When it comes to hair care and hair growth, there’s a wide variety of products available. Depending on your hair type and hair texture — from dry hair to thinning hair — the sheer number of choices can make it hard to know where to start your hair growth journey. The solution, however, might be as simple as going back to basics. Recently, castor oil for hair growth has made a comeback. It turns out, the longtime go-to for hair care works as well, if not better, than a lot of the pricey products sold in stores. Here’s a brief explanation of castor oil – what it is, what it does, and how your hair might benefit from it.
All About Castor Oil
When adding new products to your skincare or hair care routine, you want to make sure your’e aware of any side effects that using said products might incur. Some products have none; others have many. And what works for one won’t work for all. Here’s everything you need to know about castor oil, including how to patch test it before diving in head – or hair – first.
What is castor oil?
Castor oil (Ricinus communis) has a long history that can actually be traced back to Ancient Egypt. It’s a type of vegetable oil that’s similar to olive oil, but made from castor beans instead of olives. Scientific evidence backs the many benefits of castor oil for your hair, but it’s also been used in skincare products, fragrances, dyes, inks, and more. It’s a versatile oil that is rich in ricinoleic acid, an ingredient that moisturizes and supports collagen production. (Click through to learn more about the benefits of castor oil packs to help with menstrual cramps, constipation and more.)
What kind of hair can benefit from castor oil?
Naturally, hair health and needs vary depending on hair types and hair textures. For instance, women with dry hair may want to wash less often than women with oily hair. Regardless of your hair style and whether you have shorter or longer hair, you should avoid using castor oil more than once a week. That’s because it’s thick and heavy, and can cause a buildup of oil on the scalp. When you do use castor oil, be sure to wash it out after no more than two hours.
If you have fine or medium hair, apply castor oil to just the bottom few inches of your hair. Use it before applying your shampoo and don’t use it too often. Thick or wavy hair can benefit from using castor oil on the whole head, which can be set with a hot shower or steam, and should be used before shampooing. If your hair is longer or you have waves or curls, a few drops of castor oil can tame frizz. But again, castor oil can be thick, so dilute it with a carrier oil, like jojoba or coconut oil.
Castor Oil and Hair Health
There are many benefits to using castor oil for hair growth. These include boosting hydration and regrowth of hair, among other things. Here are just a few of the ways castor oil can help your hair.
Thanks to the castor beans it’s made of, castor oil is rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins. These essential ingredients – combined with its topical application – are what enable it to give your hair a glossy, smooth, and hydrated feel. Better still, it’s nourishing for both your hair follicles and your scalp (and you’ll see the nourishing benefits of castor oil after just a few uses).
It fights hair loss.
Many of the reports of castor oil as a tool for alopecia are anecdotal — but the fact that there are so many of them is promising. The antioxidants in castor oil support collagen production and help to improve the health of the hair follicles (so they maintain a better hold on the scalp). Given cold-pressed castor oil is used for maintaining scalp health, it’s little wonder why it’s a common DIY weapon in the fight against hair loss.
The antimicrobial properties of castor oil are vitally important for hair and scalp health. They help to reduce the symptoms and effects of chronic and acute scalp conditions like fungal and bacterial infections, that can cause irritation. By fighting off potential irritants, castor oil helps to reduce how much we itch and tug at our scalps, which translates to reduced hair loss.
It reduces product buildup.
With so many different hair masks, hair products, essential oils, and hair treatments to pick from, the effects of product build up on the scalp, around the hair follicles, and on the strands themselves can be damaging. That’s where castor oil helps. Castor oil actually improves absorption of other products, oils, and treatments, which has a dual benefit: First, it helps products to work more effectively; Second, it decreases itching and irritation from oils, masks, and proteins over time.
It helps protect against breakage and split ends.
Ricinoleic acid is one of the key ingredients in castor oil, and one of the reasons it stands out as an enhanced hair treatment. This acid helps to boos blood flow to the hair follicles and scalp. When follicles receive proper blood flow, they grow stronger and healthier, and maintain a stronger hold on the hair, which means less hair loss.
Adding castor oil to your routine also helps to reduce breakage. That’s because castor oil is a humectant. Humectants are water-absorbing substances that can be useful for boosting and retaining moisture.
It helps reduce flaking.
Dandruff can be caused by a number of things. Most often, however, flaking develops because of fungal infections and bacteria that irritate the scalp. Castor oil can help to prevent that. It reduces the dry scalp feeling and prevents the development of fungal infections that can lead to flaking.
It supports scalp health.
Healthy hair is all about the scalp. Whether you’re managing the effects of thinning hair or excess protein build-up, caring for your scalp means caring for your hair overall, and castor oil does just that. It helps to absorb excess products that build up on the scalp and it can even attract dirt and grime that damage the scalp and negatively impact hair growth.
There are many different products and options for protecting and maintaining hair health. Castor oil is one of the best. A type of vegetable seed oil, castor oil can improve hair growth when applied once a week. Thanks to the ricinoleic acid found in castor oil, you can expect to see less breakage and damage to the hair. Perhaps that’s why women have sworn by castor oil for centuries.
For more on how natural oils can help hair health: