This story was updated in February 2019.
One thing that my grandmother keeps insisting on is that I don’t need to buy anything from a beauty shop to maintain my skin and hair. While she’s invested in cooking in her kitchen, I sit on the slab to pay attention to the recipe while talking to her. But guess what, we often end up talking about skincare and the basic ingredients from her kitchen that can totally change the way we, the generation of mists, pouts and sheet masks, see beauty.
I understand that this fast-paced life isn’t allowing you to spend enough time in your kitchen but if you scout enough, your kitchen is like a mysterious mall for beauty products. I’m not saying pull out some extra time to experiment with a mask that you’ve never tried before. I’m just saying, the attention and effort you put into researching about skincare and hair care products and in buying them from a store or online, put it in your kitchen ingredients instead. Because believe it or not, nani-dadi ke nuskhe always come with a guarantee and long terms results.
While Indian skin is already highly-tolerant, thanks to our genes, due to the current climatic conditions and pollution, our skin demands more care and cleansing. Fortunately for us, age-old skincare recipes, secrets and Ayurveda come as a saviour. From how to get radiant skin to preventing breakouts, old-age beauty tips from the kitchen have a solution for all skincare and hair care issues. So, thank you, granny!
The ancient healing tradition of Ayurveda is creating waves in the world of natural skincare at the moment. The industry toppers are hoarding on herbs that have been acknowledged by Ayurveda. The basics of Ayurveda are based on the principles of doshas which define everything from our mind, body, emotions, mental status to our skin and hair type - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These three are a combination of five elements - Vata is mostly air and space, Pitta is fire and water and Kapha is earth and water. A person’s Ayurvedic skin type is one out of these. So one must choose natural ingredients in the skincare routine accordingly.
Vata skin is generally dry, thin, cool to touch and dehydrates easily. Pitta skin type tends to have more breakouts, photosensitivity and is less tolerant of hot food. Pitta skin is warm to touch and is ruddy. It’s comparatively more prone to moles and freckles than the other two skin types. Kapha skin type has the qualities of water and earth. It is greasy, thick and more tolerant to sunlight and heat. There is also combination skin in which your skin can be categorised as Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Vatta-Kapha and so on.
For Vata skin, you must nourish and hydrate your skin more often. Consume whole grains, organic milk and leafy vegetables on a regular basis. Drink lots of lukewarm water to hydrate internally. Take juices, include healthy fats like ghee and olive oil in your diet. Give yourself a regular massage. Use natural moisturisers such as coconut oil, castor oil and so on.
To maintain Pitta skin, stay away from synthetic cosmetics. Avoid spicy and deep-fried foods. Consume more juicy fruits and add rose petals to your milk, it cools down the mind and body. Use cooling spices like fennel while cooking. Use aloe vera gel. Be gentle on your skin and use as many natural products as possible.
For Kapha skin, you need to detox your body from inside and outside regularly. Avoid sweet and deep-fried foods. Exercise regularly to improve blood circulation. Give yourself a massage with warm oil every day to improve circulation. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Cleanse your skin at least twice a day and exfoliate it once a week. While cooking, include warm spices like black pepper, cinnamon and ginger.
There are multiple things already available in your kitchen that can do more than cooking. You can add these to your already set skincare routine or make a new one but rest assured, these ingredients are safe and tried and tested for centuries.
Forget about chemically laden toners that are so harsh on our skin. Good old rose water was what queens and princesses used for amazing skin. Apply it with a cotton ball or spray it on your face to tone, refresh, brighten and soften your skin. Keep it in your fridge to really enhance its soothing and refreshing effects. Rose water smells amazing, is great for sensitive skin too and is so inexpensive.
Indian skin is known to be a bit oilier than other skin types, so it’s important to be particular about exfoliating to unclog pores, especially, with the heavy pollution around us. You can mix honey and sugar in a bowl and use the mixture to exfoliate your skin.
Indian girls aren’t new to the power of turmeric. There’s a good reason for why we have a special haldi ceremony before the wedding. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, which basically means it’s amazing at fighting acne, brightening the skin and leaving it soft and smooth. A paste of besan (gram flour) and a dash of haldi mixed with rose water or milk can give you an enviable complexion and it also reduces hair growth in unwanted places when used as a scrub. It’s a great home remedy for the skin as well as to fight facial hair.
