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…
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?
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 doesn’t work 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, we suggest the best way to use it up is to massage it directly onto your scalp. And, after your usual shampoo and conditioner routine, make sure to rinse it with cold water to seal off the moisture and prevent breakage.
Finally, in order to extract benefits from ANY oil, not just Jamaican Black Castor, for your strands, make sure to learn about your own individual hair porosity by performing a simple test we outline in this article.