What is Neem Oil?
Neem oil is an important part of traditional Indian ayurvedic medicine. This oil has several medicinal and cosmetic properties and hence, has been put to use as a remedy for several health and beauty issues. Neem oil when used on the hair leads to a healthier scalp and hair! Neem is an evergreen tree native found in India and Southeast Asia. Neem oil is a natural byproduct of the leaves and seed kernels and is a potent therapeutic solution for many problems of the skin and hair.
Benefits of Using Neem Oil for Hair
In ancient ayurvedic literature, the neem tree is often depicted as the “sarva roga nivarini”, meaning the universal healer of all ailments. Neem oil results in wonders in the hair not only for treating issues but also in enhancing the growth.
Boosts Hair Growth
Neem oil makes the hair follicles to flourish and thrive without any obstacles from microbes. As a result, hair growth is enhanced as the oil has regenerative properties. A regular massage with neem oil on the hair will make it grow thicker, stronger and denser for sure! Since the oil supports healthy cell division and stimulate hair follicle function, it can prevent hair thinning and baldness to an extent.
Conditions the Scalp
Neem oil has an active ingredient called nimbdin in its composition. This is an antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent. Hence, neem oil is very effective in fighting against several fungi including candida, the major cause of dandruff. Also, neem oil maintains the ph balance of the scalp and relieves itching.
Prevents Premature Greying
If you are suffering hormonal imbalances and experience premature greying of hair, then neem oil could likely benefit you. However, please note that neem oil can only prevent or delay the process of graying and cannot reverse the process of greying due to ageing.
Treat Head Lice
Azadirachtin, an insecticidal ingredient found in neem oil will help to disrupt the growth and reproduction of lice in the hair. Moreover, the pungent smell of neem oil repels lice from the hair and hence, can also be used as a preventive treatment against lice.
How to Use Neem Oil on Hair
From treating infections like dandruff and eczema to conditioning the hair and scalp there are numerous benefits of using neem oil for hair. It is also a powerhouse of fatty acids and vitamin E, all good for the health of your hair. Neem oil is relatively inexpensive to purchase and can be used in a number of ways on the hair.
Along with Your Shampoo
Adding neem oil to your daily hair care routine is as easy as being said. Simply take a small amount of the neem oil (around 1 to 5 ml) and mix it with around 100 ml of any shampoo of your choice. Nevertheless, we would suggest you to use an herbal shampoo with no added sulphates, parabens or other chemicals. If you are battling an active infection, you might have to increase the concentration of the neem oil in the solution. Otherwise, a light concentration would be more than enough for daily normal use. Always ensure to mix neem oil and shampoo in small quantities as this mixture won’t last for long. You can prepare the required solution while in the shower and apply it gently on the scalp to see the best results.
As a Deep Conditioner
Neem oil is an excellent conditioner for the hair and keeps the hair looking and feeling smooth and shiny. The several fatty acids like stearic, oleic and linoleic acids, nourishes the dry scalp and hair. Neem oil can also revitalize and restore dry and undernourished hair, making it frizz-free also. Simply take a small amount of the neem oil and make it warm. Apply it directly onto the scalp and hair. Massage gently using your fingertips. Cover your hair with a hot towel and leave it on for about 20 minutes or so. This duration will be sufficient for the neem oil to penetrate into the hair and scalp.
Hot Oil Treatment
If you are not sure about applying neem oil directly onto your hair and scalp then there is another option. You can mix neem oil with your favourite carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil and then use it on your hair. Take around 2 to 5 ml of neem oil and add it to every 100ml of carrier oil. Mildly heat this oil solution. Then, apply it to the scalp and hair and massage gently. Leave it on for an hour or leave it overnight on the hair. Wash it off with a mild shampoo. If the pungent and strong smell of neem oil is still bothering you, then you can add a few drops of essential oil like lavender or sandalwood oil to the oil mix.
As a Hair Mask
Hair masks are great to combat many issues of the hair. Add neem oil to any hair mask and double its antiseptic properties. Here is a simple hair mask that you can apply to your hair. Combine 3 tbsp of coconut oil (at room temperature), 3 tbsp of neem oil, 3 tbsp of amla oil and 1 tbsp of honey. Combine well and start applying onto the hair. You can use your fingers to apply the mask from roots to tips of the dry hair. You can leave this mask on for a few hours and then, wash it off. Nonetheless, if you are looking for an even more intense treatment, then we suggest you leave it on over the night. Make sure to drape a towel over the pillow while you sleep with the mask on; as it gets pretty messy!
