Neem oil — chances are you’ve never heard of it. But it’s actually been around for a long time with proven benefits for your skin.
Derived from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree, people have been using neem oil on their skin and hair for centuries. The trees grow mainly in the Indian subcontinent.
Neem oil is rich in fatty acids, such as palmitic, linoleic and oleic acids, which help support healthy skin.
The leaf of the plant also provides health benefits because it contains plant compounds called flavonoids and polyphenols, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Also, neem oil contains azadirachtin, a natural pesticide.
A 2017 study found that the oil was effective in treating wrinkles, skin redness and water loss. Researchers also found that the extract boosted levels of a collagen-producing enzyme called procollagen and a protein called elastin.
Another study in 2019 found that soaps containing extracts of neem leaf or neem bark prevented the growth of several strains of bacteria.
For dandruff, you can add a few drops of neem oil right into a handful of shampoo before working it into your scalp. Neem oil already is found in many dandruff shampoos because it is a natural anti-fungal.
Neem oil is packed with elements that benefit the skin like vitamin E and essential fatty acids, making it a great natural way to fight dryness.
Research shows it penetrates deeply, healing cracks that occur from severe dryness and locking in moisture. Just add a few drops of neem oil into your favorite lotion or coconut oil before applying.
Because it stimulates collagen production, this will also improve elasticity, and its high vitamin E content also helps prevent free radicals from harming your skin.
As an added benefit, neem oil’s antibacterial properties make for a great acne treatment. Use a cotton swab to apply neem oil directly to breakouts.
Make sure you are using organic, cold-pressed neem oil. It should have a cloudy, yellow-brown color and a strong odor (akin to garlic and sulfur). But don’t worry, that won’t last.
It can be potent, so be sure to test it on a small patch of skin before using it extensively, just in case. Mix a few drops of neem oil with water or liquid soap. Apply the mixture to a small area of skin on your arm. If the spot becomes red, inflamed or itchy, stop using it.