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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

Absolute New York Intense Lip Polish Akuna Castor Makeup Eraser Balm Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum Multi-Purpose Jelly Antipodes Lipstick Antonia Burrell Natural Glow Cleansing Oil Avene Cold Cream Lip Butter Avene Cold Cream Lip Cream Avene Spf 30 Lip Balm BOSCIA Cherry Blossom & Bakuchiol Resurfacing Lip Repair Babylove Sensitive Sonnenstick Lsf 50+ Balea Hautrein Pickel Abdeckstift Balea Med Ultra Sensitive Lippen Pflege Beauty Kitchen Natruline Natural Lip Treatment Beauty Made Easy Natural Lip Balm Raspberry Beauty Pie Plantastic Apricot Butter Cleansing Balm Beauty Pie Superluminous Genius Eye Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector Benefit Boi-ing Hydrating Concealer Bepanthol Lipstick Bite Beauty Agave + Nighttime Lip Therapy Bite Beauty Line & Define Vegan Lip Primer Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color Mini - Ruby Bondi Sands Coconut Lip Balm Bondi Sands Lip Balm Spf 50+ Coconut Boom Stick Color Burt's Bees Lip Gloss By Terry Baume De Rose Nutri-Couleur Carmex Colloidal Oatmeal Stick – Sugar Plum Catrice Cosmetics Camouflage Cream Clinique Chubby Stick™ Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm Cosmedix Enhance Lip-Plumping Mask Cépage Atophen Levres Doctor Rogers Restore Healing Balm Dr Hauschka Eye Balm Dr Hauschka Lippenbalsem Dr Hauschka Sheer Lipstick Dr Organic Olive Oil Cuticle Repair Dr. Jart+ Dermask Ultra Jet Peeling Solution Step 1: Peeling Essence Dr. PAWPAW Shea Butter Balm Drench skin Cleansing Oil ESPA Pink Pomelo Lip Balm ESPA Skin Rescue Balm Earth Rhythm Cleansing Balm With Matcha Green Tea Earth Rhythm Cleansing Balm With Propolis Embryolisse Laboratories Protective Repair Stick Ere Perez Olive Oil Lipstick Essence Hi-Light Eyebrow Lifter Etos Ski Lip Balm Eye Of Horus Bio Lip Elixir Face Theory Lipabalm Bioactive Lip Balm