Zits pretty much make it to the top 10 of everyone’s ‘worst-things-that-have-happened-to-me’ list. And why not? Pesky, bothersome things that they are, they decide to make an appearance at every momentous occasion of your life. Prom night? Say hello. First kiss? Say hello. Convocation? Say hello. Always a hello, never a goodbye with this one.
The worst part is when these zits decide to accompany you as you move from teenage to adulthood. I mean, is there anything worse than dressing up for your first day at work with a zillion pimples across your forehead? And don’t even get me started on meeting the man of your dreams looking like Christmas just popped early on your face!
Been there, done that, totally know how you feel. So, if you’re tired of visiting countless dermatologists and trying every acne-vanishing treatment that promises ‘astonishing results’, maybe it’s time you brought out the big guns.
Only, The Big Gun Here Is A Small Plant
Surprised much? Say hello to castor to say goodbye to those maddening pimples forever! A small tropical plant native to India and Africa, castor is the go-to herb for all your dermal issues. Castor oil is derived from the seeds of the castor plant (Ricinus communis), and its strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties help you deal with the pain and inflammation caused by acne. Its antimicrobial activity suppresses the very onset of acne by preventing your clogged pores from getting infected and developing into a full blown acne attack.
Wow, you say? I absolutely agree.
But before going ahead with how to treat acne, it would probably be helpful to know why it occurs in the first place. As they say ‘prevention is better than cure’, and knowing how to stop these bothersome zits from occurring is half the battle won.
- 1 What Causes Acne?
- 2 Why Castor Oil For Acne
- 3 How To Use Castor Oil To Treat Acne
- 4 The Oil Cleanse Method:
- 5 Types Of Acne
- 6 What Else Can Castor Oil Help With?
- 7 What Kind Of Castor Oil Should I Use For My Acne?
- 8 Is Castor Oil Safe For Me?
What Causes Acne?
Beneath our skin exist certain oil-producing factories called sebaceous glands. These glands are usually found to occur under the hair follicles and they produce a waxy substance called sebum that keeps your skin lubricated and moisturized. Occasionally, due to hormonal imbalance caused by genetic factors, age or menstruation, the glands produce an excess amount of sebum. This clogs the hair follicles along with dead skin cells and leads to a breakout.
But not every breakout is the same, and there’s a wide variety in the kind of zits that occur and in the places they do. If you have acne (or even if you think you don’t), it’s quite likely that you suffer from one, some or all of the following:
- Acne Vulgaris
- Acne Rosacea
- Cystic Acne
- Hormonal Acne
- Nodular Acne
Some of you may also be experiencing breakouts on different parts of the body, namely the back, scalp, etc. Read our section on ‘Types Of Acne’ to find out exactly what you’re dealing with.
Why Castor Oil For Acne
Due to castor oil’s aforementioned analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, it makes an excellent home remedy to deal with existing acne and prevents their occurrence in the future as well. A popular query that people have is that being an oil itself, wouldn’t it cause more acne instead of treating it? The answer to this is – No.
Castor oil does not cause further acne as it is readily absorbed by the skin, allowing it to penetrate deep into your pores. Once in, its antimicrobial property helps deal with the infection and pulls out the dirt and debris, enabling your pores to breathe. So, unless you are allergic to castor oil (to find out, we recommend a patch test as given below), there is no reason you shouldn’t start using this treatment right away!
Simply put, the benefits are:
- Treats acne by killing the infection and pulling out the dirt and debris
- Rehydrates the skin
- Natural moisturizer when used in combination with an oil like jojoba or EVOO
- Does not cause acne (unless you are sensitive/allergic to it)
- Effective home remedy
- Free of chemicals
- Cheap and easily available
Check out forums like acne.org to find out more about acne, and how castor oil can help treat it (among other treatment methods) from others who are facing the same struggle.
How To Use Castor Oil To Treat Acne
To treat acne using castor oil, you’ll need to follow a routine called the ‘Oil Cleanse Method’.
