Castor Seed Oil

Rizinusöl in Flasche mit Rizinusfrüchten
  • Base Oil
  • INCI: Ricinus Communis Seed Oil
  • Comedogenicity: 1
  • Composition: Ricinoleic acid (up to approx. 80 %), oleic acid (up to approx. 8 %), linoleic acid (up to approx. 5 %), stearic acid (up to approx. 2 %) and palmitic acid (up to approx. 1 %).
  • Iodine number: 140 – 150.
  • Cosmetic use: All skin types; hair care; care of eyelashes and eyebrows.
  • Shelf life: Approx. 6 – 8 months.



The castor oil plant, also called the miracle tree, belongs to the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) and reaches a height of 1 – 2 m in temperate zones and up to 13 m in the tropics. The stem of the plant is often strongly branched and has a greenish to reddish color. The dark green, alternately arranged leaves are 5- to 11-lobed and serrated at the edges. Ricinus flowers from August to October. The greenish-yellow male flowers are clustered in tufts underneath the terminal, greenish-red female flowers. The fruits are brownish, up to 2.5 cm thick and prickly. In contrast to today’s available cultivated plants, wild forms of the miracle tree eject the seeds when the fruits ripen. Each fruit contains three oval-shaped reddish-brown to grey, marbled seeds that are about the size of beans.


Exctraction of castor seed oil

The viscous, syrupy, almost transparent castor oil is extracted from the seeds of castor oil plant. The highest quality oil is obtained by cold pressing the seeds. To ensure that the toxic ricin remains in the press cake, the primary oil is degummed, the acid removed and treated with steam. This process completely removes the ricin.

Cosmetic use of castor seed oil

Castor seed oil is very kind to the skin, has good penetrating power, and softening properties. As an accompanying oil in body oils, it cares for dry, cracked, and brittle skin. Applied pure, it provides a protective film against water and harmful substances on the skin.

Castor oil can also help care for beautiful, long thick eyelashes and eyebrows. The skin-friendly oil does not harm the sensitive eye area and has very good care properties (nevertheless it is advisable to test the oil on another skin area beforehand). Castor oil moisturizes eyelashes and eyebrows, which makes them supple and less brittle.

Rizinusöl in Flasche mit Rizinusfrüchten

Benefits of castor seed oil

  • suitable for all skin types
  • protects irritated and dry skin
  • cares for chapped, brittle skin
  • suitable for the sensitive eye area
  • penetrates well into the skin

Internal use of castor seed oil

Castor oil is often used sterilized for oily eye drops, but must meet the requirements of parenteralia. Due to their higher viscosity, the oily solutions have the advantage that the active ingredient solution does not run off rapidly after being applied to the eye. A disadvantage, however, is the temporary clouding of vision.

In folk medicine, castor oil is said to have healing effects such as loosening stiff arthritis joints, increasing the function of congested lymph glands, strengthening the immune system, combating herpes and alleviating mastitis.

Castor oil has also been used as a laxative since the Middle Ages. Like other oils, it causes the emptying of the gall bladder and thus increased contractions of the small intestine. It is not effective in cases of insufficiency of physiological fat digestion. Depending on the dose, the effect occurs within 2-8 hours.

Castor oil is not completely harmless as a laxative. Higher doses may cause nausea and stomach irritation, vomiting, severe diarrhea and colic. Occasionally allergic skin reactions are noticed. During pregnancy it is not recommended to use it, since higher doses can cause contractions.

Buy castor seed oil – what to consider?

In general, castor oil can be obtained in three different ways. Each of them has a different quality. Therefore, when buying castor oil, you should pay attention to the production process. On the one hand, there is cold pressing and hot pressing. On the other hand, the oil can also be extracted from a press cake.

The highest quality oil is obtained from a cold pressing. In the process of cold pressing the seeds are not heated, but only mechanically processed. In contrast to hot pressing, this method of production is more laborous and not as productive.

In contrast, hot pressing is more productive. Here, the seeds are first heated and then pressed with special screw presses. However, since the high temperature destroys valuable ingredients and vitamins, you should avoid hot-pressed oil.

The highest quality castor oil is available in organic quality. However, this quality also has its price. Organic castor oil guarantees that the oil was produced using the cold pressing method. It also guarantees organic extraction, in which health-endangering substances are avoided. This means that the plants are not treated with pesticides or other harmful substances.

Sources: Krist, Sabine (2013): Lexikon der Pflanzlichen Öle und Fett. Vienna: Springer Verlag. | Braunschweig, R. (2020): Pflanzenöle - über 50 starke Helfer für Genuss und Hautpflege. Wiggensbach: Stadelmann Verlag.

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