I thought I’d devote a full post to this curiously fantastic skincare product I discovered recently – The Himalaya Neem Face Pack.
Before last month I had been completely ignorant of this product until our paths crossed in the August Bag of Love and I’ve seriously fallen in love with it. I’m so glad it was a sample included in one of my subscriptions because I would have otherwise overlooked it.
The packaging is very plain and unassuming and I’d never heard of this thing called Neem but the sample was in hand and my curiosity was piqued by its strange name and claims to being able to clean, soothe, calm and de-grease oily skin.
With oily skin being a dermatological issue that has been the bane of my entire life since adolescence, the special de-greasing properties of Neem got my full attention. I think this is how an oil rig crew must feel when it finally hits oil – Eureka!
So what is Neem?
Initially, I assumed that Neem was just a synonym for turmeric because both words featured on the packaging. I was so wrong. It wasn’t Neem = Turmeric. It is Neem and Turmeric.
Neem is actually a completely separate ingredient from turmeric – a unique plant unto itself.
Thanks to the lovely Sharon of SharonSree‘s blog whose comment left at my last post set me on the right path. According to her Neem and Turmeric are two entirely different types of plants and she would know as she has both plants looking very different and sitting at odd ends of her lawn. Thank you, Sharon, you darling Green Thumb!
Anyway, this is Neem.
The Neem tree is a tall leafy tree with skinny leaves and clusters of olive-like fruit and a quick little search on Wikipedia reveals a multitude of blessings from said plant. Its functions read like a medical clinic.
Naturally antibacterial, the Neem leaves alone have been used to treat leprosy, eye disorders, worms, stomach ailments, fever, diabetes, gingivitis, and liver problems. It’s also used for birth control and to cause abortions so I would not recommend taking it orally without the advice of a medical doctor. This is powerful stuff.
Additionally, the twigs of the Neem tree, the seed and seed oil, stem, root and bark all have purpose. From medical to beauty and even as a natural insecticide, the neem tree is actually nature’s own little pharmacy.
Turmeric, on the other hand, is a ground shrub that helps spice up curries. It has its own cache of goodies being both a natural antioxidant as well being antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It’s also a master at removing oil and, when married with Neem, makes for a union of great skincare possibilities for those of us oil-inclined.
The Himalaya Brand saw the potential of this pairing and promptly matchmade these two plants into the Neem Face Pack to produce a powerhouse skin care product that targets and prevents acne blemishes, stunts sebum production and deep cleans oily pores to reveal refreshed, clean and dewy skin.
The first thing that struck me and that will probably strike most first-time users of this product is The Smell.
To be kind, I would say that the scent is particular and downright peculiar. To be blunt, I’m going to say that it’s really pretty stinky in an earthy, herbally way and certainly not for the faint-hearted.
In fact, this is one scent you will want to write home about.
Indeed, it’s quite a heady concoction of ingredients that might not look out of place in a curry and the best way I can describe it to a local audience is that it reminds me of the smell of a very strong brew of Bak Kut Teh (or Chick Kut Teh) – a dish I didn’t enjoy initially but that has grown on me a little since. So yes, it’s like the skin care version of Bak/ Chick Kut Teh.
The smell really takes some getting used to but I found that it’s really worth trying to tolerate it even if you might never come to like it because, as a skincare product, the Neem Face Pack performs swimmingly. In fact, I’m really, really quite astonished, scent issues aside, by how it completely rejuvenates my tired, oily skin.
My advice is to not let the smell get in the way of trying this product because you’ll miss out on finding out how great it is at doing what is does. I kid you not – this face pack is so much more than its unusual overwhelming scent.
Being the ever-intrepid beauty blogger, I gave the Neem Pack sample a go as soon as I found it in the August Bag of Love. I braved the awkward smell and plastered it all over my face in the name of good skin – and the verdict? Smelly but effective. Jolly good stuff for the oil-prone among us.
The formulation itself is a rather dry paste and I found that mixing the face pack with a little water in the palm of your hand helps with the application. It’s a little too dry to apply on its own and adding water helps dilute and save on the amount of product you will need to use.
Before I continue here is a peek at what the paste looks like straight from the tube. It’s a thick paste with grainy bits.
Bird Poo. That was the first thing that came to mind.
