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How to Use Castor Oil on Hair | An Overly-Detailed Guide

Castor oil is a natural hair treatment that provides countless benefits for your hair, including moisturization and improved hair health, without toxic effects. Read on to learn how to use castor oil on hair properly. 

Using Castor Oil on Hair: A Summary

Image of castor oil for hair on a table

Alexander Ruiz Acevedo/Shutterstock

If you don’t have time to read through this article, here is the short version of what’s to come: 

  1. Make sure you have the correct hair type
  2. Understand the benefits and purposes of castor oil
  3. Buy the right castor oil
  4. Dilute it if necessary
  5. Add a few drops to your palms 
  6. Massage gently into your scalp and strands
  7. Leave it in for 30-60 minutes
  8. Wash it out

This article covers essential details necessary to ensure you get the most out of castor oil, so continue reading to get the full scoop.

How to Use Castor Oil on Hair in 8 Easy Steps

People have used castor oil for a long time in traditional medicine due to its antiviral and antimicrobial qualities. Furthermore, castor oil is nutrient-rich and contains vitamins essential for hair health. 

Since it’s a natural product, it doesn’t have the adverse side effects of chemical and synthetic hair products. Here’s how to use it correctly. 

1. Make Sure You Have the Right Hair Type (Dry Hair)

Castor oil is quite heavy, especially when compared to lighter oils like jojoba oil. Due to its heaviness and stickiness, it isn’t an ideal treatment if you have an oily scalp or oily hair, as it can make your hair look extra greasy and sticky. 

Instead, castor oil is best if you have dry, brittle hair and a dry or flaky scalp. If that’s you, you stand to gain the most from using castor oil. 

You can dilute the castor oil with water or lighter oils like argan oil if you’re somewhere in between and have moderately dry or oily hair. Even coconut and almond oil are lighter than castor oil and suitable for diluting castor oil.

Read Next: Argan Oil for Hair Benefits

2. Understand What Castor Oil Is Good for

Before you decide to use castor oil, it’s critical to understand what it can and can’t do. While there is anecdotal evidence on online forums and blogs of castor oil’s effectiveness for hair growth, the truth is that there are no concrete studies that show that castor oil helps with hair loss.

If hair loss is what you want to use castor oil for, other remedies are more effective. There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of essential oils for hair growth.

However, various studies on mice and humans show that lavender, rosemary, peppermint, cedarwood, and other essential oils may reduce hair loss and increase growth. Using those oils together or instead of castor oil may bring you better effects.

The only FDA-approved treatments for hair loss and male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) are minoxidil and finasteride, with minoxidil being the only approved topical treatment (the FDA only approved finasteride in its oral form). 

However, castor oil has many other benefits. As mentioned, it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, so it can help protect your hair from harmful bacteria and reduce fungi responsible for dandruff and scalp flaking. 

Castor oil can also help keep your hair moisturized and soft and supply it with the nutrients that it requires. So if you have brittle hair, castor oil might be just what you need.  

3. Choose the Right Castor Oil

If you have the correct hair for castor oil and it serves your needs, it’s time to go shopping for it. You can find various products online. You may also find it in your local pharmacy or grocery store – look in the health & beauty and pharmaceutical sections. 

Choose a natural castor oil. Avoid products that have many added ingredients, particularly chemical ones, as you can’t know for sure what those ingredients will do to your hair. Instead, look for an organic product if possible. 

4. Dilute It If Necessary

If you are afraid your hair is too oily for castor oil, consider diluting it with another oil, like coconut oil or argan oil. Use a ratio of 1:1. 

You can also add a few drops of essential oils to your castor oil, like rosemary or peppermint oil. Those essential oils can provide fragrance and also offer various other benefits. As mentioned, some essential oils can even help with hair growth.

Read Next: What Oil Is Best for Hair

5. Add a Few Drops to Your Palms

Castor oil is potent! Even if you have dry hair, using too much at a time can cause your hair to become greasy and oily. That’s why you should only use a few drops for each application. Use a Q-tip or cotton balm to apply some oil to your palms if you need to. 

Rub your palms together before applying the castor oil to your head. That way, you will evenly distribute it on your palms and fingers, allowing all parts of your scalp and hair to get the oil.

Consider using a spot test if it’s your first time applying castor oil to your hair. That involves applying it only to a small section of your head and waiting a day to see what happens. 

