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Does Using Castor Oil for Natural Hair Growth Work?

castor oil for natural hair growth

Castor oil is a type of vegetable oil that comes from the castor plant, specifically the seeds of the castor plant.

The oil is usually either very pale yellow or colorless. It does not have any taste or odor. Despite this fact, it is possible to have castor oil that is darker in color, but this is due to the extraction method.

Although the castor plant was originally found in India and East Africa, it is now grown all around the world in various tropical zones.

Castor oil has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history because of its components which include three fatty acids: oleic, linoleic, and ricinoleic acids. The last of these is a common ingredient in hair moisturizers.

The Extraction Method

castor oil plant seeds
Dried and fresh castor oil plant seeds

As mentioned, castor oil is produced from the seeds of the castor plant. To extract the oil, a cold-pressing technique is most commonly used.

First, the person will remove the outer hull of ripe seeds as this part contains ricin which can cause side effects due to its toxicity.

After removing the hull, the seeds are cooked to make them more pliable. They are then dried and put into a cold press which is a device that applies a high amount of pressure to extract the oil.

Finally, the oil is filtered, removing impurities and making it slightly yellow in color.

History of the Castor Plant: The Name “Palma Christe”

castor oil

Early in the history of castor oil, the plant it comes from was known as “Palma Christe” due to the thought that it could heal wounds and cure ailments.

Later on the oil was used for medicinal purposes in Rome, Greece, Africa, Persia, China and Ancient Egypt. It spread to America and Europe during the 17th century and now can be found worldwide.

Does Castor Oil Increase Natural Hair Growth?

Young black woman smiling with braces and naturally curly hair.

Although there are several benefits to using castor oil, many of them can directly improve the hair.

One of the most reported benefits is that castor oil can decrease hair loss because of the ricinoleic acid found within it.

Many claims that ricinoleic acid will not only protect the hair but also increase hair growth through circulation on the scalp.

The prevailing thought is that by increasing circulation, the oil can help improve hair growth in addition to fighting hair loss.

Despite claims of increased hair growth or thickness, there are no scientific studies proving castor oil can help increase hair growth or the thickness of the hair.

Castor oil is not a featured ingredient in hair loss shampoos or other products designed to treat male or female pattern baldness. Also, the other fatty acids in the oil, which are similar to those in coconut oil and olive oil, are not associated with hair growth.

Candidly, I haven’t been able to substantiate the claim that castor oil promotes hair growth. Many women massage their scalp with the oil and notice improved hair thickness. 

Massaging the scalp, even with water, can stimulate the hair follicles according to scientific studies conducted on lab rats. So, it’s possible that castor oil is being credited inaccurately.

How to Use Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Portrait of a young black woman smiling with braces wearing tank top.

The best way to use the oil to benefit your hair is by applying it directly to the scalp and hair. In the video below, Yolanda Renee, a popular Youtube vlogger, discusses the techniques that she uses with Tropic Isle Living JBCO.


Some people believe that Jamaican Black Castor Oil is naturally black in color. This is actually inaccurate. The fact is that the dark color is the result of ash being added to the oil from roasted beans, as explained by Sunny Isle JBCO.

The organic seeds are roasted, then ground manually by a grinder. The resulting ground beans are then boiled further to produce pure organic oil that appears to be dark brown in color.

Sunny Isle states their Jamaican Black Castor Oil is darker than most because they roast their beans far longer than the competition, producing the ash content characteristic of the Sunny Isle brand.

This explains the presence of ash in the oil, which doesn’t really mean that the product itself is inferior to other oils in the market.

It just shows how the company produces their black castor oil as compared to other manufacturers. The ash itself has yet to be found beneficial, but it answers the question in everyone’s mind, “Why is JBCO black?”.

Pre-Poo Castor Oil Recipe: Overnight Treatment

For this recipe, you’ll need the following products:

  • 3 tbsp. castor oil
  • 1 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp. jojoba oil
  • Hot water
  • 3 drops of peppermint essential oil

You’ll also need the following supplies:

  • Jar
  • A bowl (large enough to submerge your bottle)
  • Shower cap
  • Towel
  • Old Shirt


Step 1: To ensure that your oil is easy to use, thoroughly mix your oils in a jar. Castor oil is a very thick oil, and it retains heat well, but getting it out of your hair will be easier if you can make it lighter. So keep an eye on your oil’s thickness and add more of the thinner oils if you need to. The consistency you’re going for is slightly watered down honey.

