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: