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Castor oil, a natural alternative against stretch marks?

Stretch marks are the result of the tearing of the elastic fibres that support the skin. Appearing on various parts of the body, they take on different characteristics depending on their progression. Known for its content of unsaturated fatty acids, the oil extracted by cold pressing from the seeds of the Common Castor is considered an ally in preventing and reducing stretch marks. Discover the reality of this claim.

Summary
Published February 14, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

Stretch Marks: What are their causes?

Stretch marks, also known as striae distensae, are micro-lesions, visible on the surface of the skin, very common and comparable to scars. They often take a linear, even striped form. Initially, when they are still in the inflammatory phase, stretch marks have a reddish-purple colour (immature stretch marks). They then gradually become white (mature stretch marks) and permanent.

Stretch marks are the result of a change in the structure of the dermis and a rupture of collagen fibres . The factors causing this alteration are varied, but the most common is a rapid gain or loss of weight, causing significant strain on the skin tissues. This is indeed why stretch marks are so common during a pregnancy . One can also consider hormonal fluctuations , due to stress for example. Indeed, at high concentrations, cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, inhibits the growth factor TGF-β1, involved in tissue development and stimulating the synthesis of collagen by fibroblasts.

Can castor oil combat stretch marks?

Castor oil is often attributed with beneficial effects on stretch marks, but it is important to know thatno scientific study has to date been conducted on the effects of this natural extract on this issue. However, it is true that castor vegetable oil possesses moisturising, protective and antioxidant properties that could be useful in preventing the appearance of stretch marks.

  • Castor oil softens the skin.

    Castor oil contains several saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, active ingredients that ensure proper skin hydration. These molecules largely make up the composition of the natural hydrolipidic film, a watery/oily mixture that helps to slow down water loss and protect the skin from external aggressions (bacteria, UV, pollution...). By maintaining this protective veil on the skin's surface, castor oil limits water loss, which helps to keep the skin supple and makes it less prone to stretch marks.

  • Castor oil has a protective effect on collagen fibres.

    Rich in Vitamin E (tocopherols), castor oil is antioxidant. This property enables it to combat free radicals, species generated by UV rays or pollution, which damage the collagen and elastin. Strengthened, the collagen fibres are less likely to break, a phenomenon that causes stretch marks.

  • Castor oil potentially has healing properties.

    While few scientists have explored the healing effects of castor oil on humans, one study demonstrated that its daily application on a horse's wound significantly accelerated the healing process. This study was conducted on a single horse, so caution is advised. However, it is plausible to assume a similar mechanism on human skin and a potential effect of castor oil on purple stretch marks.

How to use castor oil to prevent stretch marks?

In prevention of the appearance of stretch marks, you can apply pure castor oil to the areas most at risk (breasts, stomach, buttocks and thighs). Then perform circular motions to massage and allow the oil to penetrate. This will help to minimise the risk of tearing and development of stretch marks. We recommend you to continue applying castor oil for the 3 months following your childbirth, as your body is still fragile and prone to these concerns.

If you find the texture of castor oil too greasy, you can mix it with other vegetable oils that are more fluid but just as rich in fatty acids. For this purpose, we recommend the avocado oil (INCI: Persea Gratissima Oil), the sweet almond oil (INCI: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil), which is present in our stretch mark gel-to-oil, or even the rosehip oil (INCI: Rosa Canina Fruit Oil).

Please note : although castor oil may potentially prevent the appearance of purple stretch marks, it is important to remember that once these are established, it is impossible to completely remove them.

Sources

  • APUYOR B. & al. Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis L.): Botany, ecology and uses. International Journal of Science and Research (2012).

  • MANSANO C. & al. Use of castor oil in tissue repair of extensive wound in senile horse. Acta Scientiae Veterinariae (2015).

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