6 Benefits of Neem & Tulsi Soap
Neem & tulsi is an Ayurvedic bar soap beloved for it’s plethora of skin care benefits. Depending on your familiarity with Ayurvedic traditions, ingredients, or skin care practices, you may be well versed in the product—or perhaps not at all. If you find yourself in the latter camp, but are eager to learn more about what it can do for your skin and body health, here, we rounded up the benefits, usage, and all that you need to know.
What is neem & tulsi soap?
In short, neem & tulsi soap is a solid bar soap blended of saponified neem and tulsi oils. But to learn more about why it has such wonderful benefits, and why it’s been used for so long, you need to better understand both of its parts.
A brief explanation of of neem:
Neem is a plant that originated in South Asia (mainly Sri Lanka, Burma and India) and has been used for thousands of years. The neem tree, known formally as azadirachta indica, is a member of the mahogany family. In many villages of India the streets are lined with neem trees, and are considered sacred. The trees serve multiple purposes by giving shelter from the heat, the leaves as a natural remedy for skin rashes, and even things like using the twigs for toothpaste.
And the plant is also turned into neem oil (the oil is made from the fruits and seeds), another Ayurvedic staple that’s used as something of a multitasker. (Read a more in-depth look at neem oil here, if you are curious to know more.) "Neem provides health benefits through its purifying properties, which can aid in recovery from infections, as well as acne," Shrankhla Holecek, Ayurveda expert and founder of Uma Oils, has previously told us. "It also helps with water retention issues."
A brief explanation of tulsi:
Tulsi is called the ‘Holy Basil’ in India with reference made to it in the Holy Scriptures. In its native India, it has been cultivated for nearly 2,000 years. Healers call it tulsi, the Queen of Herbs, the "Incomparable One," and it is prominent in Ayurveda and Hinduism for its various therapeutic applications. (Look at our full Tulsi explainer for more information.)
For skin care, the properties come it’s impressive antioxidant abilities and for how it acts as a stress relieving agent (technically the herb is an adaptogen, and thus is a good moderator of oxidative stress). You can also often find it in tea.
6 Benefits for Using Neem and Tulsi Soap:
A few reasons why you might look into the soap.
Acts as an antibacterial clearing up skin irritations and acne.
The soap acts as an antibacterial agent, and thus may help tending to acne. Both plants are considered to play a role in this, as both have been shown to have some antibacterial properties1.
Chock full of antioxidants.
Another reason it’s so good for skin is due to the antioxidant profile carried over from the oils. Antioxidants, we know, help temper inflammation, fight free radicals, and aid the skin in a number of ways (like their brightening effects.) Essentially any skin condition could benefit from antioxidant use.
It is smooth, soft and gentle without leaving a residue or sticky film
While bar soaps have many great qualities (better for the environment being one of the largest), some complain of the overall sensorial experience—or that they can often leave a film behind. Anecdotally, users claim that this soap doesn’t have those same issues. Instead you are left with clean, fresh, (yet not stripped) skin.
Lathers well and leaves the skin moisturized.
In the same vain, bar soaps can be too dehydrating for some. And while this will produce a fluffy lather, it won’t come at the cost of your skin barrier (as some soaps and surfactants will do). Instead the soap hydrates the skin, thanks to the neem’s ability to help the skin’s water retention. You also have additional hydration help if you opt for an option with aloe, as the plant is deeply hydrating2.
It’s a minimal-ingredient, clean product.
Many people, especially now-a-days, are on the hunt for minimal-ingredient products in an effort to pare back their routines. This offers just that, as we’ve noted many of the options out there are just two natural ingredients. And when they do have additional ingredients, it’s most commonly the equally as impressive aloe vera.
Cost effective and more eco-friendly packaging.
With bar soaps, you tend to get more bang from your buck. Some bars cost as little as $2 and can last for several weeks, whereas traditional liquid soaps or washes tend to get used up more quickly. And buying less product doesn't just make your wallet happy; it means less packaging, energy, and resources in the supply chain.
What to look for:
Although many of the soaps found today contain other ingredients such as aloe vera, the purer form is made from just neem and tulsi. Neem soap is either made from neem oil, leaves or both. Check the label for the percentage of neem and the other ingredients added. Neem oil alone has a stronger, sometimes less than pleasant, smell so it’s traditionally blended with tulsi to help buffer the soap’s fragrance (along with all the good-for-skin benefits that tulsi brings). Some of the more common name brands are TheraNeem and Hamam.
By no means new, this soap is widely used in Ayurvedic skin care methods. If you are curious to try, there are plenty of reasons to do so thanks to its nutrient dense profile.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.