We know, only too well, that from bygone times women have been borrowing from nature’s bounty to care for their skin and hair. These ancient recipes, which are part of our vast Sub-Continent herbal heritage, have not only stood the test of time, but have been most beneficial in counter-acting the harmful effects of synthetic and chemical preparations!
The modern method of using turmeric in creams is based on the ancient Indian germicidal treatment and skin softening remedy. Turmeric, combined with lemon into a pre-bath gel, is the ideal way of ensuring softness and smoothness of the skin as well as cleansing it thoroughly, it also forms a screen between the skin and the dehydrating effects of soap and water.
Ancient Sub-Continental women also used this concoction for its gentle depilating action on the skin. Applying turmeric on the body is still a part of traditional Asian weddings when the bride is beautified for the ceremony.
“Honey is a powerful natural moisturiser. It prevents moisture loss from the skin and also supplies moisture to it. Honey can be used in cream form or as a pack with apricot. This combination, used as a peel-off pack, is ideal for ‘porcelaining’ the skin, closing the pores and discouraging facial hair. Both apricot and honey have a highly beneficial effect on the skin, by softening it and adding that gorgeous glow.”
The famed Asian rose water is an excellent astringent-used for closing the pores and toning the skin. Used regularly, it helps to slow down the ageing process of the skin. Wow, get hold of a bottle and go spritzing.
Even the most common hair removing agent we known today as wax, which is a sugar and lemon mixture, has its basis in ancient Asian herbal heritage. Numerous instances have been found of Asian women making use of herbs for their therapeutic benefits. So much so that today a combination of ivory powder and oil from the marigold flower is being tried as a cure for leucoderma.
Gram flour and wheat husk are still used as a method of cleaning the skin. It is an accepted fact that washing with soap and water accelerates the ageing process of the skin because it washes away the natural oils and removes the protective mantle of the skin. Interestingly enough, in India, soap has never been regarded as a beauty aid, Indian women find it more beneficial to use gram flour or wheat husk mixed with milk to clean their skins. Wheat husk has a gentle dermabrasive effect on the skin. Cleansing it of dead epithelial cells, leaving it cleaner and brighter.
There is another ancient method, which involves rubbing the body with a mixture of starch, cream and husk. The starch tightens the skin, the cream provides the nourishment and the husk removes the dead skin cells. The body is then rinsed with water in which rose petals have been soaked overnight. This leaves the skin clear, smooth and perfumed. Costing a fortune in fabled salons, these treatments have roots deeply embedded in the Asian beauty heritage.
Dismissing the obsessive international trend of chemically colouring the hair, a natural, age old alternative is to use, henna treatment for the hair. In the West, henna hair conditioners and henna shampoos are making big news. This fad has its basis in the ancient hair-dye method of gradually converting whitening hair to an auburn colour.”
When henna powder is combined with yogurt, egg and lemon juice and applied to the hair. It is known to accelerate hair growth and is used in treating cases of hair loss and alopecia. It is also a powerful anti-dandruff agent.
Asian women have also been using boiled and strained water from used tea leaves, with lemon juice, for treating their hair and importing a glossy look to it.
There are several items from the kitchen that can safely be used as beauty aids.
10 Beauty Fix Its
1. Milk can be applied on the scalp and hair for nourishment, especially in cases of dry, brittle or damaged hair. It’s a completely natural treatment without any synthetic or chemical additives.
2. An egg can be used for the hair before your shampoo. Leave it on for about an hour and then wash your hair. Rinsing the hair thoroughly is important for that clean, healthy look.
3. Egg can be used on the face too. The yolk contains vitamins and protein, while the white has skin-tightening and tissue-building properties.
4. Vegetables and fruits are a natural storehouse of beauty aids. Potatoes may not be good for the figure, but are known to be skin-cleaning agents. Rub your face gently with the slices of raw potatoes or potato halves. They contain vitamin C and are even known to benefit skin conditions like eczema. Potatoes also benefit the area around the eyes, relieving puffiness and making the eyes fresh and clear.
5. Cucumber juice also benefits the area around the eyes, especially if there are dark circles. Cotton wool pads can be soaked in cucumber juice and used as eye pads.
What has proved to be one of the best treatments for the delicate region is a combination of almonds and lanolin. This, preferably in cream form, is an ideal treatment for the under-eyes, keeping them free of wrinkles and dark circles.
6. Our grandmothers used tea water to brighten their eyes. Modern woman too can use tea bags as eye pads!
7. Most of us know lemon as a concentrate of vitamin C and have taken it at sometime or the other for the prevention of colds, to ward off thirst and, of course, to add a tangy twist to a food item. But, do you know that there’s much more to the lemon’s potential both as a beauty and health foods. It increases the body’s resistance to infection. It has a strong anti-bacterial action. Its contents of glucose, minerals salts, calcium and iron give it some fantastic properties. It is, therefore, recommended for reducing weight. Lemon is much better than vinegar in all cases of stomach or intestinal disorders, and for people suffering from nervous strain or anxiety. Dentists also advise against regular use of vinegar as it has harmful effect on the teeth. It irritates the mucous membrane of the mouth and the digestive system. Start the day with lemon juice.
A good morning combination is the juice of half a lemon and an orange, squeezed in a glass of hot water, sweetened with honey. This mixture will ward off the harmful effects of the routine morning tea, flush the entire system and help to relieve constipation. For obstinate intestines, try lemon juice in hot water, add prunes and a few raisins. Soak this overnight and take it first in the morning.
Here are some other ways of using lemon as a beauty aid:
As bleach for elbows, heels and toes: Rub lemons halves on these areas and then rinse off.
As a hand lotion: Mix it with rose water and rub to smoothen hands. Rub granulated sugar and the juice of a lemon together till the sugar is dissolved. Then rinse off. Follow this treatment daily for a month.
As a hair rinse: Add lemon juice to boiled and strained tea water. Use immediately after the shampoo. It highlights dull hair, making it shine.
8. Ancient Sub-Continental women were always envied for their thick lustrous hair. “They owed their beauty to natural aids like ‘shikakai’ and ‘reetha’ for washing their hair. Both these herbal products are natural cleansing agents without the harmful effects of the detergents contained in all shampoos.
9. Amla, the Indian gooseberry, has hair-darkening properties and forms the basis of many herbal hair oils.
10. Lemongrass is being exported from Asian Sub-Continent for therapeutic reasons, in ancient times, it was used for treating open pores and pimples. Similarly, lavender and jasmine have long been used in Asia, in combination with the oil of black rose and Fuller’s earth, as a pack for tightening the skin on the face and body, hence we urge modern day women to eschew chemically loaded off the counter cosmetics and forage around their fridges and kitchens instead!