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Ricinus Communis Seed Oil

Ricinus Communis Seed Oil

Also-called-like-this: Castor Oil
What-it-does: emollient, perfuming
Irritancy: 0
Comedogenicity: 0-1


Castor oil is sourced from the castor bean plant native to tropical areas in Eastern Africa and the Mediterranean Basin. It is an age-old ingredient (it’s over 4,000 years old!) with many uses including as a shoe polish, food additive and motor lubricant. You would be reasonable to think that putting shoe polish on your face wouldn’t be the best idea, but it turns out castor oil has some unique properties that make it a stalwart in thick and gloss-giving formulas (think lipsticks and highlighters).

So what is so special about it? The answer is its main fatty acid, called ricinoleic acid (85-95%).  Unlike other fatty acids, ricinoleic acid has an extra water-loving part (aka -OH group) on its fatty chain that gives Castor Oil several unique properties. First, it is thicker than other oils, then its solubility is different (e.g. dissolves in alcohol but not in mineral oil), and it allows all kinds of chemical modifications other oils do not, hence the lots of Castor oil-derived ingredients. It is also more glossy than other oils, in fact, it creates the highest gloss of all natural oils when applied to the skin. Other than that, it is a very effective emollient and occlusive that reduces skin moisture loss so it is quite common in smaller amounts in moisturizers. 

While it is very unlikely (and this is true for pretty much every ingredient), cases of reactions to castor oil have been reported, so if your skin is sensitive, it never hurts to patch test. 

Show me some proof

  • A. Dweck, “Use of Botanicals in Cosmetics” in Harry’s Cosmeticology, 8th ed., Ed. M.M. Rieger, Chemical Publishing: New York, NY, USA (2000).
  • “Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate.” International Journal of Toxicology, vol. 26, no. 3_suppl, May 2007, pp. 31–77.
  • Pascoe, David, et al. “Emergent and Unusual Allergens in Cosmetics. [Review].” Dermatitis, vol. 21, no. 3, June 2010, pp. 127–37. Journals@Ovid

Products with Ricinus Communis Seed Oil

ADA HERBS Hair Oil Treatment AMAZING COSMETICS Hydrate Concealer Abib Moisturizing Lip Balm Relief Tube Absolute New York Intense Lip Polish Aesop Protective Lip Balm SPF30 Akar skin Pure Lip Restoration Akar skin Ruby Lip Restoration Akuna Castor Makeup Eraser Balm Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum Multi-Purpose Jelly Alma K Moisturizing Hyaluronic Lip Balm Alterra Classic Lippenpflege Alterra Day 'n' Night Lip Mask Honeybee Alterra Day 'n' Night Lip Mask Strawberry Alterra Hello Magnolia Lip Oil Alterra Honig Lippenbalsam Alterra Lip Balm Alterra Lipgloss Alterra Lippenbalsam Bio-Minze Alterra Lippenbalsam Hyaluron Alterra Lippenöl Bio-Erdbeere Alterra Lippenöl Bio-Himbeere Alterra Lippenöl Intensive Pflege Alterra Nagelöl Bio-Magnolia Anne Pampering Rose & Oud Oil Annemarie Börlind For Lips Annemarie Börlind Lip Gloss Annemarie Börlind Lipstick Annemarie Börlind Lipstick Matt Annemarie Börlind Purifying Care System Cleansing Concealer Stick Light Annemarie Börlind Sun Care Lip Balm SPF 20 Antipodes Lipstick Antonia Burrell Natural Glow Cleansing Oil Apapaya Carica Papaya Ointment ArtDeco Color Booster Lip Balm ArtDeco Perfect Stick Ashley & Co Lip Punch Ativo Pura Clarifying Cleansing Oil Au Naturale Eternity Classic Lipstick Aurora Natural Products Keratin Oil Aveda Feed My Lips™ Pure Nourish-mint™ Lip Gloss Aveda Feed My Lips™ Pure Nourish-mint™ Lip Treatment Aveda Feed My Lips™ Pure Nourish-mint™ Lipstick Aveda Lip Saver™ Avene Cold Cream Lip Butter Avene Cold Cream Lip Cream Avene Spf 30 Lip Balm Avon Ultra Creamy Lipstick BOSCIA Cherry Blossom & Bakuchiol Resurfacing Lip Repair Babylove Sensitive Sonnenstick Lsf 50+ Babé Laboratorios Lip Repairing Cream