Truth be told, I hadn't heard of Castor Oil ($7) until the topic came up in one our Byrdie edit meetings. An editor mentioned she saw incredible results when she applied the natural oil to her brows—within weeks she noticed thicker, more filled-in hairs—I thought to myself, How did I not know about this? Naturally, I spent the next few hours falling down a curiosity-induced internet hole where I looked up all the wild and weird ways to use castor oil for beauty purposes. Turns out there's quite a few.
To make sure it was all factual, I reached out to a dermatologist and read through a few studies on the subject. From cleansing and dramatically moisturizing your skin to regrowing and protecting your hair, the coolest ways to use castor oil in your beauty routine are ahead.
1. A Moisturizer
"It's an incredible emollient and moisturizer," says Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. "Applying castor oil to your skin decreases epidermal water loss when compared to other topicals—so skin stays hydrated longer. "The best way to use castor oil safely is to apply it to thicker, rough areas of your skin. Think elbows, knees, and the heels of your feet," continues Nazarian. "Castor oil is known to enhance penetration of other products as well. I will typically apply my own moisturizer followed by a very thin layer of castor oil top. This allows for even better absorption of the cream."
2. A Gentle Body Cleanser
"Studies have shown castor oil to be an effective and gentle method of cleansing your skin," Nazarian adds. "The researchers worked with industrial workers who were exposed to difficult-to-clean dirt, oil, and grease. Because it's polarized, the castor oil actually attracts dirt and effectively cleanses the skin."
3. A DIY Hair Growth Serum
"I have found it most useful in specific cases of hair loss," reports Nazarian. Apparently, castor oil is made up of protein, vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants that help to grow and strengthen hair. In fact, Charlotte Tilbury's Legendary Brows ($23) is formulated with the oil to not only keep your brows in place but to help grow them longer and fuller. "Castor oil is a known irritant for many people, however, applying a small amount to your scalp or eyebrows may induce hair regrowth through this localized irritation," says Nazarian. "But, as always, it's best to be cautious—you want to avoid getting it in your eyes or other sensitive areas."
4. A Natural Laxative
Castor oil is made from the castor bean, an ingredient that can be used as a safe, natural laxative. Researchers found ricinoleic acid, the main fatty acid in castor oil, binds to receptors on the smooth muscle cells of your intestinal walls and stimulates your bowel.
5. A Color-Protecting Mask
Because it's a humectant and locks in moisture, it works to keep your hair color fresh. The high content of ricinoleic acid improves blood circulation at your scalp, which results in nutrition for the hair follicles, stronger strands, and less breakage during each coloring session. And, studies have shown that castor oil improves the luster of your hair, which helps light to reflect off your highlights.