India’s beauty is mesmerizing, mysterious and awe-inspiring and the same can be said about the beauty of India’s women. It has been admired, talked of, worshipped to and celebrated for centuries.
This independence day, as part of our efforts to celebrate India, we share some of India’s most traditional beauty secrets that Indian women choose over the thousands of foundations, scrubs and creams.
This could well be the queen of all beauty ingredients. Every single part of the neem tree is valuable and thanks to thousands of scientific studies, that is no secret. While its usage is the highest in medicine, neem infused tea does wonders for acne-prone skins and neem oil is a fantastic moisturizer.
Still grown in many households, this astringent-like herb is god’s gift to skin. A simple paste made of Tulsi and milk can help drive those nasty teen-age pimples and nourish the skin.
Not only is it an integral part of Indian cuisine, but also Indian traditions! No marriage is complete without the quintessential haldi paste applied to the bride’s face, arms and legs. It gives a lovely golden glow to the skin and its antiseptic properties cure pimples. Mix it with a little milk for your under-eye skin and say goodbye to those wrinkles. Or add a little oil to it to keep those soles crack-free.
A tad more expensive but just as popular as haldi, sandalwood has antiseptic properties. It softens and aids blood circulation in the skin. Not just that, sandalwood has been proven to act against skin diseases and allergic reactions, apart from removing skin blemishes.
Possibly the most expensive of spices, saffron has qualities that justify its value. An excellent exfoliating agent, it also has anti-bacterial properties to cure acne. There are many who claim it improves complexion by lightening the skin tone but there aren’t any conclusive studies that prove it. What it does is improve the quality of your skin. The only drawback, if any, is its cost.
Easily available, inexpensive and tasty – you couldn’t ask for more! Honey naturally absorbs and retains moisture which makes it an excellent hydrating agent. Add it to a little saffron or milk and you get a face pack that will leave you glowing. You can also use it with olive oil to make a great hair conditioner. It cleanses the skin too and is a terrific source of antioxidants – all these qualities make it a ready ingredient in almost every cosmetic.
Literally means ‘fruit for the hair’ and helps those with dandruff or weak roots. Because of its mild acidic levels, it doesn’t strip the hair of natural oils like shampoos do.
One of the richest sources of Vitamin C, the fruit yields oil that has been used for ages for treating hair and scalp. It is said to penetrate the scalp and strengthen roots. Amla can be used alone or along with shikakai, neem and tulsi.
There have been numerous studies on the benefits of neem, amla, tulsi and honey and if that doesn’t convince you, the testimonials of hundreds of mothers and grandmothers should do the trick. Apart from these wonder tips, there are other natural tricks you can opt for:
Clay (Multani Mitti)
Or Fuller’s Earth as it is known is a natural cleanser and scrubber and finds ready use in many homes. It absorbs oil, thereby making skin less greasy – a ready antidote for pimples. It can be used with honey, milk, lime juice or tomato juice to make a face pack. Or mix it with jaggery and curd as a hair pack to be used before shampooing – this is especially helpful for those with dandruff.
Always a part of the Indian diet, the presence of zinc in it helps treat blemishes on the skin. Lactic acid present in it hydrates the skin and makes it softer. And it is a boon for those who suffer from sunburns very often – it reduces the pain and redness. Some even claim it’s the best anti-ageing product.
Besan/ gram flour
Generally found in all Indian kitchens, besan is a typical grandmother recipe. Its exfoliating properties make it very popular even with actresses, Aishwarya Rai being one. While some use it to remove excess oil from the hair before shampooing (so that you end up using less chemicals), others use it with milk and cream as a replacement for soap. Because it can be drying, the milk and cream keep the skin hydrated and supple. Use it with lime water, honey, milk or yoghurt to make a face pack.
With beauty and anti-ageing products inundating the market these days, not only is it difficult to make a choice but you also risk exposing your skin to a variety of chemicals. So why not ditch the artificial this year and give Mother Nature a chance?
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