What’s in a Neem?…Everything your skin and hair could ever ask for!

Neem is that seemingly omnipresent ingredient which can rejuvenate your hair and skin.


Getting acquainted with Neem

Neem or Azadirachta indica. Not only is that a complex sounding name reminiscent of the names of Arabian Nights characters, but its etymological roots can also be traced to arrive at “Free Tree of India”. (Azad= Free, Dirakht=tree, indica=India). There couldn’t be a more apt name for it!

Neem grows freely in most parts of India, and different parts of the neem tree can be used to treat the most persistent of ailments effectively. And if you have a neem tree in your yard, this treatment is for free! Here’s what the leaf, twig, and fruit of neem looks like:

Source: E.N. Biomedical

Source: E.N. Biomedical

Pay special attention to how the margins of the leaf are serrated and how each branch has one unpaired leaf right at the tip.

Neem oil

Neem is called a “miracle plant” because the oil obtained from pressed neem seed kernels show miraculously effective results when applied on the skin and hair.

Skin

Neem oil works wonders for both dry skin as well as for oily skin. With dry skin, it acts as a moisturizer and replenishes the skin with Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. When too many oil droplets clog up the pores on the skin, neem oil unleashes its antibacterial power and clears up the infection. Hence, it can also be tapped into for the treatment of acne.

The use of neem oil has gone one step further to treat major skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis and scabies. Scabies mites, though resistant to a number of pesticides, have not yet found a way to develop resistance to neem oil, so bonus points to neem for being long-lasting and consistent in the efficacy of its action.

Neem oil is an ingredient used in soaps, which makes it more convenient for use when compared to pure neem oil because of its pungent smell.

Here are some points to keep in mind while buying neem soap:

  • Not all “neem soaps” have neem oil in a form that is good for you. Neem oil that is extracted with solvents may have traces of these solvents as remnants. This can be harmful and counteracts the positive effects of neem oil. It is important to look for cold-pressed neem oil to avoid the presence of solvents.
  • Some brands may simply add a little bit of neem oil to the soap and call it a neem-based soap. It is important that you check the label to see what the percentage of neem oil present in the soap is. Anywhere between a 20%-40% concentration would make the soap effective.
  • If you want an authentic experience with neem oil based soaps, look for specialised, handcrafted soaps because these use fresh, organic ingredients to be of value as a healthy and skin-friendly product. (source)

Hair

Just like it works with skin, neem oil treats the scalp in case of dryness. It removes dandruff and has also been found to control the symptoms of psoriasis. Neem oil also stimulates hair follicle growth and keeps the roots of the hair strong, preventing hair loss. Traditionally, it has also been used to prevent the greying of hair.

To get rid of hair lice, it is necessary to use either undiluted neem oil or neem oil in very high concentration. A study has found that even a ten minute application of a high concentration of neem oil is sufficient to kill all the larvae, eggs, and motile forms, after a single treatment. (source)

Neem leaf extracts contain the same component as neem oil, known as Azadirachtin, and can be used as a substitute for neem oil. Azadirachtin is the chemical that is responsible for neem’s antibacterial, antifungal, and pesticidal properties.

Neem oil and neem leaf extracts are ingredients that can be applied on the hair in the following ways

  1. Massaging it directly into the hair (it has a pungent odour)
  2. Mixing it with essential oils to disguise the sulphurous smell and then using it as a hair oil.
  3. Using it as an ingredient (remember: 20%-40% concentration) for shampoos. It is suggested that you keep neem oil in a flask with a dropper. Every time you use your regular shampoo, add a few drops of the neem oil to your shampoo.

DIYs

Face Pack

CC source: www.boldsky.com

CC source: www.boldsky.com

You can make your own face pack using neem leaves in a few simple steps:

  1. Collect some fresh neem leaves, and clean them well with water.
  2. Place the leaves in a mortar, or in a ceramic bowl and add some mildly hot water.
  3. Using the pestle, grind the leaves into a paste (resembling chutney!). Add some more water if necessary to help in grinding.
  4. Once the paste is obtained, it is ready for application.
  5. Apply it gently onto your face, and wait for it to dry.
  6. Once the paste is dry, rinse it off with cold water and allow your face to air dry. (Source)

Hair Oil

You can also watch this video to learn how to infuse coconut oil with neem oil in order to relieve dry scalp, stop hair-fall, and to have stronger, more lustrous hair.

(Start from 5:05 onwards)

Soap

Making your own neem soap is a bit time-consuming, but well worth the effort.

  1. Buy a block of glycerine (preferably made with pure vegetable oil) from your local store or purchase it online.
  2. Cut a chunk of it to a size that is suited for your need. Weigh the chunk that you have cut.
  3. Using a measuring cup, measure out neem oil that weighs 20% of the weight of the glycerine slab that you’re using.
  4. Using a microwave, heat the glycerine chunks gently while stirring regularly until the slab melts. Check regularly to make sure that overheating does not take place.
  5. Pour the neem oil and other essential oils of your choice onto the melted glycerine.
  6. Stir the solution well.
  7. Pour the melted concoction into molds (you can use PVC pipes, empty soda bottles as long as it has a closed and sealed end, or learn how to make a customized mold) and wait for it to set. You can store it in a freezer for anywhere between an 30-60 minutes to get your finished neem soap.

Source I II III  IV

The Natural Beauty and Wellness Hub is our journey into discovering ideas for personal care that are natural, free of harsh chemicals and over-processing, are non-polluting and fair to everyone involved in the process, just as much as it is an inquiry into the idea of beauty and wellness itself. All content on the hub is produced with 100% editorial independence by The Alternative. 

 

The Hub is supported by  logo st that produces a line of organic certified skin care solutions made with natural ingredients and eco-friendly processes and in true Ayurvedic tradition. SoulTree® is India’s first and the only range of certified natural beauty & personal care products crafted from natural origin ingredients, using natural oils and carefully selected Ayurvedic herbs which are grown organically or wild-crafted in the Himalayas and through strictly regulated processes to ensure that synthetic and harmful ingredients do not make their way intothe products. Every SoulTree product comes in a recyclable packaging. Their products and processes can be found on www.soultree.in.


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