As you can see, it’s really not the prettiest formulation being made up of dried and ground-up plants. The texture is sandy and not fully water-soluble. You can see the graininess of the powdered herbs clearly in this image where I smeared some on a piece of paper. Not too appetising, I know but the great thing about this graininess is that it means that this product works well as an exfoliant too once you’re ready to rinse off. Brilliant!
Now, most masks when applied make even the best looking of us look foolish but the Neem Face Pack is something else altogether – after application I literally looked like someone else or rather, something else.
It made me laugh so hard – I thought I looked like an extra in a primordial film.
In other words, expect to look positively neanderthal as this face pack leaves patches of herbal sand here and there and adds a sickly dull green and brown pallor to your face.
Certainly, don’t pack this on a honeymoon unless you are planning some ‘alone’ time from your beloved – it’s the type of face pack that will send a grown man running. Not pretty so I’ll spare you a visual of this shy ShopGirl looking all cave woman. I can barely tolerate being around a mirror with this mask on – it’s simply one of the ugliest masks I have ever used! No exaggeration. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Anyway, leave the face pack on for about 15-20 minutes to dry. Your face should feel tight as it dries – I like to let it fully dry on the skin because the thought of this formula digging in to clear those pores, preventing all those pimples and banishing all that oil is worth tolerating the distracting scent for. I have a high tolerance level but you may want to wash it off much sooner.
Anyway, the rinse-off makes the challenging scent and disturbing alterations to your visage worth your while. My skin feels so refreshed, clean and soft after this mask I feel like running off to Himalaya to stock up each time. This really works!
The formula’s also extremely kind to the skin and despite the de-greasing qualities, the Neem Face Pack does not dry out the skin. The downside is the lightly lingering scent of the herbal mask. A small price to pay in ridding your face of the evils of germs, grime and grease. I will soldier on with this product’s scent for the sake of an oil-free life. I have noticed that the smell of this product has gone from rather horrible to somewhat bearable over the course of three weeks so perhaps my olfactory glands are acclimatising.
For the purpose of scientific accuracy, I’ve almost finished up with the sample that was included in Bag of Love to an extent that gives me confidence to blog of my account with this product. This deluxe sample gave me about about 5-6 sessions which I’ve trialled over the last 3 weeks. I’m comfortable to say that I really like this product and I’ve since popped into the Himalaya kiosk at The Pavilion to restock.
If you happen to have a copy of The Worthy Book Ladies edition it’s worth ripping out the Himalaya 20% Off voucher and grabbing a couple of tubes at a discounted rate. Usual price is Rm27.90 for 150ml. Price after discount is only RM22.30. Economical at the full price – an absolute steal at the promotional price.
It’s cheap by any standards and we all know how much singular-use sheet masks can cost. Depending on frequency of use, one tube of the Neem Face Pack should last a few months if used once or twice a week for deep cleansing.
While this is essentially a rinse-off mask made by the Himalaya brand, the Neem Face Pack can also be used for the spot treatment of acne and pimples due to it’s effective oil reducing and antibacterial properties. Just apply to the affected area and leave to dry before rinsing off. This is great for when you’re too short of time to go through the fuss of a full-face operation.
The only thing I note is that while the Himalaya Neem Face Pack is produced with Ayurvedic principles in mind and contains a bundle of natural herbs it is, however, not paraben-free 😦
According to the ingredients, the Neem Face Pack contains propylparabens and methylparaben and this might be an issue for some of you so take note.
As you might know, parabens are preservative chemical compounds added to food and cosmetic products to keep them from deteriorating and while parabens are not a banned ingredient in these products, some people do not favour them. Presently, however, there is not enough concrete evidence linking parabens to health issues so the jury is divided.
I’m realistic enough to be aware that I have enough carcinogens in my life without getting all paranoid about this unproven one but I like this one so much that I’m going to keep using it until something official comes out from the FDA or similar.
In any case, it’s not an area I’m learned enough in to pass judgement for others so I’ll leave the decision on where you stand with the Neem Face Pack to you. Possibly, the best consideration is to use whatever you need to use in moderation.
The Neem Face Pack is made by the Himalaya Herbals Group in Bangalore, India.
Available locally at all Himalaya Malaysia stores and kiosks and selected stockists.