But Really, Though: Can Castor Oil Help Your Lashes Grow Longer? Derms Weigh In
We've discussed castor oil's effects on hair growth in general, as well as whether it can help sprout lush, full brows. Here comes the natural next step: What about castor oil for lashes? Those tiny hairs are, well, hairs, so they must respond to the ultra-moisturizing oil in a similar fashion. Right?
We turned to the experts: Below, derms explain whether castor oil can help you look dolled-up and doe-eyed, and how to apply it for the best results.
Can castor oil help lashes grow?
So here's the thing: Technically, there aren't any clinical studies to back up any castor oil claims. But as board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., founder of SKINFIVE, tells mbg, "There is no denying its anecdotal powers and prowess." Specifically, it's been a staple in both ayurvedic and Black households for years, beloved by beauty fans aplenty for its many moisturizing and antioxidant capabilities.
Though the actual clinical evidence is lacking, there is scientific weight behind the ingredient itself: Castor oil's main compound is ricinoleic acid, a fatty acid that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The oil also contains vitamin E, which can also help protect those hairs from environmental aggressors. And, finally, it's both an emollient and an occlusive—meaning, it's able to penetrate into the strands and keep moisture from seeping out. "It is super hydrating so lashes don't become brittle and dry or break, which happens as we age," Shamban notes.
Ultimately, it's the same conversation as castor oil for hair growth: Some swear by it; others simply don't see the hype. That may be because "it depends on the length of the anagen (or growth) phase of your hair to begin with," explains board-certified dermatologist Jeanine Downie, M.D. (That's why some FDA-approved lash serums work by actually extending the growth phase of hair.) In other words, people with a naturally longer growth phase may see profound benefits from using castor oil—others, not so much.
But for what it's worth: Even if castor oil doesn't promote lash growth, per se, its nourishing compounds can certainly keep the flutters you do have healthy and thriving.
Castor oil versus lash serums.
Browse through the wide selection of lash serums out there, and you'll likely find more than a few include the star oil in their ingredient lists. Efficacy-wise, there isn't much of a difference between using straight castor oil and those castor-oil-infused serums. The only difference is that the lash serums probably lend a more appealing application. Castor oil itself can be quite thick in consistency (especially Jamaican black castor oil, where the castor beans are roasted and boiled before the extraction process), which can feel a bit goopy and heavy on the lash line.
Of course, a lash serum might include a host of other healthy ingredients (such as aloe and peptides), which might give the concoction a moisturizing boost. But if you'd rather stick to straight castor oil, by all means. As for the few synthetic lash serums that are FDA-approved, those have been clinically shown to enhance lash length—unfortunately, castor oil (even when it's infused into a serum) can't measure up to those claims just yet.
How to apply castor oil on lashes.
First things first: If you're using castor oil on lashes, it should be the very last step in your nighttime skin care routine (yes, even after eye cream, if you use one).
Of course, you'll want to remove any and all makeup beforehand, so your lids don't have any lingering product that could block the oil. Although, Shamban says you might not want to use an oil-based remover: "It may leave an oil coating on the lashes and preclude the castor oil from being applied directly on the lashes and lash line." (Check out these other natural makeup remover options, some of which are oil-free.)
Once you're ready to apply, follow these simple steps:
- Wash your hands (please!) to make sure you don't have any product residue on your fingers.
- Dip a clean cotton swab or thin brush into the castor oil and run it gently along the outside of your upper and lower lash lines. Make sure you don't get any oil into your eye! If you do, Shamban recommends stopping immediately and washing your eyes out with water, longer lashes be damned.
- Once you're ready for bed, Downie suggests sleeping on your back so you don't smear any oil into your pillow (or unintentionally tug on those fine hairs). Not to mention, 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.
So can castor oil help you grow long, fluttery lashes? Unfortunately, the jury's still out. There's no scientific evidence, per se, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the profound anecdotal claims of those who swear by the natural oil. At the very least, it's incredibly moisturizing for those fine hairs, which is never a bad idea. If there's one thing we know, it's that happily hydrated hair tends to look fuller and shinier—the same goes for the ones lined up on your lash line.
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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.