It is 8 a.m. one brisk fall morning in Lonavala, India. I sit quietly, drink my chai, and observe the cacophony around me. Amidst it all, a woman strikes my eye
It is 8 a.m. one brisk fall morning in Lonavala, India. I sit quietly, drink my chai, and observe the cacophony around me. Amidst it all, a woman strikes my eye—she is pouncing around the kitchen as if she were on a mission to conquer unchartered waters. Her skin glows a more golden brown than the rays of the sun at dawn. A face like velvet, it bears no sign of the smallest wrinkle. Her hair, appearing supple, sways lightly with every inch of movement. She is timeless—a complexion unaffected by the maturation of daily life. I smile, hoping that one day I, too, will age with the same grace of my seventy-seven-year-old grandmother.
The desire to achieve aesthetic beauty is not a novel concept. Rather, the means through which we attain it have gone through an evolution of great magnitude. Today, more than ever, companies are creating new cosmetics, beauty products, and even hair care solutions, that they tout for their miraculous effects of healthier skin and sexier hair. But behind the flashy marketing is usually a massive list of cryptic and often harmful ingredients. Growing up, brand name beauty supplies never made it past the front door of my house. If it had more than seven ingredients in it, my mother would casually hide it in a random aisle at Target after I would ferociously pick it up and argue “but Sarah’s face smells like fresh peaches!” Instead, we followed alternative beauty remedies that have been passed down in my family for many generations, whose gatekeeper and icon is none other than my seventy-seven-year-old grandmother.
Initially, the sheer beauty and youthful glow of my grandmother, more so as she aged, was secondary compared to the luster of beauty icons on the front page of well-known magazines. However, as I grew, I came to understand beauty through a different angle—the beauty of timelessness—and how modern-day beauty products tended to give short-term glamour and long-term harm. Now, as I reflect, I am more grateful for the alternative remedies that were handed down to me and am equally eager to share them with others due to their ancient effectiveness. The recipes are included below and are affordable and natural ingredients that you may even have on the shelves in your kitchen.
Chickpea Flour Face Mask
Chickpea flour is a soft and effective exfoliator. In ancient India, women claimed that it facilitated the removal of dirt and toxins from the skin and was lauded for its antimicrobial properties. Turmeric is known to be a great antiseptic.
3 tablespoons of chickpea flour
1.5 tablespoon of yogurt
1 Pinch of turmeric
Mix all three ingredients together forming a thick paste. Apply it on your face for 20 minutes and then wash with cold water. You can try this 2-3 times a week. Note that not all ingredients suit one’s skin the same way, so it’s important to test it out first.
Coconut oil is great for your skin and is a deep conditioner for your hair (regular scalp massages promote hair growth and blood circulation). During dry seasons, it is an especially effective moisturizer. For the most benefit, apply coconut oil on your hair twice a week, leave it on overnight and wash it out on the morning.
Egg, Yogurt, Honey, Lemon, Mustard Oil Hair Mask
This protein-packed hair mask is especially beneficial for those individuals with dry, frizzy, and thin hair. Mustard oil also helps in preventing gray hair.
¼ cup of plain full-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon of mustard oil
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, forming a paste. Massage the paste well throughout your hair and leave it on for 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water. For people with thin hair, or who shed often, try this treatment once a week for 5-6 weeks.
Coconut Oil and Camphor Dandruff Remedy
Camphor has several essential qualities that are beneficial for an itchy and overly dry scalp. In general, it is an excellent germicide, disinfectant, and insecticide.
5-6 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 small piece of camphor
Break the camphor into small pieces and mix it together with the coconut oil. Make sure it is not clumpy and that the small pieces dissolve fully. Massage it well on your scalp for 10-15 minutes. Leave it overnight, if possible; otherwise, wash it out after an hour. For the most effective treatment, continue for 3-5 days.
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