Here’s Why Jamaican Black Castor Oil Is Amazing For Hair Growth

Ever wondered why Jamaican black castor oil does such great things to your hair? Here’s how it works...

Jamaican castor oil

by Grazia |

There is a hyper-focus on hair health right now. If hair isn’t dry, it’s dull or barely grows. Then there’s scalp health to contend with. Sound familiar? Then you’ve probably heard about Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO). It’s not a new ingredient, in fact, it’s been around for centuries, used in Eastern Africa as medicine for varying ailments. And now, it’s the black beauty community’s best kept secret. Hydrating, rich and nourishing, it has a stellar reputation for increasing the hair shine, suppleness and strength.

Scan the shelves in your local black hair shop or online, and you'll soon come across brands such as Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Oil, Shea Moisture, Eco Style Professional and Jamaican Mango & Lime Original Black Castor Oil. Used in shampoos, conditioners, and as a natural oil, it is commonly used as a treatment to soften, moisturise and strengthen hair, while soothing and conditioning the scalp, thanks to its antibacterial, antimicrobial properties.

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Jamaican Black Castor Oil

But where does Jamaican Black Castor Oil come from? What is it made of? How does it promote hair growth? We picked the brains of hair stylists, skin experts and trichologists.

Castor Oil vs Jamaican Black Castor Oil

To understand the origins of JBCO, we must first understand Castor Oil. Native to Africa, Castor Oil is extracted from the seeds of the Castor Oil plant, which, when cold-pressed, turns into am almost transparent pale-yellow colour. Jamaican Black Castor Oil, on the other hand, is extracted using a traditional West Indian method. The seeds are roasted and then pulverised with a mortar before adding water before being slowly boiled over a wood fire. The mashed seeds, once cool, create a thick, potent, and dark brown castor oil, commonly known as Jamaican Black Castor Oil. Not as commercially processed as Castor oil, JBCO is purer with considerably greater nutrient content, benefiting the hair, follicles and skin.

Is Jamaican Black Castor Oil good for the hair?

“Black Castor Oil is a go-to for many as it has great moisturising benefits for the hair whether used as a treatment masque or an occasional moisturiser as it’s rich in Vitamin E and Fatty Acids." shares Deborah Johnson, Co-Owner of SIMPLYGorgeous Hair Salon. "It’s also a natural humectant that allows hair to retain moisture. Plus, because of its essential proteins and nutrients, BCO can also be used to soothe sore or inflamed scalps. That said, ‘it’s best not to apply it too often as because it’s thick, it can sit on the scalp and disrupt the natural secretion of sebum”.

Does JBCO promote hair growth?

But for all its brilliance, don’t believe all you read. There isn’t any conclusive scientific evidence that proves that Jamaican Black Castor Oil promotes hair growth. “JBCO claims to lead to better oil absorption in the hair shaft because of the alkalinity (higher pH), ensuring moisture retention which then prevents breakage and damage” says Trichologist Dr. Ingrid Wilson. "In addition its antimicrobial properties help condition the scalp’s health. That, combined with moisture retention, provides the right environment to stimulate hair growth, but JBCO doesn’t make the hair grow once it’s applied."

Does Jamaican Black Castor Oil have any other benefits besides hair growth claims?

Jamaican Black Castor Oil is incredible for soothing and calming the scalp, eliminating dry and brittle hair, reducing split ends, tackling dandruff, promoting circulation to the scalp, and encouraging moisture retention in the hair shaft. JBCO can also be used sparingly on eyelashes, eyebrows, and beards; although it doesn’t guarantee hair growth, it is incredible at hydrating and conditioning.

Can it work on all hair types?

Yes, JBCO can be used on all hair types; its properties benefit the hair and the scalp

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What Is the best way to apply Jamaican Black Castor Oil?

“As part of your wash day routine, BCO can be added to your conditioner or mask as an added moisturising step for hair that is particularly dry,” says Johnson, who also recommends applying it to the ends of the hair when damp to keep them moisturised and protected

Is JBCO good for the skin?

Some people say that Jamaican Castor Oil has been a miracle ingredient for treating their skin concerns because of its anti-inflammatory properties. However, Dija Ayodele, Skincare Expert and Author of BLACK SKIN: The Definitive Skincare Guide, says “you shouldn’t apply it directly onto the skin as it’s quite thick and can clog the pores. You would need to layer it over a moisturiser like any other oil. Whilst it does have anti-inflammatory properties, it wouldn’t be the first product I would recommend on the skin and certainly not for anyone with acne-prone skin”.

So, although Jamaican Black Castor Oil still lacks conclusive evidence that it stimulates hair growth, the natural ingredient retains many other moisturising and conditioning properties that pertain to the health of the scalp and hair. If introducing it into your routine, do remember to use it sparingly as too much can slow your sebum production, ultimately drying out the hair (the opposite of what we want) — a little goes a long way.

SHOP: 6 of the Best Jamaican Black Castor Oils & Castor Oils

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Briogeo B Well Cold-Pressed Organic Castor Oil, £23.95

This cold pressed castor oil helps to deep-condition, hydrate and revive the hair. It can also be used on the eyebrows and eyelashes using a spoolie coated through the strands.

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And for that extra shine on wash day...

SHOP: 5 of the Best Jamaican Black Castor Oils & Castor Oil Shampoo & Conditioners

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Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo, £12.99

The whole Jamaican Black Castor Oil range by Shea Moisture is impressive, but if you were to invest in anything, it would be the shampoo. Removing the thickness of pure JBCO, this shampoo works through the hair and cleanses the scalp, removing any build-up of impurities. Also formulated with Apple Cider Vinegar, Shea Butter and Peppermint leaf extract, hair will be softened, enhanced, and nourished from root to tip.

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