312: Castor Oil Benefits For Eyelashes + Eyebrows (Do's + Don'ts) w/ Dr. Carly Rose

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If you've seen all these viral videos on caster oil benefits for your eyes, you're in for a treat! I asked a returning guest about a recent VIRAL TikTok video on castor oil that made me pause — mostly because you really need to be careful what you put on or near your eyes.

The eyeballs are very delicate tissue so…

Is castor oil really the magical elixir everyone online is claiming it to be for eyes? You might be surprised by her opinion!

My guest today is Dr. Carly Rose, a distinguished optometrist who earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Northern Kentucky University. She pursued her optometry studies in Chicago and completed a year-long residency at the Cincinnati VAMC Eye Clinic. Her unwavering dedication to understanding the complex disease of dry eye, as well as investing in cutting-edge research has earned her widespread recognition in the industry as a leader in dry eye diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Rose's practice is called Eyecare on the Square in Mariemont, Ohio where she offers the most effective and advanced treatments available to her community.

Have you ever used castor oil for your eyes?  I'd love to hear about what you used it for in the comments below!

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

In this episode:

  • What does castor oil come from?
  • How to use castor oil for the eyes (and who it's especially good for)
  • Do castor oil benefits include eyelash growth?
  • Debunking castor oil myths on social media
  • How to use castor oil around your eyes (especially if you're taking eye medication)
  • Unique properties of ricinoleic acid in castor oil
  • How to choose a good quality castor oil


“I have used castor oil on my lashes and brows for a while, and I also have dry eyes. So I actually use it for dry eye and all the aesthetics. It's a win-win.” [13:22]

“The ricinoleic acid has a lot of antiviral, antifungal… anti-everything properties…” [15:56]

“If they can't wear mascara but they want something for their lashes in the morning… curl your lash, put a little on the spoolie and use that in place of mascara. It really does make it look great.” [21:03]


Follow Dr. Rose and her practices on Instagram herehere, and here | tiktok | website

TikTok Video: what does Dr. Rose think of the viral #castoroilbenefits video?

Healthy Skin Show 285: Got Dry, Irritated, Red Eyes? Sneaky Triggers You Wouldn't Think Of w/ Dr. Carly Rose

Healthy Skin Show 210: How Steroid Creams Impact Your Eyes w/ Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler

Healthy Skin Show 201: Before You Put Anything Around Your Eyes…w/ Rachael Pontillo

Healthy Skin Show 276: Dupixent Eye Side Effects: What's Going On? {RESEARCH} w/ Dr. Roselie Achten


312: Castor Oil Benefits For Eyelashes + Eyebrows (Do's + Don'ts) w/ Dr. Carly Rose FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer Fugo (00:08.54)
Welcome, Dr. Rose, back to the Healthy Skin Show. I'm so excited to have you back again talking about this, like, kind of crazy viral TikTok trend. But thank you so much for being here and being willing to dive into the whole castor oil and eye issue.

Carly (00:25.53)
You are so welcome. Thanks for having me. I'm super excited. I feel like we could talk for hours about this. So I'm very excited about it.

Jennifer Fugo (00:33.204)
Well, one thing that's fascinating is that this trend has taken off online. So basically, I notice this even in other videos on the healthy skin show that we have on like YouTube. For some reason, they started getting this enormous number of downloads and watches and all sorts of stuff. I'm like, what the heck is going on? And then I happen to see some videos online of people swearing that castor oil is like this thing, this thing now that everybody's using around the eyes and being, everyone knows, I think, at this point in time, my dad was an ophthalmologist and an eye surgeon, so I'm always a little hesitant when people are like, oh, it's okay, put it on your eyes. I'm like, well, hold on a second.

Carly (01:19.524)

Jennifer Fugo (01:20.736)
The eyes are pretty delicate. So let's actually have a conversation about this. So let's talk first about castor oil specifically. Can you tell us a little bit about what it is, where it comes from and what exactly this trend is?

