What is Jamaican Black Castor Oil

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Castor Oil VS. Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Surprise! Jamaican black castor oil is made from the same castor beans as regular castor oil. There is no darker, more beautiful, especially-for-textured-hair variety of the castor plant made just for our use. Sigh. Castor oil is castor oil. It’s still great stuff and perfect for hair growth…

And one kind does happen to have a higher rate of nutrition. Which one, which one…

Well, when it comes down to castor oil vs. Jamaican black castor oil, we’re a little color biased.

The Cultural Traditions Behind Black Jamaican Castor Oil

And, of course, Jamaican black castor has higher nutrient levels. But, really, you already  knew that, right?

Jamaican black castor oil is processed using the longstanding African tradition of improving nutritional content by roasting oil seeds for consumption and cosmetic use.

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And sometimes, raw cosmetic materials are actually burnt. Did you know black soap is made of burnt palm leaves or plantain peels? The ashes are mixed with shea butter and palm oil to form a chemical reaction that creates black soap. The distinguishing characteristics of this soap are its rich creamy lather, potent cleansing ability and… high nutrient levels.

Both black castor oil and black soap originated in ancient Egypt. No surprises there.

So, yes, Jamaicans took over the black castor name, but not without improving the original product. To extract the oil, Jamaicans grind, then boil, the toasted beans. Boiling improves the moisturizing quality of the oil and adds softness to it. So after a long time at boiling, what we know as Jamaican black castor oil is finally skimmed off the top.

The Egyptians didn’t go through all this. They simply pressed the roasted beans.

The Jamaican Method Refines Castor Oil

You could say roasting the castor beans, then boiling them, is a true process of refinement. One that certainly can’t be achieved by soaking the beans in chemical solvents, which is the common standard of “refining” oils.

Refined castor oil is what’s normally sold in pharmacies. It still contains the active component for hair growth, ricinoleic acid, but at a meagre level of 20%. Admittedly, 20% doesn’t sound small at all, until you compare it with the other two types of castor. Cold pressed and black castor oils both contain 80-89% ricinoleic acid.

Because refined castor oil is extracted using harmful, volatile fuels that decrease the nutritional value and active components – it is actually degraded (not refined).

Castor Oil: It’s All About The Color

African cultures roast other seeds, as well, for consumption and cosmetic use. These include sesame, soybean, wild gourd, pumpkin, African wild yam and watermelon seeds. In some countries, seed mash is a daily staple, and roasting the seeds prior to mashing serves to increase their nutritional value.

Of course, when beans or seeds are toasted for oil, the resulting color of the oil will be different than when the seeds are cold pressed. Toasted castor beans leave the oil a transparent brown or black color, whereas cold pressed castor oil is slightly yellowish. (Refined castor oil is usually clear.)

If you think of it in terms of sugar, the least healthy is ultra-refined white sugar. After white sugar, comes turbinado sugar. It still has a good amount of brown coloring from its inherent molasses, and has been minimally processed. The molasses itself, which comes from the same plant, is very healthy, indeed.

Molasses retains the best essences of the sugarcane plant. Oh, by the way! That same plant, before making sugar or molasses, is normally scorched during harvesting. Similar to black castor oil, molasses is higher in iron and other nutrients than turbinado sugar, which for our purposes is similar to cold-pressed castor oil.

From a burnt plant or not, refined white sugar has had all the nutrients removed from it and will never be even a little bit healthy.

Castor Oil VS. Black Castor Oil: A Look at the Nutrients

While both cold pressed castor oil and Jamaican black castor oil spark hair growth and renew follicles, as black women, we also want to make sure our hair grows out from the follicles in the healthiest state possible.

Let’s face it. The maintenance and style routines for black hair are not always gentle. Yet our curly and coily hair is more prone to breakage than any other! We manipulate our hair into styles A, B and C with twists, perms, braids, blowouts, weaves… The list goes on. To maintain such heavy manipulation, it’s key for our hair to grow out of the follicles strong and less prone to breakage.  The benefits of Jamaican black castor oil can help us achieve this. Here’s why:

  1. Jamaican castor oil naturally retains a small amount of ash after processing. This gives it its distinctive color — and also mild cleansing and clarifying abilities for the scalp and hair.
  2. Black castor is more alkaline than castor oil that’s made from unroasted beans.
  3. A more alkaline scalp means less room for growth of seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)
  4. Alkaline substances increase blood flow to the scalp for more nourished follicles.
  5. The alkalinity of black castor oil also lifts the hair cuticle, to allow other nourishing ingredients in a formula to penetrate the hair shaft. (Castor molecules themselves are too large to enter.)
  6. Mineral levels are increased from toasting the raw materials used to make oils. For castor beans, this includes magnesium and zinc – which contributes to hair growth.
  7. According to the same research conducted in Nigerian universities, toasting and boiling castor beans also increases protein content, a building block of hair that also provides strength.
  8. But it’s probably the most important aspect that roasting reduces anti-nutrient levels. Anti-nutrients are plant components that block or interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals.

With anti-nutrients removed, even if the mineral and protein levels of Jamaican black castor oil were on the same level as cold pressed castor oil, they would still be more active.

Where To Find The Best Jamaican Black Castor Oil?

The best is going to come from Jamaicans. Tropic Isle Living was the first company to produce (and name) Jamaican black castor oil for the U.S. market. The company warns against producers who jump on the black castor’s popularity bandwagon, but use  colorants like cinnamon instead of the Jamaican process. Tropic Isle Living also offers a wide variety of products that are made with their Jamaican Black Castor Oil.

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Shea Moisture has a Jamaican black castor oil line as well. The product that demonstrates a high level of effectiveness (according to reviews) is the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore Leave-In Conditioner. After this product in the Strengthen and Restore line is the alkaline cleansing of Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo.

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How To Use Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Generally speaking, plain black castor oil is best used as a sealant. It locks in moisture, and is also a humectant. When used as a sealing oil, it helps keep your hair soft and draws added moisture to it.

Pre- or post-shampoo, black Jamaican also castor oil works well as part of a hair masque.

For a great DIY protein hair masque that strengthens and encourages growth, try blending egg whites then add a tablespoon of Jamaican black castor oil. Drench hair, apply and cover with a shower cap for 20 minutes. During and after rinsing, you’ll be able to feel the added strength in your hair strands. And the castor adds a nice sheen, too.

Whatever way you incorporate Jamaican castor into your regimen, don’t forget to massage the product into your scalp for added hair growth benefits.

Do you have a favorite Jamaican black castor oil product or do you prefer use it as a straight oil? Have you seen any hair growth results from using the oil? Share with us in the comments!

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