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It’s no secret that I love oils, and I use them liberally head to toe.
Castor oil has been a staple since I started my natural hair journey over 20 years ago, and in recent years I’ve fallen in love with black castor oil.
Tropic Isle Living recently reached out to me to try their Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) Trilogy, including their XX Dark, Original, and Light Blend. I’ve been using them for the last couple of months and I’m excited to share my results.
Tropic Isle Living is Black woman owned and was founded in 1992. You can learn more about how the company came about and evolved in the YouTube series The TIL Story.
What is Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO)?
Jamaican Black Castor Oil is made from castor beans.
The beans are fire roasted and ground, then boiled to extract the oil.
At this point, the oil contains the char, or ash from from roasting process. This is known as XX Dark, and is used as an intense scalp and hair treatment.
Filtering out the char produces a lighter oil while still maintaining the healing and conditioning properties of the roasting process. This is the Original oil.
How to mix Jamaican Black Castor Oil with other oils
For an even lighter everyday use product, many people choose to mix JBCO with other oils such as sweet almond or avocado.
I love mixing my own oil blends, but I don’t always have the time or extra containers handy.
Thankfully, Tropic Isle Living has a new Light Blend that includes soybean oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, and almond oil. This is perfect when you don’t have the time or desire to DIY.
Is Jamaican Black Castor Oil a penetrating or sealing oil?
Castor oil is thick and heavy, and acts as a sealing oil in your routine. It coats the hair shaft and helps prevent water from evaporating, allowing your hair to stay hydrated for longer.
The best part of Tropic Isle Living’s Light Blend is that it combines penetrating oils like soy, sweet almond and avocado oils with castor oil and saves you a step!
What does Jamaican Black Castor Oil smell like?
As you would guess, the XX Dark JBCO has the strongest scent, reminiscent of the roasting process. I don’t consider it super strong or overpowering, but you can smell it for a short time after applying it.
I like the natural earthiness of it, but if it’s not your preference, you may want to use this oil prior to washing your hair or mix it with your favorite essential oils.
The Original also has a smell, but it’s less of a roasted smell and closer to the scent of refined castor oil.
The Light Blend doesn’t have much of a scent that I can discern (and I’m pretty sensitive to smells).
How to use Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Ok, so here’s the fun part. You may have heard that JBCO is an all purpose oil that’s used for everything from hair regrowth to a broken leg – and it’s true! This oil definitely has a variety of uses.
Here’s what I tried:
- Dry Detangling. My hair tangles easily. To remove some complex knots, I applied JBCO XX Dark to dry hair and slowly slid loose hairs out of the matted area. After removing the knotted and shed hair, I wet my hands and twisted the section. The JBCO left my hair soft and elongated with a healthy sheen.
- Pre-poo/Greenhouse Method. Before my last wash day, I spritzed my hair with water and applied the XX Dark oil using the praying hands method. I put my hair in large twists, put a shower cap over it, put my bonnet over that and went to bed. In the morning, my hair was pliable and had a nice sheen. The oil conditioned and added softness to my hair as I shampooed it.
- Sealing Oil. After washing and conditioning my hair and applying leave in conditioner, I applied a small amount of the Light Blend. My hair dried soft and healthy looking (pictured above). I layered mousse over the oil to set curls in the front, and it dried soft and bouncy.
- Cuticle Oil. If you like wearing your nails natural but still want them to look manicured and shiny, add a couple of drops of JBCO to your finger and toe nails. This is how I instantly get my feet sandal ready without a trip to the salon.
- Secret Weapon for smooth edges (without the breakage). I discovered many years ago that castor oil works to “slick” my edges without gel, and JBCO is no different. I have 4C hair so “slick” is relative. It’s definitely more of a smoothing than a slicking, but it works for me. I put a little bit of castor oil around my edges, brush with a wet brush, and tie it down with a satin scarf until dry. The cleaner and wetter my hair is, the better it works. I like to be gentle on my edges, so I only do this occasionally.
Does Jamaican Black Castor Oil really work?
JBCO contains the fatty acid rinoleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
It’s a humectant, drawing water to itself, which helps hair and skin stay hydrated.
Studies have shown that it can help in treating dandruff and ringworm.
There isn’t a lot of scientific data on the hair growth aspect, but all of these qualities point to JBCO being a good addition to your routine.
There’s one easy way to find out if it works for you – try it!
Create a simple routine for yourself, follow it, and track your results. This is the one way to know for sure if JBCO works for you.
But I heard castor oil is bad for your hair?
There is a movement to stop using oils on natural hair because it coats the hair and creates buildup.
This is 100% true if the rest of your routine doesn’t support the use of oils.
For example if you use large amounts of castor oil, cowash or water rinse only, and have low porosity hair, you may end up with a lot of build up.
If you have high porosity hair, use a reasonable amount of castor oil, and regularly use an efficient cleanser, you may not experience any issues.
As with everything, if it’s something that sounds like it may work for you I recommend trying it and closely observing your unique hair.
When I first went natural I used minimal oils with good results. Now I use lots of oils with good results. It’s all about knowing your hair and creating a regimen that works in sync.
Can I use Jamaican Black Castor Oil on low porosity hair?
If you have low porosity hair, you typically want to limit the use of heavier coating oils like JBCO on your hair.
This doesn’t mean it can’t benefit your hair though.
Mixing JBCO with other oils as Tropic Isle Living has done with it’s Light Blend is one way to make the oil lighter on the hair. Another option is to use it as a hot oil treatment or an ingredient in a DIY pre-poo that you wash out. You could also use it for scalp massages prior to wash day.
There are plenty of options to get the benefits of JBCO even for low porosity hair. As always, knowing your hair and experimenting are the best ways to choose the right products for you.
So, have you tried JBCO? Will you?
As for me, it will continue to be one of my holy grail oils.
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