Skincare Tips from India

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From the wonderful book Almond Eyes Lotus Feet by Sharada Dwivedi and Shauni Devi Holkar.

Massage for beauty                                                             back to top

Indians believe very strongly in the benefits of massage. It is no secret that roughness, dryness, fatigue and numbness can be cured with good hands.  They say that tenderness, strength and steadiness of feet are effected, the eyesight becomes clear and vata, the vital cell-force in the body is thereby relieved.  Massage also keeps the skin soft and supple.


The indian women know which oils to use in which seasons, what the properties of these oils are, and when to apply them..Creams, they will say, never compare with oils no  matter how rich.

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Here are a few body recipes from the wonderful book Almond Eyes Lotus Feet by Sharada Dwivedi and Shauni Devi Holkar.

Basic Optimal Health:                                                                                     back to top

Healthy diet, Fruit , water and daily exercize.  Surya Namaskar every day tones up the various glands in the body as well as the digestive, respiratory, and nervous systems.  It will keep you supple.  Add cardio to stay slim.

Skin Treatment 1.

Soak 1/2 cup of almons over night.  Remove skins next morning.  Grind them to a fine paste with 1/2 cup of whole milk.  then simmer over very low heat until the almonds emit a special rich aroma which tells you they are releasing their oils.  Let this paste cool.  Add a pinch of saffron threads, which have been carefully powdered in a mortar and pestle.  Mix well a nd rub the paste over your face and body.  Let it dry while you relax.  Then sit in the shower or tub and slowly rub the dry paste off your body.  It will leave you all clean, soft, and sweet-smelling.

Instead of expensive almond creams:                                                     

Take one or two blanched almonds, rub them on a clear, rough surface moistened with a little water.  This makes a paste which can be rubbed on the face and left to dry thoroughly.  When it is dry, rub it off gently witht he tips of the fingers, which have been dipped in water.  All the dirt and dry skin will come away.

For a fantastic complexion:

Eat a pinch of powdered vekhand sweetened with honey every night and you may never have to apply anything ever to your face.  It aids in digestions and keeps skin flawless.

Face Mask 1 for Wrinkle Prevention: 

Yogurt, milk, and ghee or clarified butter, mixed with a bit of honey.  Half a teaspoon of each makes an excellent mask to be left on the face for about twenty minutes.   The richness of dairy products can prevent premature aging.

Face Mask 2 to Wrinkle Prevention: 

1/2 egg plus a tablespoon of honey and beat until creamy.  This is a good mask for normal skin. Honey has so many uses....keep a good supply of it in the house.

Multani Mitti Instead of soap for face:   you can purchase it here.

Multani mitti (Fuller's earth)  is Mother Nature's own baby powder. Clay was one of the earliest substances to be used as a beauty mask - probably something to do with the fact that we all have lolled about in mud as children and loved it. In fact, it's quite safe to dust a baby's tender bottom with fine multani mitti, gopi chandan or Fuller's earth.  It was considered so valuable that English law forbade its export until the early 18th century. Fuller's earth can clean our bodies, as well. It is often used in facial masks to draw oils from the skin. You can sprinkle it your bath, or make a paste that can be applied to your face. Around the house, Fuller's earth can be used to clean up oil spills from your car or to remove wine stains from non-washable materials.  Use this crumbly, gray-yellow clay in place of soap.  Also very effective for pimples.  Take a pinch in your palm, add a few drops of water and dab this paste onto the pimple.  When it dries, peel it off and put on another layer.  It willd dry up the pimple, but never discolor the skin.  Many women in India have never used any cleasing agent on their faces but multani mitti.

A Face Pack for Bombay's greatest beauty

Rose water mixed with multani mitti.  Before a party she lies down with this mask on her face and cucumber slices pressed on her eyelids.  The effect is remarkable; her face looks smooth and fresh.


Recipes from the National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine

For the Vata skin

Take a tablespoon each of plain yogurt, multani mitti powder and besan flour (chick pea flour) and one half teaspoon of ghee. Add sufficient water to make a paste. Mix well together and apply to your face for 15 minutes. When dried, wash off with lukewarm water. This is an ideal mask for dry skin.

Another Vata skin formula

Ingredients: one egg white, a tablespoon of multani mitti powder, a few drops of lavender essential oil and a tablespoon of water. Beat the egg and blend in all the ingredients together. Mix the soaked multani mitti powder in the mixture. Apply this on the face for 15 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water. This is also a good mask for dry or oily skin.

For the Pitta skin

A simple combination of one tablespoon each of multani mitti with besan flour (chick pea flour) and gulabjal (rose water) is effective for treating Pitta skin (and also sunburn!). Add sufficient water to make a paste. Apply to your face for 15 minutes. When dried, wash off with cool water.

Another (incredible) Pitta skin formula

Mix together one tablespoon each of multani mitti, chandan powder (sandalwood powder), gulabjal (rose water), and one teaspoon of honey. Add enough water to form a paste. Apply to your face for 15 minutes. When dried, wash off with cool water.

