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7 Reasons to Add Castor Oil to Your Beauty Routine If You're Over 50, Experts Say

Skincare experts say castor oil can do wonders for skin and hair—if used correctly.

When you were a teenager, your beauty routine probably consisted of nothing more than an acne cream and cheap shampoo. As we reach age 50, however, we add products that fight aging, hydrate our strands, and moisturize our skin—and this can make a dent in our wallets. So, when a drugstore product—in this case, castor oil—comes around that can do all of these things and more, we're certainly listening.

Castor oil is a vegetable oil derived from the seeds of the castor plant that has many known benefits for the skin and hair. To learn more about the reasons you should add castor oil to your beauty routine if you're over 50, we consulted skincare experts. Keep reading for their tips.

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It can reduce wrinkles.

Glass jar of castor oil sitting on a black table surrounded by castor beans
Alexander Ruiz Acevedo / Shutterstock

One of the great things about castor oil is that it contains antioxidants, which can neutralize free radicals, the particles that damage healthy cells in the body and in turn increase signs of aging. Valerie Aparovich, a certified cosmetologist-aesthetician, biochemist, and science team lead at OnSkin, says using castor oil on your face will reduce skin breakdown, making looser or wrinkled skin thicker and firmer. It will also enhance the production of collagen, a protein that strengthens skin that we lose as we age.

However, putting castor oil on your face every night is probably too aggressive, since the product is very dense and thick. Mileya Slough, lead esthetician at Hi, skin, recommends either looking for skincare items that contain castor oil as an ingredient or pairing it with another oil such as jojoba oil, which will help the skin absorb it faster.

If you do want to use straight castor oil, Slough says to first patch test it on your skin. If you don't have any irritation or reaction, you might consider using a cotton swab or pad to apply the oil lightly to your skin. Only do this once or twice a week, though.

It can tone down inflammation.


Castor oil is full of fatty acids, namely ricinoleic acid, which Aparovich calls "the primary healing ingredient in its composition." She explains that ricinoleic acid is analgesic (reduces pain), antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory.

Therefore, castor oil can reduce inflammation or redness. "This can especially be beneficial for individuals experiencing skin conditions such as rosacea," points out Slough.

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It can help with acne.

Shot of a mature woman applying her skincare in the bathroom

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), "adult-onset acne" is not unusual. "It is most common among women going through menopause," they explain. And as Aparovich adds, with acne, the amount of linoleic acid (a fatty acid that stimulates growth and creates a natural barrier) in the skin decreases and thereby changes the composition of sebum (an oil that keeps skin moisturized).

Luckily, castor oil can help in this department. "It contains linoleic acid that is shown to help restore the lipid balance within the skin," Aparovich says. "Another big thing is that it's non-comedogenic, so it won't clog pores and trigger breakouts."

It can moisturize the skin.

older woman applying lotion to hands
Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Castor oil is a natural emollient, Aparovich notes. "Emollients are shown to enhance the healing properties of the skin, soften and soothe it, and relieve irritation, itching, peeling, and cracking," she explains. They work by locking in moisture.

In addition to relieving dry skin on your face, castor oil can be used elsewhere on your body, too. Anna Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Miami, Florida, points out that castor oil contains vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. Therefore, it can help get rid of "tight, scaly skin" on the hands and feet (especially the heels) and soften the cuticles, she says. You may consider mixing a drop in with your normal moisturizer.

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It can strengthen hair.

Mr.Cheangchai Noojuntuk / Shutterstock

In addition to its aforementioned properties, ricinoleic acid is known to increase blood circulation around hair follicles, according to Aparovich. So, massaging castor oil-based products on the scalp can promote growth and help with the thinning hair you may experience in your 50s.

Such products can be used as a conditioning mask to moisturize the hair, as well. "Omega-9 fatty acids, which help reduce hair water loss and make hair more malleable, are also included in castor oil, along with omega-6 fatty acids, which accelerate hair development," explains Chacon.

However, you should be careful applying castor oil directly to the scalp or hair. "It has been noted as a potential trigger for acute hair felting or matting, which is irreversible and requires the hair to be cut to treat," cautions Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist currently working with the Schweiger Dermatology Group. Speak to your dermatologist to see what the safest option is for you.

It can promote eyebrow and eyelash growth.

wing-wing / iStock

Roshan Vara, hair transplant surgeon and co-founder at The Treatment Rooms, points out that hair thinning also occurs on the eyebrows and eyelashes as we age. To use castor oil in this instance, he recommends putting a small drop on a spoolie (a cotton swab works, too) and applying it to the eyebrows and lash line—being very careful not to get it in your eyes. He says you'll likely begin to see results in a few weeks.

It can be used as a makeup remover.

Older woman looking in the mirror and drying her face with a towel.
Focus and Blur / Shutterstock

Fayne L. Frey, MD, FAAD, consumer advocate, dermatologist, and author of The Skincare Hoax, shares that several of her patients like to use castor oil to remove their makeup (again, be careful not to get it in your eyes). However, she advises anyone with sensitive skin or eczema to skip castor oil entirely, as it is a known allergen.

Pregnant women should also avoid using castor oil topically, "as it may induce premature pregnancy if used on the body," cautions Slough. Even if you don't fall into one of these categories, she recommends consulting with your doctor before incorporating castor oil into your beauty routine.

Aparovich says it's always best to add a few drops of castor oil to your usual skincare or hair product (cream, mask, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, etc.). She also suggests checking the ingredient label first; "perhaps castor oil is already present in the product formula, and there's no need to add it."

Dana Schulz
Dana Schulz is the Deputy Lifestyle Editor at Best Life. She was previously the managing editor of 6sqft, where she oversaw all content related to real estate, apartment living, and the best local things to do. Read more