There is so much conflicting information out there about how to retain your skin’s youthfulness which can often leave you confused and make you pick up products that may or may not work. I have seen so many women who come to me quite disillusioned about the products they use, or even about the whole concept of proper skincare essentials. In most cases, I see that there are minor deviations that can be set right with just a bit of tweaking. This chapter will tell you what all you need to have in your skincare bag.
Getting the tools right first
As you begin on the path of getting skin that is smooth, supple, and glowing from within, you need to start with the right tools. They form the basis of your skincare routine, ensuring that your creams and potions work effectively to keep your skin soft and supple.
Cotton pads: You will need them to wipe away your make up and for your cleansing lotion. But make sure that the cotton pads are smooth and without any fibre sticking out so they don’t irritate the skin.
A piece of muslin: Instead of using regular Turkish towels to wipe your face after a wash, use a soft muslin cloth. It is gentler and absorbs water faster without hurting the skin. Dab it on the skin to soak up excess water. Avoid rubbing—it can seriously harm your skin and cause pigmentation.
Cool gel packs: They are easily available at beauty stores and pharmacies. Pick up one for the eyes and face. They are instant soothers and can tone up tired skin effectively. Stock them in the fridge. They are instant skin pick-me- ups.
Shower cap or cling film: A shower cap makes an interesting thermal mask to help creams penetrate deeper into your skin and hair. You can simply cut a little hole for the nose area and then wear it after applying some deep moisturizing creams. This works well for highly dehydrated and dry skin. You can even try this with cling films that you use to pack food in.
Spatula: It is always a good idea to have a spatula in case you need to dig into a pot of cream, apply a mask, or take off a creamy mask. Remember to keep the spatula clean after using it. Easy way is to get some ice cream sticks.
Tweezer: I consider the tweezer as one of the best tools for instant beautification, not just to pull out those extra hairs on the chin or upper lip, but to even keep your eyebrows in top shape.
Arundhathi Rai, a naturopath, believes that no skincare regime is complete without a dose of the ‘naturals’. But you don’t really need to scour exotic food stores to pick up imported herbs or extracts. Just head to your local supermarket and stock up on the regular items that you can use for a healthy diet and apply on your skin as well. Arundhathi says that whatever fruit remains on your fruit platter after a meal, put it on your face instead of discarding it.
‘Ever since I’ve understood the meaning of beauty and skincare, I have always been using natural products, including home remedies.’
Yami Gautam, Actress
Coconut oil: Contains linolenic acid and is of straight chain composition (meaning molecules in this compound are aligned straight. Remember the pentagons and octagons in Chemistry?) and so it penetrates into your skin and hair more easily as compared to the rest of the oils instead of staying on top, forming a barrier.
Coconut milk: A great hair conditioner/masque for soothing dry brittle strands.
Coconut cream: Grate a coconut, extract its milk, and let it sit in your fridge. The next morning, after the water settles, take out the top layer of the cream and use it as a moisturizer or a mask.
Coriander seeds: It can be a great eye soother. Soak the seeds overnight and then put it into little gauze bags. Put these over your tired eyes; they will look bright in no time.
Cucumber: Soothes tired eyes and minimizes dark circles.
Eggs: It is a skin and hair nourisher. An egg mask lifts and hydrates the skin instantly, but remember to put in some essential oil (jojoba if the skin is dry, lavender if the skin is flushed, or basil if acne prone) to mask the smell.
Fenugreek seeds: Soak the seeds overnight and grind it into a paste the next day. It makes for an excellent hair pack.
Gram flour: If you are indoors most of the times and your skin does not have any particular issue, gram flour acts as a great replacement for soap and can be used as a gentle skin exfoliator.
Honey: Gives you dewy, glowing skin in an instant. Superb hydrant.
Lemon: Give your skin a big dose of vitamin C. It is a natural skin lightening agent and acid peel.
Masoor dal (red lentils): Ideal for using as a scrub or mask to treat dry skin.
Milk: Soothes sun-irritated skin. Milk can also be used as a medium to make any paste or mask, like when you use it while rubbing sandalwood on a rough stone to make a paste.
Oatmeal/Rice powder: The ideal body/face scrub to treat dry, itchy skin.
Potatoes: The juice of potatoes can fight pigmentation.
Sandalwood paste: Get a piece of the sandalwood and rub it on a wet stone with milk or water. The paste helps fight acne and pigmentation and calms irritated skin.
Strawberries/Grapes: Give your skin a dose of antioxi- dants and vitamin C with these.
Sugar: Great skin polisher.
Papaya/Green Apple: Both are rich in enzymes. They loosen dead skin by gently exfoliating it and give your skin a nice glow.
Tomatoes: Lighten acne scars, pigmentation, and excessive oiliness by applying this.
Tender coconut water: Dab some on your face to heal dehydrated skin and scars.
Tulsi (Indian/Holy Basil): Treat acne and skin irritation.
Turmeric: A natural antiseptic and best anti-inflammatory ingredient. You will find its powder in every Indian kitchen. Get fresh turmeric root and rub it on wet stone to make a paste.
Used teabags: Reduce puffy eyes with these. Wheatgrass: It is a shot of pure health when freshly extracted and gives a good dose of iron.
Yogurt: When consumed, the good bacteria not only helps your tummy, it also brightens tired skin. When applied, the acid in the curd helps in lightening and hydrating the skin.
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