We Tried It

Can You Really Use Castor Oil for Everything?

From lips to lashes, is there anything this laxative can't improve?

By Beth Levine October 23, 2017

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Castor oil is made from the crushed seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis).

Image: Shutterstock

The internet is always full of helpful hints, tips and tricks to keep our skin and hair looking youthful, and lately a lot of that DIY chatter has centered on castor oil and its many beauty uses. Yes—castor oil, which is made from the seeds of the castor oil plant, Ricinus communis, and is most often consumed as a laxative. Gross, right? Not necessarily, as it turns out.

In the interest of finding out if everything being claimed is fact or fiction, we tried the following castor oil trends over the last few weeks. Below, our take on its biggest beauty claims:


Claim: Thicker, longer eyelashes, in addition to keeping them from breaking. Castor oil is even reported to stimulate their growth.

Fact: So let’s remember that castor oil is, in fact, oil and one thing you do not want in your eyes is oil. Since you only need a little bit, we suggest buying a disposable mascara wand (you can get one like this) and only applying the oil at night. Be careful to apply the oil only to the tips of your lashes, do not worry about the roots of your lashes as the oil will saturate as you sleep.

Verdict: While it is a bit messy, it is very inexpensive and my lashes seem to be more pronounced. Just be sure to thoroughly clean your eyes in the morning. 


Claim: Castor oil can help prevent future hair loss and its ricinoleic acid is said to help balance scalp pH, which can help replenish the scalp’s natural oils and undo some of the damage from harsh chemical hair products. The antioxidants in castor oil also support your hair's keratin for a stronger, smoother and less frizzy mane.

Fact: Oil in your hair can leave your locks looking and feeling greasy, so proceed with caution here too. I tried a few different methods of delivering castor oil to my hair and found the most beneficial one without leaving too much of an oil slick residue was to mix a few drops into a spray bottle with water, shaking well before using as the oil and water will separate.

Verdict: Honestly, I didn’t really see that much of a difference in my hair over using my regular hair moisturizers, serums or conditioners. Given that if you over do it, you will want to wash your hair immediately, I'd suggest skipping this one. 

Under-Eye Care

Claim: Castor oil is one of the oldest-known wrinkle treatments. Egyptian pharaohs are reported to have used it in skin creams according to For Appearance’s Sake: The Historical Encyclopedia of Good Looks, Beauty, and Grooming. The emollient properties of castor oil enable it to be a cost-effective home treatment for under-eye wrinkles. Cheap, effective and easy to use, castor oil may just become your new favorite weapon against wrinkles.

Fact: A little goes a long way. To properly use under your eyes, put a small drop of castor oil into the palm of your hand. Using your fingertip (the smaller the finger the better) gently dab the oil over your under eye area, starting from the outer area working your way inward. Depending on your skin type, it can take anywhere from five to 20 minutes to fully absorb.

Verdict: Much like your lashes, this is best applied at night. While I still have to use my regular eye cream in the morning, I did notice that my under-eye area was smoother and my concealer spread more easily, so give it a shot. 

Lip Care

Claim: Just a few drops of castor oil applied daily will all but rid you of dry lips.

Fact: I am a huge lip balm user and constant lip biter especially when I am nervous, so I was excited to try this one.  Almost everywhere I researched, basically said the same thing: a few drops on your lip. So basically I just put some on my finger tip and rubbed it in at night before going to bed. 

Verdict: Yes, my lips are more supple, softer and less prone to chapping, but have you tasted castor oil? It is not pleasant if you accidentally over-apply this to your pucker. So this can either be a big hit or a nasty-tasting mess, so proceed with caution and use sparingly.

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