Castor oil has been used for many years in skincare and bodycare. Consisting mainly of ricinoleic acid (a fatty acid) it has a thick consistency (gloopy) and a distinct smell (almost musty)…but don’t let either of these things put you off! Castor oil is hailed as a fantastic addition to your beauty regime, with benefits such as skin moisturising, supporting the growth of luxurious lashes and brows as well as some talk of it helping with hair length and condition.
It has not always been used for cosmetic purposes, taken internally it was once commonly used to induce labour, and has been used as a laxative! You will be pleased to know I am not here to test these two theories, however I am very interested in seeing how the regular use of castor oil could help with hair growth.
While it works as an emollient for skin, smoothing, soothing and making skin feel oh-so-soft, it can also prevent against loss of moisture – keeping skin hydrated. It is said to be full of antioxidants, so great for skin that is needing a little smoothness in the fight against signs of ageing. For the hair, it smooths the follicles, coating the individual hair strands creating a smooth and shiny finish.
I have used castor oil occasionally to treat overworked hair (bung it on and wash it out), but I am going to try a regular treatment over the next few weeks to see if I have a noticeable improvement in condition and/or growth.
Our friend Claire is a big fan of Pukka’s Castor Oil, and has given me some tips on how to use it.
"Castor oil likes to be warm"
As a thick gloopy oil, it is heavy to move around. When it is warmed slightly it thins and becomes more malleable. Create a bain marie set-up with a sink or bowl of hot water. Place the castor oil in a small dish into the water, and allow to warm for a few minutes before applying to the hair.
"Castor oil works well with other oils"
Oils are notorious for not mixing well with other elements - combining with water for example is a no-no. Claire tells me that other thinner oils such as coconut will blend beautifully and offer further benefits. I love avocado oil, and as I have this at home have decided to use this!
"Avoid an oil slurry by shampooing twice!"
Oil + water =oil everywhere. Water on it's own will not rid the hair of the oil when rinsing, Claire recommends adding a little shampoo to the hair (when removing), massage in and then rinse thoroughly, follow that with another shampoo and rinse. Always ensure the oil is completely gone before styling, especially if using heat.
The Method (2-3 times per week)
Step One Apply the slightly warm (not hot) oil with fingertips to the scalp when hair is dry, massaging gently.
Step Two Comb the oil through the lengths of the hair with a wide tooth comb or fingers.
Step Three Wrap the hair in an old towel, and leave for 15-20 minutes.
Step Four Using a little shampoo (no water yet), massage through the hair and then rinse with water. Shampoo and rinse again until hair is clear of oil.
DAY ONE I have short hair right now, which grows super slooowly! I am hoping for long luscious locks as well as a bit more growth of new hair!
DAY SIX I have done two castor oil treatments this week, and although not looking much longer my hair is feeling really strong and I am definitely losing less in the brush each morning. I have started washing my hair every other day instead of every day so that I don't spend my life with wet hair.
WEEK TWO Not much growth yet – at least no more than usual but the condition of my hair has improved. Feeling very strong, silky and shiny.
WEEK THREE Noticing a lot more ‘baby’ hair coming through, especially at the top near my parting. My hair is SOOOOO soft that I can’t actually style it very easily right now. I am having to use mousse and spray to keep it straight and as you can see here the natural wave tends to break through even with industrial GHDs.
WEEK FIVE After five weeks of castor oil treatments, doing twice a week I am now completely bored of the faffing with oil, old towels, musty smell of the oil etc. However the condition is definitely improved, as well as some growth and I have far less in the way of breakage/split ends.
Really pleased with the results, and have definitely seen an improvement in regrowth and condition of the lengths of my hair. And it is super lustrous and shiny!
The novelty of the regular treatments wore off by week 3 however I do think it was worth it to improve the condition and I will continue with the occasional treatment maybe once a week or so.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for more shine, softer and healthier looking hair. If you have any concerns with thinning hair (that is not due to medical reasons) I have definitely have seen more new hair coming through too. A good treatment to include in your beauty regime!