If you’ve never heard of neem, let alone using drops of neem oil for hair, you’d be forgiven. I didn’t know it was a thing, either – not until I visited Bali a few years ago and came across a herbalist that stocked all things neem. Teas, toothpastes, shampoos and supplements – she had it all.
I left the store with a bag of neem tea leaves. And while it didn’t make the tastiest brew, it definitely tasted… erm… healthy!
But, as I soon found out, the bitter leaves of this tea can make a very sweet solution for hair. In fact, neem oil (and the tree it’s extracted from) has a whole bunch of health benefits, so much so than in traditional Indian medicine it’s referred to as “the village pharmacy”.
I’ll be exploring many of these benefits in this post. But if you’re cold-pressed for time (hee hee), here are the top neem products on the market…
The evergreen Neem Tree – known as Azadirachta Indica – hails from India (although some say it’s from Myanmar), where it’s considered to be sacred; a symbol of good health and protection.
According to India Times online, neem’s Sanskrit name – Arista – means something that is “perfect, imperishable and complete”. In Hindu texts (namely the Vedas), it’s called Sarva Rogha Nivarini, which means “one that cures all ailments and ills” or the slightly catchier, “heal-all tree”.
The different parts of the neem tree – the leaves, twigs, bark and fruit – are used for a range of applications: from the purely cosmetic, such as fading scars, to the medicinal, such as boosting immunity and treating fevers or inflammation.
But it’s the fruit and the seeds that are pressed to bring forth some of that sweet (although not so sweet-smelling!) oil.
But for the purpose of this post, I won’t be looking at all the many benefits of the neem tree. Instead, I’ll focus on the benefits of neem oil: the moisturizing, golden-yellow oil that’s extracted from the tree’s small oval fruits, or “nuts” (which look a lot like olives).
An oil that ayurvedic healers, beauty stylists and hairdressers alike swear by.
LA Says: Specifically, I’ll be talking about how neem oil for hair. How this particular natural remedy could help with hair loss… and maybe even encourage some hair growth along the way. Woohoo!
Although the yellowish liquid has been used in Eastern ayurvedic medicine for centuries, it took quite a while for the West to catch up. But now it’s finding its place among other natural gifts, like aloe vera and coconut oil, as quite the cosmetic gem – in fact, neem was one of the most Googled skincare ingredients of 2018!
Now, plenty of oils offer moisturizing and conditioning qualities. They’re oily, after all. It comes with the territory.
But neem oil can also bring the following benefits to your scalp:
Neem oil temporarily seals your hair follicles, acting as a protective barrier to damaging environmental factors (like pollution and UV rays).
LA Says: Ordinarily, I’d advocate the use of products that rid the scalp of excess oil and sebum (which can clog the follicles and lead to hair loss). So I’m not fully sure whether I want something to form an excess layer of oil on my scalp. Which is why I think the use of neem oil should be limited to an hour or two, making sure to rinse with a good cleanser afterwards.
The oil is rich in Vitamin E, fatty acids and calcium. Meaning that even when applied topically, your hair and scalp still benefits from all the nutrients of this great “diet”!
LA Says: FYI, Vitamin E is also an amazing antioxidant for maintaining healthy skin, plus for helping cells to regenerate quickly. Creating a healthier scalp that’s free from dandruff, dryness and itchiness. This nourished foundation leads to healthy hair growth, so stronger locks can sprout forth. Win-win.
The active ingredient in neem oil is called “nimbidin”, which, previous studies show, can suppress inflammation. And since alopecia is triggered by an inflammatory autoimmune response, any measures you can take to reduce this angry reaction are a good idea!
Plus, if you’ve got other scalp conditions like psoriasis or dermatitis, you can use neem oil to treat that irritation, too.
Oh, and speaking of irritating things… if you’re prone to dandruff, you’ll be happy to know that neem oil is reported to prevent it. Why? Well, because neem has antifungal properties – and dandruff often stems from the yeast-like fungus “malassezia”. Gross.
LA Says: I want to mention here that one study actually reports a patient developing dermatitis after using the oil. So if you notice any adverse effects, please discontinue use immediately.
So, are you keen to try some neem?! Thanks for your patience so far. We’ve covered a lot already. 🙂
Now it’s time to check out the neem oils that customers love the most.