For the Kapha skin

Combine one tablespoon each of multani mitti, neem powder, unfiltered apple cider, and mung dal flour, a few drops of lemon juice, and one teaspoon of honey. Add enough water to form a paste. Blend well. Apply to your face for 15 minutes. When dried, wash off with lukewarm water.

Another Kapha skin formula

Combine one tablespoon each of multani mitti, arjuna bark powder, triphala powder, and rose water; add a few drops of eucalyptis or clary sage essential oil and sufficient water to form a paste. Apply to your face for 15 minutes. When dried, wash off with lukewarm water.


The rest of these may be a bit exotic and spicy for you...

Skin Treatment 2: Utana from Madanpur, good for winter months

Boil freshly grated coconut with a pinch of saffron and a little turmeric powder.  This is particularly good  during the winter months when skin becomes dry from the cold. 

Skin Treatment 3: Utana from Kashmir  for really Cold Weather

Mix chickpea flower and yogurt in equal proportions with orange peel that has been dried and powdered.  Mix this with enough oil to make a paste, rub this into the skin and leave for fifteen minutes before rinsing with warm water.

Skin Treatment 4: Utana from Rajasthan for hot weather  (sandlewood cools and prevents prickly heat)

grease a heavy iron griddle & heat the following ingredients: 1/2 cup black onion seed, white mustard seed, grated coconut, and dried orange peel. When all these ingredients begin to release their aroma, remove them from the griddle and grind them fin in a blender.  Then add enough water to make a fairly thick paste and grind again until thoroughly blended.  You can store this utana in a tightly lidded jar.  Use a quarter cup before bathing, rubbing it well into the skin and rinsing it off thoroughly. 

Skin Treatment 5: Utana from Maharashtra: deep cleanser and cooling

Soak equal parts of barley and gram in water until they can be easily ground into a paste.   Bake this paste in a slow oven until it is golden and crumbles easily.  Then rub this coarse flour into the skin.  It acts almost like a soft pumice stone to remove skin that is dead or roughened. 

Massage Oil:

Coconut oil for massage. Boil coconut milk until the oil floats to the surface.  This oil is skimmed and saved for massage. If for the body you might add tumeric powder.

Indians believe that the word shampoo was originally an indian word.  It didn't mean washing your hair but came from the verb, champna, "to kneed and press the muscles of the body to relieve fatigue."  With regular oil massage they say the onslaught of aging is slackened.

Massage maintains  muscle tone and increases blood circulation, keeps the skin soft and sweet smelling, and of course is deliciously pleasuresome.

Illness Prevention:

Coat nostrils with mustard oil to not catch measles

Mustard oil with turmeric powder for any fungus infection on the body, particularly if you get it between the toes.

Skin Care:

Pimple Remedy:  am haldi or ambia haldi, curcuma amada.  Am haldi has many of the same purifying and astringent qualities as ginger but ginger is "heating," whereas am haldi is "cooling," which is what you want when you have skin eruptions. 

Take a teaspoon of am haldi turmeric powder and one or two strands of saffron, posder them in a little mortar and pestle, then add a teaspoon of fresh, unboiled milk and mix this powder into a paste.  Apply this paste on the eruptions and leave for about an hour.  Doing this every day will  heal them so thoroughly that no mark will be left on the face. 

All the members of the turmeric family are good for removing skin discolorations, or reducing swelling from bruises or sprains.  Turmeric is a wonderful antiseptic and and quickly heal cuts.   

For dark circles under eyes: 

grind afew pistachio nuts with a teaspoon of milk and gently apply.  Wash it off after a half hour.  doesn't work overnight takes time and patience.


When children's appitites wane:

Honey + clarified butter revives appitites quickly if given morning and evening. 

Constipation: Wild pink rose gulkand.

Good for constipation is good for complexion.  Layer rose petals with crystal sugar in a big tightly lidded glass jar.  keep for fifteen days in th e sun or other very warm place.   Mature for another six weeks then you can eat it.    This is gulkand. 


quarter gram of nutmeg mixed with a little clarified butter.. add sugar or honey to disguise taste. 


Instead of Toothpaste:

Clean teeth with neem tree twig  cut from the garden fresh every morning and placed in bathroom.   brush chew massage gums, terribly bitter, but excellent for cleaning the mouth and for sweetening the breath after eating.  The bitter juice is to be spat out.

To Sweeten the Breath:

Paan to sweeten the breath, aid digestion, reddens the lips.  Pandit Dubey used to say that the ingredients for paan, when taken together, were potent with thirteen qualities.  bitterness, pungency, heat, sweetness, sltiness, and astringency, also the ability to eliminate gas and phlegm from the body, to stimulate libido and to render the mouth sweet, fresh, and purel.  "The qualities to be found in paan," he used to sigh," are unattainable anywhere else, even in heaven!"   A lot of etiquette is involved with paan.  "A betel leaf presented with respect is a great gift."  Prepare paan  wash the betetl leaves, snip of stems, lay leaves in rows, pil on various ingredients and finally fold them into different shapes: cones or triangles or little squares held together with a clove.



Translation for 140 languages by ALS

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