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L'huile de ricin est-elle dangereuse ?

Is castor oil dangerous?

Also known as "Castor oil" or by its Anglicism, castor oil, this viscous, even sticky liquid has been widespread for millennia in the world of skincare. According to legend, Cleopatra even used it as a makeup remover. But are there any side effects and contraindications associated with its use? Elements of response in this article.

Castor oil in a nutshell.

Castor oil is derived from the cold pressing of seeds from the Ricinus communis plant, a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. It is used in a variety of fields, such as painting and medicine (especially for treating constipation). Its particularly high content of omega-9, and more specifically ricinoleic acid (over 80%), gives it bactericidal properties. Thus, it helps fight against acne, and also has the advantage of being non-comedogenic. Furthermore, it also strengthens nails and hair follicles such as hair, beard hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows.

Is castor oil dangerous?

No, castor oil is not dangerous. However, after the first cold press, the obtained liquid must undergo filtration to eliminate traces of ricin. This is a toxic substance found in the raw seed of Ricinus communis. Nevertheless, since ricin is not soluble in oil, the use of filtered castor oil is not dangerous, unlike the consumption of the whole castor seed. Ingesting this part of the plant can generate undesirable effects such as digestive disorders or an impact on blood pressure.

What are the side effects of topical castor oil?

It is not considered a significant skin irritant, but it can irritate those with sensitive skin. The application of castor oil can cause an allergic skin reaction known as contact dermatitis.

Furthermore, a study has identified ricinoleic acid as the most common allergen in lipsticks. Researchers have also discovered that ricinoleic acid can cause a skin rash and inflamed lips.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) notes that castor oil can irritate the eyes. This substance is sometimes recommended for combating dark circles, even though no concrete scientific study confirms this property. Therefore, it is advisable to be cautious if you apply castor oil around the eye area.

What are the side effects of applying castor oil to the hair?

Only one study has highlighted the adverse effects of castor oil on hair, referred to as "acute hair matting". The hair becomes hard, twisted, and tangled. These symptoms appeared after the first use of castor oil by healthy individuals.

Are there any contraindications to the external application of castor oil?

There are no contraindications for the topical application of castor oil for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women, as well as young children. It can be used safely in these instances.


  • Yung-Hian Leow & al., Pigmented contact cheilitis from ricinoleic acid in lipsticks, Case Reports Contact Dermatitis, (2003).

  • Final report on the safety assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate, Int J Toxicol, (2007).

  • Maduri VR, Vedachalam A, Kiruthika S. Castor oil-the culprit of acute hair felting. Int J Trichology. (2017).


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