LA Says: Before we get into the reviews, let me warn you: Neem oil is fairly potent stuff. Believe me, it doesn’t smell pretty – with an aroma that’s somewhere between garlic and sulphur. Gross.
But hey… If it works, it works, right?! And you can always mix it with a carrier like jojoba. So let’s dive in!
This Indian organic oil is actually a blend of neem oil and wild-crafted neem oil. And while the first part is USDA-certified, apparently the second isn’t – they use an independent body called OMRI to verify that it’s free from pesticides or harmful levels of metals.
Oleavine uses this mixture to get the maximum benefits from both the younger-farmed and longer-lived neem trees. Whether that makes a difference is anyone’s guess.
Customers use this oil for plenty of things – not just for healthy hair and softer skin but as a repellent for a pest-free garden and flea-free pets!
(Now, that indicates just how strong neem oil is… so Oleavine recommends using a tablespoon in a gallon of water for garden spraying or diluting it with your favourite carrier oil, plus a few drops of lavender, peppermint or rosemary essential oil, if applying to your scalp).
In general, customers seem to love this product – one even says that they’ve “never had a cosmetic product that was so effective!” The main criticism is about the smell. But forewarned is forearmed, right?!
Weighing in at just 2oz, this glass bottle is certainly small in comparison to Oleavine’s 12oz plastic one – but you know that good things often come in small packages! And sometimes small can be pretty damn mighty.
In fact, Foxbrim are so confident about the effectiveness of their neem oil that they offer a money-back guarantee if customers aren’t happy. Which, as we’ll see in a sec, isn’t often.
Customer reviews are really positive about this unrefined, cold-pressed, 100% pure certified organic oil. Many of them mention how it helps with skin conditions, like psoriasis, and even how it keeps bugs and mosquitos away due to the smell! (Way to see the silver lining, folks!)
Once again, the major complaint is about its smell. Plus, most of the reviews talk about using it for skin conditions – so I can’t be sure of how effective it is for hair loss. Still, we know that a healthy scalp can foster healthy hair so it’s worth a try, in my book!
This 100% natural neem oil can be used for dry skin, fine lines and even uneven skin pigmentation. But one of its main applications, according to the manufacturer, is to “help hair grow strong and long”. To “alleviate dryness and itchiness while keeping your hair moisturised and healthy year long”.
Big claims, but what do customers think?
This is one of the most popular neem oil products on the market, which customers say is “a little more refined” than its competitors.
Now, usually I’d prefer as natural a product as possible but the benefits of this brand’s offering is that the oil is clear rather than yellow, it’s less “gritty” and less pungent, too! Reviewers describe it as having a “strong nutty smell” – which seems much less offensive than the other products on this list!
This baby is 100% pure, unrefined, cold-pressed neem oil – no additives, no synthetics, no artificial ingredients. Available in bottles from 4oz to 1 gallon, the pure Indian organic product also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Like the other oils on this list, it’s really good value – especially if you buy a bigger bottle – and it can be used in lots of ways.
Customers have found it great for growing hair and thickening eyebrows in addition to a dozen other applications. In fact, it seems to be the most popular neem oil treatment on Amazon to specifically target hair growth… at least, that’s what I’m getting from all those positive reviews!
Another high-flyer in the neem world, this oil is recommended for hair, skin, scalp health… and home gardening! Rich in Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, it’s another entirely natural oil with no synthetics added to improve its smell. Oh well.
Aromine also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee – so besides smelling more than a little “earthy” for a few weeks, you don’t have anything to lose by trialing it!
Most customers use this oil for their plants or for a pet shampoo (!!) However, those who use it for face serums or hair masks seem to love it, too. As always, the negative reviews focus on the smell – but that only confirms that it’s the real deal!
Plus, this particular product is said to smell “like roasted garlic”. Hey, there’s worse things to smell like… 😉
Now usually, I wouldn’t be a massive fan of anything with “artisan” in the title. Pretentious, much?! But I’ll overlook my reservations because a) the brand spells it a little differently and b) they make a range of oils that people love!
I’m tempted to try their castor oil, their grapeseed oil and their almond oil for hair growth, too. But first, let’s focus on the neem one – voted “Amazon’s Choice” and available in a 16oz bottle, it’s one of the best-value products on this list.
There are fairly mixed Amazon reviews for Artizen’s various hair oils. But the neem ones seem to be pretty good. Customers say it left their hair “feeling silky and smooth”, improved their dry scalp and liked that the bottle lasted for ages.
