Clear Pores, Calm Joints, Reduce Scars and Quell Infections without Breaking the Bank: Beauty on a B
As a Los Angeles native, one of the things that gives me great joy is watching the modern health movement turn more towards natural remedies and preventative maintenance; formerly known as “Hippy Sh*t.” This is a great shift for us: for our health, for our planet and for our wallet. At their worst, most ayurvedic treatments do nothing and cost very little. At best, they actually help that is ailing you, produce less waste than single-use, overly packaged goods and give you ownership over your health.
Most of that hippy s*t is budget beauty and first aid techniques. When I was in college I signed up for a backpacking trip through Northern India. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped for this opportunity. I felt like I had been preparing for a trip like this my entire life. Between camping and backpacking, time in the military and being raised my children of farmers, the dedication to “multi use and efficient” was ever present when packing for trips. This is how my obsession got started with natural/DIY/organic body work. I needed a whole bunch of supplies to be prepared - and well-kept - during my time in India. I was determined to get my whole medical and hygiene routine in one tiny case. I had 8 months to figure it out.
During this time, I was also doing some modeling and exploring the feminine arts. Beauty and self care was a topic I explored with gusto - but for a college student living off GI bill, loans and a couple of gigs, I was NOT buying what the beauty industry was selling. I had a small bathroom, a small bank account and large anxiety when I walked by countertop that were filled with dozens of tiny “beauty product” bottles.
Castor oil came up many times as the king of supplies for the multipurpose agent during my research. As of 2008, India, China, and Brazil produced 93% of the world’s supply of the oil. Castor oil is a cold pressed oil that is a triglyceride fatty acid. Near 90 percent of its fatty acid content is a specific and rare compound called ricinoleic acid. This acid is not very common. Luckily the castor bean yields an incredibly dense and concentrated source of the acid. Because of the rich “nutrient density” of the oil it is a great aide in many biodiesel fuels, making engine that already exist greatly more fuel efficient and could be a reasonable candidate for renewable energy. Castor oil is used in a wide variety of household products already and seem to be a great general purpose lubricant and thicker.
In ancient and folk medicine, castor oil has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-microbial agent. It is extremely effective in calming and soothing inflamed skin ailments like rashes, burns, bug bite, psoriasis and eczema. It battles fungus same as any cream you would buy in CVS - but about 1/10th of the cost and it doesn't dry your skin. It can be used to help treat fungal disease ringworm, jock itch (tinea cruris) and athlete's foot.
I even recommended it to tackle pink eye during my time in India and the experiment was a success. One of the women I was traveling with had a really bad case of pink eye that was just not going away. It didn’t help that although she treated her eye, she never washed her phone. I avoided her like the plague for a couple days. Then, completely by accident I checked the map from her phone. DAMMIT! I felt and itch come later that night and then slathered caster oil and neem oil all around my eyes and let some get in the rim of my eyelids. I had clear eyes in the morning. I recommended she do the same. She protested at first but by the end of the third day of using a prescription treatment, her pink eye had become pink EYES. She took my advice and borrowed my oils. The next day her eyes were near clear of infection. I told her to clean her phone and just use the oil for the next day just to be sure. She was home free by the end of that day.
I’m sure by now you see a pattern. Castor oil mitigates inflammation. Use it where inflammation strikes, any time. If you walk a lot, are a dancer, doctor, teacher or coach and have chronically sore feet, slathering on the oil at night will help you immensely - even if the soreness is from arthritis. I know this intimately. With my knobby joints and how much I’m on my feet all day, my feet beg for a bit of relief. Hands inflamed from arthritis get great relief from a well rubbed in layer of oil. Achy joints and elbows love castor oil. Just remember, this stuff is THICK so when you use it, make sure to mix it with a thinner oil, like olive or sunflower, and apply it with generously wet hands for better absorption.
Castor oil is unbelievably good for skin. Since 2011 I have used the oil to deep clean my pores, moisturize my face and neck and mix with exfoliation agents like salt and sugar. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I think the long term effects are really starting to pay off. My dry skin is clear and supple. I never had small/clear pores until I started cleaning and steaming it with castor oil. Despite all of the exfoliation and pore strips, I was always embarrassed about my large clogged pores. Being diligent with such a useful product was a game changer for my skin.
You can also use it to bring new life to hair and nails. A castor oil mask is a great way to repair and keep hair soft and shiny. If you lighten your hair in anyway - highlights or bleach - you must look into this restoring mask. If you have long hair and don’t mind a little oil, you can just put a bit on the ends to keep it protected throughout the day.
One of the coolest things I have found this does is really help reduce the darkness of scars. Putting on a daily castor oil pack for a couple of weeks can all but get rid of dark pigments of scars. I personally have not take on an endeavor as such because I don't really have many scars on my body I want to get rid of. But I am fairly certain this is why dark spots from sun soaked pimples on my face doesn't stick around for too long. Putting a moisturizing mask almost every night is near the same thing.
I’m pretty proud of my skin and so happy I made the switch to budget, natural beauty solutions. It keeps my routine simple and versatile. I don’t spend time or money make a decision about what to use of if it works. When talking about nutrition and fitness, I know that the only way to get results is consistency. Our skin works the same way. If I work really hard to keep chemicals out of my body, then why am I putting them on my face? Is just doesn’t make sense.
Do yourself a favor and fall down a Google rabbit hole checking out the methods of use for castor oil. It’s so much fun playing around with this stuff! Yes, it take a bit of experimentation but the time and patience it worth it to get a unique beauty routine that covers all your needs and has so many uses. I feel near armed with my beauty routine! I’m not a slave to the beauty industry and what ever new product they are pushing. They can have their 50 dollar creams. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing; saving time, money and getting compliments on how glowing my skin is.