Castor Oil for Hair: The Pros and Cons, According to Experts

Why does castor oil sound like something you might dab under the hood of your car to quiet a squeaky timing belt, or something a badass witch might give you to ward off evil spirits trying to come for you when you haven’t called for them? I do not know. Castor oil is a yellowish oil pressed from the castor bean which—twist—is not a bean at all but is actually a seed. (Also: If you ever encounter castor “beans” do not eat them, they are poison, thank you. And yes, they are non-toxic when cold-pressed, which is the only way you will likely encounter them, thanks again.) But what castor oil definitely can do is quench dry strands and potentially stimulate healthy hair growth (although not more hair growth). We tapped the experts to get more intel.

Castor oil is a natural moisturizer for your hair.

If you look at the molecular structure of castor oil—and why would you (lol)—you’d see that it was a glycerol with a long-chain fatty acid. Why does that matter to you? Fatty acids are very good at nourishing the hair follicles, explains Atlanta-based dermatologist Tiffany L. Clay. The outer layer of the hair shaft is covered in tessellating scale-like structures called cuticles, and when the hair is damaged, those are flayed and flared, which results in both frizz and dullness. “Castor oil can seal and allow the cuticle to lie flatter,” continues Clay. Like coconut oil and many other botanical oil, castor oil is very good at this job.

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