Oil Cleansing With Castor Oil? Read This Before You Try
I’m regularly asked about oil cleansing with castor oil, and my response is usually not to go near it (there’s plenty of other oils that are SO much easier to use for oil cleansing). I love using castor oil as a nightly eyebrow and eyelash treatment (makes your eyelashes and eyebrow hairs stronger and shinier, and for some people it can even help stimulate hair growth). I also like using castor oil as an overnight under eye treatment as well.
But oil cleansing with pure castor oil? It’s so thick and sticky, it’s not my ideal oil cleansing product.
Recently I’ve had quite a few people ask me about oil cleansing with castor oil. It started to make me wonder if there’s something I’m missing? Could there be a great benefit to oil cleansing with castor oil I don’t know about?
And with that, I decided to do an oil cleansing castor oil experiment. For one whole month, day and night, I cleansed my face with pure castor oil to see what would happen. I’ve tried oil cleansing with castor oil a few times in the past, but it’s always been a one off try, never have I cleansed with castor oil daily, and certainly not for an entire month.
I was actually REALLY surprised what castor oil did to my skin – both good and bad.
So before you run to the bathroom to try the oil cleansing method using pure castor oil – please watch today’s video demo and read my instructions and experience below.
Washing your face with castor oil is very different than using any other oil, and there’s certain things you can and can not do with castor oil. I don’t want you to mess up your skin – so make sure you follow all my instructions.
Also, just to be clear, my experiment was using 100% pure castor oil, not an oil blend containing castor oil, or castor oil mixed with another ingredient. If you mix castor oil with other oils or ingredients the results and application will be completely different. This blog post and video is just about using pure castor oil as a one-ingredient oil cleanser.
Oil cleansing with castor oil – My impressions
To oil cleanse with castor oil, you’ll be doing the regular oil cleansing method of applying castor oil to your face and neck, and removing it with a damp warm wash cloth (see the video demo & full written instructions).
If you’ve ever used castor oil before, you know how thick and sticky it is. Castor oil is very different than any other oil (most oils are a lot thinner, lighter, easier to apply, and slick on the skin). Since castor oil is so sticky, it’s a little harder to apply to your skin and remove.
Even though castor oil is so thick and sticky, it’s actually non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. When cleansing with it, it won’t make your skin feel oily or greasy either (which is really nice!).
I will say the biggest benefit of the stickiness of castor oil, is when you apply it to cleanse, you can give yourself a deep facial massage. The stickiness of castor oil gives you a good grip on your skin, so when you massage your face with it, it can improve circulation and help to reduce any water retention or puffiness in your face. This is especially good if your skin is looking a little tired, puffy, sagging, or dull.
On the other end of things, if your skin is sensitive or inflamed, cracked and flaking, or if you’ve got a lot of active pimples and breakouts – oil cleansing with just castor oil might not be the best choice. The stickiness of the oil might tug too much at your already fragile skin. If this is the case for you, you’re much better off oil cleansing with a lighter and slicker oil like grapeseed oil or jojoba oil, or mixing castor oil with one of these oils to make it more gentle on your skin.
Also, removing castor oil is a little more difficult than other oils. Because it’s so thick and sticky, you need a texture cloth to lift and remove it from your skin. Personally I much prefer oil cleansing with a super soft wash cloth, like Grovia Cloth Wipes. But unfortunately, the soft wash cloths don’t grip and remove the castor oil very well. To remove castor oil, you’ll need a coarser wash cloth. For best results, I recommend using a muslin wash cloth to oil cleanse with castor oil, or a cotton washcloth. For this experiment I tried a bunch of different wash cloths and the best one I found is Pai Skincare – Organic Muslin Face Cloths. Since you are using a coarser washcloth, make sure to use it very gently on your skin.
Once you have the right washcloth and get use to the texture of castor oil and cleansing with it, it will quickly become very simple and straight forward to use. But, I will warn you now, there is a little bit of a learning curve of prepping your skin for other skin care products following the castor oil cleanse, and what skin care products and ingredients are compatible with castor oil. This is what surprised me the most.
First, after removing the castor oil from your skin with a damp washcloth, there will always be a little residue left. That’s fine, don’t panic and don’t go trying to rub it off more. It will feel slightly tacky/sticky on your skin. If you leave it be, you’ll see after 10-15 minutes all the residual castor oil will absorb beautifully into your skin. Unlike other oils, once castor oil is fully absorbed into your skin, your skin won’t be overly shiny, glossy, or have an oily appearance – instead the castor oil will give your skin added hydration and a bright glow.
