Castor Oil For Eyebrows: Does It Help Them Grow? Experts Weigh In + How To Use It
Take a peek at a few brow-growth serums, and you might notice a familiar ingredient etched on each label: castor oil. That's because this rich oil has been used for ages by beauty fans of many backgrounds, beloved for its moisturizing and antioxidant capabilities—some even swear the straight oil helps them grow full, luscious arches.
You might have heard accounts about the famed oil for hair growth in general, maybe a whisper or two about eyelashes, but what about castor oil for eyebrows? Well, wonder no more: Experts weigh in, below.
Quick! What's castor oil again?
Castor oil is a vegetable oil extracted from—you guessed it—castor beans. It has a notably high fatty-acid content (around 85 to 95% ricinoleic acid1, in fact), plus antioxidants and minerals aplenty. "Castor oil has documented1 anti-inflammatory2, anti-allergenic, antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial3, immune-boosting, and analgesic properties," integrative medicine physician Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., tells mbg about the health benefits of castor oil. The oil has long been used as a beauty staple for decades in both Ayurvedic traditions and Black households (read more about the anti-inflammatory, moisturizing oil here).
Can it help your brows grow?
Short answer? Maybe. "There's no published data showing that castor oil can help, but I do have the occasional patient who swears by it," notes board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., about castor oil for hair growth. Perhaps because "it depends on the length of the anagen (or growth) phase of your hair to begin with," board-certified dermatologist Jeanine Downie, M.D., previously told mbg. Meaning, those with a naturally longer brow-growth phase may see profound benefits from using castor oil. For others? Meh, not really.
Even without clinical data, though, it makes sense why some do see success: Castor oil's antioxidant and fatty acid content feeds the delicate brow hairs with nutrients, which can help combat free radical damage and inflammation (and for what it’s worth: both are linked to hair aging4 and hair loss).
Castor oil is also incredibly moisturizing—it's both an emollient and an occlusive, which means it penetrates the strands with ease as well as seals in moisture. (This is also great news for your eyebrows, as moisturized brows do tend to grow fuller.) Keeping the strands happily doused in moisture is crucial for staving off hair loss as well, so even if the famed oil doesn't cause growth, per se, it can keep the wisps you do have healthy.
So, what's the verdict, you ask? We still can't say whether coating your brow hairs with castor oil will, without a doubt, help them grow fluffy and full. There's no clinical research to back up the claims—no matter how striking some people's results may be—but the specific compounds and properties of castor oil do carry some scientific weight. And as board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., founder of SKINFIVE, tells mbg, "There is no denying its anecdotal powers and prowess."
How to apply it.
Even if castor oil doesn't stimulate actual growth, it does coat your brow hairs with moisture—that alone is reason to dabble with the beauty staple. Remember: Dry, brittle strands (both on your head and brows) can lead to breakage5, which can ultimately hinder hair growth.
But! You don't just want to slap on the castor oil and call it a night—here's exactly how to apply the product for maximum benefits:
- After cleansing your face, make sure to remove any lingering makeup on the brows (brow gel, brow powder, and the like can block the oil). Although, you might not want to use an oil-based remover: As Shamban previously told mbg about using castor oil on lashes, oil-based removers can leave a film on the hair and preclude the castor oil from penetrating the wisps. (Here are other natural makeup remover options, some of which are oil-free.)
- Next, dip a clean cotton swab or thin brush into the castor oil and paint it gently along your brows, an even coat from base to tail.
- When you go to bed, you might want to try sleeping on your back so you don't smear any of the thick oil into your pillow. (Plus, sleeping on your back has a host of other skin care benefits.)
- In the morning, gently wash off the remaining oil with water or makeup remover. You can carry on with the rest of your morning skin care routine, or if there's still some lingering oil in those hairs, take a cotton swab soaked in makeup remover (this one can be oil-based) and run it back and forth across the brows. When you go in the opposite direction of hair growth, you should be able to pick up stubborn product.
Will castor oil help you sprout bold, fluffy brows? There isn't a singular answer—some people swear by it, while others don't see any notable growth (especially if your brows are scarred or overplucked, as no ingredient can magically revive dead, damaged follicles). However, castor oil is incredibly moisturizing, and wrapping the brow hairs with its rich fatty acids never hurts—healthy, hydrated brows do look fuller, even if the actual growth rate doesn't quicken.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.