You have certainly heard of the benefits of castor oil for hair growth. But did you know you could use it on the skin too? No, applying castor oil on your skin won’t turn you into a giant hair ball. It is also ingested, though in very small quantities. In many cultures around the world, castor oil is one of the first things that is fed to a newborn child. While Asian countries use it to clean the baby’s stomach of any womb fluids it may have accidentally ingested, Latin American countries use castor oil to help the baby cough up mucus.1
Pressed from the seeds of the castor plant or Ricinus communis, castor oil has a unique chemical composition. It is a triglyceride, composed of fatty acids, 90% of which is ricinoleic acid.2 It was used medically in Ancient Egypt, China, Persia, Africa, and Europe and is now also widely used as a major ingredient in skin care products and cosmetics. Here’s a lowdown on the benefits of castor oil for skin.
1. It Lubricates And Tones Dry Skin
The moisturizing property of castor oil is what makes it a primary ingredient in many branded skin care products. It is also used as a common massage oil. Massaging the body with castor oil before bath not only keeps the body hydrated but also induces good sleep.3
Such an oil bath is recommended once every week for a healthy and supple skin. You could also massage it on your hands and feet before going to bed to keep them soft. In some cultures, women who have just had children massage their breasts with castor oil as it is believed to stimulate the mammary glands and increase the flow of breast milk.
2. It Helps Manage Eczema And Other Skin Diseases
The oil’s antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, mostly due to ricinoleic acid,4 help manage skin conditions like eczema and scalp conditions like cradle cap in babies.
There is even a patented composition for the two conditions which contains more than 80% of castor oil and 20% of other mineral oils. For best results, this mixture has to be sprayed on the affected area and then massaged into the skin or scalp.5
Castor oil is also a good lubricant that can be used as a soothing emollient to treat conditions like dry skin, dermatitis, sunburn, and open sores among others.6 The anti-inflammatory property of ricinoleic acid is responsible for castor oil’s effect on sunburns and dermatitis. If you find castor oil too thick and sticky, you could also use avocado pulp to treat skin conditions.
3. It Cleanses The Skin And Heals Acne
A hydrogenated version of the oil is also used in skin-cleansing agents mixed with substances like liquid paraffin, colorants, and perfumes to clean out the pores and keep the skin youthful for longer.7 Castor oil is also known to work wonders for mild acne, thanks to the antibacterial fatty acids present in the oil.
Castor oil finds many uses in folk medicine such as reducing wrinkles and age spots. It is believed that castor oil helps boost the production of collagen and elastin in the skin. But this function of the oil hasn’t yet been clinically proven. However, given that castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid, all of which help lubricate the skin and lock in moisture, it can keep wrinkles away. Wrinkles are more visible on a dry skin.
4. It Is Antibacterial And Heals Wounds
Although castor seeds have potential toxic effects, the oil pressed from them has been proven to have antibacterial properties. As per a 2015 study, dressing wounds with films in which castor oil was used as the main ingredient could effectively fight bacteria and quicken the healing process.8
In yet another study, using castor oil on the skin graft donor sites (areas from which skin had been taken out for skin grafting) helped heal the wounds within 11 days in all the patients without any complications.9
5. It Prevents Skin Problems By Detoxing The Body
Acnes, rashes, and other skin problems are often an indication of toxic load in the body. Castor oil is believed to improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, though we need research to back up that claim.
However, the efficacy of castor oil as a laxative is well known. This is what Mussolini used as a humiliating weapon against his dissenters.10 The ricinoleic acid in it activates a certain receptor called EP3 prostanoid, which causes contractions in the intestines and the uterus. As a laxative, it can eliminate the problem at the root of skin flare-ups. But because it has strong effects, don’t self-medicate. Ask your doctor for the correct dose.
How To Use Castor Oil For Skin Problems
Now that you know the benefits of castor oil for your skin, let’s look at how it can be used to yield the best results.
- Moisturizer: Mix it with another vegetable oil like olive oil or jojoba oil in a ratio of 1:3 and apply to skin.
- For dry and scaly skin: Mix castor oil with coconut oil and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing off.
- For acne: Wash your face with warm water first and then massage in a little castor oil with your fingers. You can leave it overnight and rinse it off in the morning.
Castor oil is one of the must-have oils in your pantry because of its many proven health benefits. However, do not ingest it without supervision as it has been found to lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Pregnant women and lactating mothers too should not ingest it. So with a little care, you can achieve soft, beautiful skin.
|↑1||Lefeber, Yvonne, and Henk WA Voorhoeve. Indigenous customs in childbirth and child care. Uitgeverij Van Gorcum, 1998, p.56.|
|↑2||Castor Oil and its Chemistry. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire.|
|↑3, ↑6||Ladda, Padma Laxmikant, and Rupali Bhimashankar Kamthane. “Ricinus Communis(Castor): An overview.” International Journal of Research in Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics 3, no. 2 (2014): 136-144.|
|↑4||Vieira, Celme, Stefano Evangelista, Rocco Cirillo, Annalisa Lippi, Carlo Alberto Maggi, and Stefano Manzini. “Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation.” Mediators of inflammation 9, no. 5 (2000): 223-228.|
|↑5||Nur, Waeil Ali. “Skin treatment compositions and methods of use.” U.S. Patent 8,399,030, issued March 19, 2013.|
|↑7||Stolz, Hermann-Josef, Robert Bornicke, and Manfred Matzel. “Skin cleansing agent with particles containing hydrogenated castor oil.” U.S. Patent 8,563,492, issued October 22, 2013.|
|↑8||Díez-Pascual, Ana M., and Angel L. Díez-Vicente. “Wound healing bionanocomposites based on castor oil polymeric films reinforced with chitosan-modified ZnO nanoparticles.” Biomacromolecules 16, no. 9 (2015): 2631-2644.|
|↑9||Carson, Stanley N., Christopher Wiggins, Karen Overall, and J. Herbert. “Using a castor oil-balsam of Peru-trypsin ointment to assist in healing skin graft donor sites.” Ostomy/wound management 49, no. 6 (2003): 60-64.|
|↑10||Macdonald, Hamish. Mussolini and Italian Fascism. Vol. 599. Nelson Thornes, 1998, p. 17.|