You might have heard that neem oil is a natural insecticide that’s useful in the garden and in natural DIY insect repellents. But its usefulness goes far beyond banishing bugs! This guide teaches you all about the benefits of neem oil for your skin, your pets, and your garden. When you’re finished reading , you’ll be able to put this humble oil to a variety of uses!
What is neem oil?
Neem oil is pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree, which is a member of the mahogany family. In India, the leaves of the neem tree are used to keep insects away from food storage areas and closets. The oil, leaves, and flowers are used in a variety of other ways, including as an additive for baths.
If you’re thinking that neem oil might have a pleasant scent, you’re about to be disappointed. The odor of neem is herbal, but with notes of garlic and sulfur. Don’t let this scare you away, though. Neem oil offers plenty of benefits – so much so that it and other neem products have found their way into ayurvedic remedies for more than 4,000 years.
Can I use neem oil on my skin?
The short answer to this question is “yes” but be sure that you use the right kind, and stay away from neem products if you are pregnant or nursing, since they haven’t been proven safe for use during those times. Neem hasn’t been proven safe for babies, and you should be very careful when considering whether to use neem products for children, as well. If you take any medications, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before using natural remedies like neem oil on your skin.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that neem is far safer than the chemical pesticide DEET, which finds its way into most commercial insect repellants. As with other oils, be sure to keep neem away from your eyes and mucus membranes. With the exception of tiny spot treatments, neem should be diluted before being used on skin.
Now that we’ve covered safety, let’s take a closer look at the many ways that neem oil can be used on skin.
How to Use Neem Oil as an Insect Repellent
Since Neem is among the best natural insect repellents, it stands to reason that it makes a fantastic addition to DIY insect repellent. Be sure to use cosmetic-grade neem oil if you make your own insect repellent; the concentrate sold at garden centers isn’t intended for use on human skin.
Neem Oil Insect Repellent Lotion
1 cup unscented body lotion
20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
20 drops geranium essential oil
80 drops neem oil
In a dish, combine all ingredients. Once well-blended, transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Apply the lotion before going outdoors, and re-apply as needed.
If you’re not interested in making your own insect repellent, you can purchase a premade product. A quick look at Plantlife Herbal Insect Body Oil with Neem reviews shows that many users like the fact that this product is nourishing, natural, and organic. Most users had great success with this neem insect repellent, while a handful said it didn’t work for them.
Like all natural insect repellents, this one might need to be reapplied after swimming or sweating.
Neem Oil Benefits for Skincare
Neem oil banishes pests, but that’s not all. It’s also excellent for skin. Neem oil is high in essential fatty acids, vitamin E, calcium, and triglycerides. The tiny molecular structure of the oil helps it penetrate deep into skin, where it helps with collagen stimulation and wrinkle reduction. If you suffer from psoriasis or eczema, neem oil may help relieve the redness and itching, but it won’t cure the root cause.
Many people have reported good results when using neem oil for acne. Not only does it help with redness, swelling, and irritation, it has antibacterial properties that can help prevent future breakouts.
How to Use Neem Oil on Your Skin
Even though neem oil is natural, it needs to be used with care.
Start by choosing a cold-pressed neem oil. The odor should be strong and unpleasant, like mustard, sulfur, or garlic.
Before using neem oil on skin, conduct a patch test by placing a tiny drop of neem on the inner fold of your elbow. Wait 24 hours to see if any irritation develops. If you notice irritation, immediately wash the area with soap and water, and do not use neem on your skin in the future. If you don’t see any irritation, neem is safe to use on your skin.
Neem for acne, warts, moles, and fungal infections
While you don’t want to use pure neem oil for most cosmetic purposes, a tiny dab can be a potent treatment for problems like acne, moles, and fungal infections such as athletes foot. It doesn’t always work on warts, however it’s worth trying if you’d like to avoid more caustic solutions.
Start by dabbing a tiny drop of neem oil onto the affected area with a cotton swab. Wipe up any drips with a damp cotton ball – you want the neem on the problem area, but you don’t want to risk irritation elsewhere.
Leave the neem oil in place for 20 minutes, and then wash it off with warm water.
Repeat the process once or twice daily until the issue is resolved.
Neem for eczema, psoriasis, or general skincare
When using neem on larger areas of skin, it’s always a good idea to mix it into a carrier oil or lotion. You can add essential oils to give your blend a better fragrance; geranium, lavender, and rose geranium are a few good ones to try. Sometimes neem can increase irritation in people with eczema or psoriasis, so be absolutely certain to conduct a patch test before you try it!
A simple blend of 50 percent neem oil and 50 percent coconut oil works well for most people. You’ll want to decrease the amount of neem by at least half if you have sensitive skin. Make as much as you like by melting the coconut oil over very low heat, and then combining it with the neem and any essential oils you’d like to use in a container with a tight-fitting lid. A wide-mouth jar is ideal.
Keep your blend in a cool place. If you like the way a cold treatment feels on your skin, feel free to store it in the refrigerator! Apply it once or twice per day just as you would any other body oil or lotion.
Is neem a natural treatment for skin cancer?
