Neem oil! What the who? Derived from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree, a plant indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, neem oil is a long-kept Indian beauty/health secret. I remember my grandmother’s neem tree and how often she’d use its leaves/oil for both cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Neem is jam-packed with fatty acids, antioxidants, and its benefits include being an anti-inflammatory, an antiseptic, an antibacterial, an anti-fungal, and an anti-viral. I typically use it for topical cosmetic and medicinal purposes. I would recommend purchasing an organic, cold-pressed, unrefined variety. As with everything, please patch test to ensure you don’t have a reaction!
Here are the top 5 ways I use neem oil:
HAIR MASK – Neem is extraordinarily rich in fatty acids and antioxidants; it also has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral properties. Given that it’s packed with all of this goodness, not only does it nourish your hair and promote hair growth, it also keeps your scalp healthy. I typically dilute neem oil (up to 10-20% neem oil) with a carrier oil (jojoba, sesame, avocado, etc) before applying it to my scalp. It works wonders as a weekly mask, as it nourishes my thick, dry hair! Neem does have a particularly pungent smell, so be warned that it might take a few shampoos to get rid of the scent.
BUG REPELLANT SPRAY – Neem oil is a great bug repellant for both indoor and outdoor uses. As a biopesticide used in organic farming, it keeps everything from aphids to mites to beetles away. As a household pesticide, it can be used on bugs including ants, bedbugs, termites, and mosquitos. It also works against mildew and fungi. Be sure to dilute your neem oil for this purpose; for a gallon of water, you only need to add about an ounce of neem oil to make a 1% solution.
MINOR CUTS AND SCRAPES AND BUG BITES – Clean the affected area and add a drop or two to the scrape/bite. Neem’s aspirin-like anti-inflammatory qualities will help relieve itch, pain, and swelling!
ACNE SCARS – Neem oil is great for acne, given its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Use it as a spot treatment (diluted) and remember that a little goes a long way! And while I don’t suffer from these conditions, it has also been known to help psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea.
ANTI-AGING – I love using neem oil for anti-aging benefits. I mix a drop or two with jojoba oil and pat onto my face. It has definitely helped my fine lines, and its anti-inflammatory properties help manage my ultra-sensitive, combination skin.