The organic obsession over the last few years has revived our interest in botanical skincare.
With a plethora of nicely packaged oils to easily introduce oneself to, it seems there is one for every occasion.
Yet little is known about castor oil, this quiet, unsung hero.
It has been around for a while, but we’re only beginning to really appreciate the scope of its work.
In its pure form has a whole host of benefits for the skin, hair, and lips.
We’ve long touted the wide-ranging benefits of rosehip, avocado and coconut oil, castor oil.
Yet castor oils long list of uses have been left out of the beauty-oil buzz. Well, us folks at NC are just about to change all that.
What is castor oil?
The oil is extracted from the castor plant’s seeds; a tough, thorny shrub, the seeds are cold-pressed, which produces this lovely, thick oil that has a lot of shine.
It is really compatible with beeswax, which is why you will see it often used in lipsticks and balms, combined they work to keep the oil on your lips and prevent them from feathering into fine lines.
It has a low molecular weight, so it penetrates the skin easily, it acts as a softening oil and is really nourishing.
It has a fascinating fatty acid profile; containing around 6% oleic acid, 4% linoleic acid, and 90% ricinoleic acid.
Ricinoleic acid: This is an unusual fatty acid that balances transepidermal water loss in the skin tissues, making it an important humectant. Ricinoleic acid is considered an analgesic and anti-bacterial. There are indications it may act as an anti-fungal. For these reasons, it is sometimes used to treat various skin conditions, including eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
Phytosterols: Castor oil contains phytosterols in the form of ß-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol, which is where it gets its anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties, helping to end the cyclical nature of itching and irritation.
Acanthotic: If all of that isn’t enough, castor is unusual in the fact that it has ‘acanthotic activity’, meaning it can help increase the thickness of your skin, which is why we include it in our Nectar treatment balm – designed to deliver penetrating, healing, and regenerative nourishment to cuts, burns, cracked heels, and damaged skin.
Castor doesn’t have the best slippage on the skin and can be quite tacky to touch, which can put people off. In the cosmetic industry, castor oil is referred to as a thick oil, due to it having a viscosity of around 293. Compare this to olive oil, which has a viscosity of 47, and you can see why it’s so thick.
The beautifying benefits of castor oil
Personally, we think castor oil is really underestimated, look at some of its awesome skin benefits:
Anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties: The triglycerides found in castor can help to fight skin infections.
Anti-inflammatory: The oil is also well-known for its healing properties against eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, and psoriasis. It is the perfect antidote if you have irritated, inflamed skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to calm and soothe your sensitive skin.
Anti-microbial: Castor plays a protective role on your skin, keeping invading pathogenic bacteria at bay.
Anti-Acne: One of the main benefits of castor oil is that it retards the growth of harmful microbes, this is due to ricinoleic acid; a potent fatty acid that helps to protect your skin against invading viruses and bacteria. It inhibits the growth of P Acnes bacteria that lead to acne breakouts. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil, also make it useful in reducing acne.
Anti comedogenic: That, coupled with the fact that it is low comedogenic, makes it an interesting oil when treating acne. The fact that it is low on the comedogenic scale means it won’t congest or annoy skin suffering from pimples, pustules, and papules, that often have inflammation associated with them.
Anti-ageing: Castor oil is a penetration enhancer. It penetrates deep and helps to boost the body’s production of collagen. Our collagen reserves deplete as with age—especially in delicate areas where the skin is thinner on the face; such as around the eyes and mouth, where expression lines tend to appear first. To help prevent this, pour a small amount onto a cotton pad and apply it to your skin at night just before you go to sleep.
Cleansing: The triglycerides found naturally in castor oil, help remove dirt from your skin.
Dispersant: Another interesting fact about castor oil is that when it has been hydrogenated, it forms the base of a common dispersant in water, making it a great as a carrier for essential oils in bath oil.
Hydrating: As discussed above, because of humectant rich ricinoleic acid, Castor oil works as a natural humectant, pulling moisture from the air and trapping it close to your skin’s tissues.
Improves Texture: Castor is rich in oleic and linoleic acid. Both of these are wonderful fatty acids that are perfect for softening and soothing dry, parched skin.
Moisturising: The triglycerides present in the Castor oil help restore the skin’s natural moisture balance, making it a perfect ingredient if you have dry skin conditions.
With a list of benefits like this, we could hardly overlook this potent ingredient.
Fatty Acid Profile
C12-OH 18:1 mo Ricinoleic Acid 89 -90%
C16:0 st Palmitic Acid 1%
C18:0 st Stearic Acid 1%
C18:1 mo Oleic Acid 3%
C18:2 pu Linoleic Acid 3-4%
As you can see, the benefits of castor oil in skincare are vast.
However, there has been limited research into the dermatological benefits of applying castor oil topically to date. Therefore, we recommend implementing oil alongside your other skincare products when treating specific skin conditions.
Sadly it is worth mentioning, as, with most things in nature, castor oil is subject to refining, which robs the oil of its important properties.
Ideally, the only castor oil you should use in your skincare should be the cold-processed variety, which retains many of its nutrients and doesn’t lose its important skincare properties or medicinal value.
If your keen to find out more about castor oil, the following article is an interesting read.
Topical use of castor oil: https://ndnr.com/dermatology/topical-use-of-castor-oil/
The therapeutic action of castor: https://www.clinicaleducation.org/resources/reviews/the-forgotten-therapeutic-applications-of-castor-oil/
Just a spoonful of castor oil: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/05/just-spoonful-castor-oil
5 castor oil benefits: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/a20707265/castor-oil-uses/