Step 2: Add in your essential oil. Some people don’t find the smell of castor oil to be very palatable. If that’s you, feel free to add more peppermint oil since it has a pleasant scent. 

Step 3: Get your water boiling, either from a pot on the stove or by boiling water in a kettle. As your water boils, place a lid on your jar and shake thoroughly. 

Step 4: Once your water is done boiling and the oils are mixed, place your jar in a bowl. Keep the lid on tight and pour hot water in the bowl with the jar to heat the contents. Next, wait for 2 minutes.

Step 5: While your jar is heating up, lightly dampen your hair and divide it into sections. Cover your shoulders with a clean towel to protect your hair.

Step 6: By now, your oil should be nice and warm. Remove the jar from the bowl and apply it to your scalp. There are several ways to apply hot oil to your scalp:

  • Dip your fingers into the jar and apply it to your hair and scalp.
  • Pour the hot oil into a wider cup, dip your fingers into the cup, and apply it to your scalp.
  • Pour the hot oil into an applicator bottle and apply it to your scalp, and massage. Once you’ve finished massaging your scalp, squeeze some oil into your hands so you can apply it to the ends of your hair. 

It’s not necessary to coat your head completely in oil. Apply only as much as you need. The only thing you need to do is apply the oil from the roots to the end of your hair strands. Then massage your scalp.

Step 7: Once your hair is properly saturated, cover your head with a shower cap and wrap a towel around your head. You can wear your wrap for a minimum of 30 minutes but can also wear it overnight. Once you’re done, shampoo and conditioner your hair as you normally do.

Benefits of this recipe

What we like about this recipe is the use of avocado oil, jojoba oil, and castor oil together. A mix like this gives you a moisturizing boost. As for the essential oil, it adds that extra soothing effect to your moisturizer.

Hot Oil and Wash Recipe

For this recipe, you’ll need the following products:

  • 3 tbsp. of castor oil
  • 3 tbsp. of coconut oil

You’ll also need the following supplies:

  • Microwave safe bowl
  • Towel
  • Comb
  • Supplies to section your hair (clips and hair ties)


Step 1: Wash your hair as you normally would. Once you’re done, wrap a towel around your head.

Step 2: Place your castor oil and coconut oil into a microwave-safe bowl for 10 seconds. As you wait for your oil to cool, place a towel over your shoulders and divide your hair into 4 sections. Then check your oil once more to make sure that it’s not too hot.

Step 3: If you can handle the heat, apply the oil to your hair and comb it thoroughly in each section. Once it’s combed through, apply the oil evenly and massage your scalp. 

Step 4: Cover your head with a shower cap and wait for 30 minutes. 

Step 5: Now, you can continue your wash day by rinsing out the water and using your conditioner as normal.

Benefits of this recipe

This method is very unconventional since you’ll have to step out of a warm shower to get a hot oil treatment and then hop back in the shower.

Fortunately, the benefits will make it worth it when considering how heat and water affect your oil treatment. If you can finish conditioning your hair with cold water to close your cuticles, your hair will thank you.

Long Hair Hot Castor Oil Recipe

For this recipe, you’ll need the following products:

  • 3 tbsp. of castor oil
  • 1 tbsp. of almond oil
  • 5 drops of thyme essential oil
  • Hot water

You’ll also need the following supplies:

  • Towel
  • Plastic cap (Substitute with plastic wrap or a plastic bag)
  • Heat-friendly bottle or glass container
  • Pot for boiling


Step 1: Boil a pot of hot water. As it boils, use this prep time to set up your space. Detangle and section your hair, mix your oils in a heat-safe container, and place a hot towel on your shoulders to keep clean. 

Step 2: Once the water is boiled, place your container into the water and wait two minutes for the oils to warm up. 

Step 3: Remove the container and use the oils inside to massage your scalp for 5 minutes. Make sure you thoroughly massage your scalp and moisturize your ends. 

Step 4: Once you’ve finished your treatment, apply a shower cap to your head. Once you have your cap on, soak the towel in hot water and ring it out until it’s damp. Then wrap the damp towel around your head.

Step 5: Wait 30 minutes and rinse out your hair.

Benefits of this recipe:

You can use this method as a quick pre-poo recipe. There’s no reason to use this method overnight due to the heat from the towel and the shower cap. Besides, you probably don’t want to sleep with a wet towel on your head anyway.

Where to Buy Castor Oil for Hair?

Castor oil is available at most major retailers, although we tend to recommend due to good customer service, competitive prices, and international shipping.