I first heard about neem seed oil when I visited the Bahamas a couple of years ago. It’s a popular natural remedy for things like acne, mosquito bites, fungal infections, eczema, psoriasis, and other similar skin conditions.
A neem tree in Freeport, Bahamas.
It wasn’t until a month or so ago that I decided to try it out for myself. I’ve long been faithful to tea tree oil as a natural acne-fighter, and when I realized that neem seed oil has very similar antibacterial and antimicrobial properties to tea tree oil, I thought it would be a nice substitute for the cooler months, since it’s also supposed to be very moisturizing. If you’ve ever used tea tree oil or tea tree oil-rich products, you’ll know that it acts like an astringent, making it somewhat drying (great for oily skin in the summertime!).
I purchased a 1 oz. sample of unrefined neem seed oil from Garden of Wisdom. (Side note: GoW is a gold mine for anyone who likes dabbling in homemade/natural/DIY face/body/hair care. They have pretty much every raw ingredient — oils, clays, herbs, acids, preservatives, etc. — you could ever ask for at reasonable prices.) It came in a simple no-frills plastic bottle with a flip cap.
Perhaps the one thing that sets this oil apart from other carrier oils is the smell. This stuff is pungent! It’s a very strong, savory smell. GoW describes it as akin to “being in an authentic Thai restaurant” which I think is an accurate description. It smells like sauce or curry. And it kind of looks like it too. Definitely more viscous than tea tree oil. If you’re very sensitive to strong smells, you might not like this, to be quite honest.
I decided to try using this as the only step in my skin care regimen after cleansing — as a combination moisturizer and acne treatment. I was hesitant to use this in the day time, because I didn’t want to go to work smelling “questionable”… The odor took some getting used to, but when applied thinly, seems to mostly fade away. Oh, and be careful not to get this stuff on your lips — it tastes extremely bitter.
It sits on the skin for a little while, and I find that it doesn’t quite absorb completely. It always leaves a bit of a “layer” on the skin, which I liked, when my skin was feeling dry. The extra moisture got rid of all of my dry patches completely, and my skin felt hydrated and balanced again.
However, after a couple more weeks of consistent use, I began to notice tiny little bumps popping up on my cheeks and forehead. I decided to stop using the oil for a bit, wondering if maybe this new addition to my skin care was the culprit. Sure enough, the tiny clogs eventually went away. Unfortunately, this did not work for my acne-prone skin, as it was perhaps a little too rich and moisturizing for me.
I have, however, used it for other purposes with better success, such as with insect bites or small skin wounds. The healing properties are certainly there, but of course with any oil, “your mileage may vary.” Some acne-prone people swear by this to keep their skin clear, but I’m not one of them. Nevertheless, it’s still a great skin hydrator and healer, if you can tolerate the smell.
If you’re curious to try neem seed oil out on your blemished skin, definitely patch-test for a few days first.
Have you ever tried neem seed oil or neem products? What did you think?