A few weeks back a reader told me she had success using Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-in/Detangler, but after she sealed it with castor oil her hair turned frizzy and shrunken. She then asked me whether castor oil worked on low porosity hair. As always on my blog, I’m a strong advocate in saying what works for one person might not work for everyone. However, I hypothesize that castor oil is not beneficial for many lo-pos and that it might even work against retaining moisture in lo-po hair.
Castor oil or Ricinus oil has been praised for its beauty benefits. Many people boast that it helps them in thickening their hair and combating thinning hair. It has both antifungal and antibacterial properties and is a humectant for the hair and skin. When I read about these wonderful properties, my first reaction was to run out and buy a bottle of cold pressed castor oil. I started using it to seal my hair and like many things that haven’t worked on my low porosity hair, I continued to use it until I achieved the results I expected. That never happened, so I had to back away from the bottle.
Why didn’t castor oil work for me? Well for one, I think it is a heavy oil and way too thick to use for my hair type. It weighed my hair down and blocked out moisture. This happened even when I used a small amount or mixed it with a lighter oil. I noticed I had constant buildup on my hair and scalp when I used castor oil. In fact, I’ve read that overtime castor oil can build-up in the hair. As castor oil dries it tends to form a hard film. This is probably great for high porosity hair, but a recipe for disaster for low porosity hair. Additionally, the film is not water-soluble, which means it is necessary to use a shampoo to remove it. It can also attract dirt and oil to the hair, creating an even thicker layer of film around your strands.
Do I recommend using castor oil on low porosity hair? I wouldn’t recommend it, but if it works for you that’s great. However, I think there are other light to medium oils out there that can benefit lo-po hair. If you have a large bottle of castor oil lying around and don’t want it to go to waste, maybe try mixing it with a lighter oil and using it on area of the skin that are prone to dryness. On a side note, the properties of castor oil, could have a lot to do with your environment. I live in a dry arid conditions. If you live in a humid and hot environment, perhaps you will experiences different results with castor oil. In any case, I tend to stock 2 – 3 oils in my medicine cabinet. These are oils that are light enough to moisturize my face (e.g. jojoba or sweet almond) or medium and moisturizing enough to moisturize my body (e.g. olive oil, apricot, avocado). Since my hair doesn’t need a lot of oil it’s not what I concentrate on when finding products that work for my hair. I tend to focus more on leave-ins, cleansers and moisturizing conditioners.
Do you use castor oil? Has it worked for you? If so, how do you apply it?