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Leaving something oily on your face may not sound like a good idea, especially if your skin is oily or prone to breakouts. But castor oil can improve the look and feel of your skin, especially when it comes to acne. To be on the safe side, however, talk to a dermatologist before using castor oil on your face overnight.
The benefit of using castor oil on the skin is linked to ricinoleic acid, a hydroxy-fatty acid. Castor oil contains a fairly high concentration of this acid, sometimes upward of 90 percent. Ricinoleic acid appears to have antibacterial properties, which may help kill the bacteria associated with acne. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, potentially reducing the inflammation of active lesions.
Using castor oil is just as easy as applying any of your skincare products. Start by dampening a washcloth in hot water. Wring out the excess before gently moistening your face. The heat and moisture should help open your pores and allow the castor oil to better penetrate your skin. Then gently massage a very thin layer of castor oil onto your face and leave overnight. In the morning, wash your face with a gentle cleanser as normal. It can take one to two weeks to see any real improvements in your complexion, so you need to make castor oil part of your nighttime regimen.
Like any product, not all castor oils are created equal. Cold-pressed oils are by far the best. They’re much less likely to clog the pores, which could wreak even more havoc on your complexion. Also, make sure the oil is hexane-free. Hexane is often used as a solvent to extract the oil, so it could affect the concentration and purity of the product. Generally, cold-pressed oils don’t contain this chemical compound, but it’s wise to take a second look at the packaging.
If castor oil fails to improve your complexion, consider turning to another over-the-counter method to treat your breakouts. Acne creams containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, resorcinol or sulfur can help dry excess oil and kill bacteria causing the blemishes. For moderate to severe acne, you may need the help of a dermatologist who can prescribe an acne cream containing higher concentrations of benzoyl peroxide or one made with a retinoid. A derivative of vitamin A, retinoids help to unclog the pores, thereby speeding your recovery and improving an acne breakout.