Need an elixir to get the luster back in your skin, or that bounce back in your hair? While castor oil is no fountain of youth, it sure makes for healthier skin and hair. Interested? Read on…
Some of us may surely remember those foul-tasting spoonfuls that we simply had to take at grandma’s place -- be it for fever, runny noses or constipation. But castor oil is more than just a laxative – though its constipation relieving properties are rather well-known. The very mechanism of castor oil that relaxes the colon and helps alleviate constipation is also thought to induce labor, though the intake of castor oil for the latter should be done under strict medical supervision.
WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT CASTOR OIL?
Castor oil is derived from the castor plant Ricinus communis, which is native to India (plus surrounding tropical countries) and tends to grow wild. The oil is extracted from the beans of this plant – however, do remember that the fatal toxin ricin is also made from the same plant, though the oil is free of ricin. What makes castor oil so great for the skin, hair and bodily health is the fact that castor oil is a triglyceride comprising fatty acids – 90% of which is ricinoleic acid and the rest omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Topical application of this oil stimulates cell growth as well as regeneration. The oil also has plenty antifungal and antibacterial activity – loosely translated it means that it rejuvenates the skin and hair, promotes faster healing and youthful skin, keeps infections at bay and also makes hair grow thicker and longer!
5 WAYS TO USE CASTOR OIL
Frankly, the castor oil you get at most pharmacies or chemists is one of the purest forms available – since it is safe for ingestion, it is certainly safe for topical use. Look for labels that say cold pressed, cold processed, virgin castor oil, Jamaican black, 100% Pure or USP food grade – any of these should be good to ingest or apply…
- As a skin tonic: If you have never used castor oil before, you’ll be amazed as its viscosity – it’s almost as thick and sticky as honey, though anything but sweet… You can use castor oil to give yourself a pre-bath massage, but you will have to dilute it a bit with oils like coconut or olive. Mix castor oil with coconut or olive oil in a 1:2 ratio and heat till warm to touch. Use this to massage yourself from face to toe, and try and keep on for 5-10 minutes before you wash off with a gentle body wash and a loofah. The fatty acids in castor oil will kick start cell growth and collagen production, giving you younger, softer skin, and the oil will also target any fungal or bacterial infections or acne as well.
- As a moisturizer: Whilst using castor oil for a pre-bath massage will indeed moisturize the skin, the soap application after can cancel out some of its humectant properties. To use castor oil as a moisturizer, add a few drops of it in a palm full of organic body cream or lotion and then apply all over. The oil will form a thin layer on the skin and keep the lotion’s moisture trapped, keeping the skin hydrated and protected.
- As a hair vitalizer: Castor oil is a great massage oil for the scalp. Its antifungal and antibacterial properties remove any dandruff from the scalp whilst the oil itself stimulates circulation, thus encouraging healthy hair growth. You can add castor oil to any hair mask you make, or simply thin it down with olive or coconut oil. Heat a bit and then massage your scalp with it. You can choose to wear a cotton shower cap or wrap a towel around your head and leave it overnight – shampoo and style in the morning as usual for hair that is noticeably soft.
- As a hair leave-in: Castor oil is a humectant, meaning it traps moisture in. After the shampoo and conditioning, dry your hair well with a towel. Pour a few drops of castor oil on your palm and spread it gently all over the hair, starting from the ends up. This will not only take care of the frizz and the flyways, but also make your hair look thicker and glossier.
- As a boost for lashes and brows: If castor oil can boost hair growth on the scalp, it can take care of scraggly lashes and brows too. For the brows, gently apply castor oil at night with your ring finger, massaging gently – wash off in the morning. For lashes, use any old mascara brush that you have and apply as you would mascara – blotting any excess with a tissue. The viscosity of the oil will make your lashes appear thicker and glossier while the oil will work its magic at the roots and take away any dryness, and promote growth as well.
So till next time when we discuss oil, do remember that in case you have an allergy to castor oil, never use it topically either – however much you like its virtues... Happy oiling!