When I was small, I was terrified of new things and any type of change. When my mother cut off her afro and replaced it with long, thick straight hair, my older sister cried first, spiraling me to come out of my bedroom and sob in unison with her — to be honest, I actually thought she was a new mom and didn't understand that our hairdresser merely changed her hair type and not my mother. When my parents got a new car, I followed my father around the house, softly sobbing over the change. "But..I loved the yellloooowwwww car!" I'd bawl, wiping my nose on my trusty doll that went everywhere with me. That habit has stuck with me, so when I recently heard about neem oil skin benefits, I was wary to abandon my old faithful oils for something new.
The fear was and is about the loss of something old, it has more to do with not wanting to commit or experience something new that may or may not be as good. Being a natural gal means I had to welcome all that change, not only is trial and error key for natural ingredients, there is always something new that nature has to offer. Ingredients that grow naturally cannot be patented and therefore the incentive to pay for research on many of our fave essential oils is non-existent. For a natural routine, trust and research is another important factor.
Take the aforementioned neem oil for instance: This essential oil has been around for thousands of years, but has just recently become popular in European and American beauty care. Neem is an evergreen tree, also known as Indian lilac, the oil is made from crushing and pressing the kernels. Neem is definitely an oil that you should take a chance on; it's anti-bacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-viral — all the things that make for a rejuvenating, cleansing experience. The natural fatty acids, vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory properties are so extraordinary that few pimples and acne scars will survive a beauty routine with neem. In fact, synthetic forms of linolenic acid are often used in OTC beauty products because the acid is known the offset signs of premature aging and acne: Neem is naturally high in these Omega-6 fatty acids.
Let's talk oil safety before we jump right in: Like most essential oils, neem oil needs to be diluted with your fave carrier oil and shouldn't be applied liberally on its own to your hair, skin, face, or gums. It's incredibly potent. In addition, raw neem oil smells like a mustard and garlic sandwich. It's really gross. But the amount of healthy benefits in unprocessed neem is no joke, so plug your nose and get to it. These recipes below are safe and have some nicely scented ingredients to get rid of any hesitance about trying out a new, brilliant oil.
1. Skin Toner
I'm always on the hunt for ingredients to add to my toner which is usually 100% lemon juice. During the summer it's NBD, but my face does not need to be rockin' an astringent in the winter. Neem oil can lighten acne scars and other dark spots from our face that show up after our summer tan leaves. The oil is soothing and healing, which is exactly what my personal toner was missing. Add a few drops of essential neem oil to lemon juice for a true brightening experience.
2. Anti-Aging Serum
Those highly coveted fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties are all present in neem, plus it's rich in vitamin E which is a proven ingredient in reversing sun damage and keeping away free radicals. Here is what I'm currently using around my eyes to make sure I have an AARP card before I ever use the words "crow's feet" to describe my skin. Use this treatment twice daily for best results.
- 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil
- 1 teaspoon of orange peel
- 3-4 drops of neem essential oil
If you are making a batch of this serum, instead of for one time use, shown above, store in a dark container to prevent turning. Think neem oil smells already? Wait until it goes bad...
3. Bacne Spritz
A few weeks ago I happened to catch sight of my back in my reflection in the mirror. I had to get a closer look. "Whose back is that!?" I asked myself. Apparently, my back did not have a fun summer and I have the scars to prove it. This caused me to changed out of my backless shirt and immediately look into a nice evening spritz that could lighten scars and fix my back's attitude. If you only have a clear spray bottle, do not fret, you can paint it with black nail polish like I did. Fill up your spray bottle with 2 parts apple cider vinegar, one part neem oil, and one part grape seed oil.
This remedy can also be used to fight serious infections and heal skin lesions, yes, that means it's very serious! Definitely do a test strip on the inside of your arm to be sure this remedy isn't too extreme for your bacne needs.
Image: Giphy; Kristin Collins Jackson