The laws of chemistry state that ‘like dissolves like’, which is why we use oil to deal with oil in this method. Note that acne is not caused due to overproduction of oil alone, but a combination of factors such as oil, dead skin cells, debris, and bacterial/yeast infection. Castor oil helps by penetrating deep into the pores of your skin to pull out all this debris and is strong enough to thoroughly dry your skin out (despite being an oil). This is why it is always used in combination with another rehydrating oil such as coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil to keep the skin supple and moisturized.
CAUTION: If you suffer from cystic or nodular acne, consult a dermatologist before trying any home remedy to deal with acne, including OCM.
Read more about the different kinds of acne in our section ‘Types of Acne’ given after this section.
The Oil Cleanse Method:
To be done twice a day for best results.
- You Will Need (for the most basic variant of this method)
- Castor oil, 100 ml
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), 100ml
- Hot water
- How To Do This
- Prepare a 50/50 blend of castor oil with EVOO by mixing the two and storing it in a bottle for further use.
- Take a small amount of the blend in your hand and gently massage it into your face. Avoid scrubbing hard (remember, your skin is not your enemy).
- Soak a washcloth in hot water and cover your face with it till it comes down to room temperature. This process helps to open your pores so that the debris can be pulled out.
- Massage the oil into your face again and repeat the process with the washcloth. This step can be repeated as many times as you wish (depending on how much time you have at hand).
- Once you’re done steaming, use the washcloth to wipe the oil off your face. This step helps to remove the debris and dead skin cells from your face.
- Wash your face with cold water to close the pores and pat dry.
While the method stated above is the most basic variant of the oil cleanse method, the ratios of the oils can be adjusted as per your skin type.
- For Oily Skin – Since EVOO is a heavy oil, consider reducing the amount of EVOO to 25% and increasing castor oil to 75%. You could do away with EVOO completely too (and use just the castor oil), or substitute it with a lighter oil such as grapeseed oil.
- For Dry Skin – A ratio of 75% EVOO to 25% castor oil will give good results.
The oils you can use in combination with castor oil are not limited to just EVOO or grapeseed. Check out the list below to find a comprehensive guide of the different kind of oils you can play around with to make the right blend for you.
What are the Oils To Use For The Castor Oil OCM
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fantastic for rehydrating the skin and keeping it moisturized, this heavy oil helps to dispel the dryness caused by castor oil. It is full of antioxidants that leave your skin looking younger and brighter. Avoid use or use smaller quantities in case of oily skin.
2. Grapeseed Oil
A light oil that works as a great substitute for heavier oils like EVOO. It is easily absorbed by the skin and makes it supple due to its astringent properties. The linoleic acid it contains has anti-inflammatory properties that help heal rashes and redness. Preferred by OCM users with oily/acne-prone skin.
3. Jojoba Oil
Due to its similarity to human sebum, jojoba oil helps to regulate the natural production of oil by the skin. Another great alternative for people with oily/acne prone skin.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a popular home remedy for acne due to its strong antimicrobial properties. Can help stave off infections and fungus too.
5. Avocado Oil
This oil is rich in antioxidants that help prevent aging of the skin and fight acne. Additionally, avocado oil has omega-3 fatty acids that keep the skin moisturized and healthy.
6. Evening Primrose Oil
This oil is a great natural moisturizer. The fatty acids present in it help soothe itching and inflammation caused due to acne. Its non-comedogenic properties ensure that the pores are not clogged.
Types Of Acne
Castor oil has been shown to be effective in treating various forms of acne as given below.
(Doctor’s discretion is advised before trying anything.)
1) Acne Vulgaris –
The most common type of acne. Occurs when the hair follicles get clogged by excess oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. Acne Vulgaris is particularly common in teenagers as the hormonal changes they undergo during this stage lead to an over-production of oil by the sebaceous glands. Genetics are the major cause of this disease (gee, thanks mom and dad!).