Carly (01:36.402)
Yeah, so I'm the same way. I was totally surprised. I've actually been talking about and working with castor oil with my patients for a little while, and then out of nowhere, I will never understand virality. If we could predict virality, right? Castor oil is having its moment. It is pressed from castor beans, and the main active ingredient is ricinoleic acid. So that's really what everyone's talking about, and I agree with you, I love the hesitation. Don't just put things in your eyes because you see them online, please. But this one is relatively safe and it's something that myself, I've been recommending to a lot of my dry eye patients for years. My local oculoplastic surgeon also recommends it to his patients. It is already in a lot of eye drops, over the counter eye drops and prescription eye drops. It's a carrier vehicle for some of the dry eye meds we have available to us. So I'm quite familiar with it. So when it went viral, and it's funny because when it went viral, I gave my two cents like short and sweet. And all of the comments were like, Oh, she's jumping on the bandwagon because it's having its viral moment. I'm like, I've been talking about castor oil for a little while, but okay, it's funny. It's funny how these things work.

Jennifer Fugo (02:58.612)
It is, it is. And I think part of my hesitation and my sort of fear, and this was like drilled into me by my dad, who he had seen so many patients who put stuff on or around their eyes where it then that goes, right, we don't, we're like, oh, well, it couldn't possibly go in your eyes. He was like, assume everything you put around your eyes in the orbital area is gonna go in your eyes. That's basically how you should assume it. So you really need to know that whatever you're putting in that area is safe. So, I'm glad to hear that this is one thing that we don't have to be terrified of. So that's number one.

Carly (03:34.858)
Yes, yes, we don't have to be terrified of it. We'll talk about what to look for, what to do, how to use it, but yes, not terrified.

Jennifer Fugo (03:43.496)
Yes. And number two, is it really magical? Because everybody's TikTok videos that I'm seeing, they're like raving as if it's this right cure all thing. So set, let us set the record straight.

Carly (03:58.758)
Yes, it's definitely not. I believe in the body's ability to heal. So I always want to believe that something as simple as castor oil could be the answer. Unfortunately, I know firsthand that it's not. There are still quite a few of my patients that are sensitive to it. It burns them. They're too dry. It's kind of like when your hands are so dry, you put lotion on and it burns.

It could be the same thing or you could have a reaction to it or it just doesn't move the needle a lot. So it's not the cure-all that we all wish it was, but it is helpful. And there are scientific studies about how it's beneficial. For me, what I use it with is dry eye. That's my specialty. And there are quite a bit of studies about how it helps stabilize the tear film and it has my antimicrobial properties and it can help with blepharitis and it can help with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) So it's helpful. It's a tool in the toolbox. It's not one of my most powerful tools.

Jennifer Fugo (05:03.972)
I appreciate the realism here because again, we don't, I think everybody wants, you know, I get clients that'll be like, oh, I read about this one amino acid and I read that it can do all of these things. And I'm like, well, realistically, no, a lot of those, you know, no, it's not as magical as we read a lot of times and oftentimes it's complicated by other factors. So for somebody listening to this who maybe has like a lot of allergy or rashy issues around the eye, would the rest of this, like the use of castor oil around the eyes, would you need to be careful at all, or could it still be okay for your patients that have those type of issues?

Carly (05:46.862)
No, and sometimes those are the patients I actually use it for. Really dry irritated eyelids, morning dryness, okay put castor oil on your lids and lashes right before you go to bed, it'll help. It's kind of like the really thick lotion before you go to bed and just help, it just helps moisturize throughout the night. I do that a lot with various different products, not just castor oil, but I think it could help reestablish that skin barrier on really irritated eyes, especially because we can't use some of the traditional eczema creams on the eyes, right? So it is a good option.

