Castor oil, also known as Ricinus communism, is a nutrient-rich vegetable oil from castor beans. Although it originates in tropical east Africa, it is widely used in India and the West Indies for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Castor oil is usually clear or pale yellow unless derived through roasting or boiling, known as black castor oil.


“Cold-pressed castor oil can be used on the hair shaft. However, black castor oil should be applied only to the scalp,” explains Dr. Hill. “If black castor oil is applied to the hair, a cuticle-sealing technique should be used afterward. Both forms will provide sufficient components of ricin oleic acid.”

However, it is best to avoid using castor oil on your hair if you are suffering from dandruff, it is said to make the condition worse, but studies have shown that castor oil stimulates/promotes hair growth. “Because of the nutrients in castor oil, it protects the hair follicle from outside cellular and tissue invaders that destroy the health and vitality of the hair follicle.”


Although castor oil is widely used, it is not meant for everyone. Therefore, the importance of a patch test comes into play again before applying it to your scalp. “Apply a small amount behind the ear or the inner upper arm for a week.

Once you determine that castor oil is compatible with your scalp, Bridgette Hill has a few suggestions for each hair type:

Fine to medium straight hair: Castor oil can be used as a deep treatment to protect the very ends of your hair fiber, the last 2-3 inches of hair. Use it as a pre-shampoo treatment to help keep the tangles away. Be sure not to overuse—shampoo out and style as desired.

Medium to thick straight/wavy hair: Apply throughout the entire head for an intense pre-shampoo treatment. Add heat or steam for deeper penetration into the hair cuticle.

Wavy to loose curls: I suggest mixing drops of castor oil into conditioners during these hot and humid summer months.

Curly to tightly coiled: I suggest using castor oil as needed throughout your regimen, [as a] pre-shampoo, added treatment, or as a weekly moisturizer. It is essential to perform a proper monthly detox shampoo when using heavy oils like castor oil.


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