If you react badly or develop a rash, you may be allergic to castor oil, or it might not be for you. Most people aren’t allergic to castor oil, but if you develop skin irritation or allergic dermatitis, you might be. 

6. Massage Gently Into Your Scalp and Strands

Start massaging the oil into your head. Start with your scalp – after all, one of the main benefits of castor oil is its protection against flakiness. 

Then, work your way down the strands, starting from the roots and going all the way until the end of the strands. Be gentle – don’t use a lot of friction to rub the castor oil into your hair. Too much friction can harm your hair. 

Start with one side of your head and continue until you reach the other end. Make sure you apply it to all of your hair strands; don’t leave anything out. Add a few more drops to your palms midway if needed. After you’ve applied it to your entire head, use a soft brush to brush the oil through. 

7. Leave It in for 30 Minutes

To get the full benefits of castor oil for hair, you should leave it in for at least 20 and preferably 30 minutes. That will allow time for your hair to absorb the oil. If you wash it out right away, it might not get the moisturization it needs. 

However, don’t leave it in for longer than 1-2 hours. If you leave the castor oil on your hair too long, you may find that your hair looks and feels greasier than usual. It’s best to apply the castor oil before taking a shower.

You can wet your hair first if you wish. You can also use it early in the morning, before your morning shower. If you shower every morning, leaving it in overnight isn’t a big deal, and for people with dry scalps, it might even be beneficial.

In that case, you can put it in after your evening shower and wash it out in the morning. What you don’t want to do is leave it in your hair all day, as that can cause your hair to look oily and greasy.

Experiment with leaving it on overnight vs. washing it out before going to sleep. You may find that your hair looks silkier and feels lighter instead of greasier. If so, continue leaving it in overnight.

On the other hand, stop leaving it in overnight if your hair feels greasy or itchy throughout the day. Everyone’s hair will react differently. Try to use a shower cap while you wait. Castor oil stains easily, so it can be hard to get out if it drips on your clothes or bedsheets.

Dedicate a specific shower cap for this purpose and wash it in between uses. If you don’t have a shower cap, wrap a towel or even a t-shirt you put aside for this purpose around your hair. 

8. Wash It Out

Finally, it’s time to wash out the castor oil from your hair. Try to use a gentle shampoo when washing it out, though it’s not a must. Many people don’t use shampoo daily, and that’s okay. 

After washing out the oil, condition your hair and proceed with your regular hair care routine. Castor oil can help other hair products absorb better. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman using castor oil for hair


Do you still have unanswered questions about how to use castor oil on hair? Here are answers to the most common questions we see from readers:

Do you put castor oil on wet or dry hair?

That’s up to you – both are okay. Putting it on wet hair can help it absorb better, so try to wet your hair first. However, as long as your hair is clean, you can put it on dry hair too.

Can I apply castor oil overnight on my hair?

You can, but it’s better to do so only if you have time to wash it out in the morning. Otherwise, your hair might become too greasy. Also, use a shower cap or hair cover while sleeping with castor oil in your hair.

Does castor oil cause hair loss?

Castor oil doesn’t usually lead to hair loss. However, using too much may cause irritation and skin sensitivity in some people, leading to some hair loss. It could also be the cause of acute hair felting and matting, but that’s rare.

Does castor oil darken hair?

Castor oil can’t replace hair dyeing products, as it is nowhere as effective. Nevertheless, using it consistently may cause your hair to darken somewhat. On the other hand, if you’re worried about it causing your blond or light-colored hair to turn dark, don’t be – the effect, if any, is slight.

Which oil is best for hair growth?

Unfortunately, castor oil isn’t effective for hair growth. The best oils for hair growth include peppermint, lavender, rosemary, cedarwood, pumpkin seed, lemongrass, thyme, and tea tree oil.

Minoxidil is the only approved treatment for hair loss, but using some essential oils together with minoxidil can enhance its effect.

So, How Do You Use Castor Oil on Hair? 

Castor oil’s many benefits include hair nourishment, increased strength, and silkier-looking hair. However, it’s essential that you use just a few drops at a time.

After all, it’s very heavy and potent, which is also why it’s not ideal for oily hair. Massage it in and leave it on for up to a couple of hours; apply it every night or a few times a week for maximum benefits.