7 Beauty Benefits of Castor Oil
Plant-based oils have been used for skin and health ailments since ancient times. We use many of these natural oils today, but unlike the Egyptians, we can also find these beneficial oils in a variety of beauty products on practically every skin care aisle out there. These beauty products and the trends that precede them come and go like a feather in the wind. What remains, however, is the plant-based oils and the benefits they unlock. One of these enduring oils is Castor Oil. When you learn of the beauty benefits it provides, it is no surprise this plant-based oil is still used widely today.
What is Castor Oil?
Castor oil comes from the castor plant, or Ricinus communis, which is native to India, although it is now cultivated in other parts of the world. The seeds of a castor plant, also called castor beans, contain 40% to 60% oil. Castor oil is a colorless to pale yellow liquid that is produced by pressing the ripe seeds of the castor plant. Before pressing begins, the outer covering, or hull, of the seed is removed – and for good reason! The hull contains a deadly poison called ricin, which has been tested as a chemical warfare agent. In one way, castor oil is a lot like a clam – the outer shell isn’t that glamorous, but the pearl inside is precious.
Castor oil is a beauty remedy that has been used for centuries. In fact, ancient civilizations such as the early Egyptians, Persians, and Chinese esteemed the castor plant for its variety of uses. It was commonly used to fuel lamps and treat skin ailments.
It is classified as a type of triglyceride fatty acid. Ricinoleic acid makes up 90% of its fatty acid content. Not sure what Ricinoleic acid is? It is a rare, unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid and hydroxy acid – meaning it helps to protect the skin against invading bacteria and viruses. Castor oil also contains helpful salts and esters that help to protect and condition the skin. It is also high in vitamin E, Omega 6 fatty acids, minerals, and beneficial proteins. No wonder it is in so many natural products for beauty and hair!
Benefits of Castor Oil
Castor oil is a familiar remedy for infections and fever and has been long used to improve intestinal function, but we can’t ignore its beauty benefits. From hydrating chapped lips to reversing hair loss, castor oil has plenty of beauty benefits to enjoy. Here are 7 ways castor oil can be a beneficial addition to your beauty routine.
1. Reduce Inflammation
Castor oil is an anti-inflammatory, meaning it helps to reduce swelling and inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory properties have beneficial effects on warts, acne, skin tags, wounds, sunburn, and arthritis (to name a few). Castor oil can be massaged into the skin around aching joints, muscles, or tissues to relieve pain. It can be used as a mild acne treatment or added to your daily skin care routine to prevent bags under eyes, dark circles, and redness. You can read more about castor oil’s anti-inflammatory effects under many of additional beauty benefits mentioned below.
2. Treat Mild Acne
Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages. Castor oil is a natural acne treatment that penetrates deep into the skin to fight mild acne. It is an antibacterial that fights bacteria that would clog pores and cause breakouts and an anti-inflammatory that reduces swelling and irritation. One of the biggest reasons castor oil works so well as an acne treatment is that it travels deep beneath the surface of the skin, getting to the root of the acne problem and preventing breakouts. Castor oil softens and hydrates the skin while fighting an overgrowth of bacteria – a multitasking natural product!
3. Improves Immune Function
We usually hear how our skin protects our immune system, but our immune system can have a great impact on the beauty and health of our skin too. A compromised immune system can trigger skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema as the immune system tries to recover from whatever compromised it. Sometimes autoimmune disorders trigger skin rashes and other skin conditions. Your immune system can also be behind skin infections, patchy hair loss, yellowing of the skin and white patches. That may seem like a long list of unpleasant issues, but fortunately there are remedies, such as castor oil, that help to improve your immune system so you don’t have to worry about them effecting your natural beauty.
Castor oil can improve blood flow, lymphatic drainage, and can also improve the health of the thymus gland and other immune system functions. Some individuals use castor oil packs to increase the production of lymphocytes, or the immune system’s army that attacks known threats like bacteria or toxins. Castor oil packs are often used as a natural detox to improve the health and function of the liver. A piece of cloth is soaked in castor oil and then placed on the skin for at least an hour with a heat source. This stimulates lymph and liver function.
4. Hydrate Chapped Lips
Dry lips can be sore and painful. They are also very common – over 3 million cases in the United States each year. Common symptoms may include dryness, cracking, itching, peeling, and redness. Habitual licking, lack of humidity, dehydration, infection, autoimmune conditions, irritated skin, and frequent sun exposure can all lead to chapped lips. Nobody wants chapped lips – they are painful and unattractive. Supple lips are much more desirable, both for the kisser and the kissed. Lips that are supple are soft, moist, and flexible. Castor oil penetrates deep into the skin tissue and its fatty acids help to moisturize the lips. The anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil reduce redness and pain associated with chapped and sunburnt lips. Castor oil can be added to homemade natural lip balm recipes or applied to the lips with coconut oil to return your lips to their lush and supple nature.
