Secret Beauty Ingredient: Castor Oil

Sable Yong
Secret Beauty Ingredient: Castor Oil
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We often purchase beauty products because of the pull quotes on the front of the packages touting the seemingly impossible results. Unless you’re especially thorough, you skip the ingredients list on the back of the package – a crucial mistake made by many. “Secret Beauty Ingredient” is our way of finding those beauty ingredients that are becoming staples in the beauty world, or sometimes even better – beauty breakthroughs.

You may remember castor oil from your childhood, as a home remedy for an upset stomach, cramps, or cuts and scrapes. When it comes to beauty, the stuff can seem a bit utilitarian, but it has so many great beauty benefits if you’re experiencing dry, blemished skin, hair growth issues, stretch marks, and acne scars.

Castor oil comes from the seeds of the castor plant. It’s been used for centuries worldwide for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. It’s full of highly concentrated fatty acids which are very skin-friendly components. Here’s a few uses that will have you running to the drugstore to pick up a bottle of this goopy oil:

Treating Skin Blemishes: Castor Oil is high in Ricinoleic acid, which is an antibacterial agent, fighting off gross bacteria that is the cause of some acne. This is effective on mild acne, rather than something like cystic or pervasive cases. That said, this is still a very thick, concentrated oil and definitely has the potential to clog pores.

MORE: Why You Should Use Face Oils — Even if You Have Acne

Sunburn Treatment: Castor oil’s inflammatory properties do wonders on a sunburn to cool the burning sensation and coat the burned portion of skin to protect from further irritation. It’s especially effective when mixed with coconut oil, another natural sunburn remedy.

Fades Scars/Stretch Marks: Since it’s high in fatty acids, castor oil penetrates deeply into scar tissue or otherwise distressed skin, softening and plumping it with said fatty acids to promote healthy tissue growth around it and eventually get rid of the scar tissue. This is a very slow process but with regular use is a natural permanent solution. This same concept applies for pigmented skin—spot treatment can over time fade discoloration and keep the area moisturized because omega-3 fatty acids are really good at penetrating skin to hydrate as well as plump-out any damaged tissue.

MORE: Product Testing: Find Out Which Face Oils Can Work For You

Promotes Hair Growth: Seems weird, but castor oil when applied topically anywhere hair grows boosts blood circulation to the follicles, and omega-6 fatty acids coax healthy hair growth. It works best to thicken hair growth when massaged into the scalp and left on overnight under a shower cap  (bonus is, it’s a great conditioning treatment). Castor oil is also a popular DIY serum for lash and brow growth. You can apply it with a clean mascara spooley brush to your brows and lashes, from roots to tips (careful not to get it into your eyes) as an nightly treatment. Over time, lots of people say they have longer lashes and thicker brows.

Cuticle Mender: If you’re not convinced that castor oil is a top-notch moisturizer, try treating your cuticles and nail beds to some regularly and you’ll find your cuticles ultimately softer and your nails losing the brittleness.

Eye Makeup Remover: Seems pretty simple because it’s an oil and oils are generally great for breaking up waterproof eye makeup—bonus is that it’ll condition your lashes!

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Hexane-free is the way to be.

(Heritage Store Castor Oil, $5.39 for 4oz @

Leave it to Make Up For Ever to have ALL your beauty needs, including a castor oil that they suggest using to thin out heavy cream-based products, soften texture of makeup, or create a sheen on the skin.

(Make Up For Ever Castor Oil, $9.50 @

Plenty of bang for your buck, NOW Foods offers great natural products at great prices—and you can find them in most health food stores.

(NOW Foods Castor Oil, $5.74 for 16oz at

Leave it to Shea Moisture, purveyors of natural ingredients synthesized for their most beautifying powers to use Jamaican Black Castor Oil to formulate a shampoo for promoting hair growth as well as nourishing damaged hair. Bonus: The apple cider vinegar is great for balancing pH levels on your scalp and clearing build-up.

(Shea Moisture  Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo, $10.99 @

If you already have your hair-washing routine down, you can still use castor oil on your hair as a targeted treatment offered by Shea Moisture in the form of this Jamaican Black Castor Oil STRENGTHEN, GROW & RESTORE HAIR SERUM. Yes, it's a mouthful. Massaging this in your scalp as a deep-conditioner is a great treatment if you're experiencing dry scalp, thinning hair, or just want to strengthen what you've already got.

(Shea Moisture Strengthen, Grow & Restore Hair Serum, $10.99 @

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