Neem as a Natural Cosmetic

Protecting and Rejuvenating Skin

Skin aging depends on a variety of factors, including lifestyle, diet and genetics, though one factor remains consistent – the impact of drier and less elastic skin on our appearance. Neem contains 4x the level of antioxidants found in cranberries, blueberries and artichokes, thoroughly limiting the production of skin-damaging free radicals. The high vitamin E, fatty acid and emollient content of its oil improves elasticity and reduces wrinkles while moisturizing the skin.[1].

Known for removing impurities and tightening pores, neem-based skin care products are now offered by cosmetic brands such as L’Oreal, Garnier, Avon, Shiseido and Dr. Hauschka

Relieving the Symptoms of Acne:

Acne Vulgaris (acne) is the most common skin disease in the world; it affects 80% of people aged between 11 to 30 years old [2].  

There is no cure for acne but quercetin (an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory compound found in neem oil) has been found to relieve symptoms by reducing the level of bacteria in the skin while soothing redness and inflammation. This was demonstrated in a clinical trial by the Reddy Memorial College of Pharmacy in India and published in the Journal of Acute Diseases in 2013.

A major benefit of using neem to treat acne is that its non-toxicity ensures there are no unwanted side effects, a consequence of many chemical alternatives. For example, Roche’s Accutane, a once popular ‘miracle cure’ for acne, was withdrawn from sale in the US as it was associated with causing birth defects, miscarriages and mental health issues [3].

Relieving the Symptoms of Eczema:

Atopic Dermatities (eczema) is a recurring, non-infectious and inflammatory skin condition that affects 1 in 10 people in the world today[4].

Characterized by topical rashes all over the body, eczema typically starts in childhood and can often resurface later on in life. Neem, with its antiseptic properties and high Vitamin E content, restores the skin’s protective barrier and effectively soothes the symptoms of eczema.

In a scholarly review conducted by the Kolkata Institute of Chemical Biology and published in June 2002 by ‘Current Science’, neem oil was shown to have a wide spectrum of antibacterial action against 14 different strains of pathogenic bacteria.

Strengthening Hair and Stimulating Growth

Hair loss affects two-thirds of men by the time they reach 35 years old, and by age 50 the percentage increases to 85% [5]. Factors responsible range from genetics to stress, while the inevitability of the aging process will also see the quality of hair deteriorate over time.

Neem oil, when applied to the scalp, improves blood circulation and boosts the immune system. Proven to reduce hair loss, neem also enhances the rate of hair growth [6]. The linoleic, oleic and stearic acids in neem nourish and condition hair to restore its natural texture.

Reducing Dandruff

Neem oil helps to maintain the scalp’s natural pH level of 4.5-5.5, serving as a protective mechanism by inhibiting the incidence of dandruff while also reducing its severity. Clear relief after applying a neem remedy was demonstrated in a clinical trial published in the African Journal of Biotechnology in 2006.

Effective Treatment of Headlice

Head lice, also known as Pediculosis Capitis, are highly contagious, infesting 12 million children in the US every year [7].

Neem offers a healthy and effective alternative to synthetic treatments that are often toxic and can prove ineffective if the lice have developed resistance. Eradicating lice during all stages of the lifecycle, while decreasing their appetite to the point of starvation, neem oil acts as a prophylactic agent effectively preventing the spread of infestation [8].

Licener, an anti-louse shampoo based on neem seed extracts, successfully eliminated head lice infestation after a single use in a clinical study by Abdel Ghaffar, F and Al-Quraishy for the US National Institute of Health in 2012.

An Effective (and Natural) Option in Oral Care

Oral care is essential to overall wellbeing. The body’s productivity in receiving nutrition is determined by our capacity to process the food we ingest and that starts in the mouth. Our ability to bite and chew effectively, as well as the saliva produced during the process, establish comprehensive health on a daily basis.

The most important health issues in oral care include cavities, affecting 60-90% of children, periodontal disease, which threatens with tooth decay and affects almost 20% of adults worldwide, gingivitis, the milder but still uncomfortable form of gum disease, and general bacterial infections.

In India and most rural areas throughout Asia and Africa, where oral care products like toothpaste and mouthwash are not available, The neem tree has provided an efficient alternative that has maintained oral health throughout centuries by  using neem twigs as toothbrushes and neem leaf tea as mouthwash to limit bacterial activities to a minimum, providing healthcare that otherwise would have been impossible.

Modern studies have shown that neem is a natural alternative for treatment, as well as prevention, of the most common dental issues. For example, neem bark and leaves contain antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that reduce plaque, the sticky residue left over by bacterial activity, and thereby prevent common infections and diseases.

Periodontal disease is characterized by the inflammation and destruction of supporting tissue around teeth. Neem provides anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects that have been proven to be as effective, and occasionally even more effective, than Chlorhexidine, today’s main chemical treatment option for gingivitis and other oral disease.  

Today, several cosmetic and health companies have started to add neem extracts to toothpastes and mouthwashes to ensure oral health by reducing bacteria, plaque and inflammation, naturally.

[1] Livestrong, Does Neem Benefit Your Skin? (2014)
[2] Global Data, Acne – Drug Pipeline Analysis and Market Forecasts to 2016 (2010)
[3] Drug Watch, Accutane (2015).
[4] National Eczema Association, Eczema (2015)
[5] American Hair Loss Association, Hair Loss (2015) 
[6] Puri, H.S. Neem: The Divine Tree (2005). 
[7] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Head Lice – Epidemiology & Risk Factors
[8] Livestrong, Neem Oil for Head Lice (2014).