Castor Oil for Acne – All You Need to Know to Solve Your Acne Problems

Acne! Every teenager’s nightmare. And, if you’re unlucky, it can remain a nightmare, even when you are older. There is even a form of baby acne! If you’re dealing with breakouts, acne and pimples, or you’re wondering how to get rid of acne scars, then maybe you should consider castor oil for acne treatment.


Castor oil for acne? Surely that will make the acne worse?

There is some debate about whether castor oil helps acne or causes it. I wondered which was true, so I went looking for some facts. There isn’t a great deal of research, but what I found was sufficient to make me believe that castor oil is likely to clear acne and prevent it, rather than cause it or make it worse. I also have some castor oil treatments for acne, which I’ll share with you.

What Causes Acne and Acne Scars?

castor oil for acne


We’ve all seen it – either in the mirror, or on a friend’s face, back, scalp, shoulders, chest or upper arms. Blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, cysts and scars can appear in any or all of these places. It’s a very common skin disease, and happens when pores become blocked with oil, dirt and dead cells. A plug can form, which can become infected by certain strains of the bacteria called propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). It seems that there is also a genetic link. You may inherit the strain that causes acne.

Other risk factors include changing hormone levels, diet, certain medications, smoking, stress and sleep deprivation (especially in adult females). Even friction from sports equipment or backpacks can trigger acne. Harsh chemicals in medications, and even in some cosmetic products, can make your acne worse.

Picking and squeezing pimples can spread the infection and cause scars. Acne cysts can also develop. They are very visible on the surface of the skin, filled with pus, and can be quite painful. They can even lead to pitted acne scars and permanent dark marks.

Why Should You Consider Castor Oil for Acne?

#1: Castor Oil Is Good for Your Skin

(I Discovered these facts when I was writing about Castor oil for hair and skin. You can read about that here.)

  • It is easily absorbed into the skin and acts as an emollient or softening agent.
  • It can easily carry other nutrients or cosmetic ingredients into the skin.
  • Castor oil is mostly made up of ricinoleic acid, which acts as an astringent (ie it constricts or tightens body tissues). This makes it a good choice for those with very oily skin. In fact, castor oil is sometimes called "the drying oil".
  • It is non-comedogenic, so it will not block the pores. This is mainly because of the low levels of fatty acids such as linoleic and oleic acids.
  • It is the most common base for make-up removers and cleansers for OCM (the oil cleansing method) and is said to restore your skin’s natural oil balance.
Castor Oil Is Good for Your Skin

#2: Castor Oil Deals With the Root Causes of Acne

Castor oil is antimicrobial. This means that it has natural antibacterial, antifungal and anti-viral properties to deal with the infections that cause acne. The ricinoleic acid allows it to penetrate deep into the skin to soften the plugs blocking the follicles and pores. And then, because it is an astringent, it literally squeezes out the clogged pores. It has been shown to speed up lymph flow and blood flow in the body, and this also helps to clear toxins. It reduces redness, swelling, pain and inflammation.

#3: Castor Oil Helps to Prevent and Lighten Scars

One of the major reasons for scarring is extended periods of severe inflammation. Using castor oil, with its anti-inflammatory properties, is one of the best ways of preventing scarring.

It’s very difficult to remove acne scars. Some of the treatments include chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser treatment, skin grafts, transplants, needling (to stimulate collagen production), silicon gel, steroids, and even surgery.

It’s not clear whether castor oil can remove acne scars. There are claims that it builds collagen. This is very important because one of the main causes of scarring is the breakdown of collagen, although I could not find any research to prove this definitively.

At worst, massaging with castor oil will soften the skin, stimulate blood circulation and lighten the scars. It’s certainly worth a try. Just be patient, and stick with your treatment regime. Results take time, so give it a while.

Which Is the Best Castor Oil for Acne? Also, Why do Some People Say It Gave Them Acne?

The best form of castor oil is pure, virgin, unrefined, certified organic, cold-pressed oil.

It might be that people who claim that castor oil is giving them acne, are not using a high-quality oil. Instead, they may be using a refined oil that contains hexane. Or the oil may not be organic, and may have traces of pesticides, herbicides and GMOs.

Alternatively, they may be using a cosmetic product that uses a "castor oil derivative":

  • Hydrogenated castor oil has had hydrogen bubbled through it in the presence of a nickel catalyst, and this forms a wax. Its purpose is to thicken lotions and creams and stabilize "stick" products like lipsticks.
  • PEG40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil is a polyethylene glycol, "derived from" hydrogenated castor oil. It has been treated with ethylene oxide, a petroleum-based chemical. It helps other ingredients to dissolve in solvents and to form emulsions (a mix of water and oil). This is found in many products for acne treatment (and for anti-aging, after shave, after sun, even deodorants).
  • Sulfated castor oil has had sulfuric acid added to it, to ensure that the oil is completely dispersed in water. This makes it good for bath products but not for acne. It will block pores and is very likely to cause skin irritation.

Be a Smart Shopper

The problem is that, although they are "derived" from a natural product, and the first two are generally considered to be safe for cosmetic use, they cannot be termed natural. In addition:

This is probably the main reason for you to consider high-quality castor oil for acne. Many over-the-counter cosmetics may claim to be "natural", "non-comedogenic" and "dermatologist tested", but they may contain ingredients that will make your acne worse.

