woman combing long straight hair with castor oil.

Castor Oil for Hair Decoded: What It Is and How to Use It

This infamously bitter oil helps impart softer, smoother curls.

We’re willing to bet that you’ve heard of castor oil but may not be quite sure what it is or what it does. So much more than just a type of vegetable oil you’d use on the stove, castor oil has been used and renowned for hundreds of years.

Castor oil, extracted from the castor bean, has long been popular in beauty circles, especially for its purported hair benefits. But do these claims hold true?

If you want to learn how to use castor oil for hair treatment, you’ve come to the right place. Learn how to use this cult favorite and get inspired to DIY your way to healthier, shinier, more nourished hair.

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a vegetable oil derived from pressed castor beans. Its use dates back to ancient Egypt — it’s rumoured Cleopatra herself would use it to brighten the whites of her eyes.

Castor oil has a yellowish color and a distinctive taste and smell. One of its key ingredients is ricinoleic acid, a hydrating and moisturizing fatty acid, to which we owe all the amazing properties of this oil.

This oil has numerous medical, industrial and pharmaceutical uses, but today we’re going to focus on castor oil’s benefits for hair.

Are All Castor Oils The Same?

You may come across different types of castor oil in a shop. In the hair care aisle, you will find cold-pressed castor oil, which is made by pressing castor beans under great pressure to derive a lighter, thinner finished product.

Other types of castor oil are produced by roasted castor beans or through a bleaching and refining process, and they’re usually used as food preservatives or as an ingredient in vegetable oils.

Close up of castor beans and castor oil on a wooden table.
Photo Credit: Alexander Ruiz Acevedo/Shutterstock.

Castor Oil Benefits for Hair 

As we mentioned, castor oil has been used for a long time and has many beneficial properties including being anti-inflammatory and moisturizing. So what are the benefits of castor oil for hair? We’ve summed up the key claims below:

  • Can help moisturize the scalp and hair. Since it’s rich in ricinoleic acid, castor oil is a natural emollient that can moisturize and seal natural oils in your hair.
  • Can help stimulate circulation, helping nutrients and oxygen to be delivered to the follicles.
  • Can protect hair from stress due to UV rays and pollution. Thanks to its anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties, castor oil promotes a healthy scalp and can also protect from dryness and itchiness.

Is Castor Oil Good for Hair Growth? 

Here’s the tricky part. While other natural oils and supplements like rosemary oil and vitamin B5 have scientific backing for their hair growth benefits, castor oil lacks empirical evidence supporting its efficacy in this regard. Its purported benefits are all mainly anecdotal.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add it to your routine! As hair growth depends on the health of your scalp, castor oil for hair can promote a nourished, healthier mane that is the perfect environment for your hair to thrive. Scroll below to find out how to use this oil at home.

How To Make a Castor Oil Hair Treatment at Home


Create a part.

Start off by parting your hair down the middle to help you create more manageable sections to work with.

how to use castor oil middle part

Section your hair.

Divide your hair into smaller more manageable sections and secure each section with a clip.

how to use castor oil middle part section

Apply castor oil.

Apply castor oil to the roots of your first section making sure to spread it along the hairline.

how to use castor oil middle part apply castor oil

Spread the oil.

Use your fingers to spread the oil throughout your hair and comb through to your ends. Repeat on each section and secure it back into a small bun after you’ve finished distributing the oil.



how to use castor oil spread

Place a shower cap over your hair.

Place a shower cap over your hair and let the oil sit for a few hours or overnight.

how to use castor oil shower cap

You're done!

That’s it! Style as desired and enjoy your soft and newly nourished locks.

how to use castor oil final style

Other Hair Growth Solutions To Explore

young woman brushing her dark long hair after using castor oil
Photo Credit: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.

If you came here for hair growth solutions and remedies, worry not. Castor oil isn’t the only ingredient you can integrate into your hair care routine for shiny, long strands. Here are some of the most popular options to help with hair growth:

Rosemary Tea

If you’re accustomed to using rosemary as a seasoning for your dishes, you might be surprised by its beauty and hair care properties. This Mediterranean plant has been used for a long time in folk medicines to cure various illnesses, including hair loss. Thanks to its ursolic acid content, rosemary helps boost blood circulation through the scalp and therefore supports in achieving shinier, healthier strands.

An easy way to DIY a rosemary hair treatment is by brewing some rosemary tea. Just let its leaves brew in hot water for a few minutes. Then either drink it, or turn it into a hair spray or rinse.

Learn more here: All You Need to Know About Rosemary Tea For Hair Growth.

Rice Water

Traveling across the globe, we encounter another popular hair growth remedy: rice water. Its use dates back to ancient Japan, when legend says it was the secret ingredient to achieve floor-length hair. It’s easy and inexpensive to make at home and you can use it as a rinse after you shampoo and condition your hair.
If you want to learn how to use rice water at home, read our complete guide here.

Coconut Oil

Like castor oil for hair, coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, especially lauric acid, that, when applied to the scalp can help prevent protein loss from hair. According to a 2021 study, this nutty oil may also help enrich the scalp’s microbiome and encourage healthier follicles.

As you can see, nature can be your BFF when it comes to hair growth and preventing hair loss. Now that you’re all clued up about castor oil and its fellow natural remedies, go experiment and find out which one is best for dream-like long tresses.

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