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Castor oil is a vegetable oil that is used for a wide range of cosmetic and medical purposes. It is said to provide health benefits for the face and is typically applied directly to the skin using a cotton ball. People typically take castor oil as a laxative, but some other potential benefits for the skin are:
- Castor oil can help lock moisture in the skin. Though this natural alternative to store-bought products is considered safe for most, it can cause allergic reactions in some.
- Castor oil helps fight inflammation, reduce bacteria and soothe irritated skin, all of which can be helpful for those looking for a natural acne remedy.
- It penetrates into the skin and boosts the production of collagen which softens and rejuvenates the skin.
- It reduces inflammation and relieves pain.
- The moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil make it an excellent option to keep hair soft and hydrated and help reduce dandruff symptoms.
What is castor oil?
Castor oil is a translucent liquid with a yellow tint. It is an active ingredient in a wide variety of household items, from cleaning products to paints. It has also been used to treat a range of medical conditions, most notably digestive issues.
Using castor oil is a useful and inexpensive way to promote skin health, and it may have particular benefits for facial skin.
Castor oil is broken down into ricinoleic acid in the small intestine. This speeds up the process of digestion. Although the evidence is less conclusive, castor oil has also demonstrated some potential benefits for the face and skin.
Castor oil and ricinoleic acid are thought to increase absorption in the skin and are sometimes used in the treatment of various skin conditions, including dermatosis, psoriasis, and acne. There are also anecdotal reports of castor oil promoting hair growth, including eyelashes, though no scientific literature that supports this.
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By serving as a source of ricinoleic acid and several other fatty acids, castor oil has some properties that make it a useful skincare product, particularly for the face.
Castor oil is said to provide the following benefits for the face and skin:
- Acne: The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil make it useful in reducing acne. Ricinoleic acid can inhibit growth in the bacteria that cause acne.
- Texture: Castor oil is also rich in other fatty acids. These can enhance smoothness and softness when applied to facial skin.
- Complexion: The fatty acids in castor oil can also promote the growth of healthy skin tissue, making it helpful in restoring uneven skin tones.
- Sensitive skin: Castor oil has a low comedogenic score. This means it is unlikely to clog pores in the skin and reduces the risk of developing blackheads, making it appropriate for use on sensitive skin.
- Inexpensive: Skincare products, and in particular facial creams and oils, can be very expensive. Castor oil is relatively low-cost and shares many similar properties, such as promoting a healthful complexion or moisture in the skin.
- Anti-inflammatory: Both castor oil and ricinoleic acid have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. This makes them useful for treating irritated skin.
- Antimicrobial: It may also protect the skin from bacterial infections by keeping out microbes that can cause disease.
- Moisturizing: oil contains triglycerides. These can help maintain moisture in the skin, making it a useful treatment for dry skin.
- Hydration: oil may have humectant properties, which means that it can draw moisture from the air into the skin, keeping the skin hydrated.
- Cleansing: The triglycerides found in oil are also helpful in removing dirt from the skin.
While oil contains many chemicals linked to improved skin health, there has been limited research into the dermatological benefits of oil. It might be more effectively put to use alongside other treatments.
How to use
It can take time for the skin to fully absorb oil but diluting the oil can promote absorption into the skin.
People can dilute oil with other oils, such as olive or peanut oil. The recommended ratio is 1:1 – the quantity of oil should be the same as the oil with which it is mixed.
Read more: Can we grow new skin to look younger?
While oil has a range of promising properties, it is important to note that the scientific evidence supporting many of these claims is not conclusive, and much of the evidence tends to be anecdotal rather than scientific.
This means that most studies are about one particular instance in which treatment with oil was successful, rather than providing wide-ranging and accurate data.
These are often reports that relate to allergic reactions, such as:
- skin rashes
Anyone who experiences an allergic reaction to oil should seek medical attention immediately. Skin irritation and the development of rashes are the most commonly reported side effects.
Using this oil is a useful and inexpensive way to promote skin health, and it may have particular benefits for facial skin.
However, much of the evidence underlying these benefits is yet to be deemed conclusive, and a greater degree of scientific research will be required to determine the full benefits of castor oil.