Reading beauty product labels is fun, isn’t it? At best, you can rejoice if your label is filled with recognizable and good-for-you ingredients free from harmful synthetics. On the other hand, you can also boost your Words With Friends arsenal with all the complicated letter arrangements of synthetic chemicals. But there’s something to be said for keeping simple (both in ingredients and in Scrabble!). Enter: Neem, the ancient Ayurvedic skincare wonder ingredient.
If you’ve never heard of neem before, you’re not alone. This beauty multitasker has been flying under the radar for far too long. At least, here in the U.S. In countries like India, neem is a regular old superstar loved for its many powerful benefits for skin, hair, and even oral hygiene.
So, what is neem oil?
A tree member of the mahogany family, neem is also known as Indian lilac. It grows throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and in the southern region of Iran, where it’s used for more than just glowing skin – it repels mosquitoes, keeps bugs out of pantries, and was even rumored to be used against malaria and leprosy (though we recommend seeking professional medical help immediately should you find yourself with symptoms of either).
Neem has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for ages, primarily for treating chronic skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, which can be notoriously persistent and irritating. But it’s also treasured for daily skin care maintenance and protection from environmental damage.
Neem oil is pressed from the leaves of the neem tree and contains high levels of antioxidants apt at fighting free radical damage. Carotenoids found in neem may protect against premature ageing of the skin, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s also an excellent source of fatty acids as well as vitamin E – a known skin powerhouse nutrient. Both boost skin’s elasticity and overall health.
Neem may also help reduce or prevent acne breakouts and lessen healing time as well. Because neem oil is a potent antibacterial agent, it can reduce the presence of acne-causing bacteria. The fatty acids in neem also help to improve the healing process and reduce redness and scarring.
Regular use of neem in skin care (and hair care!) can leave the face (and scalp) smoother and younger looking.
Want to give neem a try? Check out our neem skin and haircare faves:
Calendula and Neem Bar Soap
Neem and Bay Leaf Shampoo
In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with options for pretty much everything, managing your go-to beauty must-haves can be a tall order. But be sure to add neem to the list—even if you’ve never heard of it–because this ingredient is a full-on game-changer.
Like many botanicals, neem has a long history of use for numerous health benefits. Prized in India for its external and internal benefits, neem is nothing short of a miracle of nature.
Native to Southeast Asia, neem has been used as antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial agent, as well as a contraceptive and a sedative. When applied topically, typically as the pressed oil of the neem plant, it holds many natural benefits for skin, scalp, and hair.
Neem Uses and Benefits
- Reduces Acne: While there’s no miracle acne cure, neem might be rather close. It’s loaded with vitamin C, which can help in clearing up skin problems like pimples. Because of its antibacterial properties, it may help to heal acne and prevent outbreaks as well.
- Balances Oil: Seems like no matter what the weather, our skin can get oily for no reason. Neem may be effective in balancing oil production by controlling sebum production, preventing that extra shine.
- Balances Dryness: Just like it can help prevent oil, it can also help to restore oil, or moisture to the skin for those who experience excessive dryness (especially on the scalp).
- Skin lightening: Acne scars, redness, etc can all leave the skin discolored. Using a powdered neem concoction applied like a face mask (with a little water) may help to speed the healing of discolored skin.
- Relieve skin conditions: Eczema, psoriasis, and infections on the skin are no fun and should be addressed with a medical professional. But adding neem-oil containing products may help to relieve the itching and scarring associated with such conditions.
- Reduce dark eye circles: Because of neem’s skin lightening effects, it may help to balance the pigmentation under the eyes where some are prone to dark circles.
- Hair miracle?: Hair loves neem, and it seems, neem loves hair just as much. Not only is it an effective conditioner, but it enhances your hair growth (really!) and can treat numerous scalp issues (buh-bye, dandruff!). Simply massage a small amount of neem oil into the scalp and hair.
Check out our favorite neem products:
Calendula & Neem
Neem & Bay Leaf
image: dinesh valke