There are anecdotal reports that mention the benefits of neem oil for skin cancer, however this remedy has not been clinically proven. Skin cancer can kill you and early treatment is vital. We always recommend seeking professional medical care for cancer and other serious conditions. If you want to try neem alongside conventional therapies, talk to your oncologist about whether this is a suitable route to take.
Neem Oil for Pets
Just as it can help you and your plants, neem oil benefits pets as well. Be sure to choose good-quality neem oil for pet insect repellent and other pet purposes. The variety sold in garden stores shouldn’t be used on your pets.
Neem is good for dogs, horses, and other farm animals. It’s also safe to use neem for cats. You can mix neem into pet shampoos and conditioners to help kill and repel fleas, and you can mix up balms and sprays, too. Be sure to watch for signs of irritation and stop using the neem if your pet shows any signs of irritated skin. Keep it away from your pets’ eyes, as well.
How to Use Neem Oil for Pets
When using neem oil for dogs, cats, horses, or other animals, be sure to consider the problem when determining which remedy to use. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to stick to a regular treatment regimen when using these and other natural remedies. Unlike strong chemical flea repellents and medicines, neem works best on minor problems and it has to be reapplied often. Still, it beats unnecessary exposure to chemical pesticides!
The best way to dilute neem oil for pets is to use one part neem oil per 10 parts carrier. The carrier can be pet shampoo or conditioner, or it can be a solid or liquid oil for salve.
Insect sprays made with neem concentrate are available commercially, often with other beneficial ingredients. You can also make your own by mixing 10 parts of vinegar, witch hazel, or water with one part neem oil.
If you have a dog with hot spots, a stronger salve made with one part coconut oil and one part neem oil might be very helpful. Apply this twice a day and watch carefully to see if your pet’s condition improves. It normally takes a few days to see results. If the neem seems to be helping, keep it up! If not, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about getting something stronger.
Neem Fly Spray for Horses
DIY fly spray with neem isn’t as strong as commercial blends, but it costs less and doesn’t expose your horse to chemicals. If you decide to make your own horse fly spray, you will need to apply it at least once per day and reapply it after your horse sweats or is exposed to rain.
2 cups apple cider vinegar or witch hazel
1 cup water
½ ounce neem oil
½ ounce lemongrass essential oil
In a spray bottle, combine all ingredients and shake well. Spray the horse from head to hooves, avoiding the eye area. Repeat at least once daily.
Neem Fly Wipe for Horses
Note that you can make an oil-based fly wipe with neem as well, simply by replacing the water and apple cider vinegar with melted coconut oil. This won’t evaporate as quickly as the DIY fly spray does, but it will take a little longer to apply. Also, oil-based solutions tend to attract more dirt.
You can get the best of both worlds by applying the spray to your horse’s body and using the wipe on his face and in his mane and tail.
If your horse has any irritated fly bites, you can try replacing the lemongrass essential oil with lavender and see if the solution helps with the itching and swelling.
Take a Holistic Approach When Using Neem for Animals
Whether you’re planning to use neem oil for dogs, cats, horses, or other farm animals, be sure to start using neem at the first sign of a problem and be sure to stay on top of things by reapplying frequently.
Whether you have a minor issue or a serious problem with flies or mosquitos outdoors, neem solutions should be paired with preventatives. Examples include and fans in the stable to blow away most of the biting flies, plus fly traps to catch and kill flies before they can reproduce in huge numbers. Add bat houses and bird houses to encourage mosquito-eating predators, and take smart premises control measures like eliminating manure piles and sources of standing water.
Neem Oil for Gardening
Neem oil has been approved for use on crops by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Neem oil smothers insects, but it is safe for plants – even the American Orchid Society recommends it for protecting delicate plants from harmful insects. If you’re looking for an alternative to chemical pesticides in the garden, you’ll probably like what a neem oil foliar spray can do.
You can purchase pre-made foliar sprays at your local garden center. These are fantastic as they smell better than neem concentrate, and as they often contain refined neem extract with a higher concentration of azadirachtin, which is the active ingredient in neem oil. If you’re more into DIY solutions, you can make your own with concentrated neem oil, which is also available at garden centers.
DIY Neem Oil Foliar Spray Recipe
1 gallon warm water
4 teaspoons neem oil
2 teaspoons plant-safe liquid soap
In a large, clean spray applicator, combine all ingredients and shake well. Apply the foliar spray to all surfaces of the plants in your garden. Shake the applicator periodically to ensure that the mixture doesn’t separate.
You can double this recipe if you have a large garden, but be sure to use the entire batch within eight hours for best results. Once applied to the plants, the neem and soap will continue to kill and repel insects for a week to two weeks, so long as there is no rainfall, and so long as you use a soaker or drip irrigation to keep water off the plants. If it rains, reapply your neem solution after water has evaporated from your plants’ leaves.
Make the Most of Neem Oil for Gardening
Note that neem oil is just one part of a natural insect repellent program in the garden. Many larger insects aren’t deterred by it once it has started to wear off, so you’ll need to manually remove squash beetles, potato bugs, and other large pests as usual. If you have a large garden and you’re short on time, you might want to consider vacuuming them off! This is a great method for organic pest control, but not ideal for delicate plants.
No wonder neem is often referred to as the “miracle tree!” Whether you’d like to try neem oil for skin, pets, or your garden, you’re likely to appreciate its ability to help with a variety of common issues.