Jamaican Black Castor oil vs. regular castor oil review

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 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.

jamaican black castor oil for hair growth, Jamaican black castor oil vs castor oil

The difference between the usual Castor oil and Jamaican 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, traditional way to produce Jamaican Black 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, Jamaican Black Castor Oil is black in colour due to the ash content, while regular castor oil is golden yellow.

Extraction of castor oil in a contemporary factory facility.
Extraction of castor oil in a contemporary factory facility.

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 oils 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 between the two – and it is its alkalinity on which we expand further below.

Part of this video explains the main difference between castor oil and Jamaican Black Castor oil:

Alkalinity of castor oil

The roasting process and resulting dark ash is what gives Jamaican Black Castor Oil its name and its beautiful dark rich colour. 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.

Alkalinity of such oil is higher than usual castor bean oil, opening of the cuticle increases the friction between the hairs which leads to breakage and hair fragility. If your hair texture is curly, coily 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 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 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.

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.

pH scale for hair care, ph of shampoo, ph of soap, ph of permanent hair colour, ph of scalp, ph of hair
pH scale for hair care

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 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. While the ash and resulting alkalinity does 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 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. 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 scalp, more on this method to grow hair here
  • using a dermaroller – 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!

Sources:

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 a horrific visit to a hairdresser as well as suffering from a life-long condition of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) associated with androgenic hair thinning. 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 growth mask. 

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 >>

FAQ

  • 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.

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37 thoughts on “Jamaican Black Castor oil vs. regular castor oil review”

    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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).

      Reply
      • 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?

        Reply
        • 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.

          Reply
  1. 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?

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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 🙂

      Reply
  2. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • Hey Tony – without knowing the actual details of the refinement process, it is hard to judge which one is better. Generally speaking, the less you “mess” with something, the better molecules maintain their structural integrity, therefore nutrients and efficacy. While sometimes, particles are better to be broken down to be absorbed better by our body, with castor oil the additional refinement step might be removing or disturbing the ricinoleic acid molecule, crucial for hair growth results.

      Reply
  3. I want my beard to be hard & thick. And i want to add peppermint oil into JBCO. Can i do that? Also will a normal castor would be good for me or JBCO is good? If I want to use JBCO on my beard, how should i apply it?
    Thanks

    Reply

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