Black castor oil, otherwise known as pimento oil, is known throughout Indigenous communities for its role in folk medicine, cosmetic, and spiritual practices. 

 With numerous low quality castor oils on the market, it is easy to get manipulated by sketchy retailers marketing their product as authentic black castor oil overseas. Obtaining true black castor oil provides various benefits for internal and external healing, therefore it's detrimental to become an expert like the locals themselves.

In order to become an expert, it's important to know:

  • It's cultural significance
  • Different types
  •  Differentiate from real and fake
  • How to use it
  • Supporting the Black owned brands

 Based on personal experience, I remembered my local Beauty Supply store and the Amazon retailer I chose, sold Sunny Isle & Tropical Isle Living. Each bottle I purchased smelled rancid, the texture was thin and greasy, and the color was a light tan color. Nothing "Black" about it. 

The Caribbean community had put me on game, because they know the real deal. From the help of my community, I will briefly go over the history, benefits, tips, and black owned brands that I've personally tried to traditional- style, artisan brands.

What is Black castor oil?

To simply put, black castor oil is traditionally made from a process of roasting castor beans with ash. True pimento oil (BCO) is skillfully pounded into mulch by Caribbean women, then boiled in the pot of water until the thick oil rise.

Castor oil (Ricinus Communis) is historically considered a powerful holy oil used amongst Northern East African communities. Enslaved women knew of the potent healing abilities and kept the generations alive. Today Black castor oil is made throughout the Caribbean while castor oil is produced in East Africa. The main two types that's known are Haitian & Jamaican Black Castor Oil.

Castor Bean Sorter

A skilled castor bean sorter, who is blind

Jamaican Vs Haitian oil

It may be a shock, but Haitian black castor oil was produced nearly over a century before Jamaican castor oil. It is known as lwil maskriti in Haiti while in Jamaica it's known as nat ile. Other Caribbean communities process their own black castor oil too. The combination of the soils, cultivation, and processing of the castor bean, smakes the brands differ from one another.



  • Dark in color
  • Has more Ash
  • Greater Alkaline Content
  • Greater saponification content
  • Ideal for cleansing formulas
  • Light in color
  • Has less ash
  • Greater Ricinoleic acid content
  • Greater iodine content (kills bacteria & fungus)
  • Ideal for emollient formulas

How to tell If it's real black castor oil


  • Scent: Strong, roasted nuts (Like burnt bacon!)
  • Color: Golden to deep mahogany brown
  • Texture: Thick and gooey-like

There are specific characteristics pertaining to the quality of Pimento oil that local islanders can spot instantly compared to foreigners. It should be easy to identify 3/3. If not, contact customer service for insight of their processing method and quality of the ingredients.

Note: Some companies use a processing system to filter their castor oil which causes the oil to take on a less powerful scent while the color ranges from a tannish brown to clear.

Packaging & Labeling info

The bottle or site must have a similar line of "Product of Jamaica" or "Product of Haiti" for authenticity. 

In the ingredient section, it should ONLY say 100% Jamaican Black Castor oil or 100% Haitian Black castor oil UNLESS requested  otherwise.

Some other key terms to look out for are:

  • Raw
  • Undiluted OR unfiltered
  • Organic castor beans
  • Cold-pressed

Dark bottles are best used to preserve and protect the overall quality. Check the website for packaging information because some use clear, cheap packaging that damages in the event of shipping and handling.

Jamaican Oil

 I would rate 2/3. Quality oil, but not the best packaging. Luckily, I ordered in the winter, so less risk of sun exposure.

what are The Benefits of black castor oil?

Pimento oil is rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. High in a monounsaturated fatty acid called ricinoleic acid, its fatty composition is also made of stearic, palmitic, linoleic, and oleic acids. Useful to most skin and hair types, the oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and emollient properties that many can benefit from.

Hair & Skin

Black castor oil has about a dozen uses that improves the appearance of hair AND skin. Castor oil can be used to enhance creams, butters, combination with other oils, or simply by itself.

Hair| All hair types can benefit from nat ile oil. Those within the coarse hair category can reap the most out of its sealant and properties due to the hair's ability to hold heavier ingredients. Black castor oil can increase shine, hold moisture, improve texture, strengthen hair follicles, healing fungal or bacterial scalp conditions to defining coils and curls.

Tips for coarse hair:

  • BCO is best used as a humectant (draws in moisture from the air) on fresh wet or damp hair 
  • Warm the BCO before applying to hair and scalp (penetrate hair follicles)
  • Use BCO as sealing oil for braid and twist outs, or individual twists
  • Massage edges for 5-10 minutes throughout the day for blood flow stimulation (For infants, thinned edges, or hair loss)
  • Mixes well with shea nut oil, avocado seed oil, hempseed oil, ximenia oil, red raspberry seed oil, and garlic oil

Skin| Nat ile oil carries skin healing effects that's used throughout the holistic community, The oil has the ability to penetrate through skin and speed the recovery process for internal scarring. Black castor oil can be used on dry skin, scars, marks, scalp dermatitis, and other dry skin conditions.

