If there’s one thing castor oil is known for, it’s, um—well, let’s just say that it’s very good at getting things within the human body moving. It’s long been a go-to home remedy for digestive issues, and some claim it’s even good at inducing labor. 

In recent years, however, many have taken notice of just how densely castor oil is packed with nutrients and properties that have some pretty amazing effects.

Now, some are even claiming castor oil can promote hair growth by unclogging your hair follicles, too.

Why Castor Oil Is the New Sensation in Hair Growth

While castor oil has been a staple of supermarket shelves for decades, it only recently gained a reputation for hair growth. This is partly because castor oil, with all of its natural cleansing and healing properties, is a natural fit with modern consumers who are increasingly seeking out options that are free of artificial additives and chemicals.

Just take a peek at those same supermarket shelves; from peanut butter to deodorant, you can find pretty much anything you need with the words “all-natural” across the front of the label. 

Thanks to celebrities like Charlize Theron, who has reportedly glowed about the results she’s gotten from using a castor oil hair treatment, the bean extract is starting to get its own share of the spotlight. 

Throw in the fact that, depending on the estimate you look at, roughly 80 million Americans are suffering from hair loss—men and women—right now. Hair growth is big business with a huge market—a market that’s begging for a legitimate, all-natural option for hair growth after decades of choosing between chemical-based medications and costly, sometimes-painful medical procedures. 

Castor oil, some believe, is the solution for those people looking for both. (Check out what we’ve written on the subject if you’re thinking about taking a holistic approach to hair growth!)

Castor Oil and Its Antibacterial Benefits for Hair

An oil that cleans your scalp and hair? Doesn’t sounds logical, does it? 

That’s because castor oil isn’t like other oils. 

For starters, its antibacterial abilities highlight the castor oil benefits for hair. Using castor oil for hair gently kills existing bacteria and helps repel new germs that can wreak havoc on your hairline. If you’ve ever suffered from an itchy scalp, you know just how annoying this can be. 

By removing the unwanted bacteria from your scalp, castor oil has also emerged as an effective, all-natural cure for dandruff, a great testament to its antibacterial abilities. 

That however, is just the top of the list of uses for castor oil. Here’s what else castor oil can help with:

  • Sunburn
  • Wrinkles
  • Skin spots
  • Scar tissue
  • Acne
  • Ring worm

Can Castor Oil Be Used for Hair Loss?

This is a tricky question. 

On one hand, there hasn’t been enough research on the effects of castor oil for hair growth to officially list it as a proven hair growth treatment. 

On the other hand, cleansing your scalp of bacteria creates the environment needed for healthy hair growth. Skin conditions and the resulting inflammation can cause an imbalance in the scalp that causes hair follicles to go dormant, leading to hair loss. 

Using castor oil for hair does more than just cleanse, however. 

Castor oil is rich in omega-6 and -9 fatty acids, vitamin E, and several minerals, all of which nourish your scalp and hair follicles. Not only that, but castor oil is especially adept at delivering those nutrients where they need to go; it contains ricinoleic acid, which improves blood circulation and penetrates deep within the skin, giving all the fatty acids, vitamins and minerals a pathway to your deeper tissue.

So, does castor oil grow hair?

There seems to be some debate. What can’t be argued is that using castor oil for hair is a great, all-natural way to create a healthy, fertile environment for hair growth. 

Different Kinds of Castor Oil

If you’ve decided to start shopping for the right castor oil for hair loss, it’s important to know that castor oil is typically available in three VERY different varieties.

Organic, cold pressed castor oil

Many consider this the best castor oil for hair because the oil is extracted from the castor seeds without the use of heat or chemicals. This allows the castor oil to retain the nutrients that are so vital for its use as a hair care product. Those with an itchy scalp should start here as cold pressed castor oil is a wonderful moisturizer. 

Jamaican black castor oil

With this method, the castor oil is extracted after the seeds are roasted. As a result, Jamaican black castor oil has a higher alkaline level than organic castor oil, making it a better deep cleaner, although it does lose some of its conditioning properties. 

Hydrogenated castor oil

This form is usually used in products like cosmetics and polishes. WARNING: this form of castor oil is not water soluble, meaning it will repel water like a typical oil and is VERY hard to wash out. 

What Ways Can You Use Castor Oil for Your Hair?

One of the great things about using castor oil for hair care is that it helps with so many things aside from just hair growth, including: 

  • Split ends: Castor oil has a thick consistency, which bonds to your hair shafts, helping merge broken ends.
  • Hair strengthener: The ability to bond with the hair shafts also makes the hair more strong and flexible, which prevents breakage and hair fall.
  • Natural conditioner: Castor oil also helps preserve the keratin in your hair by acting as a follicle Spackle, filling in spots that have been damaged. Ricinoleic acid in castor oil also pulls and retains moisture into the hair shafts. 
  • Accelerated hair growth: Many users report that their hair grows faster when using castor oil, though science typically regards this as a myth

How to Use Castor Oil for Hair Growth

To give castor oil for hair growth a try, follow these steps:

  1. Start with up to half a cup of castor oil (remember; it’s thick, so feel free to start with a smaller amount if you don’t have very long hair).
  2. Massage the castor oil into the scalp and work your way to the ends.
  3. Leave in for at least an hour, though many report the best results after letting it sit overnight.
  4. Shampoo it out (this may take several washings).
  5. Repeat at least twice a week, for four weeks

To use castor oil for split ends or to boost shine as a conditioner, follow steps 1 and 2 above, but follow the dosing recommendations below.

  • Split ends: Follow steps 1 and 2 above, but leave castor oil in for 15–30 minutes, 2–3 times per week (it’s okay to leave overnight).
  • Conditioning: Begin by washing hair with shampoo, then follow steps 1 and 2. Some experts suggest leaving castor oil in for as little as 15 minutes when first starting. This will help you gauge how it affects your hair’s natural oils. 

Try Adding Some Essential Oil for Hair Growth

The great thing about home remedies is they leave a lot of room for improvisation, and there are plenty of all-natural additives you can mix with castor oil to get the results you’re looking for. 

A great place to start is essential oils. Holistic hair growth hunters have long claimed that essential oils help hair growth, and many of these oils have proven to block follicle-fighting dihydrotestosterone (DHT). We suggest reading up on the topic if you’re thinking about using an essential oil for hair growth.

In Summary

Thanks to its antibacterial, deep-cleansing and -moisturizing properties, castor oil is a great, all-natural addition to your hair care routine. While its ability to spark hair growth may or may not be embellished,  castor oil is great at achieving the first step in regrowing your hair: creating a healthy scalp. 

And for that reason alone, you should give it a try.