If you’re dealing with hair loss or thinning, the best castor oils might be the underrated hair growth product to try, especially as an alternative for pricey in-office treatments. The rich, multipurpose oil has gone viral for its ability to revive hair on the scalp, eyebrows, and lashes, with many crediting it as the catalyst for longer, fuller locks. Which raises the question, is there actual science backing up these claims or is it simply a beauty myth? With a healthy bit of skepticism, we reached out to dermatologists to find out more about castor oil’s benefits.
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What is castor oil?
Castor oil comes from pressing the seeds of Ricinus communis (castor oil) plant. Castor oil is thick and odorless, made of fatty acids, vitamins, and vitamin E. The fatty acids in particular provide an abundance of nourishment to the skin and hair follicles, says Nicole Ruth, DO, a board-certified dermatologist at WeiserSkinMD in New York. There is also some research that the ricinoleic acid may have some anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Does it actually increase hair growth?
While there has been no published research showing that castor oil actual helps hair growth, it does contain the derivative ricinoleic acid, which acts as an inhibitor to prostaglandin D2 synthase (PDG2), which is found in male or female pattern baldness, says Maya Thosani, MD, a double board-certified dermatologist and owner of Modern Dermatology in Scottsdale, Arizona. When gently rubbed onto the scalp, it stimulates blood flow circulation to awaken dormant follicles, leaving your existing hairs with a lustrous sheen and sealing split ends. You can even mix it with other stimulating oils, like rosemary and mint, to sweeten the smell as you try to speed up your growth goals.
How does it affect sparse brows and lashes?
“With careful application, the oil can provide improved growth to hairs with shorter growth phases such as lashes and brows, which tend to fall out naturally at about 100 days,” says Dr. Thosani. She recommends using a clean mascara wand, spoolie, or brow brush for precise application. Otherwise it can spill into the eye, which can irritate the eye due to the oily residue. If you’re looking for a lash-growth-specific product, check out our list of best eyelash serums.
What other benefits does it have?
The thick consistency of castor oil doubles as a natural conditioner or hair mask, and helps moisturize dry scalp. Similar to coconut oil, you can apply it to your chapped lips or cracked skin in the dry winter months.
Ready for fuller, glowing locks? Keep reading for our guide to the best castor oils for hair growth.