How Castor Oil Cleanses, Moisturizes & Protects for Radiant Skin
Read Time: 2-3 Minutes
Once mainly associated with old-fashioned medicinal remedies, castor oil is having a major comeback in the world of skin care. One of the most widely used ingredients in the world, this oil’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-aging properties make it a uniquely powerful ingredient. In this post, we highlight the various benefits of castor oil and how to best incorporate it into your skin care routine.
First off, what is castor oil, anyway?
Castor oil is an extremely versatile vegetable oil derived by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis in Latin, also known as the castor bean plant). Colorless or very pale yellow, castor oil is used in food, cosmetics, medicine, packaging, perfumes, and various lubricants. Indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, today castor oil can be found in various tropical locations around the world. Highly viscous, castor oil has a viscosity rating of about 293, compared to olive oil’s 47.
What is castor oil used for?
Traditionally, this oil has been ingested for various medicinal purposes. Because castor oil improves blood flow, it’s also used topically to relieve muscle soreness and joint pain. However, it’s now quickly gaining popularity globally as a skin-care treatment and has in fact been used for years in India for its soothing, healing properties.
Why is it used in skin care products?
Castor oil is highly moisturizing. A natural humectant, this oil attracts moisture from the air and traps it close to the skin while helping to restore our natural moisture balance. Smoothing and softening, this versatile ingredient can help soothe parched, flaky skin without causing excess oil buildup, and even helps clear out clogged pores.
That may seem counterintuitive, but think of it this way: Like dissolves like. Many cleansers strip our skin of beneficial oils, making our skin go into overdrive, producing more oils to compensate, which, of course, can lead to imbalanced, excessively oily skin. With excellent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil is an ideal option for irritated or broken-out skin.
What makes it so effective?
Castor oil is a type of triglyceride; triglycerides are a main component of our skin’s natural oil that are composed of glycerol (a versatile, simple compound sometimes used in skin care applications for its moisturizing properties) and three fatty acids. Castor oil is unique in that its main fatty acid is a hydroxy fatty acid, meaning it has superior emollient properties. About 85-95% of castor oil’s fatty acid chains are ricinoleic acid—formally called 12- hydroxy-9-cis-octadecenoic acid—an unsaturated omega-9 that occurs naturally in mature castor oil plants.
Ricinoleic acid helps protect the skin against harmful bacteria and viruses, thereby preventing irritation, redness, and acne. Ricinoleic acid is also an effective moisturizer, easily penetrating the skin to soothe and soften dry, rough patches while stimulating elastin and collagen production—thereby diminishing the signs of aging. Powerful but gentle, ricinoleic acid also helps alleviate itchiness, swelling, sunburn, and general irritation while preventing infections and inflammation. This multifaceted ingredient also helps promote circulation.
Castor oil also contains small amounts of other fatty acids:
- Oleic acid — 2 - 6%
- Linoleic acid — 1 - 5 %
- α-Linolenic acid — 0.5 - 1%
- Stearic acid — 0.5 - 1%
- Palmitic acid — 0.5 - 1%
- Dihydroxystearic acid — 0.3 - 0.5
What are the benefits of castor oil for the skin?
- Softer, more supple skin
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Moisturized and hydrated skin
- Anti-acne and antibacterial effects
- Cleansing effects; clearer pores
To easily incorporate castor oil into your skin care ritual, try MUN’s Akwi Purifying Cleanser. This gentle, pH-balancing, oil-based cleansing balm reduces excess oil and unclogs pores without stripping the skin of its natural protective oils. Moisturizing and firming, Akwi naturally promotes radiance and youthfulness.