Oil extraction methods
After looking into the science behind castor oil for hair growth, we could not avoid looking into Jamaican Black Castor oil. It seems to be THE hype when it comes to using it for hair growth. But why? We looked into the chemical composition and the production methods of each type of castor oil to understand the benefits and side effects when it comes to hair growth and promoting hair health.
The difference between castor oil and black castor oil – is in the way the oil is extracted from the castor plant beans. While in both cases castor bean gets pressed to extract oil from it, the traditional way to produce Black Jamaican Castor Oil is to roast the beans of the castor plant first (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. As the name suggests, it is black in colour due to the ash content, while regular castor oil is golden yellow.
In contrast, regular castor oil is produced by cold-pressing the same beans, by putting them raw through a press – without roasting and without the 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 oil equally effective in improving hair growth and helping with hair loss.
There is another feature of Jamaican Black Castor Bean oil which creates the main difference in black castor oil vs castor oil– and it is its alkalinity which we expand on further below.
Part of this video explains the main difference between black Jamaican castor oil vs castor oil:
Alkalinity of castor oil vs black castor oil
The roasting process and resulting dark ash is what gives Jamaican Castor Oil its name and its beautiful dark rich colour. Ash is an alkaline component – and, while Jamaican Castor Oil manufacturers claim that such alkalinity opens up the cuticle of the hair shaft, it may not be a good thing.
The alkalinity of such oil is higher than usual castor bean oil, the opening of the cuticle increases the friction between the hairs which leads to breakage and hair fragility. If your hair texture is curly, coiled or kinky – it is already more susceptible to dryness and breakage – and using JBCO on your hair lengths can lead to more of that.
To prevent this, a follow up “closure” routine of the hair cuticle is necessary after application of such alkaline treatment, or avoid applying JBCO on your hair lengths.
Sometimes opening up the cuticle of the hair can be beneficial for enabling nutrients to penetrate the hair shaft, but using castor oil on the lengths of the hair as a moisturiser may be overall 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 on hair roots.
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.
Alkaline vs acidic scalp
The alkalinity of the JBCO can benefit your scalp – if the skin on your scalp is too acidic. A sign of too much skin acidity – is redness, oiliness and appearance of pimples. Your scalp might often also appear greasy, feel irritated and react sensitively. In this case, using JBCO on your scalp could help bringing the pH of your scalp towards neutrality and calm the irritation.
On the other hand, if the skin of your scalp is too alkaline, applying JBCO may worsen your condition. Scalp that is too alkaline can become dry and sensitive and you might even experience signs of eczema. In these instances, the alkalinity of the JBCO might make your scalp feeling worse.
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 leads to less hair breakage.
What about the processing of JBCO?
Regular castor oil has a reputation of being “more processed’. Because it is easier to produce, it has fewer steps (no roasting or boiling), and a production line is easier to set up. Simply put, just because a farmer crushes the bean manually with a pestle 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 of the black castor oil vs castor oil you choose, make sure it comes from an ethical supplier.
How to use Jamaican black castor oil?
As we concluded, Jamaican Black castor oil does not work any better than regular castor oil in helping hair growth. While the ash and resulting alkalinity do help with oil absorption to the hair shaft and can be damaging or beneficial to your scalp health depending on your scalp pH.
If you have a bottle of it– 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, follow 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 (preferably a sulfate-free one)
- Apply conditioner (preferably 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. 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 involves turning your head upside down every day for a week to stimulate blood flow to the scalp, more on this method to grow hair here
using a derma roller – more about this handy hair growth tool here
this hair growth mask
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 lost a third of her hair after a terrible visit to a hairdresser while suffering from a life-long condition of PCOS associated with androgenic hair thinning. She developed the formulation rooted in the science of scalp blood flow, which has become The Hair Fuel growth mask. Since then, her company has helped thousands of people like you to start growing healthy hair.
We work closely with our lab and manufacturers to ensure the highest quality product. But 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 tailored advice, digital tools, and online support is 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 >>
1. What is the key difference between castor oil and black Jamaican castor oil?
The colour of black Jamaican castor comes from an extra step of roasting castor plant seeds. It makes it more alkaline which may have positive impact on hair lengths if oil is applied directly. However, as castor oil is mainly used for hair growth and therefore should only be applied to hair roots – this difference plays no role to hair growth.
2. Will my hair be greasy after The Hair Fuel?
No, as long as you follow up with your shampoo + conditioning routine after using it – your hair will not be greasy. The combination of the components actually helps with oily scalp and regulating sebum production.
2. What’s in the box?
First month subscription box contains a full kit: welcome card, 4 powder sachets, 4 oil sachets, measuring tape, shower cap, mixing bottle, instructions card and science card. Subsequent months boxes only contain 4 powder sachets, 4 oil sachets and a welcome card.