Neem is a popular Ayurvedic herb that has bitter, cool and pungent characteristics, and hence is a pacifier of Pitta and Kapha Dosha. All parts of the neem tree – bark, leaves, flowers and seeds – have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and insecticidal benefits.
Beauty Benefits of Neem
A bath of roses and milk was Cleopatra’s alleged beauty secret, but did you know what kept Indian princess cool and aglow in the severest of summer months? It was a bath infused with neem leaves with a sprinkling of rose petals (to cut the bitter scent of the neem). Neem leaves were freshly plucked from the trees which grew in abundance, carefully washed and then allowed to steep in warm water for an antiseptic bath that kept skin rashes, boils and other infections at bay.
Actress Neha Dhupia revealed in an interview in Vogue (India) that she has a neem and milk bath every week. “I steep neem leaves in two buckets of water. I pour one over myself followed by a jug of cold milk and do a final rinse with the rest of the neem water. It makes my skin glisten. Post-shower, I use cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil as a body lotion. It moisturizes and leaves my skin silky and glowing.” Another actress to swear by the beauty benefits of neem is Anushka Sharma. In a Femina feature, a neem face pack applied regularly to the face and neck, is said to be her beauty secret to a glowing complexion.
Isn’t it a fact that we grew up with neem water baths in summer months, though in simpler forms, to keep summer diseases such as chicken pox, measles and even flu away. The neem tree (Azadirachta indica), is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent and is being used in traditional Indian medicine and cosmetics for centuries. In fact, for my grandmother like many others of her generation, neem was the answer to most of life’s woes. Neem leaves were washed and sun-dried and placed in wooden chests to debug precious silk saris. Zits were treated in a jiffy with freshly ground neem paste. And it didn’t end there. The new almost-pink neem leaves had to be chewed before the arrival of summer to protect us from seasonal flu.
Neem is a popular medicinal herb that’s been an integral part of Ayurvedic remedies that date back almost 5000 years. And definitely, it is not without a reason. “Neem has bitter, cool and pungent characteristics, and hence is a pacifier of Pitta and Kapha Dosha. All parts of the neem tree – bark, leaves, flowers and seeds – have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and insecticidal benefits. Acharya Charaka has classified neem in Kandudhan group of herbs, that is a category of herbs which is helpful in treating skin itching and other skin troubles like eczema, boils, dermatitis, ulcers due to burns, wounds and seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff),” explains Neena Chopra, Co-founder & Director (Beauty & Technical), Just Herbs. A walking encyclopedia on Ayurveda, Chopra is the person behind the gentle and effective herbal formulations at Just Herbs.
She explains, “Neem is a very potent blood purifier and is a great detoxifier. Due to its cooling properties, it is Daha Prashasan, that which cools burning sensations due to aggravated Pitta condition. Powder of neem seed kernels has been used for washing hair since centuries.” As per Ayurveda Nasya treatment, which involves administration of oils through the nose, has many benefits as the nose is considered the entrance for organs in the head. Neem oil helps asthma patients and also helps in treating cough, fever, and controls phlegm. Dr Chopra delves into the diverse functionality and therapeutic properties of Neem. “Nasya of neem oil is useful in premature greying and falling of hair. Application of a paste made from neem seeds is useful in getting rid of head lice. Older generations used to clean their teeth by chewing neem twigs which helps arrest bleeding gums and pyorrhea. Neem paste applied on skin helps to treat pimples and acne, and minimises scars formed due to acne lesion.” Neem flowers are used to treat digestive issues as anorexia, nausea, belching and intestinal worms.
Benefits of Neem in Aromatherapy
Neem oil that’s extracted from neem seeds is rich in medicinal properties. It is one of the lesser known aromatic oils, thanks to its unique bitter smell. However, it is used in aromatherapy to relieve tiredness, soothe itchy skin and even relieve headaches. How does it work? Pour a few drops of neem oil in a bowl of hot water and inhale its vapors. A touch of eucalyptus oil, or rose oil, helps to tone down its overwhelming natural scent. Or you could mix a few drops of neem essential oils with carrier oils and massage your skin for a detoxifying and relaxing massage.
In today’s hectic pace of life, making a paste of fresh green neem leaves while ensuring that they are free of chemical pesticides (and the best quality) is no mean task. If you can, do boil neem leaves and make yourself an antiseptic face splash or grind its leaves for some anti-acne pack. And also mix it with relevant herbs (methi, tulsi, turmeric, etc) to increase the efficacy of the potion and the end result on the skin. It does seem like a laborious task. What if it was as easy as replacing your regular cleanser with a neem-infused one? Or if instead of procuring leaves, drying and blending them with aromatic ingredients, you just had to mix a powdered blend with rosewater/curd/milk.
Take your pick from a selection of Just Herbs neem-based beauty products to purify your skin and hair:
This skin purifying neem pack works deep down to heal the skin from within thus preventing pimples, blackheads and skin eruptions. It effectively sloughs away dead epithelial cells, polishes uneven texture and Nutmeg helps heal and fade acne marks. Neem leaves are good exfoliators and help in the removal of dead skin cells.
Here’s a face wash with the natural goodness of neem, sandalwood and honey. It gently removes the last traces of dust, grime and make-up residue, yet retaining the inherent moisture of the skin. Neem helps in controlling excess oil production while sandalwood moisturizes.
This foaming facial cleansing gel is enriched with neem, holy basil and turmeric, all known for antiseptic properties. This potent blend of purifying ingredients detoxifies, oxygenates and activates skin immunity. It dissolves and eliminates dead epithelial cells exposing the tingling fresh clean skin beneath with the help of orange peel.
Neem paste has been applied on the scalp before shampooing to soothe any infections and its anti-fungal properties make it an effective cure for dandruff too. While that’s a cumbersome process, this Just Herbs hair cleanser revives this age-old remedy with the convenience of a modern formulation. It is a great combination of eight herbs –amla, hibiscus, henna, tigonella Seed, neem, vetiver, wheatgerm oil and soy lecithin. Indian gooseberry (Amla), for centuries, has been known to be effective for growth of healthy black hair, while wheatgerm oil acts as an antioxidant, soy lecithin softens and repairs damaged hair thus reducing the dryness and brittleness associated with lack of nutrients necessary for a healthy hair growth. Hibiscus prevents premature greying, while neem and methi seed extracts deeply nourish and condition the hair roots thus controlling excessive hair fall.
Packed with powerfully detoxifying precious Ayurvedic herbs, this face cleanser cleans, exfoliates, detoxifies and tones while maintaining the natural pH of the skin for a fresh, matte complexion.
Neem leaves are famed for their antibacterial, thus anti-acne properties. This face pack that packs in neem with clay, orange peel and Triphala, effectively flushes out every trace of bacteria, grime, and excess oil from clogged pores thus preventing the formation of black or whiteheads. It works hard on pimples deep down to soothe and heal the troubled skin from within.
Neem is revered for its scalp-soothing and anti-dandruff characteristics. This mild dandruff-control shampoo is prepared with neem along with soy protein, wheat germ and other precious herbs such as methi, hibiscus and vetiver to cleanse your scalp and make your hair visibly soft and shiny.