The breakouts when you’re suffering from Acne Vulgaris may come in different forms such as:
- Whiteheads – Whiteheads are small bumps on your skin. Formed due to the blockage of pores by dirt, excess oil, and dead skin cells, they have a distinct white/yellow color as they are formed under the clogged pores, within your skin.
- Blackheads – Blackheads are formed due to the same reasons as whiteheads with the only difference being that they are black in appearance. This is because blackheads occur closer to the surface of the skin/on the skin, causing the debris to get oxidized, and hence, turn black.
- Pimples – Surprised? Yes, acne and pimples aren’t necessarily the same thing. A pimple is a form of acne that is caused when the clogged pores get infected by bacteria or yeast. Interestingly, the pimple is what keeps the bacteria contained and prevents it from spreading to other pores. So, think twice before you decide to pop one!
- Papules – Think of these as the evolved version of a whitehead. The same debris that causes a whitehead leads to a papule. Only, here, it causes inflammation and swelling to go with it, leading to red, pox-like bumps on your skin.
- Pustules – Pustules are similar to papules but come with pus. The pus may be a white or yellow fluid that might hurt to the touch. But avoid popping both, pustule or papule, if you don’t want to be left with visible scars.
- Cysts – Cysts are an extreme case of Acne Vulgaris. They show up on the skin as deep, large, pus-filled bumps that are painful to the touch and stay for months. They cannot be cleared with over-the-counter medication and need immediate attention of a dermatologist.
2) Acne Rosacea
Mistakenly called adult acne due to its occurrence in adults, rosacea is different from acne. It is characterised by redness (erythema, similar to a sunburn), flushing of the skin, and papules and pustules similar to acne (hence, the confusion).
3) Cystic Acne
Cystic acne leads to large, red breakouts that occur deep in your skin and are painful to the touch. Unlike Acne Vulgaris, cystic acne often occur in the same spot. If left untreated, they can persist for years and leave permanent scars. Immediate treatment is thus advised.
4) Hormonal Acne
While regular acne is related to hormonal imbalance amongst other factors, such as skin type and genetics, hormonal acne occurs purely due to a rise and fall in the level of hormones in the body. For instance, many women suffer breakouts during different phases of their menstrual cycle.
5) Nodular Acne
Nodular acne is a severe kind of acne that occurs deep within the skin. If you have red bumps that feel like like hard knots under your skin, chances are you’re dealing with nodular acne. It may sometimes also occur on top of cystic acne and can persist for months, leading to deep scars. Immediate treatment is advised.
Additionally, acne may occur on other parts of the body, such as the back, chest, and midsection. The sebaceous glands are spread all over the body to keep the skin lubricated. When the glands present in these places produce an excess of sebum, the sebum along with dead skin cells clogs the pores, leading to a breakout (similar to acne on the face). Thus:
- Back acne is caused due to clogging of pores on the back.
- Chest acne occurs due to clogged pores on the chest.
- Scalp acne occurs due to clogged pores on the scalp.
- Body acne, such as on the torso, occurs due to clogged pores on other parts of the body.
Genetics, hormonal imbalance, age, hygiene, allergies – one or all of these factors may be responsible for a breakout. Also, it has been noted that while those with acne on the face may not necessarily have acne elsewhere, those with a case of back/chest/body acne mostly always suffer from acne on the face as well.
What Else Can Castor Oil Help With?
People suffering from active acne know the misery of having to deal with fresh breakouts in addition to the scars they leave behind each time. ‘Double trouble’ in the true sense of the word. But, fret not, for castor oil’s got you covered here too. The castor-based oil cleanse method helps not just with acne but with pigmentation (dark spots and holes) caused by acne as well. Try the OCM with castor oil as suggested above to see the results for yourself. After all, trying is believing!
