The beauty world is primarily divided into two sections. One that favors cutting-edge innovations and the use of powerful chemicals to get rid of skin conditions like acne, blemishes, and scars. And the other that still believes in the simplicity of ancient, natural remedies. For those who belong to the latter category, the choices are enormous. One such skin care superfood from the Indian kitchen is Neem oil. For ages, neem oil has been regarded as a wonder drug by the Indian Ayurveda system for its wide range of skincare benefits ranging from acne-clearing and scar fading to checking premature aging. But before you decide to make this mysterious, exotic oil your new best friend, there are a few things you should know.
What is Neem Oil?
Neem oil is derived from the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree, indigenous to India and Myanmar. In Sanskrit, neem means ‘bestower of good health.’ In more scientific terms, neem oil has been found to contain palmitic, linoleic, and oleic acids, all of which are beneficial for healthy skin. In addition, flavonoids and polyphenols – which impart antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties – have been found in high amounts in neem leaves.
But here, we must clear one thing: unlike other natural oils like coconut oil, neem oil should not be ingested orally. It is only meant to be used externally on the skin and hair.
Unique Properties of Neem Oil
Because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, neem oil works magically against skin irritations like pimples, eczema, and dermatitis (1). It also helps reduce acne, treats blemishes, and evens out the complexion. But what exactly does this wonder liquid has that makes it so potent? Let’s find out!
- Neem oil contains vitamin E, which makes it work against scars and helps keep the skin looking youthful.
- It also contains a compound known as nimbidin, which helps in clearing out acne.
- Carotenoids present in neem oil work against hyperpigmentation.
- An important thing to remember here is that pure neem oil is powerful and has an overpowering garlic-like smell. This is the main reason that most of the commercially available neem oils are generally diluted with carrier oils like sesame, jojoba, or almond oil.
- It is recommended to do a patch test of neem oil on your hand before applying it to the face and neck.
12 interesting Benefits of Neem Oil for Skin and Hair
Benefits of Neem Oil for Skin
1. Prevents Acne and Breakouts
Neem oil has excellent antiseptic and antibacterial properties, making it a top pick in facial cleansers and creams meant for acne-prone skin. It can act as a long-term acne treatment – by working as a spot treatment for pimples and preventing future breakouts.
Beauty experts believe that neem oil not only acts against acne-causing bacteria but also tightens the pores and improves the texture of the skin. Neem oil also contains certain chemical compounds, which are almost similar to aspirin and hence, can destroy acne-causing bacteria.
2. Prevents Premature Aging
Neem oil can work as a great anti-aging product. This is because it increases collagen production in the skin, which is required to keep the skin looking youthful and plump. Unfortunately, as we age, collagen decreases in the skin, causing wrinkles and fine lines.
Neem oil is also loaded with powerful antioxidants, which protect our body from harmful free radicals and environmental factors. It also contains high amounts of vitamins and essential fatty acids, which means that it gets easily absorbed in the skin. The result is smooth, blemish-free, and youthful skin.
3. Moisturizes Dry Skin
If you suffer from dry, itchy skin, neem oil can help you a lot by moisturizing it deeply. The essential fatty acids present in this oil make it an excellent moisturizer and help you get rid of flakiness, cracks, and freckles. Regular use of neem oil also maximizes the benefits of other skincare products, giving you healthy, even-toned skin.
4. Clears Up Pigmentation
Neem oil also helps reduce post-acne scars. The anti-inflammatory properties of neem oil help minimize skin irritation and redness from sun damage. The essential fatty acids present in the oil heal the skin tissue from within, and as a result, the skin becomes free from pimples, redness, and scars.
Experts believe that regular application of neem oil can regulate the abnormal production of melanin pigment in the skin, thereby reducing dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Regular usage of neem oil adds a natural glow to the skin.
5. Helps Fight Eczema
Although neem oil cannot completely cure eczema, it can help ease its symptoms. This is because Neem oil has great antiseptic properties, which reduce the spread of infection. In addition, being rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E, neem oil works on the deepest layer of the skin without affecting its protective barrier. This helps retain the natural moisture content of the skin.
This oil also contains nimbin and nimbidin, which reduce redness, swelling, inflammation and fasten the healing.
6. Treats Fungal Infections
Neem oil is also considered an effective treatment for fungal infections of the skin. This oil contains nimbidol and gedunin, which add to its antifungal properties. Neem oil has been found to work against as many as 14 different cultures of fungi. It can even heal diseases like athlete’s foot, nail infection, etc.
Read Also – 25 Health Benefits Of Neem
Benefits of Neem Oil for Hair
7. Reduces Dandruff
Neem oil helps in maintaining the standard pH level of our scalp. It keeps the scalp healthy by treating issues like dryness, itchiness, psoriasis, etc. Dandruff is primarily caused by fungi known as Candida and Malassezia. The antifungal properties of neem oil help reduce the growth of these fungi. Regular usage of this oil can minimize all these problems, eventually giving us dandruff-free locks.
8. Controls Frizzy Hair
If you have dry, rough, and frizzy hair, try a neem oil massage or add a few drops of the oil to your regular shampoo. Neem oil acts as a natural conditioner for rough and unmanageable locks and makes them silky smooth.
9. Cures Scalp Infections
The many healing properties of neem oil, like anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, making it a magical solution for hair. It controls the secretion of sebum and works well against both dry as well as oily scalp. It also has a cooling and soothing effect.
10. Stimulates Hair Growth
Dandruff or any other disease of the scalp can lead to hair fall. Regular application of neem oil helps control a wide range of these issues and promotes healthy hair.
11. Cures Head Lice
Neem oil contains a natural insecticidal ingredient – azadirachtin – which kills head lice by controlling their growth and reproduction. In addition, neem oil has a pungent smell that repels lice. Apply neem oil all over the scalp and leave overnight. Use it regularly for good results.
12. Controls Premature Graying
Graying of hair is a natural process, but sometimes it can happen prematurely because of hormonal imbalances. Regular application of Neem oil can help control premature graying. But this oil can only delay or prevent graying and doesn’t affect hair that has already turned gray.
Neem oil can cause an adverse reaction in people with sensitive skin. In a rare situation, neem oil can cause an allergic reaction like hives, rash, or difficulty in breathing. Therefore, it is always recommended to do a patch test for this oil on a small part of the skin and wait 24 hours. (2) Neem oil should never be taken orally. It is also not recommended to be used in pregnant women and young children.
Neem oil has myriad benefits for skin and hair from treating acne to reducing dandruff. Neem oil has great antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a magical drug for a range of skin and hair issues. However, neem oil should never be taken orally. It can cause an adverse reaction in people with sensitive skin.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
With so many options available in the market, which neem oil to choose?
Always look for pure and organic, cold-pressed neem oil. Its process of production greatly determines the quality and effectiveness of neem oil.
What is the best way of using neem oil for skin and hair?
Neem oil can be applied directly to the skin and hair as it doesn’t have any harmful effects. However, it is always recommended to do a patch test before starting with regular use. In addition, since this oil has a powerful smell and can be harsh for people with sensitive skin, it is recommended to dilute neem oil with equal amounts of coconut oil or sweet almond oil.
Can neem oil be used throughout the year?
Yes, it can be used at any time of the year. However, try diluting it with a carrier oil as discussed earlier.
How often can neem oil be used on hair?
Try a neem oil massage every alternate day. Wash with a mild shampoo after thirty minutes.