Lemon is a natural skin brightener and exfoliator, thanks to its acidity. Slice a lemon in half and rub it over your face to de-tan, brighten your skin and get rid of those annoying blackheads. You can also mix it with honey for a fantastic skin pampering session. Honey is one of the best natural moisturizers around and has anti-ageing properties, by combining the two you will be able to maintain your smooth, nourished and young skin.
Coconut oil has been an essential beauty ingredient for Indian women for as long as we can remember, but it’s as amazing for skin as it is for our hair. Use it as a makeup remover instead of splurging on costly ones. Leave it on your face for a couple minutes and wash off to take off stubborn makeup while hydrating your skin. Use it to moisturize dry skin as well for soft, lush lips. You can also massage your eye area with it to fight those dark circles - do this regularly and see them disappear.
1. Cucumber can help you get rid of your puffy eyes, dark circles and swelling around the eyes. Just slice and apply for 20 minutes.
2. Eggs can get rid of those wrinkles for you and tighten the skin. Whip egg whites for 10 seconds and then apply it on your face. Leave it for 30 minutes and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
3. Avocado can protect your skin from environmental changes and keep it clean. Use it in your DIY masks.
4. Papaya removes dead skin cells and impurities from the skin. You can use papaya peels, papaya pulp on the skin as a mask or drink a milk and papaya shake.
5. Cinnamon dries out acne and exfoliates dull and tired skin. Apply it on the skin with a few drops of honey and keep it on for 15 minutes before washing it off.
6. Add gram flour (besan) to face masks to cleanse, exfoliate and tighten the skin.
7. Coffee exfoliates dull and dry skin. You can ground it and mix it with your face wash and use the mixture as a face scrub.
8. Grapes can also be used to exfoliate skin and remove dead skin cells. Just slice it and rub it for a couple of minutes when needed.
9. Before applying a face mask or treatment, take steam. This will soften the pores and the nutrients will get absorbed quicker and better.
10. A banana hair mask is really healthy for your hair as it gives it all the needed nourishment.
11. A few drops of argan oil or olive oil applied on the tips of your hair can do wonders.
12. Use olive oil + brown sugar or olive oil + ground coffee to exfoliate.
13. Rub the inside of the banana peel on your teeth for 2-3 minutes every night for at least 2 weeks. It’ll whiten them.
14. Add 4 tablespoons of vodka to your shampoo to straighten your hair naturally and to get rid of dandruff.
15. Have rough ankles? Apply coconut oil before sleeping and then wear socks. Wake-up with smoother skin.
If your skin is glowing, it means your skin cells are happy and healthy and who wouldn’t want that? Here are a few things you can do to maintain glowy skin.
1. Firstly, avoid sudden diet changes and if you are dieting, replace junk with other nutrients, don’t randomly cut down on food. Your diet instantly affects your skin.
2. Use ingredients like turmeric, coconut oil, aloe vera, baking soda, lemon, banana, papaya, honey, olive oil, green tea or rose water regularly in your face mask.
3. Include blood cleansing foods like carrots, beetroots, bitter gourd, orange or saffron in your daily diet. You can also consume them in your juices.
For skin brightening, add oats to your diet or at least to your face mask. Use rice water or rice powder in your masks as rice has high amounts of PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) which works as a sunscreen and Ferulic acid which is an antioxidant. Rice powder also contains tyrosinase, which is an enzyme in our body responsible for melanin production. To make a mask, ground rice in a grinder. Mix it with milk and apply the mask. Leave it on for 20 minutes. Also, don’t throw away the water you soak rice in. Splash it on your face, it brightens your skin and is a great natural cleanser. Use lemon in your masks or cut it and rub it on your face. Keep it on for 15 minutes and then wash it off.
Despite many, many other options, the banana face mask is one of my favourites as it works on all issues at the same time, from acne to skin firming. Banana is filled with potassium and vitamins which softens the skin while working on the strength and nourishment of skin cells. To make the mask, mash a ripe banana until it’s lump-free. Then add half a tablespoon of yogurt and 2 tablespoons of honey in it. Apply the mixture on your face and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.
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