Baby Acne (Neonatal acne)
Much like acne in adults, your baby might suffer from acne too, i.e., the same whiteheads, blackheads, red bumps, etc., that dot an adult’s face may appear on your baby’s skin as well. While the cause for this is unclear, such acne usually goes away by itself. However, if your baby’s acne is not healing, you might be tempted to try some home remedies (no one wants harsh chemicals near their baby after all). Keep in mind, though, that your baby’s skin at this point is very sensitive to some products you might use at home too. Consult a pediatrician before trying any treatment, home remedies included, on your baby.
If your pediatrician agrees, you could use some warm castor oil on your baby’s skin to relieve dryness, itchiness, and inflammation. Castor oil’s antimicrobial property helps prevent infection. Additionally, it has been seen to fade blemishes and treat colic in babies too.
If you are uncomfortable about using castor oil, you could consider using coconut oil for your baby instead.
Feline acne is the occurrence of small blackheads on a cat’s chin or lip that may or may not develop further into pustules. Feline acne occurs due to the same reasons as human acne, i.e., clogging of pores by sebum. But this condition may get aggravated due to the cat’s age, weakened immune system, hygiene, etc. Moreover, a cat’s habit of scratching may cause the infection, especially if pustules are present, to spread to other parts of your cat’s body.
A chemical-free and effective way of treating your cat for this condition is to use castor oil. Simply use warm compresses of castor oil on your cat’s chin or affected area. To do this:
You Will Need
- A bottle of castor oil
- Cotton wool
How To Do This
- Heat the castor oil to get it above room temperature (not hot, you don’t want to scald your cat!).
- Soak a cotton ball in castor oil and squeeze to remove the excess oil.
- Hold the cotton wool against your cat’s chin for a few minutes. Repeat this procedure 2-3 times a day till the spots get smaller or burst.
If you’re uncomfortable about using castor oil on your cat, you can try hot compresses with salt water too (1 tablespoon of salt mixed in a small pot of hot water).
What Kind Of Castor Oil Should I Use For My Acne?
Castor oil is derived from the seeds of the castor plant known as Ricinus communis. It contains a lethal protein known as ‘ricin’, which is one of the most toxic substances known to occur in nature. As such, castor should be handled with care. Most of the ricin is removed when castor seeds are pressed to obtain castor oil. But, since you’re going to be using this oil on your skin, ensure that the bottle you get home is 100% organic and cold pressed. (Cold pressing is a gentler method of oil extraction than hot presses. It helps preserve the goodness of the oils. Studies have found that cold pressed oils have more potential health benefits than hot pressed oils.)
If you’re still ensure of what kind of castor oil to buy, try Jamaican Black Castor Oil, which you can buy here.
Is Castor Oil Safe For Me?
Yes, castor oil is absolutely safe. Some people hesitate to use castor oil due to the high content of ricin it possesses. But, as mentioned earlier, the ricin is removed during oil extraction, and only minute traces of it may be left behind that cause no harm.
However, in rare cases, people have shown allergic reactions to castor oil. To know if you are allergic to castor oil, try doing a patch test. To do this, apply a small amount of castor oil on your forearm or wrist. If the area gets inflamed (turns red and/or develops rashes/bumps), you are allergic to castor oil and further use is not recommended. Always consult a physician before you try anything.
NOTE – Even if you aren’t allergic to castor oil, it has been noted that the castor oil-based OCM has led to breakouts in some people. These breakouts usually subside in a week or two. But if you see that your breakouts aren’t subsiding and/or are getting worse, discontinue use right away and consult a dermatologist. In fact, we recommend consulting a dermatologist before starting this treatment too, especially if you suffer from nodular or cystic acne.
There’s no denying the part acne plays in causing low self esteem in some people who suffer from it. Beauty is not skin deep, and in a just world, that is exactly how it would be. But, unfortunately, it is not. Don’t let the hypocrisy of this world put you down. Try what you must to get rid of those pesky pimples, but don’t let them define who you are. We hope these castor oil-based remedies help!