5. Improve Hair Growth
Looking to naturally reverse hair loss? Ready to thicken your brows? Do your lashes need a boost in their growth? If you answered yes to any of these questions, castor oil may a nice solution for you. When viruses, bacteria, parasites, or pathogens attack your scalp or skin it can lead to stunted hair growth and bald patches. Castor oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties that help to fight these issues as well as clear up dandruff and scalp infections. It helps your hair grown thicker, stronger, shinier, and faster by improving circulation and stimulating the follicles. In the meantime, the omega-6 fatty acids and ricinoleic acid work to give your hair a healthy, natural shine. Applying castor oil to your hair weekly can make the roots stronger, which prevents the loss of hair. The fatty acids, vitamin E, and other beneficial nutrients found in castor oil also help to reduce split ends, moisturize the scalp, and increase the growth of eyebrows and eyelashes.
6. Fight Fungal Diseases
Castor oil is known to treat common infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and tinea cruris (jock itch). It increases white blood cells that play an important part in killing fungi. Unlike many other anti-fungal products, castor oil is a natural product that targets the underlying causes of the fungal disease. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce swelling, inflammation, and redness which lowers the amount of pain and itch associated with the fungal infection.
7. Moisturize the Skin
Looking for a natural moisturizer that won’t leave your oily skin feeling like a swamp? Castor oil is an excellent moisturizer for all skin types. It helps to relieve patchy and dry skin. The fatty acids contained in castor oil penetrate deep into the skin tissue to nourish and moisturize while creating a barrier to lock the moisture in. In other words, castor oil doesn’t just treat the surface, it treats the initial problem. Castor oil is a great moisturizer for your face, hands, and even the scaly and callused soles of the feet. Those with Atopic Dermatitis may find castor oil beneficial in relieving dry skin and itchiness. Hydrated skin also reduces and prevents wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Ways to Use Castor Oil
Now that you know about many of the beauty benefits castor oil provides, you must be curious to know how to use it. Watch this video from Spirit Demerson of Howcast to learn how!
Use It Neat
Whether you are using castor oil to hydrate the skin, prevent or treat acne, reduce inflammation, or soothe a sunburn, it can be applied directly to the skin via a gentle massage. You can combine it with other natural products such as coconut or jojoba oil and let it work its magic while you sleep, then rinse your face when you wake up from your beauty sleep. Topical application works great for treatments on the skin’s surface or to help the muscles and tissues. Castor oil can also be taken internally to help with detoxification, constipation, immune support or other issues.
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil packs can be used on various parts of the body. Traditionally they are used over the abdomen or on strained joints. They are commonly used and provide benefits for the immune system and other systems of the body. Castor oil packs can be purchased in-store or online, but they can also be made at home. To make a do-it-yourself castor oil pack start by saturating a piece of flannel cloth with castor oil. Remove and unfold the saturated flannel – be sure to use caution! Place the cloth on the desired part of your body and cover with a liquid proof material such as plastic trash bag. Top with a warm heating pack and relax. Because you are dealing with a liquid product you might want to lay on top of an old sheet or blanket and wear old clothing.
Make a Face or Hair Mask
There are plenty of ways to make a natural face mask, though one suggestion is to mix 1 teaspoon of castor oil with one egg yolk. Apply the mixture to your face and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before thoroughly cleansing the skin. A similar mask can be made for your hair. Combine 2 tablespoons of castor oil with one egg and one tablespoon of honey. Apply to your hair and leave it for one hour before washing your hair with a mild shampoo.
Additional Tips for Buying/Using Castor Oil
Go for high quality
To better guarantee effectiveness and safety, use castor oil of the highest quality, whether you are purchasing castor oil or castor oil packs. There are many companies vying for your purchase of their brand of castor oil so be sure to be selective and do your research. Look for brands that have a good reputation and offer cold-pressed, pure castor oil.
Use the proper dose
As with most natural oils, a little bit goes a long way. When taking castor oil internally, be sure to read the package directions carefully and follow the correct dosage listed for your age. If you are unsure about dosage, contact your physician. Too much castor oil can produce the same results as using an excellent laxative – so be wise about dosage and how much castor oil you ingest.
Do a topical skin test
Castor oil is considered a gentle oil and is great for oily and dry skin types, but those with sensitive skin should do a topical test before applying large amounts of castor oil to the skin, especially sensitive areas such as the face and neck. To do a topical test, massage a small amount of castor oil into the inner arm in a small area. Watch the area for fifteen to twenty minutes to spot any signs of reaction. If you see signs of a skin reaction stop use until you have consulted your physician or you can apply a carrier oil before application of the castor oil to dilute and reduce sensitivity.
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