Castor Oil

What is it? A thick, glossy oil pressed from castor beans.
Appearance A clear, yellowy, viscous oil.
Texture Thick, viscous, and pretty sticky (for an oil, at least).
Scent Nothing terribly noticeable—a bit “oil”-like.
Absorbency Speed Slow
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? Castor oil is really unique in the world of vegetable oils as it is primarily comprised of ricinoleic acid and more polar. Check out this wonderful article from Realize Beauty to learn more about how very cool this oil is!

In cosmetics it adds richness and a bit of a glossy sheen. It’s commonly paired with beeswax in cream cosmetics.

In soap, castor adds an amazing rich, bubbly lather in low percentages (5–20%).

In cleansers it helps amp up the cleansing power and pull gunk out of your pores. In the Oil Cleansing Method it is the primary cleansing oil—it’s so potent that using more than 20% can be very drying!

Do you need it? I’d say so! It’s inexpensive and has lots of uses, though if you aren’t making soap or lip gloss you can likely get away without it.
Refined or unrefined? It doesn’t really matter, I usually choose whichever is cheaper.
Strengths It’s a rare thick, glossy oil with properties that are quite hard to replace in cosmetics and impossible to replace in soap.
Weaknesses It can make products sticky if you use a lot of it.
Alternatives & Substitutions None, really—it’s pretty darn unique. You might be able to get away with using another slow-to-absorb oil in some formulations, but in situations where the uniqueness of castor oil is called for (like when working with Polyamide-3 or in soap), it’s very hard to swap out.
How to Work with It Include it in the oil phase of your formulations. Castor oil can be hot or cold processed.

I recommend including an antioxidant like Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in formulations using castor oil as I find it is prone to oxidizing.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, castor oil should last ~12 months.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Try blending castor oil with beeswax for a classic creamy cosmetic combination.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3fl oz); avoid the temptation to buy a big bottle as it goes rancid pretty quickly.
Where to Buy it Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon. You can also purchase castor oil at the pharmacy, where it is sold for constipation relief.

Some Formulations that Use Castor Oil


Posted on

August 26, 2016