Wellness Encyclopedia: Neem Oil

Turns out the same oil you might be slathering on your plants to keep pests at bay is also worth slathering on your face, scalp, skin and hair to relieve dry skin…

Fall really is the coziest time of year, but crackling woodstoves, blustery November days, and hissing radiators have their downsides, a big one being dry skin. As much as I love living in the Northeast, where we get to experience four distinct, mostly gorgeous seasons, I’m not as excited about constantly battling seasonal shifts in my skin. One day it looks great, but a drop in temperature the next can leave it looking and feeling parched, causing me to dash to the market in search of a new oil to slather myself in. To say I’m a skin oil devotee would be a vast understatement… little bottles and tiny vials line my medicine cabinet, some for spring, lighter oils for summer. And for fall and winter? I call in the big guns. A recent favorite of mine has been neem oil. Yep, neem oil! Turns out the same oil you might be slathering on your plants to keep pests at bay is also worth slathering on your face, scalp, skin and hair to relieve dry skin. I picked up a bottle of pure, 100% organic neem oil at the health food store recently, and it’s been an incredible addition to my routine. Learn more about this gorgeous oil below, and how to use it to revitalize your hair, skin and scalp!


What is neem oil? Pressed from the seeds of the neem tree, an evergreen tree native to India, neem oil has long been prized for its antifungal and antibacterial properties. Most commonly recognized for its use in organic pest control, neem oil is also an incredible addition to your skin and hair routine, thanks to its high levels of antioxidants, vitamin E and triglycerides. When purchasing neem oil, always be sure to choose a cold pressed, unrefined, 100% organic neem oil. It should appear cloudy (if you can see it through the dark glass bottle) and should smell somewhere between garlic and peanuts. Hey, I never said it smelled amazing… but the good news is it’s easy to mask with your favorite essential oils. A few drops of citrusy bergamot or classic lavender (or almost any other combination) makes this oil smell just as luxurious as it feels.


What are the benefits of neem oil? Often used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat skin diseases, neem oil has powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties making it a good candidate as an alternative treatment for eczema, athlete’s foot and acne. In fact, neem’s aspirin-like qualities can reduce redness and kill bacteria on the skin, allowing it to heal while reducing inflammation. The essential fatty acids, antioxidants and triglycerides present in neem oil also make it an incredible healer for dry skin, while the vitamin E present in neem can even restore elasticity and promote collagen production, making it a good choice for those suffering from severely dry or aging skin.


How do I use neem oil? Always be sure to choose 100% organic, 100% neem oil. Neem oil can be used…

— To treat dry skin. Apply it directly to skin or mix with a carrier oil and essential oils to mask the smell.

— As a hair mask (see recipe below)

— To treat ailing houseplants. Simply mix a little neem with warm water and some organic dish soap and gently rinse your plants to prevent mites, aphids, and other pests.

— As a scalp treatment. Massage neem into scalp and allow to soak in.

— To treat eczema, athlete’s foot and other skin ailments. Apply neem with a cotton ball and allow to soak in.

Neem Hair Oil Treatment


1 part neem oil

1 part extra virgin olive oil

2-3 drops essential oil of choice (I like bergamot, rose and lavender)

In a small bowl, mix together the neem oil, olive oil and essential oils. Oil may be stored in a dark glass bottle in a cool dry place for up to six months.

To apply as a mask: Comb oil mixture through dry hair to completely cover. Massage into scalp if desired. Wrap with a clean towel and allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Wash and condition hair as you normally would.

To apply as a hair oil: Rub a few drops of the oil mixture between your palms to warm it up. Apply to the ends of your hair and allow to soak in.

+ How do you use neem oil?

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So how do you mask that smell?

If you never bought or use Nem Oil beware because it smells really bad and intense, I can’t imagine using it in my hair or face. That said, years ago I had an infection/fungus in one of nails on my foot and I treated it with drops of neem oil and tea tree oil and they are amazing oils!

Neem not nem!

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