Jennifer Fugo (06:25.2)
Okay, so that being said, I have read about this, the castor oils, the castor oil for use on the eyelashes and some people are saying it helps, some people say it doesn't. What exactly do you find the castor oil aside from the dry eye piece of it, the more trendy stuff? What is true? What can it possibly help with beyond dry eye?
Carly (06:51.126)
Beyond dry eye, so I know it's viral right now for lash and brow growth. And then there is a little bit of controversy about that because it's not proven to actually help grow hair. So my philosophy is, and actually I have a mentor that I, he's the most brilliant dry eye doc out there. And years and years and years ago, I was shadowing him and he said something along the lines of, A lot of your patients will see when you start treating their dry eye, their lashes start growing because you're taking care of this blepharitis, which is inflammation of the eyelids and that's going to lead to brittle lashes and lash loss. And that is actually one of my patient's most common complaints is that their lashes, they have focal lash loss, they have brittle lashes, they have short lashes. And what can they do about it to not exacerbate their dry eye. And so I have, basically I say healthy, happy lashes grow longer. And we have a variety of lash growth options in my clinic. And one of them is, I do often recommend just pure castor oil. And then one is castor oil with argan and coconut oil. And then one is like a medical grade, but not prostaglandin lash growth serum. So the way I describe it to my patients is this one with the castor oil, think of it like a hair conditioner. And this one with the growth serum, that's like Rogaine. And actually you can use them both, right?
And so if you think about it, an unhappy lash, if you're providing moisture and antifungal properties, antibacterial properties, anti-inflammatory properties, it's gonna be a happier lash. It's going to stick around longer, it will look fuller, it will look healthier, but it's not going to increase growth speed or decrease lash loss if that makes sense. So it's not gonna be like the Latisse's of the world, which I don't ever recommend. It's not like the Latisse's of the world, but it's more like, you know, healthy skin, you need to drink water. You need to do things like this. It's all part of the big picture. So I still say it is for lash growth, not in the traditional way of something like a Latisse.
Jennifer Fugo (09:13.079)
OK, and why do you mind sharing why you don't recommend Latisse for anybody who's being told about this by maybe their ophthalmologist? Right, it's FDA approved. So what would be a concern that you've seen?
Carly (09:35.546)
Most of the lash growth serums contain prostaglandin analogs, which cause inflammation. And my job as a dry eye doctor is to cut inflammation. And so what you'll start to notice with patients that do, I can pick patients out of a lineup who are using Latisse or any type of similar prostaglandin lash growth, you start to get the red, really red rims because you're just applying inflammation on your eyelids all day long. You get surface disruption, you get a lot of issues from the lash growth. It's like putting inflammation on your eyes twice a day.
Jennifer Fugo (10:15.824)
Oh boy, that does not, that doesn't sound good.
Carly (10:26.542)
I know. I don't love. I wish they would discontinue them because we have so many other great options. For example, clover extract and peptides and vitamin Bs, these all clinically grow your lashes, statistically. But we still have the prostaglandins.
Jennifer Fugo (10:38.752)
We are where we are with all of that. We could go down that rabbit hole, but to stay on topic with this, I do wanna know, because we may have some individuals who are, say, on glaucoma meds or other types of medications they're using on their eyes, is the castor oil counterproductive if you're on medication or if you wear contacts?
Carly (10:43.373)
Yes. Great questions. So always, when in doubt, always talk with your eye care provider, right? That's gonna be your best bet. But if you're cleared, you're good to go, and you just have these other questions, some tips. I always recommend washing your hands before you touch anywhere around your eyes. Make sure your eyes are really clean too. I think a lot of people forget that step. And when I say eyes are really clean, I like specially formulated eye washes, not just over the counter makeup removers or face wash, so we can go down that rabbit hole, too. But make sure your eyes are really clean, always. That's like brushing and flossing at night, please do this. And then wash your hands and apply. I recommend doing it your last step, or one of your last steps, because it's a pretty thick oil.
And just like your skincare products, you put on thinnest to thickest. Eye care products put on thinnest to thickest. If you're using other drops, wait at least five, 10, 15 minutes before you do the castor oil. And that's just kind of like my clinical gut instinct. There is not any research that I have found with the use of castor oil with other medications, but my thought process is it is so thick, it might hold too much med on there. And you don't want too much glaucoma med, I promise. So wait five, 10, 15 minutes before you do the castor oil. Make sure you have clean hands, clean eyes. And then contact lenses. There actually is a study out there that shows it's safe to use with contact lenses. However, I'm actually gonna be more conservative than that study and say, still take the contact lenses out. And this is for your benefit because it is such a thick oil. My thought process is that it can gum that lens up. It can stick to the lens. If you wear a re-wearable, you're going to have to do a deeper clean. It might degrade your vision. It's not going to damage the contact lens, but you might not love it. So take the contact lenses out. Do the castor oil right before bed.
Jennifer Fugo (13:10.84)
Okay, and are you rubbing it like under the eye, across the eyelid, over the brow? Like give us a little tutorial, yeah.
Carly (13:18.414)
What I do, because I have used castor oil on my lashes and brows for a while, and I also have dry eyes. So I actually use it for dry eye and all the aesthetics. It's a win-win. Wash my face, wash my eyes, wash my hands. I've done all the things, and I put a drop or two on my finger, close my eyes, and just kind of pat. How do I do this? I really get into the lashes and the brows and I'm pretty liberal with it. I'm pretty heavy-handed. I am fighting the hands of time every day and so if you're going to give me moisture throughout the night I'm pretty heavy handed. I don't rub too aggressively because that can cause wrinkles and aging and lid laxity and actually fun fact eye lid laxity is directly correlated with inflammation in the eyes so you really want structural eyelids for the health, not just the aesthetics. It's fascinating stuff. We could go down that rabbit hole too. So don't rub too aggressively, but really get into the base of the lashes. Make sure the lashes are coated, the brows, and I also pat all around my periorbital.
Jennifer Fugo (14:35.688)
And so I assume then the next morning, you're then gonna wipe all of this off.
Carly (14:40.586)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, the next morning I always do my morning skincare and I do my lid wash, which actually, my favorite lid wash is an oil-based and most of us know that oil dissolves oil, water doesn't take oil off nearly as well. So I do a drop or two of my oil cleanser rub and it just wipes right off. You can always, if you have some, like we said, it can get into the eye as well, but as long as it's not contaminated, that's safe. It's in these eye drops, it's in pharmaceuticals, but since it's so thick, it can cause blurry vision. So I've had quite a few patients say that they don't like it because they still feel blurry in the morning. If that's the case for you, you can get a regular preservative free artificial tear and pop a couple drops in and that'll help flush it out a little too.
Jennifer Fugo (15:32.16)
And so I assume just from like a safety standpoint, this is not going to be a bottle of castor oil where you are touching the rim like you should. My thought would be it's probably smart to not touch the oil like it drops into your hand or you use a dropper to try and maintain the cleanliness of the oil.
Carly (15:52.662)
Yes, absolutely. The ricinoleic acid has a lot of antiviral, antifungal… anti-everything properties. However, never touch your dropper bottles, never touch your bottles themselves. Eye drops included. And even when you uncap an eye drop, don't put the lid down on the table and then put it back on your bottle. That's something that a lot of people don't think about either. So I always hold the lid in one hand and then from the air, drop it onto my finger. Perfect point. Don't contaminate, don't cross contaminate.
Jennifer Fugo (16:30.372)
Okay. All right. Don't cont- And that's really important because the eyes, this was, this is another word of wisdom from my dad. The eyes are like an extension of your brain.
Carly (16:40.938)
We love Dad.
Jennifer Fugo (16:45.32)
And so we got to be real careful with that because I he always said to me He's like I wish that we were further along with all of the advancements with eyes that we are with some of the other- like we can replace heart valves we can do all these other things But the eyes can be kind of tricky because there's some things we cannot fix.
Carly (17:03.954)
It's neural tissue. It's neural tissue and the optic nerve is a direct path to the brain. You're so right. And if you think about it, we drain into our sinuses. It's all connected, sinuses, brain. And we take our vision for granted. Once it's gone, it's gone and you don't want something silly like a fungal infection taking your vision. It's so preventable.
Jennifer Fugo (17:27.06)
Yeah. And with castor oil, is there anyone who or any signs like if you were to apply it and say it started to burn? Are there any signs that this is maybe not for you?
Carly (17:42.15)
I would say what I get the most is it burns and that's usually because the skin barrier is disrupted and we have work to do on that and then also the blurry vision in the morning. Those are my two biggest things I find.
Jennifer Fugo (17:55.956)
Okay, so let's talk about how do we actually choose a good quality castor oil because that would be my next concern. I mean there's a lot of not great products out there. There's a lot of things on Amazon that are super duper cheap. Some might be good, some might not be good. How do you recommend patients actually pick a good quality castor oil?
Carly (18:18.65)
I always recommend organic, cold pressed, hexane free. Those three things and I'm pretty happy with it. And then time on the shelf. If you open the bottle make sure you don't keep it too long because they can turn rancid and then that's the opposite effects of what you want. Then you're going to get all the inflammation and all the not great things that we're trying to fight. So cold pressed, organic, hexane free. I like smaller bottles not big bottles because then less chance of them going bad.
Jennifer Fugo (18:47.656)
And in terms of how long it could be open for, would you say maybe right, you could even take a Sharpie and write on the bottle, like the date you open it and maybe, like what would be the timeframe? Three months, six months, 12 months?
Carly (19:00.086)
That's a great idea. Most of these products will have a use within, let me see if I have any products around me. They most all have a shelf life on their bottles. I don't have a bottle of castor oil with me, but I burn through mine much quicker than that, so if you're using it regularly with the small bottle, you should be fine, but I would say six months should be fine. I don't know. I don't want to say the answer on that one. Should be on the bottle. Use it before. Yeah.

