I've never taken much interest in the natural state of my lashes, brows, or hair. If my eyelashes felt stubby, I applied mascara; if my brows felt scarce, I applied a brow pencil; and if my hair felt short, I straightened it to add the illusion of length. It wasn't until I began to spend more time indoors, sans makeup, that I noticed my hair could use a bit of a boost.
I decided to try out a natural growth stimulator: castor oil, and specifically Sky Organics Castor Oil. It's 100 percent pure oil cold-pressed from the castor bean plant, which is native to Africa, India, and the Mediterranean region. The texture reminded me, at first, of a thicker olive oil, and while I wasn't sure if it would help to grow my hair, eyelashes, and nails, I figured the oil would at least help to moisturize them.
To buy: $14 (was $20); amazon.com.
My main concern was my eyelashes, so I began to apply castor oil to my upper lash line nightly. At first, I dipped my pinky in the jar and applied the oil sparingly—and I would not recommend doing this. While the formula doesn't sting, the jelly-like consistency made it hard for me to see after applying. So instead, I started using a cotton swab, which was much more effective. (If you really want to nail the application, I suggest buying disposable mascara brushes.)
I noticed results within a week. Not only were my lashes longer, but they also looked thicker and shinier. My eyelashes started to grow so quickly, in fact, that I now only apply the oil every other day.
Encouraged by this success, I started applying castor oil to the fine baby hairs lining the crown of my head— and it stimulated growth better than the expensive, Instagram-famous serum I used to use. While I was originally worried about waking up with greasy roots, the oil actually seemed to absorb into my scalp nicely. I sometimes apply it all over my head as an overnight conditioning mask, and other times just on the tips to mend split ends.
After about a month of using the Sky Organics Castor Oil, I was starting to feel pretty smug about my affordable hair growth dupe —though I had no reason to, considering over 27,000 Amazon reviewers and plenty of internet beauty threads had already discovered it. But I still wanted to see if there was any science to back up my routine, so I reached out to some doctors.
Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York-based dermatologist, says that castor oil can, in fact, "stimulate hair growth and deeply condition hair" due to its "high concentration of fatty acids." She also noted that "castor oil is anti-inflammatory and has antibacterial properties," so it's safe to use around the eye—though she soundly suggests speaking to your physician before applying anything new to that area. (Whoops.) She was also sure to distinguish between castor oil and Jamaican black castor oil, "where the ash of roasted beans is incorporated into the product," which she said may not be safe for your eyes.
Mona Gohara, MD, an associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, was skeptical. "Although there are thousands of testimonials online, there is no scientific evidence to corroborate the claim that castor oil grows hair," she says. "It is a nutrient-rich fatty acid that can make the hair appear thicker, with more of a shine/glow. All of this being said, there is not so much harm to applying to hair if you so desire, so if a patient wants to try it, that is certainly their prerogative!"
While the final scientific evidence is a bit unclear, 27,189 Amazon reviewers and I highly suggest Sky Organics Castor Oil to help grow and moisturize your hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows.