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Ricinus Communis Seed Oil

Ricinus Communis Seed Oil

Also-called-like-this: Castor Oil
What-it-does: emollient
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

Antipodes Lipstick Avene Cold Cream Lip Cream Beauty Made Easy Natural Lip Balm Raspberry Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector Bite Beauty Agave + Nighttime Lip Therapy Bondi Sands Coconut Lip Balm Bondi Sands Lip Balm Spf 50+ Coconut By Terry Baume De Rose Nutri-Couleur Catrice Cosmetics Camouflage Cream Clinique Chubby Stick™ Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm Dr Organic Olive Oil Cuticle Repair Farmacy Honey Savior All-In-One Skin Repair Salve With Echinacea Greenenvy™ Honey Farsali Unicorn Antioxidant Lip Mask Fenty Beauty Pro Kiss'r Luscious Lip Balm Frank Body Illuminator Fur Ingrown Hair HerbiAR Organic Castor Oil Hourglass Girl Lip Stylo Karen Murrell Lipstick Carnation Mist Korres Sweet Almond Oil Lip Balm La Roche-Posay Anthelios Xl Lip Stick Spf 50+ Labello Labellino Raspberry & Red Apple Lip Smackers Dr Pepper Chapstick Lipstick Queen Frog Prince Lipstick Mecca Cosmetica Enlightened Lit From Within Illuminating Balm MooGoo Oil Cleansing Method NudeStix Lip And Cheek Pencil Odylique Mineral Lipstick (All Colours) Palmer's Cocoa Butter All-In-One Everywhere Mini Balm Paula's Choice Lip & Body Treatment Balm Pixi Nourishing Lip Polish Tarte Colored Clay Cc Undereye Corrector The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector The Divine Company Replenishing Lip Balm Vichy Idéal Soleil Spf30 Lipstick de Mamiel Atmosphériques Pure Calm Cleansing Dew pharmatheiss Volume Lip Booster A.Florence Skincare Balm Cleanser + Makeup Remover Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask Boudreaux's Butt Paste Maximum Strength Burt's Bees Hydrating Overnight Mask By Terry Baume De Rose Nourishing Lip Balm Dermalogica Renewal Lip Complex Gigi Milk & Honee Wax Glossier Balm Dot Com (Mango) Kiehl’s Crème De Corps Smoothing Oil To Foam Body Cleanser Labello Med Repair Living Nature Lipstick - Bloom Lush Tea Totaler Naked Cleansing Balm Olive + M Cleansing Oil