Monday, June 24, 2024

Can Castor Oil Help With Dark Circles?

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TikTok is home to some pretty wacky theories, and they cover a wide range of topics. Whether it’s information about your favorite celebrities or a new hack or that could affect your health, it’s always best to fact-check the information you see on the app, especially if it involves ingredients or products you aren’t completely familiar with. (Never forget when users were convinced it was safe to use hemorrhoid cream on undereye bags. Spoiler alert: you shouldn’t try it.) Recently, everyone on the platform has been talking about using castor oil to treat darkness under the eyes after findings from a new study were published in November 2023.

In a single-arm clinical trial by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology conducted in 2021 and 2022, patients who applied a topical castor oil cream twice daily for two months noticed “reduced melanin levels, wrinkles, and skin laxity in the infraorbital region.” However, the literature also notes that randomized clinical trials are needed to confirm findings. So, what do experts think?

First of all, knowing how to treat dark circles starts from figuring out what causes them in the first place. Oculoplastic surgeon Kami Parsa says there are five main causes of dark circles. Anatomical issues, like hollow undereyes, chronic inflammation from allergies, thin skin, undereye veins, or genetic pigmentation. “The first line of defense is to get sufficient sleep,” Dr. Parsa tells PS. From there, you can look for products that help brighten skin or help increase cell turnover and exfoliate the dead skin cells that make dark circles more visible.

Is castor oil one of those miracle products? Ahead, experts answer all of our burning questions about the buzzy oil and whether or not it can treat darkness under the eyes. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Experts Featured in This Article

Kami Parsa, MD, is an oculoplastic surgeon in Beverly Hills.
Natalie Aguilar is a celebrity aesthetician in Los Angeles.
Purvisha Patel, MD, is a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Tennessee.
Elizabeth Houshmand, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Texas.
Divya Shokeen, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles.

What Is Castor Oil?

“Castor oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the castor bean plant,” board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth Houshmand says. “It is high in ricinoleic acid that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant uses.”

Castor oil has plenty of uses, and its benefits are vast. “It is commonly taken orally as a laxative,” dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Purvisha Patel says. “It is also found in soaps and used directly on the skin to help inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It is used to stimulate hair growth and moisturize hair as well.”

Can Castor Oil Help With Dark Circles?

According to the recently published study, it can, but there’s still limited scientific evidence — and it all depends on the cause of your dark circles. Additionally, there are a few things you should know before trying it out. “Generally, castor oil is considered safe for topical use, but it can cause irritation, especially near the sensitive areas like the eyes,” Divya Shokeen board-certified dermatologist, says. “Always perform a patch test before applying it near the eyes.”

Once you’ve done a patch test and determined you don’t have any issues, start by cleansing your face and then patting it dry. From there, put a small amount of product on your fingertips and gently massage it into the skin under the eye in a circular motion. Make sure to avoid the eyelash area; as Dr. Patel says, if the product gets on the lashes or hair follicles, it can cause a stye or an infection.

However, celebrity aesthetician Natalie Aguilar suggests using a product like a cream that contains castor oil versus using raw castor oil directly on your skin. “Each castor oil can have a different base or distillation method, making [them] unpredictable.”

Whether you choose to use raw castor oil or a product with the ingredient, make sure you consult with your dermatologist or a licensed physician before trying it out. Still, if you’re looking for more traditional methods of treating dark circles, you have options. Dr. Houshmand says the best option is to see your dermatologist, as it often takes a multifaceted treatment approach. Additionally, using products with ingredients such as caffeine and vitamin C can help. There are a variety of eye creams for dark circles if you want to treat the concern at home.

Renee Rodriguez is a staff writer and social producer for PS. She writes across all verticals, but her main areas of expertise focus on fashion and beauty content with an emphasis on reviews and editor experiments. She also produces social content for the PS TikTok and Instagram accounts.

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