Since there’s a little sticky residue left on your skin after washing with castor oil, you’ll have to wait 10-15 minutes to let it absorb fully before applying other skin care products or makeup. Once the castor oil is fully absorbed into your skin, it’ll no longer feel sticky and your skin will be prepped and smooth for whatever products you want to use next.
I will warn you now, I have found that pure castor oil isn’t compatible with skin care products containing essential oils or exfoliating acids like AHAs and BHA. Whenever I’ve applied a toner, facial oil, serum, or moisturizer containing essential oils or exfoliating acids after oil cleansing with castor oil, my face turns bright red. I’m not sure why, maybe because the castor oil locks the product in? One way or another, I’ve tried different products and brands, and this always happens. My skin doesn’t get itchy or irritated, just turns bright red.
The only products that works well after cleansing with castor oil, is using a few drops of a plain oil like jojoba oil, squalane oil, grapeseed oil, or rose hip seed oil to moisturize. So knowing that, if you’re washing your face with pure castor oil, be careful what you apply on your skin afterwards (and the plainer and simpler the product is, the better).
So, for those of you who really love using a bunch of skin care products with active ingredients, oil cleansing with pure castor oil won’t be good for you.
But, if you are into a minimal skincare routine, this can be a great option for you. I really enjoyed using it, and I found the big standout for me was how hydrating castor oil is. And when I say hydrating, I don’t mean “oily moisturizing.” Instead, it has a way of locking water/moisture into your skin, so your skin is plumped, bright and youthful looking.
Castor oil has a beautiful way of balancing your skin without having to have an elaborate skin care routine or using too many products.
This is especially good for oily and combination skin, because it will give your skin the hydration it needs without making your skin oily or being too heavy. Plus, castor oil is non-comedogenic, so you don’t have to worry about it causing breakouts or issues.
For maturing skin, it will gently cleanse the skin, improve circulation and can help plump up areas where you have fine lines and wrinkles. Castor oil is known to stimulate collagen and elastin which are key for preserving the youthfulness of your skin. I can definitely say that I saw a difference in the overall hydration of my skin just from cleansing with castor oil. What I liked most was my skin was soft and supple without having to use heavy or oily products to achieve that.
The only skin type oil cleansing with castor oil might not be suitable for is very dry flakey skin. Castor oil is hydrating, but not extremely moisturizing. I would even go as far as saying it’s slightly astringent. If you’ve got super dry, flakey skin, you’re much better off oil cleansing with grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, avocado oil, or mixing castor oil with one or two of these oils which would give your skin the extra moisture and nourishment it needs.
For acne prone skin, cleansing with castor oil can be very balancing as long as you don’t have a lot of active pimples, and your skin isn’t cracked, irritated or inflamed. If it is, I would recommend oil cleansing with grapeseed oil or jojoba oil and a very soft wash cloth like the Grovia Cloth Wipes which will be a lot gentler on your skin (see my blog post and video demo for Oil Cleansing Acne Prone Skin).
These days my skin is normal-oily/breakout prone/aging; and for me, during the day I was fine just washing my face with castor oil, and leaving it be. At night I would wash again with castor oil and put a few drops of plain argan oil on my skin to moisturize. If I wore sunscreen during the day I would double cleanse with the castor oil at night. Cleansing with castor oil didn’t give me any breakouts, and in fact I found it really soothed and brightened my skin. My main concern these days are fine lines and wrinkles, and I was surprised how hydrating castor oil is, and how I could go all day without needing to use an extra moisturizer (and for a 41 year old, that’s REALLY good!).
What skin types benefit from oil cleansing with castor oil:
- acne prone (when you don’t have active/inflamed pimples)
Castor oil will improve blood circulation to the skin, boost skin’s suppleness, elasticity and hydration without making your skin oily or greasy. Castor oil is non-comedogenic and compatible with most skin types.
What skin types SHOULD NOT oil cleanse with castor oil:
- very fragile or sensitive skin
- flakey cracked skin
- inflamed or irritated skin
- active pimples and inflamed acne
The reason oil cleansing with castor oil isn’t good for sensitive, irritated, or broken out skin isn’t so much the castor oil, but that you have to use a coarse washcloth to remove it from your skin. Using a rough or texture washcloth isn’t suitable for inflamed sensitive skin, and will only make it worse.
Should you try oil cleansing with castor oil?
YES, if you prefer a simple “wash and go” skin care routine of just washing your face with castor oil, and if need be, moisturizing with a plain oil.
NO, if you like using skincare products that contain active ingredients, exfoliating acids, and/or essential oils. Washing your face with pure castor oil can cause your skin to have a reaction or sensitivity to products containing active ingredients or essential oils.
