juice to fortify damaged hair. It also contains a bunch of other less natural ingredients like fragrances – but users still seem to love it!

castor cartoon
Well these children bloody love it by the looks of things!

Common Questions

In general, JBCO is recommended for thick hair while cold-pressed is better for fine hair. But try both and see which you prefer!

You can, in small doses – for instance, as a natural laxative. But always check the label to make sure that particular brand is safe for consumption, and check with your doctor if you’re not sure.

Castor oil can actually be pretty tough to rinse! That’s why so many people combine it with a plant-derived oil for a more liquid result. This approach also helps to mask the smell a little, which not everyone loves. 😉

If you’ve applied it overnight, shampooing your hair in a thick lather with warm water the next morning, then rinsing with cold water and allowing it to dry naturally, usually does the trick. You might also need to use a little less next time, depending on the thickness of your hair and how much oil it absorbs.

Good news – soooo many places! The usual online retailers like Amazon, Ulta and Ebay, from your local pharmacist or health food store (they’ll usually stock good brands) or even from your nearest grocery store! Just make sure you research the brand you buy first as quality can vary widely. 🙂

Conclusion: Manage Your Expectations

Castor oil is the natural remedy for hair loss that’s probably the most anecdotal and least science-backed. But I had to write about it, simply because it remains so stubbornly popular on hair loss forums!

I like that it won’t break the bank for you to try it out – and as it’s completely natural, it’s fairly harmless. (Unless of course, you have a strange reaction, which is why I definitely recommend doing a patch test first!)

Give it a go, share your feedback below and let’s see if castor’s everything it’s cracked up to be!

Emma face small

Lady Alopecia xxx

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Useful links

If you’re a fan of the natural approach for hair loss, you might be interested in these posts, too:

1. Aloe Vera for Hair Loss – Could it work?
2. Meditation and Alopecia – What’s the connection?
3. Alopecia Diet Tips – How a healthy lifestyle fosters healthy hair.
4. Bald Spot Concealer Spray – OK, it’s not so natural… but sometimes we want a spritz of magic!
5. The Amazing Truth about Peppermint Oil – It’s better than minoxidil!

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