Castor oil is made from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. Its most commonly used as a laxative. It breaks down in your gut to kick your bowels into motion. But castor oil’s natural antiviral and antimicrobial properties make it a popular treatment for skin problems known as dermatosis and fungal infections.
People often use castor oil to grow longer hair or to treat hair loss, which is medically known as alopecia. It’s also marketed for the use of dry scalp and other scalp conditions.
While the average human hair follicle grows just over a centimeter a month, some testimonials state that using castor oil once a month can spur growth three to five times the normal rate. There is no clinical evidence to support this.
If you want to try it, however, below is an easy at-home method that’s safe on hair. You’ll need the following supplies:
- castor oil (of course)
- an old T-shirt
- rubber gloves
- applicator brush
- shower cap
- large towel (to mop up any spills or drips)
- Put on the old T-shirt to prevent staining your good clothes
- Section off your hair.
- Put on the rubber gloves and begin applying the castor oil to your scalp using the applicator brush. Massage the oil into your scalp.
- Apply castor oil to the rest of the hair, using the comb to ensure even coverage. It doesn’t need to be soaked, but all your hair should be moist with the oil.
- Once applied, put the shower cap on, ensuring all hair is tucked under. Clean up any oil drippings with the towel.
- Leave the shower cap on for at least two hours. This gives the oil enough time to penetrate the scalp, hair follicles, and hair shaft. This might be a good excuse to binge- watch your favorite TV show or that movie you’ve been meaning to see.
- After two hours, wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner.
Does This Really Work?
The evidence for castor oil’s effectiveness as more than a laxative is only anecdotal. There are many claims about castor oil, including claims that topical castor oil can help prevent or treat skin cancer. The American Cancer Society, however, says there’s no evidence to support its use.
You could use castor oil for hair loss, but you’d be better off talking to your doctor about therapies that are proven to get results. They might not recommend castor oil for much more than treatment for occasional constipation.