Thick, rich, gloopy and black - no I'm not talking about treacle, but Jamaican black castor oil.
Castor oil has long been considered a hydrating emolient used by people in Jamaica to promote hair growth and softness. My Jamaican grandmother recommended I try Sunny Isle Jamaican black Castor oil, (£7.49) it to help combat occasional bouts of dandruff. It is naturally antiseptic and the high fatty acid content means it is superb at moisturising the skin and hair. I purchased a bottle at my nearby Beauty Queens store, but you can also buy it online.
To extract black castor oil, the castor beans are first roasted and then oil is extracted from roasted beans. The ash from the roasting process is added up in the oil. This ash makes the color of the Jamaican castor oil black.
Although Sunny Isle's black castor oil is stated as 'black', it is in fact a clear oil, which has no darker than a mild Almond oil.
I use this oil primarily on my hair because I am desperate for it to grow. I have suffered occasionally in the past with dandruff, but since using Jamaican black castor oil, I havenít had such an aggressive reaction, but sometimes I do experience a dry scalp.
Aside from being great for dry hair (Afro-Caribbean in particular), It can also be used on the skin - only the body because the molecules are too large for delicate facial skin - as a rich body moisturiser.
Although I do use this black castor oil as a cleanser, I wouldn't personally, use it on my face as a moisturiser because it is quite rich and I can suffer with greasy skin. My grandmother, however, uses castor oil on her face as well as her body, and her skin is genuinely wrinkle-free. Maybe when I hit middle age I'll start using it on my face.
Whilst I don't recommend using castor oil for a daily moisturiser if you're under 40 years old, the oil is superb at removing makeup.
Black castor oil can even be used on the eyes, and it works wonders on hard-to-remove eye liner, as well as waterproof mascara. I tend to apply the oil all over my face, leave it to do its work for about 5 minutes, then remove my makeup with a hot flannel. The oil seems to 'melt' the make up on your face, and it doesn't leave a trace.
I only ever use about a cap ful for dry skin areas such as knees, elbows and feet, and about the same for my hair. The oil is somewhat sticky when you first rub it into your skin, but sinks in after about 5 minutes. I think it's because of the high fatty-acid content, but either way, it makes my skin and hair shine.
I think my Grandma was right; Jamaican black castor oil is a wonder product, and when youíre suffering with a dry scalp, or even dry skin, this oil does more than cleanse, tone, and moisturise.