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If you look at the label on any of your natural or organic skincare products, you’ll probably see a range of familiar - and some not-so-familiar - oils on the ingredient list. This usually includes some tried-and-true MVPs - like jojoba, squalane, or sunflower seed oil - along with some lesser-known (but equally useful) players (sunflower seed oilor tamanu, anyone?).
One of these? Neem oil. Here’s why you should pay closer attention to this power-player (and get excited if you see this powerful oil in your product go-to’s).
Also known as margosa oil, neem oil is a natural oil that is derived from the Indian neem tree. A yellow-brown oil with a garlic-sulfur smell (yum), it has been used around the world - most commonly in Ayurveda medicine - for a variety of purposes, including:
Unfortunately, not allof these uses have scientific evidence to back them up, but there’s definitely no denying the bevy of healthy components that you’ll find in this oil (looking at you, vitamin E and omega fatty acids).
Let’s dive into the particulars and how they help make it a powerful skincare ingredient.
Neem oil has been known to treat inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. This, in part, has to do with the oil’s high concentration of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps neem oil:
And it doesn’t end there. Neem can also help “turn off” pro-inflammatory enzymeactivity, thereby slowing the body’s response to inflammatory conditions like acne, psoriasis, or rosacea.
Translation? Less redness and skin irritation.
While no studies have been done to show exactly how neem oil treats acne when applied topically, the oil contains antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory compounds - all of which suggest it could effectively minimize acne symptoms and prevent future acne breakouts.
Some of these compounds include:
These compounds not only contribute to the health of your skin but also to the health of your products. Because if antibacterial and antifungal properties, neem can also work an effective preservative - which means that health-conscious skincare companies can use neem oil instead of harmful preservatives or stabilizers like parabens or phthalates.
Free radicals are unstable compounds that can cause damage to anything they come in contact with, including your cells. Antioxidants work to stabilize those free radicals, thereby neutralizing them and preventing them from causing real damage. In the big picture, this can prevent:
When it comes to skincare, this can reduce acne scars, hyperpigmentation while repairing skin health.
Neem oil is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), vitamin E, and triglycerides. EFA and vitamin E, in particular, can work to restore the skin’s natural barrier. This is more important than you might think: your skin’s barrier is essentially its shield, and it works to keep bacteria own, maintain proper hydration, and more (you can read more about it here).
A compromised barrier, then, can lead to breakouts, dryness, fine lines, and more - and it’s easy to get a compromised barrier by scrubbing too hard, using harsh products, or even using water that’s too hot.
Essential fatty acids, triglycerides, and vitamin E help reverse this damage and restore that barrier.
Neem oil fights visible signs of aging in a few different ways:
This stuff isn’t just good for the skin! You may not realize it, but neem oil is alreadya super common ingredient in many popular dandruff products. That’s because its anti-fungal properties can help keep Malassezia - the yeast-like fungus that causes dandruff - at bay.
Remember, as with anything that’s applied to the body, there’s always a possibility for side effects when you apply neem oil to the skin. Remember to patch test any product you apply to make sure that your skin doesn’t react - and stop using it right away if you notice any itching, burning, or redness.
Find it in: Bright Side AHA face wash