When you hear the phrase “castor oil,” you probably think of a much different issue than a dry scalp or parched hair. The extract from the castor bean plant is more typically thought of as a treatment for indigestion and constipation, but that’s not the only benefit castor oil can provide.
Anyone who’s prone to an itchy, dry scalp or brittle strands of hair knows how frustrating it can be to find the perfect balance when it comes to conditioners. You want something that will add plenty of moisture, but not totally weigh you down. At first, you might assume that makes castor oil a bad choice. Although the thick liquid can be sticky and difficult to spread on its own, it’s ideal for combining with other oils like jojoba or coconut to add an extra boost of nutrients to your locks.
Why not just use a different oil on its own, then? Well, for one thing, there’s the high levels of vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids found inside castor oil that help condition your follicles, according to Dominic Burg, MD, a hair biologist who spoke with PopSugar. Plus, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant elements can not only make your hair stronger, but might even help your strands grow faster and prevent hair loss. The nutrient-rich treatment might also make your hair look brighter, too. With all of those perks packed into just a tiny dollop of oil, it's a cost-effective choice for supplementing other pricey oils (not to mention that your bottle will most certainly last longer).
The moisturizer can also be used on the rest of your skin too, of course. Its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties make it helpful in treating wounds and infections like ringworm. Those elements have also been shown to soothe stubborn acne. For those new to castor oil, a bottle like this one from Kate Blanc Cosmetics ($9.99, Amazon) is a great place to start.
All of that said, it is also important to test any new product on a small patch of skin or consult your doctor beforehand to avoid any potential allergic reactions. The last thing you want when attempting to hydrate your scalp and hair is for your method to cause even more issues instead. If you come out of the test issue-free, just remember to rinse the castor oil from your hair before applying more. Buildup can turn into “hair felting,” a rare disorder that leads to an upsetting level of matting and tangling, according to a 2017 article from the International Journal of Trichology. Otherwise, you should be looking forward to silky, long locks in no time!