After looking into the science behind castor oil for hair growth, we just could not avoid talking about Jamaican Black Castor oil. It seems to be THE hype. It turns out, we had to look at the production methods of each to understand the benefits and side effects of both oils. As usual, we are referencing real scientific journals to back up our analysis.
Oil extraction methods
The difference between usual Castor oil and Jamaican Black Castor Oil – is in the way oil is extracted from the castor plant beans. Traditional way to produce Jamaican Black Castor Oil is to roast the beans of the castor plant (a process not too dissimilar to coffee), grind them into a thick paste and then boil it in a pot of hot water. Due to a difference in density between oil and water, the oil rises to the surface, where it is skimmed into individual bottles. The result is what we know as Jamaican Black Castor Oil.
In contrast, regular castor oil is produced by cold-pressing of the same beans by putting them raw through a press without roasting and high temperatures. The base remains the same: a simple castor bean and the main active component, ricinoleic acid is present in both oils. This makes either oils equally effective in improving hair growth and helping with hair loss. However there is another feature of Jamaican Black Castor Bean oil that makes the difference…
Alkalinity of castor oil
The roasting process and resulting dark ash is what gives Jamaican Black Castor Oil its name and its dark rich beautiful colour. As Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture explains, ash is an alkaline component. And, while Jamaican Black Castor Oil manufacturers claim that such alkalinity opens up the cuticle of the hair shaft, it may not be a good thing. While this is true, alkalinity of such oil is higher than usual castor bean oil, International Journal of Trichology confirms that the opening of the cuticle increases friction between the hairs which leads to breakage and hair fragility. To prevent this, a follow up “closure” routine of the hair cuticle is necessary after application of such alkaline treatment.
While opening up the cuticle of the hair is good for making sure nutrients penetrate the hair shaft, using castor oil on the length of the hair as a moisturiser may be a waste of its goodness. The active ingredient, ricinoleic acid which accounts for the hair growing magic of castor oil, can improve hair growth if applied onto hair root. An example of that would be The Hair Fuel mask which contains castor oil and you apply it directly onto your scalp. It results in better blood flow and delivers necessary nutrients to help with your hair growth.
What about the processing of JBCO?
Regular castor oil has a reputation of being “more processed’. Because it is easier to produce, it has less steps (no roasting or boiling), a production line is easier to set up. Simply put, just because a farmer crushes the bean manually with a pestel and mortar and then roasts it on an open fire vs. a machine pressing the oil out of it – doesn’t affect the ricinoleic acid component. Regardless which oil you choose, make sure it comes from an ethical supplier.
How to use Jamaican black castor oil?
As we concluded, while Jamaican Black castor oil does not work any better than regular castor oil in helping the hair growth, the ash and resulting alkalinity does help with oil absorption to the hair shaft. Without the ash, regular castor bean oil with naturally lower pH performs better in reducing frizz. This generates less negative static electricity on the surface of hair fibre and therefore leading to less hair breakage.
If you have a bottle of Jamaican Black Castor oil – how should you use it?
- Massage 1-2 tablespoons directly onto your scalp, for about 3-5 minutes.
- Put a shower cap on and leave it overnight. Alternatively, keep it on for at least 20 minutes to help your scalp absorb the benefits.
- If you need, following our instructions on how to apply oil & masks here.
- Rinse with warm water as it will help to remove heavy oil first.
- Follow with your usual shampoo (preferrably sulfate-free one)
- Apply conditioner (preferrably silicone-free) on your hair lengths and keep it as instructed on the conditioner bottle
- Rinse the conditioner out with cold water. Cold water helps to seal in the moisture and prevent further breakage.
- Avoid heat styling and let your hair air-dry if you can.
Jamaican black castor oil for hair growth
Jamaican Black castor oil gained its prominence for its hair growing abilities, some of which this article alludes to. Its primary benefit lies in having ricinoleic acid, an active ingredient in castor oil. Often castor oil on its own is insufficient to prompt healthy hair growth recovery. Other remedies can include:
- inversion method (which we talk about here)
- using a dermaroller (our review is here)
- our signature hair growth mask (don’t mind the self-promotion of our product here)
Questions? Pop them below and we’d be glad to guide you through this tricky oil!