Tips for skin:

  • BCO can be used as a massage oil to sooth; arthritic and join pains, baby muscles, and internal scars
  • Use a quarter size of BCO in the morning and again at night
  • Best used on damp skin
  • Can be mixed in clay mask
  • Mixes well with ximenia oil for gloss and shea butter for lip balm
  • For small scratches, apply BCO onto band-aid to improve recovery rate

Jamaican and Haitian black castor oil is used for my family's hair and skin. Ranging from coily to curly, our hair thrives further when the oil is carefully warmed and braided or twisted for long periods of time. We're pro-shrinkage in this family so the bounce rate is pretty high after continuous use. Used in skin oils and butters, black castor oil is effective after shower use from what I've noticed.

 I use the oil for hair styling and scalp massages to stimulate blood flow. In the past, I used to massage the fibroids and endometriosis pain from the outside to help with pain management (and can be used for c-section internal scarring too!). What I love about the oil is how hot it gets by palm rubbing. So it's a real good oil for palm massages. I even used it on Little Coconut for infant discoloration, cradle cap, scratch marks, muscle relaxer, and after diaper changes.

Common Black Castor oil Questions

Can Black castor oil grow my hair?

 Honestly it's subjective! Black castor oil has naturally occurring vitamin E that is responsible for repairing damaged roots or ends.

 If the hair is thinning from tight braids, heavy gels, perms to suffering from dermatitis, then use it consistently on your clean strands and fresh scalp to positive hair results.  It benefits coily to curly hair types the most when wrapped, tucked, or braided away after the application of BCO. 

Many sources suggests washing the oil out the hair, however our scalp is meant to absorb the nutrients from the roots (Plus I'm not washing out no $30+ oil out my hair!) So it's important to use it consistently on the scalp.

Results may vary after weeks of use to a year of use. A simplistically routine is key.

Can you use JBCO and HBCO on infants? 

Black castor oil is safe for infants; however be sure to patch test for allergies and side effects. If you'd like you can mix with one of the  9 Moisturizing Oils for Melanin Infant Care!

....And how?

For baby skin, both the JBCO and HBCO is best used on damp skin to retain and strengthen their skin barrier from possible pathogens. Due to its anti-microbial properties, the oil is great for oil cleansing a new born to help build their immune system. BCO is used for healing diaper rashes, scratches, and dry skin at home.

It all depends on your infants hair texture. Amongst indigenous babies, it's common for their hair to go through several textures the first 3 years. Since BCO is very thick, for thin hair you want to rub a small amount of Haitian BCO between your fingers (to warm it up), then apply to their scalp. I recommend a hair applicator bottle to get directly to the scalp, then pat and massage into their scalp. Make sure to AVOID the hair. 

 For thicker haired babies, you can skip all of that and use Haitian or Jamaican BCO, then pat, and massage into their scalp as well.

From experience, Haitian brands are runny (by a little) and thinner than the Jamaican brands I've tried. So I use the Haitian version to prevent the hair from weighing down but reap the benefits.

How do you heat it? 

There are multiple ways to heat the oil.  I personally pour the amount I'm using in a little cup bowl. Then, allow it to sit in a pan of warm to hot water. Microwave, double boil, or any type of boil will most likely cook some properties away. In case you didn't know, heating the oil is best to use vs cold, as it penetrates the skin and hair shaft effectively.

How long does it last? 

A good month or less if used consistently. 2 months or more if you mix with other oils if you're working on one head or body. I recommend purchasing more than one bottle for 2 headed families or more.

JBCO and HBCO alternative?

The best alternative is ximenia oil. The texture is richer, the smell is sweet, and the benefits are amazing! A cheaper alternative is golden, or clear castor oil. Clear castor oil is the cheapest alternative for natural hair styling and are sold at some Walmart's, Target, Marshall's, Sally's, and typically local health food stores. As usual make sure it says 100% castor oil or 100% castor oil with specific essential oils if it has a scent. (Ex: Lavender)

Is Black castor oil better than regular castor oil? 

In regards to pockets, goodness no! But the quality and benefits of BCO is definitely worth it, I'd say yes. Due to the added process Caribbean communities use, the composition of the oil changes that offers extra benefits.

What are the best oils to mix JBCO or HBCO with?

 I already mentioned you can mix black castor oil with other oils and essential oils. If you find the combo you like, it'll last longer and perform! I like to mix carrot oil, flaxseed oil, and/or shea butter and olive oil for when I'm broke. You can also mix it with your creams and butters too!

BEST Black owned Black CASTOR OILS

Imported from Jamaica and Haiti, each company takes pride in providing employment for families in their native island plus giving back to their communities.

I have personally tested out 5 brands; 2 Jamaican black castor oils and 3 Haitian black castor oils. And I loved to use all of them for different tasks. I will do a separate review on them soon!

There are other Black castor oil brands specially made from the hands of indigenous peoples. I truly support them and believe it's beneficial to participate in purchasing black castor oils from its origins. Here are a few more that looks promising.

 Note: I have not tried them yet, but take a look at the characteristics I mentioned earlier...

Other Black Owned Recommendations (Including castor oil)

MPL Hair

Yellow castor oil Suneetalondon based in the UK

References coming soon...

About the Author 

  • I love castor oil! Outside of it being so thick, I do see the benefits of using it for hair growth. Mainly because it keeps my hair from being dry when I use it consistently. My hair is super dry so I love it. I didn’t know that there was a Haitian castor oil… I have the jamaincan castor oil. I’ll have to try the Haitian one. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Great comprehensive explanation! I remember a few years back when there was a big boom on black castor oil. All these companies were coming out with product lines, but there wasn’t much education to go with it. This is very helpful.

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