What you’ll need
- Castor Oil (preferably organic and cold pressed)
- Wash Cloths (for oil cleansing with castor oil you’ll need a texture wash cloth to lift and remove the castor oil from your skin. I recommend muslin washcloths or cotton terry washcloths. The best washcloths I’ve found for oil cleansing with castor oil are Pai Skincare – Organic Muslin Face Cloths. If you plan to oil cleanse with castor oil twice a day, best to buy at least 6-12, so you always use a fresh washcloth every time you wash your face, and have enough clean washcloths in between laundry days).
How to oil cleanse with castor oil (step by step instructions)
- If you are wearing eye makeup or heavily pigmented lipstick, remove that first with your regular makeup remover (you don’t need to remove other makeup like foundation, tinted moisturizer, sunscreen, etc. – the castor oil will remove it).
- Apply castor oil to your dry face and neck. Gently massage your face with the castor oil for a couple of minutes using a circular motion from the center of your face outward, and along your neck.
- Dampen your washcloth with warm water and ring out any excess water.
- Using light sweeping motions, gently remove the castor oil with the washcloth. As you are removing the castor oil from your face and neck, periodically rinse the washcloth with warm water.
- Once you’ve removed all the castor oil, allow your skin to air dry and absorb any residual oil left behind (your skin might feel a little sticky from the castor oil residue, it will absorb and go away in 10-15 minutes).
- If your skin needs moisturizing, apply 2-3 drops of a plain oil on your skin like grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, rose hip seed oil or squalane oil. Best to wait 10-15 minutes for the castor oil residue to fully absorb before applying a moisturizing oil.
- If you are doing your evening cleanse and you wore makeup or sunscreen during the day, you can double cleanse with the castor oil to ensure all products and makeup have been fully removed and cleansed from your skin. To double cleanse, just follow all the cleansing steps again immediately after cleansing your skin the first time (you don’t need to wait the 10-15 minutes for the residual castor oil to absorb, you can just apply the castor oil again straight after you removed it the first time).
Results from my 30 day experiment
I would say the big stand out results I got from cleansing my skin with castor oil was how hydrated, soft and smooth it made my skin. I especially liked that I could just wash my face with castor oil during the day and that’s it, I didn’t need any additional products. It felt good to give my skin a break and simplify my skincare routine.
These days, my skin tends to be on the oily side (while I was pregnant, my skin was super dry, but after giving birth my skin is now normal-oily again). The castor oil doesn’t make my skin appear oilier (which some oils do), and in fact I found my skin to have less mid-day shine and very little oil build up when I was cleansing with castor oil.
But beside balancing my oily skin, what I really liked was the anti-aging qualities of castor oil. It made my skin brighter, plumper, smoother, and hydrated. What’s so nice is getting these types of results from a cleanser, instead of having to layer a bunch of heavy products.
Did I love using castor oil for the month, and will I continue cleansing with it?
I liked it, but I didn’t love it.
What made me most concerned was how red my face would get if I used anything with an essential oil or exfoliating acid after washing with it. I felt limited to just using castor oil and other plain oils. I missed using other products, especially exfoliating my skin.
I also don’t particularly like using textured or coarse wash cloths. The Pai Organic Muslin Face Cloth is really good with the castor oil, but as I’m getting older, I just don’t like anything that rough on my skin. Since I couldn’t use any exfoliating serums or products while cleansing with castor oil, the rough washcloth did work great to exfoliate my skin. Without it, I’m sure I would have ended up with build up and possibly clogged pores or congested skin.
In all, I don’t want to continue washing my face exclusively with castor oil every single day, but I would definitely go back to using castor oil as an oil cleanser once in a while, especially at times when you want to give your skin a break and have a minimal skincare routine.
Using castor oil as an oil cleanser would be particularly good if you:
- Want a product that you can ‘wash and go’
- Want a very minimal skincare routine
- Need a product or routine that will balance out your skin (perhaps from using too many skincare products, makeup, or a change of environment or climate)
- A product to sooth and hydrate your skin while you are sick or run down
- A lightweight and easy skincare routine for the summer months
- A balancing and minimal skincare routine after your skin has healed from breakouts and acne (I wouldn’t oil cleanse with castor oil while you have active pimples, but once the breakouts have healed over, this would be a great cleanser to help fade acne marks and scars).
Do you use castor oil in your skin care or body care routine? If so, I’d love to hear how you are using it and what kind of results you’re getting (please post in the comments below). I’ve heard castor oil is also really great for your hair, but I haven’t experimented with that yet.