How Castor Oil Can Simplify Your Beauty Regimen

Castor oil is a translucent vegetable oil with a yellow tint that is derived from the seeds of the castor plant. It is an unsaturated omega-9 fat well-known for having a distinctive, nauseating taste. Depending on your age, you may remember being forced to drink castor oil, perhaps to relieve constipation, which some thought was associated with a child’s unpleasant mood.

Despite its strong taste, castor oil has been used for millennia to treat medical conditions — most notably digestive issues, including constipation and dysentery. In modern times, castor oil continues to be used in laxatives, as well as in a wide variety of everyday items — from cleaning products, coatings and cosmetics to paints, plastics and perfumes.

Although some users of castor oil complain of negative reactions, such as itching, rashes and swelling, others praise it for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and moisturizing effects. If you have not yet tried castor oil, you may want to consider using it for your face and skin, particularly as part of the oil cleansing method.

Castor Oil Has Long Been Used as a Fuel and Laxative

Castor oil is made by pressing the seeds of the castor plant (Ricinus communis), which is native to India and has since appeared in tropical areas within Africa and Asia. It has a long history of use as a fuel and a laxative.1,2 In India, the use of castor seed oil as a laxative and a fuel for lamps dates back to 2000 B.C. Castor oil is known as a cleanser and purifier in Ayurvedic tradition, which also promotes it as a cure for arthritic diseases.

Castor seed oil was also used as a fuel and laxative by the Greeks, as well as the Egyptians, in whose ancient tombs castor seeds have been found. It appeared in Europe during the early Middle Ages for similar applications, and later fell into disuse.

Today, castor oil is found in hundreds of cosmetic products. It continues to be regarded for its laxative effects and is sometimes still used to induce labor. It also has many industrial uses such as in the production of nylon and other synthetic fibers, as well as resins. Castor oil is found in food containers, insulation, motor oil, paint, plastics, soap and varnish.3

Castor Oils Effects on Your Body

Castor oil is a triglyceride composed of fatty acids, 90 percent of which is ricinoleic acid. It is broken down into ricinoleic acid in your small intestine, which speeds up the process of digestion and elimination. Beyond its laxative effects, castor oil is also known for possessing the following characteristics as it relates to your face and skin:4

Anti-inflammatory: Because castor oil and ricinoleic acid have known anti-inflammatory properties, they are useful in treating irritated skin, including acne, dermatosis and psoriasis.

Antimicrobial: Research published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine and Advance Sciences affirmed castor oil’s antimicrobial properties, finding it to be an effective agent against bacterial infections resisting invading pathogens. The study authors said:5

“The seed extract of the castor oil plant inhibited the growth of Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC15156), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhi and Escherichia coli. Also, growth of Candida albicans was inhibited by a crude extract of Ricinus communis (castor oil) seeds.”

Cleansing: Castor oil is naturally astringent and helps pull impurities from your skin. It has even been shown to be effective in cleansing not only oily but also acne-prone skin.

Moisturizing: Due to its oily nature, castor oil adds a protective layer that prevents water from leaving your skin. The presence of triglycerides also help maintain moisture.

Before applying castor oil to your face or skin, it’s important to do a skin test to see if any adverse reactions occur. In those with sensitivities, castor oil has been known to cause itching, rashes and swelling. If you have an allergic reaction, stop using castor oil immediately and, if necessary, seek medical attention.

Due to its strength, as well as to aid in its absorption, you should dilute castor oil in an organic carrier oil prior to applying it to your body. Although you may need to experiment to find the right one, some recommend choosing a carrier oil based on your skin type:6,7

  • Dry skin: use coconut oil or sesame oil as your carrier oil
  • Normal skin: use grapeseed oil or olive oil
  • Oily skin: use jojoba oil

Castor Oil Nourishes Dry, Aging Skin

Castor oil has a remarkable effect on all skin types. Due to the presence of vitamin E, castor oil offers antioxidants that help moisturize your skin while reducing the signs of aging. Since castor oil has a low comedogenic score, it is unlikely to clog your pores. Assuming you do not have a sensitivity to castor oil, you can use it regardless of your skin type because it does not promote acne or blackheads.

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