Jennifer Fugo (19:33.952)
Yeah, so it's not a product like where you're like, oh, I'm still going through this bottle two years later. Start with a small bottle if it's for the eyes specifically. And it sounds like too, if you're using castor oil for castor oil packs and other things, you should have a separate bottle for that.

Carly (19:49.934)
Very good point. I didn't even think about that. I'm gonna start talking with my patients about that. So thank you for bringing that up. Keep its own little bottle. Don't cross contaminate with the other parts of the body. Have one just for your eyes and brows.

Jennifer Fugo (20:02.192)
Awesome. Yeah, like I said, there were some things that I little tidbits of things I picked up from my dad.

Carly (20:10.518)
That's amazing.

Jennifer Fugo (20:11.624)
And it's unfortunately learned from watching the things that happen to other people that are extremely painful and that can be very debilitating. And so those are the things that stick with you and why I like to talk about this so much. I'm really glad that we could kind of set the record straight and help everybody who is searching for this information because clearly they are not just on TikTok.

Carly (20:38.846)
I know. And you know, one other thing I just thought of as we're chatting, one thing I like to do with castor oil too that we didn't even mention, I have a handful of patients that are intolerant to mascaras, but they still wanna look like they have something going on. I often recommend the individual spoolies, right? Like a mascara spoolie, you can buy these online in huge bulk.

So if they can't wear mascara but they want something for their lashes in the morning, I will say put a little bit, curl your lash, put a little on the spoolie and use that in place of mascara. And it really does, it makes it look great. I know it might ruin the rest of your makeup if you have other makeup on. So keep that in mind. I usually do very, I do that myself with like a no makeup look. I love it.

Jennifer Fugo (21:27.948)
Well, I mean, these types of hacks and little tips are important. And I just thought, since you have talked so much about castor oil and the fact that it's actually used in other eye drops, it's really fascinating that this is one of those trends that actually isn't total garbage. So I love it. And I just want to thank you so much for being here. We had a great conversation too in our previous episode about dry eyes. So for anybody who's looking for more information on that. I will link that up in the show notes. And then how can everybody find you? I know that you do work with patients.

Carly (21:44.586)
We love it.

Carly (22:03.238)
Oh, yeah, so I'm in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have two practices. One is called Eye Care on the Square. It's primary care, myopia control. We could talk about that sometime. It's fascinating. But where I am right now is my dry eye med spa. So we have a mixture of dry, it's called Clear Eyes and Aesthetics. We have a mixture of dry eye, skincare. As you see, these things cannot be separated. And we have a website, so theclearexperience.com, eyecareonthesquare.com, and then all of our social handles. So I'm on Instagram, is DrRoseTalks, theclearexperience, eyecareonthesquare, and then I'm on TikTok is just DoctorRose all spelled out.

Jennifer Fugo (22:49.096)
Yeah, and we'll link up to every little spot that people can connect with you and find. I know, how can we not find you?

Carly (22:52.514)
How can you not find me, right? How can you not find me at this point?

Jennifer Fugo (22:56.856)
I know. Well, thank you so much for coming back on the show. I deeply appreciate it. And I love how interested you are in helping people know that there are more options than just the medical drug options. There's other things that they can do and also having that awareness. Because like you said, your eyesight we take for granted. We take for granted eyesight until there's a problem, until it's gone, or until we start developing eye pain and other symptoms that you can't just simply blow off and that is not fun. And so I deeply appreciate your realism. You're so real, you're so incredibly honest. You're interested in this kind of stuff. And I just, I'm so glad that you're willing to be a part of the healthy skin show family.

Carly (23:43.466)
The conversation, I love it. Thank you for having me, I'm super excited. I want to empower my patients. I also, I want them to know that just because you're intolerant to mascara doesn't mean you can't feel beautiful. Like there are options that are healthy and safe and make you feel good inside and out.

Jennifer Fugo (24:01.093)
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Rose.

Carly (24:03.266)
Thank you.

"I have used castor oil on my lashes and brows for a while, and I also have dry eyes. So I actually use it for dry eye and all the aesthetics. It's a win-win."