“Castor oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids including omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. It’s high in ricinoleic acid, which is a hydroxylated fatty acid released from castor oil by intestinal lipases. Ricinoleic acid is a unique fatty acid that mediates most of castor oil’s beneficial effects in the body and is not found in high concentrations in very many other natural products,” says board-certified physician Bindiya Gandhi. “Castor oil is also chock full of vitamin E, minerals, and proteins.”

Thanks to this fatty acid, castor oil has incredible conditioning properties: Research shows that ricinoleic acid can soothe dry patches of skin1 and help skin recover from irritation. Other research suggests it also has anti-inflammatory properties2 for the skin. Basically, when used topically it can help improve rough, cracked dry lips. 

And as a whole castor oil has many properties3 that make it well-suited for the area. Since it’s an emollient, it can sink into the skin, softening the epidermis while helping bolster the skin barrier. But that’s not all – it also may have humectant properties. Humectants attract and hold water—when used in skin care, they can pull in water for lasting hydration and even offer a subtle plumping effect. 

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