With Lemon Peel
If you are struggling with dandruff problem then here is a simple and effective solution with neem oil. Take around 5 to 10 ml of neem oil and combine with double the amount of coconut oil. Put some lemon peel into this oil mixture and heat it gently till infused into the oil. Use this oil solution for combating the problem of dandruff as it not only relieves you of the infection but also prevents it from recurring. Using your fingertips, massage this oil onto the scalp for about 10 to 15 minutes. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes. Then, wash it off with a gentle shampoo.
For Regular Use
Neem oil is an excellent pre-shampoo treatment for normal hair. This oil can be mixed with coconut oil and then, gently massaged in to the hair and scalp. Leave it on for a few hours or overnight. Wash your hair as normal with your favorite shampoo.
Mixed with Shea Butter
Another way to use neem oil is by mixing it with shea butter. This will help you to make your hair shiny and smooth. Moreover, neem oil when mixed with shea butter will help to combat a dry and itchy scalp.
How to Make Neem Oil for Hair Growth
Neem oil is easily available to be bought from shops and online stores. It is not very expensive and is available in many quantities. However, nothing beats homemade oil than a commercially bought one, right? So, here are two ways that you can make neem oil at home by yourself. Neem oil is usually prepared by extracting the oil from either the seed kernels or the leaves. The two methods suggested below are ways to extract oil from the neem leaves. The first one is a hot extraction method, while the last one is a cold extraction method. You can find out the method that suits you well and opt to follow it:
Neem Oil Direct Hot Oil Infusion
In this method, you will need coconut oil, fresh neem leaves, a saucepan, and a sieve for filtering the end product.
- First, wash the neem leaves thoroughly with water. Drain the excess water. Lay the leaves over a paper towel and let dry naturally.
- Grind the leaves using a grinder or the mortar and pestle. You will get a thick paste of the neem leaves.
- Pour a generous amount of the coconut oil into a saucepan. Let it come to a boil and then reduce the flame to a medium.
- Next add the ground neem paste into the coconut oil and let the mixture boil for a while. Stir it constantly.
- Always keep the flame to a minimum and leave on for several minutes.
- When you see that the oil has turned into a dark green color, switch off the flame.
- Pour it over a sieve and filter the oil in to a dry glass jar.
Neem Oil Cold Extraction from Coconut Oil
In this method, you don’t have to use heat to extract the neem oil from the leaves. You will only need fresh neem leaves, clean coconut oil and a glass jar with a tight lid.
- Wash the fresh neem leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt and impurities.
- Drain the excess water properly and lay the leaves on a paper towel to dry until all the water evaporates completely.
- Now, put these dried neem leaves into a clean glass jar. Make sure that there is no water content in either the leaves or the jar.
- Make sure that the leaves don’t fill to the brim of the glass jar and that there is enough space inside the jar.
- Next, pour the coconut oil into this jar. Ensure that the oil covers all the neem leaves.
- Cover the glass jar with the tight lid and leave it aside for at least 2 weeks.
- Make sure to store this jar away from direct sunlight and place it in a dry place at room temperature.
- After two weeks, you will see that the color of the oil has slightly turned into green. This means that the neem oil has gotten infused into the coconut oil.
- Filter the neem oil and store it in a tightly covered glass bottle for later use.
However, neem oil extracted from this method has a small shelf life and will last for only a few weeks. Moreover, this is a very gentle method to extract the neem oil and hence, contains only a small concentration of neem in it. The hot extraction method on the other hand, has more percentage of the neem essence and has a longer shelf life of many months.
Know the Side Effects of Neem Oil on Hair too
Once you have decided to use neem oil for hair, then you are indeed making a pretty good decision. However, you must also be aware of the side effects of the usage of neem hair for hair. The oil may not be suitable for all, and hence, it is very crucial that you do a patch test before the first use. This way you can make sure that neem oil is suitable for your hair and skin.
Some side effects of using neem oil for hair are:
- Fatigue:- Neem oil is a very strong oil that adversely affects the body when applied on the head. You must refrain from overly using the amount of neem oil on the hair and also from using it more often than needed. Overuse of neem oil on the head causes fatigue and general tiredness.
- Sedative in nature:- Neem oil has sedative properties and may make you feel drowsy and sleepy. So, it is important that you use neem oil with caution.
- Not suitable for all:-Studies have shown that people with kidney and other diseases may negatively be affected from the use of neem oil. Hence, if you suffer from any other ailment, make sure to always consult with your doctor before choosing to use neem oil on your body.
Don’t Comb Your Hair Right After Oiling It
Gently massage the oil into your scalp for a few minutes. Don't overuse it. Applying too much oil to your hair means you’d have to use extra shampoo to wash it off. This will strip away your hair’s natural oils along with the excess oil you’re attempting to get off. After applying your oil, you can leave it on overnight and wash it off with shampoo the next day. Your hair is vulnerable to breakage at this point as your scalp is relaxed. Oil can weigh your hair down and combing your hair right after oiling it will only cause it to break.