Plenty of natural hair care products and ingredients promise to help with hair growth, but not many have the track record of castor oil.
It’s a curly hair go-to for nourishment and overall good hair health. Some might even argue that it’s the secret to hair growth. Whether you’re looking to add some visible inches, help repair damage, or need a moisture fix for highly porous hair, castor oil for hair just may be the answer. Take a deep dive into what it is, and how curls can best benefit from this multi-purpose hair oil.

What Is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is a vegetable oil that’s pressed from castor beans. It’s rich in fatty acids that help to restore proteins and other nutrients into hair. It has significant levels of ricinoleic acid, which is a natural humectant. This means it helps hair and skin retain moisture by preventing water loss. It’s one of the reasons why curly hair, in particular, takes so well to castor oil.

In its most natural form, castor oil is clear; however, some variations of it are roasted or boiled, giving it a dark color known as black castor oil. The beans are roasted before the oil is pressed out, resulting in a dark ash-colored formula. Aside from the color difference, black castor oil has a higher pH level, which is more alkaline than the other version. The benefit of this is that it tends to be more clarifying and can help open the cuticle. This is a significant benefit if you have low porosity hair that has trouble letting water and moisture in. Castor oil for hair has a lengthy shelf-life; so not only does a little go a long way, but it also lasts for a long time.

Does Castor Oil Stimulate Hair Growth?
Let’s get to the bottom of whether castor oil for hair can stimulate your strands and cause growth. The ricinoleic acid in the oil is known to stimulate the receptors responsible for blood vessel dilation. When this happens on your scalp, hair follicles receive a rush of nutrient-rich blood that can help strands flourish. However, there’s no direct yay or nay on whether or not castor oil is a growth stimulator. What we can say for sure is that it definitely helps rebalance the hair’s moisture levels. Ultimately hair that is well-hydrated, strong, and flexible is more prone to growth.

What Are The Benefits of Castor Oil?
Castor oil is, in many ways, a cure-all for hair and skin. Here are some of the ways it helps improve the health of hair.

1. It moisturizes. As mentioned, it’s a fantastic moisturizer. It’s ideal for both retaining and sealing in nourishment. Castor oil has a heavier consistency than other oils, making it a good solution for sealing hydration into both dry hair and skin. Use the Hair Milk Refresher Spray as a curl reviver and rehydrator in between washes or whenever you feel your hair getting dry.

2. Clarifies the cuticle. The darker, ash-infused version of castor oil works well as a pre-shampoo treatment. This can help open up the cuticle before deep cleaning any product buildup away with a sulfate-free shampoo.

3. Smarter styling. Because castor oil is so good at making weak hair stronger, it’s a useful ingredient to have when styling more delicate pieces of hair like your edges. When styling your edges, reach for the Black Vanilla Edge Control Smoother, which has castor oil in it for safer slicking. Similarly, if you heat style at all, use the Pracaxi Nectar Straight Blow Dry Cream for both its heat protecting benefits and the castor oil, which keeps hair hydrated while styling.

4. Makes hair more pliable. After only a few styling sessions with the castor oil-enhanced Black Vanilla Moisture and Shine Hair Smoothie, you’ll likely notice that any dryness and brittleness is gone. It makes strands more flexible and less likely to snap off and break.

5. Enhances shine. Much like other oils, castor oil for hair adds a healthy shine to dry and dull hair. It doesn’t soak into hair as some oils do, so you’ll see its glossing benefits even if you only apply a small amount.

How To Use Castor Oil In Your Hair
If you’re new to oiling your strands, there are a number of ways to work castor oil into your routine.

1. Smooth frizzy ends. How you apply castor oil should be based on your hair texture. Because castor oil is on the heavier side, wavy curls from 3A to 3C should focus the application away from the roots. (While amazing, castor oil can really weigh curls down, making them limp and greasy looking.) Use your fingers to work the oil into the bottom two to three inches of hair as your last styling step. If you need all over moisture minus the weight, the Cactus Rose Water Volume Spray is perfect for you. Even though it has castor oil in it, it moisturizes without compromising on volume.

2. Deep treat. You can also use a castor oil-infused hair mask as a repairing treatment. If your hair is really dry or on the thicker and coarser side, apply once a week either as a pre-shampoo or after shampooing treatment. Finer and wavier textures should only be treated once a month. To help the nutrients and moisturizing properties sink in even deeper, apply heat with either a hair steamer, a heated conditioning cap, or by covering your hair with a regular shower cap and hanging out in a steamy bathroom.

3. Try a massage. If added weight isn’t a concern for your texture, treat your scalp to a good castor oil rubdown. The combination of scalp stimulation from massaging and the indirect effects of the ricinoleic acid may help to get stunted strands or broken edges growing—and back to good health.

4. Prep for detangling. Because castor oil helps coat hair so well, it’s a wonderful remedy for detangling. What’s even better is incorporating a conditioner that already has castor oil in it. After shampooing, work the Goddess Strength Fortifying Conditioner with Castor Oil through your hair with your hands from root to tip. Once hair is fully covered, use a wide-tooth comb to work through any knots and tangles gently. Be sure to comb from the ends upward to avoid too much tugging and potential breakage.

Are There Any Side Effects or Concerns With Castor Oil?
While there are several perks that come with regular castor oil application, know that the best castor oil isn’t necessarily a pure one. Using the oil by itself can be hit or miss based on your hair texture. A safer option, particularly if you’re just starting out with it, is to use a product infused with castor oil. The Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil with Castor Oil, is a blend of oils, so you’re not only getting the benefits from the castor, but also the additional moisturizing properties of coconut and jojoba seed oils. Keep in mind that castor oil is on the heavier side, so if you’re using it regularly, be sure to do monthly washes with Wash Day Delight Micellar Shampoo to help cut back on any buildup.

Still curious about the benefits of different oils? Here’s Your Guide To Hair Oils For Natural and Curly Hair.