Uses for Castor Oil in Beauty

by Laura W. Smith

A grandmother gives her grandson a spoonful of castor oil.

Buccina Studios/Photodisc/Getty Images

For at least a century, castor oil has shown up in cartoons and folklore as a nasty tasting substance forced upon children by adults. As it turns out, there is some truth in this long-held notion that castor oil is good for a number of ailments. While still commonly thought of for its uses in digestive problems, there are a number of other uses for castor oil. In fact, it is a common ingredient in many cosmetic products and has uses in several personal beauty applications.


Castor oil is a fatty vegetable oil obtained from the seeds of the ricinus communis plant. Many derivatives of ricinoleate, a substance formed from castor oil, make up the ingredients of such common cosmetic products as deodorant, lipstick, eyeliner, soaps and perfumes. Castor oil is a good emulsifier and emollient because it maintains its structure at extremely high and low temperatures. Castor helps cosmetic products maintain a smooth consistency in a variety of climate conditions.

Eyelashes and Eyebrows

You can apply castor oil to your eyelashes and eyebrows to promote hair growth and to enhance a healthy, lustrous appearance. You can safely use castor oil around the eye area since you can even put it directly into the eye to remove irritants. The DailyGlow website recommends using a mixture of 1 tbsp. castor oil and 1/8 cup of grapeseed oil as a natural eye makeup remover.

Hair Conditioner and Treatments

According to the book "Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures," the ancient Egyptians were one of the first to use castor oil in beauty applications, especially for the hair. Egyptian men applied castor oil to their scalps to stimulate hair growth and prevent baldness. It is still recommended to put castor oil on the scalp to prevent baldness and relieve dandruff.

The natural fatty acids in castor oil make it a good hair conditioner. Warm up a small amount of pure castor oil and apply it to your hair for at least 15 minutes before shampooing. To create a more pleasant smell and decrease the stickiness of the castor oil, add almond or coconut oil or a favorite essential oil.

Skin Cleanser states that one use of castor oil and its derivatives is as a cleansing surfactant. This means that castor oil helps water to mix with oil and dirt in order to wash them away easily. Unlike other cleansers that contain man-made chemicals such as sodium laureth sulfate, castor oil is very similar to skin's natural oils and won't strip away moisture to clean.

Skin Softener

According to, castor oil is a traditional beauty treatment for skin all over the body. In this culture, you would apply castor oil to the eyes, soles of the feet and on the head. The castor oil would soak in and then be washed off in a bath.

Today, this traditional application remains largely unchanged. Smooth castor oil over the entire body and wash it off in a warm bath to condition skin over the entire body. You can use it on cracked heels and on dry nail beds and cuticles.


Photo Credits

  • Buccina Studios/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Laura W. Smith has worked as a freelance writer since 2007, producing content for various online publications. She has worked as a women's fitness trainer for three years and specializes in health and fitness topics. Smith holds a bachelor's degree in music education from Baptist Bible College and has studied journalism at Wayland Baptist University.