It might seem obvious, but long, beautiful hair starts with a healthy scalp. Hair grows an average of about a half-inch per month. But by nourishing your scalp and preventing breakage, you can help jump-start the process and keep your hair healthier. Things like eating healthy fats, popping vitamins, and massaging your scalp may make hair grow a bit faster.
Personally, I’m a fan of using castor oil for hair growth as an all-around panacea. Not only does it strengthen strands, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and prevent bacterial growth, it also provides your scalp with the vitamins and minerals it needs to grow more quickly.
Castor Oil for Hair Growth
There was a time when I thought my hair would only grow an inch or two past my shoulders. The second it got any longer, it quickly turned into a frizzy, split end-y mess. In hindsight, it’s easy to see that over-styling and under-moisturizing were causing premature breakage. But at the time, it was just a total bummer.
A lot of factors play roles in hair health: lifestyle, dirt, pollution, and genetics can make long hair goals seem unattainable for some of us. But even if you don’t eat the best diet or have good genes, it helps to have a growth-boosting remedy like castor oil up your sleeve.
How castor oil works
Unlike other oils, castor oil is composed of a powerful mix of proteins, vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants. Rich in ricinoleic acid [source], which gives the oil its remarkable anti-inflammatory effects [source], castor oil balances the skin’s and scalp’s pH to foster better hair growth. Plus, it contains omega-6 and -9 fatty acids that are components of the hair shaft [source] and vitamin E [source] that helps to strengthen the hair root at the scalp.
And because castor oil has antibacterial [source] and antifungal [source] effects, it’s great at treating scalp infections and dandruff. While applying it to the scalp has been used to help hair grow faster, applying it to the middle and ends of your locks strengthens the cuticles, preventing breakage and taming split ends. Just remember to use it after heat styling, not before.
Castor Oil’s Ayurvedic Tradition
Castor oil features prominently in Ayurveda, also known as traditional Indian medicine. The castor plant has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments [source] but is most famous as a remedy for thinning hair.
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest systems of medicine—so these remedies have been tried and tested for these uses over centuries. A combination of regular massage and all of the nurturing vitamins, proteins, and antioxidants in castor oil was and still is a surefire way to encourage new hair growth and strengthen hair.
I mean, is there anything else that I need to say about castor oil? The fact that it’s been used for so long in an ancient, traditional form of medicine speaks volumes about how well it works!
How do I use castor oil?
What I love most about castor oil for hair growth is that a little goes a long way. You don’t need to drench strands in oil (and then struggle to get it out). Like a lot of things in life, more is not always better.
Simply rub a nickel-sized amount between your hands and then rub your hands through your hair. I work it in from the roots to ends, then I go back to my scalp and spend a couple of minutes really massaging the mixture in. Massaging helps your hair to get the most out of the oil by boosting circulation. Plus, it’s just super relaxing (even better if you can get someone else to massage your scalp for you!).
To maintain healthy hair, I like using it at least twice a week. It’s important to keep up a regular schedule to ensure that you’re giving your hair the biggest growth boost possible. Plus, castor oil also hydrates hair, protecting it against split ends and keeping it feeling silky and moisturized.
I get the best results when applying the oil to slightly damp hair. When I put it on dry hair, it’s just too tempting to use more oil than I need and end up with crazy greasy hair that won’t rinse out!
For the ultimate hair boost, I leave it in my hair as long as possible. It’s perfect for a lazy day at home—you can even make a whole spa day of it!
Or, you can get castor oil to work for you while you’re sleeping as an intense overnight treatment. It can get a little messy and has the potential to ruin bedsheets, so definitely lay a towel over your pillow before you do this. I know some people like to sleep with a shower cap on to protect their sheets—experiment and figure out what works best for you.
Can I add essential oils?
Combining castor oil with nourishing herbs and essential oils for hair can help support a healthy scalp and boost growth. Essential oils benefit the hair and scalp in different ways, and using a few different essential oils can tailor the hair mask to your individual needs.
Oils like rosemary and clary sage help to improve circulation and boost follicle health, which could help support new hair growth. Lavender soothes the scalp naturally, relieving any itching and dandruff. Cedarwood essential oil helps to thicken hair, nourishing it right where it originates at the follicle.
Peppermint adds a cooling, tingly effect while boosting circulation for a healthy scalp.
Tea tree is a natural antibacterial and antifungal, so it tackles any scalp breakouts and banishes dandruff. Ylang ylang can help to encourage sebum production for painfully dry, itchy scalps. Lemongrass purifies the scalp and hair, leaving it naturally cleansed and incredibly fresh-smelling.
As always, feel free to add whichever oils you like—or don’t add any at all—it’s totally up to you. No matter what you choose to add to your castor oil hair mask, you can be sure that you’re nurturing your hair with essential moisture, proteins, and antioxidants to boost its health and growth.
Castor Oil for Hair Growth
- Small glass jar with lid
- Combine castor oil and essential oils in a small glass bottle.
- Using a spray bottle, lightly wet your hair (damp is better than sopping wet).
- Place the glass bottle of oil in a bowl of hot water, and wait a few minutes for the oil to heat.
- Apply a nickel-sized amount to damp hair, from root to ends, and massage into scalp.
- Cover with a shower cap and leave on for 15 minutes.
- To remove, shampoo as usual.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Photos by Ana-Maria Stanciu374