Have you heard the amazing bamboo story?
It’s quite popular one, but if you haven’t heard it goes like this…
You plant the bamboo and water it. But nothing happens the first year. Not a single bud or twig appears. You do the same thing the next year, and nada, still no sign of life. So you keep watering and protecting the area in the hope that it will sprout. Another year passes, then another year and another year. No plant.
But then finally in the fifth year, something amazing happens…
The bamboo tree grows 80 feet tall in 5 weeks. Your patience finally pays off, and you reap soaring bamboo tree.
Just one problem:
If you are losing hair at a rapid rate, you would detest waiting for years for some treatment to work. Right? You would want a quick, if not a magic potion that grows hair overnight.
What if I tell you that such magic oil exists and thousands and thousands of people have tried and tested it to regrow lost hair. And you know what, it’s not some gibberish sounding oil that you have no idea ever existed. It’s the very humble, Castor Oil.
Castor oil was not always this famous for hair, but in recent years, it has garnered a lot of interest, and it could be because of its healing properties that help clear out the scalp toxins and fungus to promote beautiful hair.
Before we delve into benefits of castor oil for hair, let’s first find out where this sticky oil comes from.
The castor beans are quite peculiar looking, they have smooth, shiny surface with dark brown mottling, which makes them look like insect. Also, castor seeds are released into air with some drama. Once the castor fruits are matured, they burst open to release the seeds over several meters.
Having grown up in India, I have come across castor plant on the road-side, but never got to witness the seed explosion. Come to think of it, castor plant or you can call it a small tree, as it can get to 8 to 10 meters in height, was not something we would go nearby as it has spiky fruits and that deterred the proximity.
I also want to talk a little about the leaves of castor plant. The leaves are very large and palmate (finger like) with 7-9 lobes. Castor leaves are used in ayurvedic medicine to treat joint pain as well as to cure jaundice.
And the oil is also very medicinal. It’s a world famous laxative (although I never tried it). Castor oil has been used in the traditional medicine for arthritis, muscle sprain and ache, cysts, skin conditions and fungal infections.
And what about hair? Well, that is the whole point of this article. Without further ado, here’s why castor oil is so good for hair growth.
What makes this oil so unique is the abundance of ricinoleic acid – which makes up 90% of the fatty acid content. And it’s damn good for your hair and scalp.
To begin with, ricinoleic acid is a humectant, meaning it helps draw moisture from the air into the hair strands. Those with dry, dull hair can especially benefit from its moisturising properties. Applying castor oil can help hydrate the hair shaft, improving its flexibility and elasticity and reducing breakage.
Another good thing about ricinoleic acid is its healing properties.
Ricinoleic has impressive anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal effects. It may help with scalp conditions like dandruff, which causes itchy, flaky scalp and red patches (1). This can, in turn, help with hair loss as the irritated and itchy scalp is not a happy ground for your hair to grow. Whereas if your scalp is clean and healthy, your hair can flourish and grow without hindrance.
Besides, castor oil boosts blood circulation as well as stimulates lymphatic drainage of the area applied.
And if that area is your scalp, this means it can speed up the removal of toxins and thus allow hair follicles to function optimally. And that’s not all. The antioxidants in castor oil protect your scalp from free radicals, which are another cause of hair thinning and loss. Ricinoleic acid’s free radical scavenging abilities can help to reduce the levels of cell damage within your hair follicles.
Okay, this was all goody, good. But is there any evidence to prove that castor oil indeed saves your hair?
One study found that ricinoleic acid can help inhibit prostaglandin D2 (PGD2). What does that have to do with hair loss? Well, PGD2 are the inflammation causing compounds present in high levels in bald scalp of men (2). And their elevated levels is one of the factors for hair loss and follicle miniaturisation. And since ricinoleic acid has shown potential to inhibit PGD2, it can potentially help hair grow back.
Then there is also a strong anecdotal evidence to support castor oil benefits. I have heard from close family and friends, but I know that’s not enough. I have also read hundreds of testimonials online where they report denser and fuller hair.
But the Proof is in the Pudding, and until you don’t try it, you won’t know if it works or not.
Since castor oil is very thick and viscous, you don’t want to apply it neat. Mix it with other nourishing carrier oils like olive, almond or jojoba to make it more apply-able. You can also combine it with aloe vera to make it less greasy for your hair. Experiment with various combinations and permutations, and trust me this math is more fun to do. I already did my C&P, and here are two blends my hair loves:
Castor Oil Treatment: Recipe 1:
Combine castor oil and aloe vera gel in a bowl, and stir until mixed into a creamy consistency.
Castor Oil Treatment: Recipe 2
Place castor oil and coconut oil in a bowl and mix well.
I know a relative who would simply pour the oil on the top of the scalp and then massage it all over.
I prefer it a more systematic way. I part my hair in the centre and apply a few drops of oil, then part about ½ inch, add more oil, and so on until I have covered both sides and back of the scalp.
I then use my fingers to gently massage the scalp for 4-5 minutes. This also boosts the circulation, bringing in extra nutrients for hair growth. Plus, it’s very relaxing. Doing this before bedtime will ensure you sleep like a baby.
Yes, I do it before bed and let the oil soak in overnight. But you can do it anytime you like and wait for at least an hour before washing it out. (To avoid oil getting on pillow, I place a towel or an old pillow cover).
Bonus tip: Rub tiny amounts on your eyebrows for denser growth.
To oil every day or not to oil every day
I wash my hair twice a week and before washing I like to oil it. So, it’s twice a week for me. But you can do it once or thrice, suit yourself.
The burning question for people who have quit using store brought shampoo: How to get the oil out?
I have found success with homemade egg shampoo and reetha-shikakai shampoo. Here’s a tip I want to offer you: apply either of the shampoo without wetting your hair first. This will help to break down the oils more easily and get your hair squeaky clean.
Or if you prefer the store-bought shampoo route, then make sure you buy SLS free natural shampoo. I have another tip here as well: buy clear shampoo and not the creamy ones as they can be hair follicle clogging and cause more harm to your hair.
Like with any natural remedy, Castor oil will Not Work for every body
For some people, castor oil can irritate the skin and cause rashes. Who are those people is not very clear, but my guess is since castor oil is drier feeling oil – meaning it’s less greasy, people with already dry skin can be the affected.
It’s always safe to do a patch test on the inside of your arm and wait for 12 hours to see if you have a reaction. I also find that using neat castor oil is a bad idea. Always mix it with a carrier oil and use the above recipe measure as a guide for creating nourishing castor oil treatment for your hair.
Pure castor oil is pale yellow in colour and doesn’t have any smell. When you buy castor oil, look for one that is cold pressed, unrefined and hexane free. Such type of oil will be rich in nutrients and free from any artificial chemicals.
You can Buy cold pressed, unrefined Castor oil here.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil: Black castor oil is obtained after roasting the castor beans. Thus this oil has a darker colour and slightly smoky smell. This oil is said to offer more moisturising benefits, so it will be more suitable for people with dry, coarse hair.
You can buy black castor oil here.
My suggestion would be to try both types and see which one your hair likes: Regular Castor Oil or Black Castor oil
How do you use castor oil for your hair? Share in the comment box below…
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Why Coconut oil is a Simple Remedy for Hair Loss