The more negative comments revolve around the smell (surprise, surprise!) Although actually, one customer mentions that it’s “a lot milder” than other neem oil products. Yay!
Of course, if after reading all those reports about how damn smelly neem can be, you might not want to try the pure oil. In which case, it might be a good idea to start with a neem-based product instead, like the following:
Yep, you can buy neem pills, too! There are neem supplements on the market for hair thinning and other hair problems. Although it’s worth noting that these haven’t been FDA approved – so make sure you order from a retailer that you trust!
The average recommended dose of neem or neem leaf is 1,300 milligrams (mg) per day – usually split between two doses. Popular brands include:
Just like any pure essential oil for topical use, I’d recommend diluting your neem oil with a carrier – like coconut oil or almond oil – before rubbing it in. (Psst… that’ll improve the smell, too!)
Add around 12 drops of pure neem oil for every ounce of the carrier one.
LA Says: Don’t forget to do a patch test for 24 hours – just in case of an allergic reaction. Even the natural approach can cause irritation for highly sensitive scalps!
Another important point to remember is that water repels oil. So there’s no point in applying an oil-based treatment like neem to wet hair as it won’t be as effective.
Instead, apply it to your dry hair and massage it all over your scalp. Leave it to work its magic for 1–2 hours and then rinse it out with your favourite shampoo.
Some people leave neem on overnight but this might cause a little skin irritation – better to start off with a few hours, just in case.
LA Says: If you don’t like an overly oily feeling in your hair, you can of course apply neem oil to wet hair instead. You could also add a few drops to your favourite shampoo or conditioner… or try one of the neem-based alternatives that I mention above! 🙂
Still not sure how to use your neem oil? Well, here’s a quick recipe that you can try out once or twice a week to boost hair growth. You’re welcome. 😉
Here’s what to do:
In terms of where to snap up your neem oil, I’d recommend going directly to the source. So if you have any stores that stock ayurvedic medicine or Indian herbal supplies in your area, ask them if they stock neem oil.
Walmart and iHerb.com also carry various neem products.
Alternatively, you can order any of the products I mention above from Amazon. They’re all really good value, too!
LA Says: Note that if you’ve bought a cold-pressed, unrefined and organic neem oil that’s in its natural state (which I’d advise you do), it should be yellowish in colour. And it will most likely become solid at room temperature, just like coconut oil. If this happens, just hold it between your hands or pop the bottle into a bowl of warm water for a few minutes until it forms a liquid again.
Like I said, neem can be quite potent. So if you’re not used to it, you may experience a little irritation at first. Not to mention that smell I mentioned – you might want to alternate it with something that doesn’t offend the nostrils so much! I’d start with once or twice a week and see how you get on.
Yes – just make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil or to mix a few drops into your skin/haircare product first.
Unfortunately, no. Unlike many other natural botanical oils – like coconut or almond – neem oil cannot be used for cooking. And you shouldn’t ingest it either – neem oil is for topical use only. But you can use neem oil for a range of other cosmetic purposes by adding it to your favourite hand cream, moisturizer or body cream. Yay!
I’ve barely scratched the surface of all that neem can do – for a more detailed explanation about its background, medicinal properties and ingredients, check out this great post.
Even if you’re not into ayurveda or Indian traditional medicine, I’d still highly recommend trying neem oil for your hair. Many people I came across in Bali and in Sri Lanka raved about it, too – and they had incredible heads of hair, the silken stuff of an alopecian’s dreams!
From my own use of the tea, and my research into the oil, I can’t really find any bad side effects – other than the smell, of course. 😉 Still, unlike many other hair growth treatments, neem oil doesn’t seem to cause headaches, scalp irritation, or increased hair fall. And if it works for hair growth then hey, I’m willing to handle the smell!
I’m going to be snapping up a supply of neem oil from wherever I can find it here in Vietnam. Fingers crossed!
If you’re a fan of the natural approach for hair loss, you might be interested in these posts, too:
1. Aloe Vera for Hair Loss – Could it work?
2. Meditation and Alopecia – What’s the connection?
3. Alopecia Diet Tips – How a healthy lifestyle fosters healthy hair.
4. Bald Spot Concealer Spray – OK, it’s not so natural… but sometimes we want a spritz of magic!
5. The Truth about Peppermint – Why this essential oil is so essential