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Should you use castor oil for low porosity hair? Or is it a baaaaaad idea?
You’re gonna learn today!
We all know that moisturizing and sealing low porosity hair with certain hair growth oils is popular these days and many women hear about the hair growth and thickening qualities of normal castor oil as well as the JBCO version and they want to give it a whirl.
Welp… Then they often get disappointed.
Many low porosity hair honeys have found that castor oil turned their hair frizzy, dry and more shrunken.
So we have to wonder whether castor oil works on low porosity hair or are these ladies just using it the wrong way?
As you may know, not all low porosity hair is equal or the exact same, so what works for one low hair porosity girl might not work for everyone else.
However, I have to conclude from tons of anecdotal evidence that castor oil is not the most beneficial oil for many low porosity hair naturals and that it might even work against retaining moisture in low-po hair.
The hair and skin beauty benefits of JBCO and other types of castor oil(aka ricinus oil) has been ranted and raved about for years. It’s no secret that many naturals want to know how to grow low porosity hair faster and longer, so the positive reviews are encouraging. Right?
Many natural boast that castor oil helps thicken their 3C, 4A, 4B & 4C natural hair and combats thinning tresses. It’s scientific fact that castor oil has both antibacterial and antifungal properties.
It also serves as a moisture-drawing humectant for hair and skin. When low porosity hair honeys read about these wonderful properties, the first reaction is to run out and buy a bottle of cold-pressed castor oil.
Then you quickly realize that castor oil for low porosity hair is not a match made in heaven. Why?
Because castor oil is heavy oil and way too thick to use for many low porosity hair types. Castor oil for low porosity hair tends to weigh it down and effectively block out moisture by simply sitting on top of your hair.
There are even reports of naturals who got castor oil for sealing purposes and it still didn’t work for their low porosity lusciousness.
Often with castor oil for low porosity hair you’ll notice a constant product buildup on your hair and even your scalp. In fact, some say that JBCO and castor oil can build-up inside the hair follicles over time. I've found no evidence of this claim though.
Castor oil tends to dry and form a hard film on low porosity hair. This is probably a great benefit for high porosity hair honeys, but a recipe for disaster for naturals with low porosity hair.
On top of that, the oil film that sits on the outside of low-po hair is not water-soluble, which means it’s an absolute MUST that you use a good shampoo to remove it.
This film layer can also attract dirt and oil to the hair, creating an even thicker layer of film around your hair strands.
[RELATED ARTICLE: Does porous hair hold color?]
If you’re convinced that castor oil for low porosity hair is not the best idea, I’m not gonna leave you stranded without options, sis!
See... Lightweight oil products for low porosity hair can penetrate the surface of your hair much easier, compared to heavier products like castor oil on low porosity hair.
So, pick lightweight hair growth oils for your hair. You can even mix these light oils into some of your favorite moisture repair conditioners, and other low porosity styling products.
Try to use light penetrating oils for your low porosity hair as they are better at entering the protective layer of your hair and nourishing it, they can also help create a slight protective barrier for low porosity hair but aren’t dense enough to block moisture absorption.
The best penetrating oils for low-po hair that you should use are:
So now you have some amazing options even though using castor oil on low porosity hair isn’t highly recommended. As a side note: Many “natural hair gurus” suggest using jojoba oil as a penetrating oil, that is bad advice. The science shows that jojoba is not very penetrating at all.
Always do your research, or come to NHP where I do the research for you! As far as castor oil for low porosity hair is concerned...
You are obviously free to try castor oil for yourself, if you test it and it works for you that’s great. However, I think there are other light to medium oils out there that can penetrate and have greater benefit for low porosity hair.
If you have a large bottle of castor oil lying around and don’t want it to go to waste, maybe try mixing it with a lighter oil and using it on areas of your skin that are prone to dryness.
[RELATED ARTICLE: DIY deep conditioner for low porosity hair regimen]
NHP PRO TIP: On a side note, the resulting interaction of JBCO/regular castor oil properties with your hair could have a lot to do with your climate environment. If you live in a hot and humid environment, perhaps you will experience different results with castor oil than someone who lives in a drier climate.
Also, take into consideration that maybe your low-po hair doesn’t need a lot of oil, in that case you should focus more on great leave-in conditioners, highly-rated hydrating cleansers and thoroughly moisturizing deep conditioner masks.
If you’re a regular NHP reader you already know that I like science to help give us good hair care answers whenever possible. So here’s what the science says about castor oil.
Castor oil contains polar triglycerides, a substance that has affinity for hair proteins - they're attracted to hair proteins because they carry a charge and so do hair proteins.
The triglyceride chains in castor oil are not small like those in coconut oil (which are medium-chain triglycerides - lauric acid).
Whether castor oil penetrates like coconut oil is unknown because there haven't been any clinical trials or tests that I can find that were performed on human hair, but based on castor oil’s chemical makeup and larger triglyceride size, it isn’t likely to be as penetrating as coconut oil.
Although, until further studies are performed we can’t rule out that there is potential for castor oil to be a penetrating oil, especially for those with high porosity hair.
The triglyceride in castor oil is Ricinoleic acid, and there seems to be some evidence from studies proving its ability to penetrate skin, which may support the theory that it has some ability to penetrate into hair, even if not great.
If you insist on trying castor oil on your low-po hair no matter what I say, no problem sis. It’s your world!
Here’s a nice little oil recipe hack to use castor oil for low porosity hair that some have used with success. Here’s the mixture recipe:
Throw this DIY castor oil for low porosity recipe mixture into a bottle and use whenever you are ready.
Another slick trick to help you be hard-headed and use castor oil for low porosity hair is to add it to your deep conditioner and use heat while it sits and soaks in.
Using heat when deep conditioning encourages the opening of your cuticles and increases absorption of your castor oil infused deep conditioner.
Doing this regularly may be a problem for people with high porosity or medium porosity hair, but it is a nice little hair help hack for people with low porosity hair.
This heating process helps loosen the cuticles’ tight binds, leading to easy absorption of conditioners or oils during the treatment.
It helps to use a premium hydrating deep conditioner as well. So, get a proper salon treatment with hooded dryers or wrap a hot towel (drenched and rinsed) around your head after applying your castor oil powered deep conditioner.
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Yes, using JBCO and normal castor oil for low porosity hair comes with multiple challenges.
It’s more difficult and takes longer for low-po hair to absorb nutrients and moisture.
However, as I showed you above, you have some amazing alternatives that you grab. Good hair health and hair growth oils that will be more effective for your hair type.
And if you insist on using castor oil regardless, you got some good tricks and a smart recipe to get more bang for your buck and look like the star you are!
Adopting these hair care methods and products that are ideal for your hair type can eventually help you treat and pamper your low porosity hair and make a huge difference in managing it properly. Stay blessed up!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee is a Contributing Editor to NHP and a former owner of the BlackhairOMG website. She formed 4C Trichology Growth Services, LLC., a US based hair care consultation service. She has also contributed as a writer and consultant for various hair and beauty websites. Melissa can be followed on Twitter here.