Using a hair oil to amp up your hair care routine every now ad then (or regularly) is a common way to help pamper your hair and potentially boost the health and appearance of strands.
There is a wide range of oil that can plausibly be used on your hair, and you have likely run into people who swear by one or the other. Castor oil is one of the commonly named “hair care” oils that you may be weighing the pros and cons of. But, just what are the potential hair benefits for your hair by using castor oil?
Below, we will give you a rundown on some of the basics regarding castor oil including just what it is, the potential hair benefits, how you use it, and any potential side effects or downsides that you may experience.
Castor oil is the thick oil that is pressed out of the castor beans produced by the castor oil plant.
This is an interesting oil product that differentiates itself by having a very high amount of fatty acids, specifically, castor oil is made up of about 90% Ricinoleic fatty acid content.
Castor oil can be used for a variety of applications, some of which include fuel and biodiesel, polymer materials, soaps, waxes, greases, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, fertilizers, coatings, and has been used historically as a strong laxative (although this is no longer recommended), or a hair care item.
The fatty acids contained in the castor oil, including the ricinoleic fatty acid can act as a moisturizer and humectant for hair. This may help condition the hair while helping to seal in the moisture, and could benefit people experiencing hair dryness.
Castor oil also contains a rich variety of proteins, vitamins, and minerals which may help contribute to healthy growth and improve the general health of the scalp and hair.
By being full of antioxidants like Vitamin E, castor oil can help neutralize free radicals which can damage the hair, hair follicles, and scalp.
Castor oil also has known antifungal, and antibacterial properties, which may help people who are dealing with a fungal or bacterial scalp infection.
Due to its thick and nourishing nature, a castor oil scalp massage once a week may also be able to help soothe and hydrate a dry and flaky scalp.
One of the potential claims of using castor oil for hair that you may see may also be faster growth of hair. However, there is not currently any clinical evidence to back up this claim.
It may take a few tries to see how using castor oil works best for you and your hair and scalp needs.
Some people may opt for a scalp massage with a few drops of castor oil by massaging for a few minutes followed by shampooing it out.
Others may want to target the dryness of the strands themselves and use the oil as a deep conditioner for 20-30 minutes before shampooing it out.
It is important to note, however, that no matter how you want to try to use this oil, protect your clothes and furniture from drips as this thick substance can stain.
Also, even if you are a seasoned oil-using veteran, this thicker oil may be harder to wash off than others due to the high viscosity nature of castor oil. You may need to wash the treatment off with shampoo in two rounds, or even employ a clarifying shampoo for the job.
Most sources recommend using a castor oil treatment about once a week.
As with most oils for beauty use, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to castor oil. So, always use a spot test of a small amount of the oil to see if your skin is ok with it first. Also, many people dilute the oil in a carrier oil.
Some people who try castor oil may not prefer it because of the very thick and oily-looking nature of the hair. If you have very fine hair or hair which is already prone to oiliness, this may not be the best choice for you.
There have been case reports of castor oil application on the hair causing acute hair felting, in which the hair become very tangled and matted, to the point of needing to be cut off. However, this may be from using large amounts of highly concentrated castor oil.
Castor oil should not be ingested as it can behave as a potent laxative and may cause abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and weakness. Keep castor oil for use on your hair away from where animals and children cannot reach it.
Castor oil may be a good addition to a hair beauty routine to help encourage overall scalp and hair health, but there is no evidence that it can speed the rate or extent of hair growth.
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