The Truth About Castor Oil on Natural Hair

If you’re of a certain age, you might remember when the words “castor oil” came with a specific taste. An unpleasant taste. And perhaps the memory of a stern parent (or grandparent, or auntie), administering a curative dose of this thick, vile tasting oil. Now castor oil is having a huge resurgence in popularity, because it’s believed to be an essential assistant in hair growth. Now natural hair ladies have led the charge and you can find endless varieties of castor oil meant for scalp moisture and stimulation. Now there are castor oil shampoos and conditioners aplenty. You may have wondered, what exactly IS castor oil? Where does it come from? Does it really work? Let’s find out the facts about castor oil!

ESSENCE.COM Oct, 16, 2014

1 of 5 Getty Images

Castor oil is a vegetable oil and it comes from the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis). The seed is known popularly as the “castor bean,” but it isn’t really a bean. Castor oil plants grow naturally in Eastern Africa, India, the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, and the Caribbean. It’s grown as an ornamental flowering plant in some places.

2 of 5 Getty Images

The “bean” or seed of the castor oil plant is said to contain 40 to 60% oil, and that oil is known to be a source of the toxic protein ricin, but heating it up during the extraction process deactivates it. Harvesters have to be careful because compounds from the plant itself can lead to nerve damage.

3 of 5 Getty Images

Castor oil has been used for many things throughout history, from internal medicinal use to use in food additives, as a preservative for grains, and in industrial use. Back in WWI, it was used as a lubricant for aviation engines!

4 of 5 Getty Images

Castor oil isn’t just recommended for hair growth on your head. Varieties without additives have also become popular for careful use on eyebrows and eye lashes.

5 of 5 Getty Images

Nowadays castor oil has become extremely popular for hair, in particular the varieties being exported from Caribbean islands. It seals in moisture, and has been said to stimulate the scalp and assist in hair growth. The grade of castor oil used for hair is not recommended for internal use.


# Natural


# Natural