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Jamaican Black Castor oil vs. regular castor oil review

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?

  1. Massage 1-2 tablespoons directly onto your scalp, for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. If you need, following our instructions on how to apply oil & masks here.
  4. Rinse with warm water as it will help to remove heavy oil first.
  5. Follow with your usual shampoo (preferrably sulfate-free one)
  6. Apply conditioner (preferrably silicone-free) on your hair lengths and keep it as instructed on the conditioner bottle
  7. Rinse the conditioner out with cold water. Cold water helps to seal in the moisture and prevent further breakage.
  8. 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!

Who we are:

The Hair Fuel is an all-natural hair growth mask created by Laura Sagen, who embarked on her journey of hair regrowth as she lost a third of her hair after one horrendous visit to a hairdresser. Started off as tinkering in the kitchen, she developed the formulation rooted in science of scalp blood flow which she has used for years, before a light bulb moment to offer it to other people. This is what has become The Hair Fuel

We work closely with our lab and manufacturers to ensure the highest quality product. But we know that a product alone is never enough – so we hold your hand throughout your own, unique hair growth journey. Our flagship product – The Hair Fuel mask – coupled with our advice, digital tools and on-going web / chat support are there to help you grow the best hair you can. It’s a big claim – but we’re unafraid to make it. Check out our starter bundles >>

Join the discussion 32 Comments

  • Rícino says:

    This oil is amazing, i use it on my hair…

  • Andreas J says:

    I have used castor oil on my skin and my hair and it works very well. Great as moisturizer. Very nice information!

    • thehairfuel says:

      Great to hear Andreas!

    • Jackie says:

      Do you have to shampoo after oiling your scalp. I am black and don’t wash my hair everyday

      • thehairfuel says:

        Hey Jackie – yes, you do – because JBCO has high viscosity: very thick and sticky, you will find your scalp/hair is too oily without a follow up wash. So would recommend doing an overnight mask the day before you wash your hair. Besides, you don’t need to oil your hair every day… drop us a line to – with what you’re trying to achieved with oiling the scalp 🙂

  • Monique says:

    I’m wondering in JBCO would be better for low porosity hair than regular castor oil? Thoughts?

    • thehairfuel says:

      hey Monique – hair porosity hair dictates how you should apply hair oil, rather than which oil you use. For example, low porosity hair will need heat before applying oil to ensure it penetrates hair shaft. When it comes to Castor Oil – it is great for hair growth – which means that you should apply it to the scalp / root of your hair so your hair porosity wouldn’t matter as such.

  • Daisy akuchi says:

    I usually use Jamaican Castro oil, but i came to know the difference between two. it is really a very nice article.

  • Liberty says:

    I will try it but can i find it in a supermarket

    • thehairfuel says:

      Yes, you can find it in larger supermarkets, especially those selling foods and products from around the world (or if you find a Jamaican / Caribbean specialty store – they might have it too).

      • Rae says:

        Question, if the JBCO opens up the hair cuticle more, does is better allow for moisture to get in? Like if you put the JBCO in, then a moisturizing oil like olive or argan will the cuticle being open help the actual moisture seep in?

        • thehairfuel says:

          Hey Rae,
          Castor oil has moisturising properties itself, so actually you don’t have to follow up with a different oil if you’re using it on your lenghts. You can, however mix this with another oil in 1:1 proportion – to make it more spreadable, since JBCO has high viscosity. Also by mixing, you get extra nutrients from the other type of oil you decide to use.

  • ali says:

    does both of them work the same with hair growth

  • Iman says:

    Great and very informative article. I use JBCO on my scalp but I want to use it as a sealant for my high porosity hair. JBCO is more accessible than regular castor oil and I often find cheaper too (for some reason) so despite it’s higher alkalinity, I want to use it as a sealant in the hopes that the thicknesses of the oil makes up for the ph. What is the actual ph of JBCO vs the ph of Castor oil. I keep finding that every website says JBCO is more alkaline, but what is the specific ph?

    • thehairfuel says:

      Hey Iman – glad you found the article helpful. Have you tried grapeseed oil as a sealant? It works for most hair types & climates.
      In regards to the pH of JBCO and Castor oil: regular castor oil has ph of 5.8, wood ash which we used as an estimate has ph of 6.5. Given the propotion of ash in oil and the fact that it comes from the seed rather than wood, it could be around 6.0-6.2 for Jamaican Black Castor oil. Though we weren’t able to find the exact measuring, hope this helps as an estimate!

  • Martha says:

    I have just started using it I hope it will bring some changes in my skin and hair

    • thehairfuel says:

      We hope so too, Martha! Let us know how it goes. Castor oil might be a bit too thick for skin, so beware of the clogged pores – perhaps using it as a base for a face mask, rather than a moisturiser is a good idea.

  • satya says:

    Which castor oil is better for premature grey hair ? Either it is regular on or jbco?

    • thehairfuel says:

      Hey Satya – both oils will work fine, since treating gray hair starts at the melanocyte cells at the root. JBCO only differs in alkalinity and its impact on the hair shaft 🙂

  • AbdulHakim says:

    Is then JBCO better for hair health and growth than cold-pressed castor oil or do they have the same effect?
    And what’s the difference between Jamaican Black and cold-pressed castor oil?

    • thehairfuel says:

      Hi Abdul – the difference is that Jamaican Black castor oil is roasted – that gives it its colour. They have slightly different effect when it comes to alkalinity. But given that castor oil isn’t recommended to be applied on the hair strands (which is where alkalinity would be handy!) – the effects are similar.

  • yneedcouk says:

    your tips are Helpful and Impressive

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