Karen Hill
Updated on February 16, 2024

Dryness has to be the biggest problem women with curly and kinky hair face. Unlike straight hair, a tight curl pattern makes it hard for sebum (an oily substance produced by your skin’s glands) to make its way down the shaft. Nobody wants damaged strands, which is why making up for that lack of moisture is so important. Hair oils are just the answer. They have the power to repair the driest of locks. Each one has its specific bonus points, but Jamaican black castor oil has become a natural-hair favorite because of its extra-strong power to nourish and protect.

What is Jamaican Black Castor Oil or JBCO?

The oil is derived from the nuts of castor oil plants, much like regular castor oil. However, this kind is made by roasting the plant’s nuts or seeds, grinding them manually, then boiling them in water and extracting the oil. What do you get? A dark and viscous oil with added ash from the roasted beans ready to bring life to your hair and skin. This method of the oil processing is traditionally found in Jamaica—hence the name.

jamaican black castor oil

Is It Different from Clear Castor Oil?

The key difference between the two lies in their production processes. Clear castor oil is simply cold-pressed while its Jamaican counterpart is more complicated to make as it’s done by hand.

The Caribbean roasting method creates ash that is not filtered from the black Jamaican castor oil. That gives it its deep amber color. Regular castor oil is pale yellow. The ash found in JBCO not only gives it a darker color, but it’s also responsible for the oil’s slightly higher pH balance which results in better cleansing (exfoliating) and penetrating properties. JBCO is also a bit warmer than regular castor oil and therefore more pleasant when applied to dry hair and scalp. It’s just another quality that gives it a leg up on plain ol’ castor oil.

What Are the Other Benefits?

“What aren’t the benefits” is a better question. JBCO is largely made up of something called Ricinoleic acid. It is a fatty acid known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties. That combined with the aforementioned cleansing capabilities means it is soothing to an itchy, inflamed or dry scalp.

The oil is also very dense and viscous, which makes it excellent for extra-dry locks. It saturates them with nourishment and moisture, supplying hair shafts with necessary vitamins and proteins.

Many believe that JBCO can even stimulate hair growth and thicken your strands. To these claims, I say “yes and no.” Both of these things are true, but with a twist.

Whether or not Jamaican black castor oil for hair growth is proven to work is arguable. The oil itself has yet to be scientifically linked to expedited growth. The act of massaging the scalp, however, does help because it stimulates the hair follicles. The thick oil coats the strands, protecting and moisturizing them, and making them less susceptible to breakage. Therefore, when your hair does grow from the practice of massaging it, it grows out strong and healthy. Although, all the Jamaican black castor oil reviews claim that it really does work. You’ll just have to try for yourself, because it certainly couldn’t hurt.

As for the myth of thicker locks—because the oil is so thick and dark, when you apply it, it simply makes your strands appear fuller. Once your hair grows out of your head, it is impossible for the strands to become physically thicker, regardless of the products you use. So, using JBCO is the next best thing if you want to conquer your fine tresses.

Ways to Use It

1) There are so many uses for hair with this magic potion. It is highly recommended as a spot treatment for thinning hair. Simply apply a dime-size amount to the tips of your fingers and massage it into your problem areas a few times a week. You can see how it helped to restore my own edges in a matter of months, after I wore box braids that were too tight. My hairline was short and thin, but it has been growing back healthier ever since I started my JBCO regimen. The results are crystal clear in the before and after pictures.

before after 3 months

2) Another option is to do a pre-shampoo hot oil treatment or hair mask. Mix the JBCO with olive oil and coconut oil, all in equal parts. Then heat the combination in one of two ways. You can pour hot water in a bowl and then place a jar or bottle containing the oil in it, until the contents are warmed up. You can also carefully nuke it in a microwave-safe container for one minute. Then part the hair into sections and liberally apply the oil to each section. Put on a shower cap to not only seal in the heat and the oil, but to keep it a little less messy. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before following your usual shampoo-and-conditioner routine.

This will moisturize your mane and tame your frizz. Want proof? Just look at the before picture of my hair with normal wash-n-go, and how it looked after the hot-oil-treatment. My curls are shiner, more defined, and a LOT less frizzy.

hot oil treatment before after

*Warning: Be careful! While the oil might not feel too hot to the hands, your scalp is much more sensitive.

Related Post: Pre Poo Guide with 7 Best Pre Shampoo Treatments

3) Another trick some swear by is dipping a spoolie brush into their JBCO and applying it to their eyelashes, like mascara, to promote growth. Who wouldn’t do anything for Kardashian-like lashes? Am I right?

4) Apart from hair, it can also be used all over the body for dry patches or eczema. It will give your skin relief and a buttery soft feel to the touch.

Where Can You Find It?

Wondering where to buy this miracle oil? Don’t worry; you don’t have to go all the way to Jamaica. While it is not as common as everyday castor oil, it is still easy to find. Beauty supply shops are a good place to check. Amazon also carries it, which is great because of their competitive prices and thousands of comprehensive reviews to reassure you of this product’s amazing properties. I recommend the brand, Tropic Isle Living, but any pure formula will work the same.

You can also find JBCO already blended into deep conditioners, shampoos, and serums from brands like Shea Moisture. Jamaican black castor oil has a bit of a potent, nutty smell and is very sticky. When it’s blended with other products, you get all the same benefits, and then some more, without the sticky mess.

Shea Moisture is also easier to find in stores, and is usually carried at places like Target, CVS, and Walgreens.

shea moisture

So, does Jamaican castor oil work? 100% Yes. Should you invest in some? If you have dry hair, most certainly. What is so great about this product is that it’s pure, and straight from the castor oil nut. Your natural hair deserves natural products. Jamaican black castor oil is especially good for cooler climates, where your hair is susceptible to drying out. Whether you’re looking to prevent or combat damaged hair, this oil is the way to go.