Here are some castor oils that I reviewed previously. Perhaps you can try one of them.

How to Use Castor Oil for Acne

There are various ways to use castor oil for acne:

How to Use Castor Oil for Acne
  • As a spot treatment
  • As a skin cleanser
  • Use as a steam treatment
  • As an overnight treatment
  • As a mask, mixed with other essential oils

Some Tips for All Acne Treatments

Always clean your skin properly before you use the castor oil.

  • Use a skin cleanser or an exfoliator (scrub) to remove all surface dirt.
  • You can also use castor oil as a cleanser. See our recipe later.

1. Open the pores of the skin to allow the castor oil to penetrate easily.

  • You can do this by holding a warm damp cloth against your skin first, and again after you have massaged the oil into your skin.
  • Or you can steam your face by bending over a pot of hot steaming water, with a towel making a tent over your head and the pot. Steam for at least 10 minutes, then massage your skin with a clean cloth for a few more minutes. After that, you can massage the castor oil into your skin. (Remember to remove the pot from the stove and place on a firm surface, so that you don’t scald yourself accidentally.)

2. Always do a skin patch test before you use a new product. Pure castor oil is very unlikely to cause negative reaction or side effects, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

How to Use Castor Oil as a Spot Treatment

  • Dab castor oil onto the affected area with a cotton bud or a clean cotton swab
  • Repeat several times during the day
  • This treatment will reduce swelling, redness and pain and will prevent scarring

How to Use Castor Oil as a Skin Cleanser

If you’re like me, using oil to clean skin sounds weird! However, if you know a bit of chemistry, you’ll know that oil dissolves oil. So, the castor oil (or whichever natural oil you are using) softens and dissolves the oil, dirt and germs on the surface of the skin or trapped in the pores.

Surprisingly, this type of cleansing is particularly good for oily skins, whether you are acne-prone or not!

Castor Oil as a Skin Cleanser

What you will need:

  • Castor oil
  • Another natural oil (select one from the list of non-comedogenic and non-irritating oils). Olive oil, sunflower and coconut are all good choices.
  • A clean wash cloth

What you will do

  • Blend the oils together – Example: 1 teaspoon castor oil to 2 teaspoons olive oil for oily skin, 1 to 3 for combination and dry skin
  • In the shower or at the sink, pour the oil blend into your hand and massage into your dry skin. You will probably only need a teaspoonful for your face.
  • Massage for at least a minute (2 minutes is better)
  • Wet the cloth with very hot water and wring it out. Open it and place over the area you are cleansing. Leave it on until it is cool. You might have to repeat to make sure you have covered the whole area. (Use the opposite side of the cloth or a new cloth so that you don’t cross-contaminate.)
  • Wipe off any excess oil with the corners of the cloth.
  • There will be a bit of oil left on the skin and this will act as a moisturizer. (If your skin feels dry, cut back a bit on the castor oil, as it is an astringent.)
  • Perform this treatment in the morning and and again at night

Top tips

  • When you first start using the oil cleansing method (OCM), your skin might look worse for about a week, as all the impurities are pulled to the surface. Be patient. Take a photo. In a few weeks, you’ll be handing around before and after acne photos!
  • You should figure out what is best for your skin. So, try oil blends in different combinations and ratios.
  • The oil blend is also great for removing make-up.
  • Use a clean washcloth every time. Buying a few washcloths is going to be cheaper than trying other acne treatments!
  • Until your skin adjusts itself to the oil cleansing, you might need to use a bit of moisturizer after you have cleansed.

How to Use Castor Oil as an Overnight Treatment or Mask

What you will need

  • Pure castor oil, not mixed with any other oil.
  • Warm cloth

OR, for a mask

  • Castor oil plus other essential oils, blended together. An example: 2 drops castor oil or 2 drops almond oil (will dissolve skin sebum and also helps with acne scars) or 1 drop camphor oil (astringent; reduces inflammation and calms breakouts)
  • Warmed cloth

What you will do

  • Cleanse your skin as noted above.
  • Use warm water, steam or a warmed cloth to open the pores (you can warm the damp cloth in the microwave oven, or use very hot water)
  • Massage a small amount of oil into your skin, using circular movements. You will only need a few drops.
  • Leave on overnight. Remember to cover your pillow and sheets to prevent staining.
  • Rinse with warm water in the morning.
  • Close pores with a quick rinse with cold water, or use a gentle cosmetic astringent.
  • Apply a moisturizer.
  • Try to stay out of the sun, to allow your skin to heal.
  • Repeat every day until your skin starts to clear, then use at least once a week.

Top tips

  • Prepare the mixture in advance and store it in a dark colored bottle with a dropper. If it’s easy to get to, you’re more likely to use it regularly.

So, Does Castor Oil Really Help for Acne?

Does castor oil cause acne and make it worse? Or does castor oil clear, cure and prevent acne? I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about this. The facts seem to indicate that high-quality castor oil is a good choice for treating and preventing acne, and it’s good for anyone with oily skin.

It seems that the best advice about castor oil for acne is to be patient. Keep up your treatments and be rigid about cleansing. Also, pay attention to some of your other lifestyle habits and be prepared to have really good results.

I hope that you’ll try some castor oil and let me know how it helps. 

castor oil for acne infographic

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