Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil

A fatty oil extracted from the seeds of the castor bean plant with very unique fatty acid composition. It is used in skincare as an occlusive moisturizer and emollient that leaves the skin feeling soft and silky after application.
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Origin
Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil

Overview

Ricinus communis seed oil is a fatty oil extracted from the seeds of the castor bean plant, also known as castor seeds (Ricinus communis).

Castor seed oil has a unique place among plant-based oils because although mainly lipophilic, it has outstanding hydrophilic properties. This is due to its very unique fatty acid composition. It is mainly used as a base oil and emollient and moisturizing (occlusive) ingredient.

Castor oil’s unique hydrophilic properties are caused by its content of the main fatty acid – ricinoleic acid (up to 90%). This fatty acid is similar to oleic acid, but with an extra oxygen atom on the fatty acid chain, which is the reason for its special properties.

Castor oil, while freely mixable with other oils, is also able to mix with alcohol. This gives it added benefits when included in cream and lotion formulations. Overall, it is a fantastic material for manufacturing. It is often used to make soaps, waxes, and other cosmetic ingredients.

Castor oil is often used in skincare as a base oil. It might feel a little drying when applied by itself, which is why it is very suitable for oily skin. It is also commonly used in hair care products and eyelash oils, where it allegedly supports healthy hair growth.

A fun fact unrelated to skincare is that castor oil, when taken orally, can act as a strong laxative. Castor beans are extremely poisonous due to a protein called ricin.

The oil is thankfully almost ricin-free because the heating during the extraction process breaks most of the ricin molecules down.

Science

1
Patel, V. R., Dumancas, G. G., Viswanath, L. C. K., Maples, R., & Subong, B. J. J. (2016). Castor Oil: Properties, Uses, and Optimization of Processing Parameters in Commercial Production. Lipid Insights, 9, LPI.S40233.