Neem Oil For Hair: Benefits, How To Use, And Side Effects

Learn how to use this super traditional remedy to boost your hair health!

Medically reviewed by Dr. Rekha YadavDr. Rekha Yadav, BHMS
By Arshiya SyedaArshiya Syeda  • 

Neem oil for hair care is an age-old traditional remedy for hair problems. Neem has had countless health benefits associated with it throughout history. No wonder its oil is also touted as a treatment for scalp and hair problems. We have examined all the scientific evidence behind these claims in this article. Read on to find out how neem oil benefits your hair.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Neem Oil

What Is It?
Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree and has been in use for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its various health benefits.

What Are Its Benefits?
It helps with dandruff, scalp irritation, dermatitis, or head lice infestation. It reduces hair dryness and improves overall hair health.

Who Can Use It?
Anyone can use it; however, a patch test is recommended to avoid any allergic reaction.

How Often?
Twice or three times a week, diluted with carrier oil.

May cause scalp inflammation or irritation if applied undiluted or overused.

How Is Neem Oil Good For Hair?

Parts of the neem tree have been found to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties (1). Today, several cosmetic industries use neem and its byproducts (including neem oil) to manufacture different hair care products

Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree. It may help cool the scalp and even promote smooth, shiny hair (2). The oil may also possess anti-microbial, anti-septic, and anti-dandruff properties that promote scalp health (3).

protip_icon Trivia
The unique blend of bioactive compounds like azadirachtin Ai  XA chemical compound extracted from the neem trees which is responsible for the toxic effects on insects. , azadironei  XA member of the limonoid group of compounds extracted from neem oil which is used to reduce lice and fungal infections. , nimbidin, and salannini  XAn active compound isolated from neem that has antifeedant properties and helps regulate insect growth. in neem oil are responsible for its therapeutic effects (4).

Let us further explore the benefits of neem oil for hair in detail.

Benefits Of Neem Oil For Hair

  • May Help Treat Dandruff
Woman with dandruff issues may benefit from neem oil

Image: Shutterstock

One of the active elements in neem oil is nimbidin (4). Nimbidin is known to possess anti-inflammatory properties and could help in dandruff treatment. Untreated dandruff could lead to scalp irritation and dermatitisi  XA general term used to describe common skin irritations, including itchy and dry skin, rashes, blisters, and crusts. . Neem oil’s anti-fungal properties make it ideal for use in a hair mask.

  • May Help Eliminate Head Lice
Woman with head lice may benefit from neem oil

Image: Shutterstock

Neem also could have fungicidal action. In a study, a neem seed extract preparation was found to cure head lice infestation (5). You may use a combination of neem oil and another carrier oil to eliminate head lice.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Gently massage your scalp with a mixture of neem oil and coconut oil (1:2). Leave it for an hour and brush your hair with a nit comb. Wash with a medicated shampoo.
  • May Promote Hair Growth
Woman with long hair after applying neem oil

Image: Shutterstock

Massaging a hair oil on the scalp can boost blood circulation to the scalp and promote hair growth. You can use neem oil diluted with a carrier oil for this purpose. Massaging with the oil also helps stimulate the hair follicles. However, more research with respect to neem oil and hair growth is warranted.

  • May Fight Fungal Infections
Woman with fungal infections may benefit from neem oil

Image: Shutterstock

Neem oil could be effective against certain fungal infections like ringwormsi  XA highly contagious fungal infection that affects the skin, nail or scalp with itchy and circular rash. , athlete’s footi  XFungal skin infection that occurs between the toes. The symptoms include itching, burning, and stinging. , and candidai  XA common yeast infection, caused by the fungus Candida, leading to redness, itching and a thick white discharge from the vagina due to a urinary tract infection. (6).

  • May Help Treat Hair Dryness
Woman with dry hair may benefit from neem oil

Image: Shutterstock

Anecdotal evidence suggests that neem oil, like most oils, may help reduce hair dryness. It also may help treat hair that is brittle and rough.

The efficacy of neem oil in promoting hair health is yet to be studied in greater detail. However, using the oil seems to offer some benefit. In the following section, we look at how you can use the oil the right way to get the best results.

How Do You Use Neem Oil For Boosting Hair Health?

A few drops of neem oil diluted with another carrier oil (like that of coconut or jojoba) is ideal. Remember to conduct a patch test before using neem oil on your hair/scalp. Apply a small quantity of neem oil to the inner side of your forearm. If you experience any redness or rashes in the next 24 hours, discontinue use and visit a doctor.

You can massage the diluted neem oil on your scalp with your fingertips. You can run the oil from the roots to the tips and leave it on overnight. You may also wash it off within an hour of application. Mixing a few drops of neem oil with your shampoo and washing your hair can also help.

However, be aware that application of the oil for longer durations may irritate your scalp. Does this mean you cannot apply the oil to your scalp? Let us find out.

Can I Apply Neem Oil Directly To Skin/Scalp?

There is limited research here. Anecdotal evidence suggests that using neem oil directly (and without diluting) on the scalp for a longer duration may lead to irritation. Consult your doctor for more information.

Does Using Neem Oil For Hair Cause Side Effects?

There is limited research in this regard. Using neem oil diluted with a carrier oil is recommended. Ensure you do a patch test prior.

Oral consumption of neem oil for any purported hair benefits is not recommended (6).

Neem oil may aid in cooling the scalp and promoting smooth, lustrous hair. It has anti-microbial, anti-septic, and anti-dandruff qualities, making it beneficial to scalp health. However, the scientific community has yet to investigate neem oil’s effects on hair. While moderate usage of neem oil is considered safe, excessive use may cause scalp inflammation. You can use neem oil twice or three times a week, diluted with a carrier oil. If you have any negative side effects, stop using it and consult a doctor immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does neem oil take to work on hair?

You can apply neem oil to your hair for an hour or longer, even overnight. Once you wash it off, you can feel a change in your hair texture. To see substantial improvement in your hair appearance and growth, you should use neem oil at least once a week consistently for 2-3 months.

Does neem oil darken hair?

Neem has antioxidant properties that may prevent your hair from becoming light due to damage. Using this oil consistently improves your hair health, which may prevent premature graying of hair.

Which neem oil is best for hair?

Opt for products that contain organic neem oil over neem oil extracts.

Can I mix castor oil and neem oil?

Yes, you can mix castor oil with neem oil. In fact, this combination is very beneficial for hair health.

Key Takeaways

  • Neem oil may have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-dandruff qualities, which are beneficial for scalp health.
  • Neem oil may help treat dandruff, eradicate head lice, combat fungal infections, reduce hair dryness, enhance blood circulation to the scalp, and encourage hair growth.
  • It is best to mix a few drops of neem oil with a carrier oil (coconut or jojoba oil) before using it on your hair or scalp.


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