Whether you’re looking for a unique beauty product, or a natural and organic treatment to replace your current beauty routine, Ayurvedic beauty formulations and rituals are a time-tested and totally natural solution, says Yasmin Sadikot.
Shining hair and sparkling eyes: Indian women are associated with beauty traits beloved worldwide.
As Indian culture is thousands of years old, Indian women have developed beauty rituals using natural products like herbs and botanicals to treat their hair and skin to benefit their appearance.
The ancient science of cosmetology is believed to have originated in Egypt and India, but the earliest records of cosmetic substances and their application dates back to circa 2500 and 1550 B.C, to the Indus valley civilization. There is evidence of highly advanced ideas of self-beautification and a large array of various cosmetic usages both by men and women in ancient India.
Many of these practices were subtly interwoven with the seasons (Sanskrit: Rutus) and the normal rituals of life (Sanskrit: Dinacharya). Significantly, the use of cosmetics was directed not only towards developing an outwardly pleasant and attractive personality, but towards achieving merit (Sanskrit: Punya), Longevity with good health (Sanskrit: Aayush and Aarogyam) and happiness (Sanskrit: Anandam).
Barrel shaped terracotta scrubbers to exfoliate the body while bathing, kohl pots and sticks with collyrium and jars containing natural colours for the adornment of the eyes were uncovered at the Great Bath and at Chanhudaro, indicating that both men and women of ancient India took special care to beautify themselves.
Beautification became and is a daily ritual Dinacharya – for cleansing, healing skin problems, covering up imperfections and oral hygiene.
Ayurveda through your lifetime
There is a traditional ritual for every stage and age of life which has become a family tradition and passed down from generation to generation.
As a child I was influenced by stories my mother told me of her grandmother and mother instructing the kitchen to brew specific oils for hair and body, herbal applications and brews for congested chests, pastes for pimples and lotions to keep the skin soft and subtle.
As babies we received a massage using the cream of milk and or ghee as it is believed to soften the skin, strengthen the muscles and help build strong bones. A weekly head massage with herbal oils encouraged healthy long shiny hair and helped to prevent dandruff and dryness.
As a teenager I was encouraged to use turmeric for pimples.
Every bride goes through a purification process (commonly known as detox) before her wedding day. This comprises an herbal body mask of finely ground herbal powders of neem, sandalwood, turmeric and rose made into paste with yoghurt. This leaves the skin feeling soft, smooth and flawless.
The bride’s hands and feet are adorned with intricate henna patterns which tell a tale of the bride going to her groom. There is folklore that is attached to the significance of the depth of colour, so the hands and feet are warmed over a charcoal grill as it is said the warmth makes the colour deeper.
Mothers receive regular massage pre and post pregnancy using specific herbs that alleviate back pain, prevent stretch marks and cleanse.
In fact, Abhyanga (self-massage) should be a daily part of everyone’s daily routine. It helps to stimulate circulation, ease muscular aches and pains, soften the skin, maintain good bone strength, reduce skin problems and prevent many common skin ailments. There are specific herbal oils for the type of body and skin condition an individual has.
Exercise is another important part of the daily routine, and it was recommended that one does at least five yogic salutes to the sun on waking and a brisk walk after meals was encouraged to help digest food quickly.
Diet is a vital aspect of self-care. It is not uncommon to hear seasonally – one eat this or that because it is cooling or heating and, there are foods to avoid during menstruation as heating foods can imbalance the flow.
Yasmin Sadikot is founder of OmVeda International, omveda.com.au