Skincare is more than just skin deep. Jamuna Rangachari shares the opinion of experts to make us healthy inside out
My late ninety-year-old grandmother used to denounce all skincare creams and tell everyone that switching off the lights when the sun goes down was the best way for getting great skin, citing herself as an example. She certainly had glowing skin, following nothing but a disciplined routine till the end of her life. All of us in the extended family called her ‘the Cleopatra of the family’ as she used to be immaculately dressed and very particular about her health routine too.
I am sure most of us have witnessed the older generation having such a disciplined attitude. The fact is that skin, like everything else, responds to what we do, think, and eat. This is something we do know, but we often fall into the trap of fancy creams and brands that are being advertised profusely.
Towards a healthy, beautiful skin
I met Sonali Gaur when my husband joined the national defence college course for senior officers. When I saw her for the first time, I could not believe she was middle-aged as she looked so young and glowing. I learned that she was a yoga aficionado and requested her to conduct a class for all of us. I soon joined the yoga class she conducted and learned many things from her. Not just yoga, but attitude too. We can stop depending on external things and work on aspects which are within our self. “External packs may bring about a temporary change, but internal change is permanent and full of benefits,” she says. Sonali suggests we all do the following:
Exercises such as Pilates, aerobics, swimming, walking, swimming, and running, done wholeheartedly for 45 minutes to one hour, are useful.
Our meals should consist of salads, buttermilk (chaas) or curd, dal, and vegetables, along with healthy whole wheat or multigrain chapatis. Minimise the intake of spices, ghee, salt, and sugar. Avoid fine flour, like maida.
An intake of 8 to 10 glasses of water a day at regular intervals cleans our guts and keeps us disease-free and healthy by detoxifying our body.
Fruit and vegetable intake
Fresh fruits, homemade juices, and seasonal vegetables are beneficial. Avoid aerated drinks as well as adding salt and sugar to juices.
Asanas such as Trikonasana, Paschmottanasana, and Cobra Pose relax and naturally tone the skin, increase oxygen flow, improve complexion, flush out toxins, and reduce wrinkles.
We humans pay less heed to our breathing than we should. Consciously breathe from the belly, expanding it during inhalation and contracting it during exhalation. Unconsciously, we take shallow breaths, which creates tension in our body and leads to stress and disease. Observe the correct breathing technique constantly at regular intervals.
The introduction of pranayama practice into our daily routine is an added advantage.
Sit on a chair or the floor in Padmasana, with the spine straight and palms open. Close your eyes and observe the inhalation and exhalation for a few minutes. Slowly increase the duration of practice. This technique makes us feel light and calm, and improves our focus and sleep pattern also.
Consistency is more important than doing intense exercises for good results. Keep the doctors and medicines away by following these techniques and maintaining a disciplined regime. Stay calm and don’t get stressed to keep yourself and your skin healthy.
A similar routine is recommended by others too. Dr Ameya Devikar is the chief medical officer at Nisargopchar Ashram, Urulikanchan. She says we need to make sure that we include a handful of nuts and a teaspoon of mixed seeds— pumpkin, sunflower, and chia—every day. Apart from that, she recommends foods rich in Vitamin C and E like oranges, sweet lime, guava, lemon, avocado, bell peppers, and berries. Our diet should also include at least one serving of salads, comprising carrots, beetroots, and greens, as they are considered superfoods for the skin.
The packs she suggests are
Aloe vera pack for dry skin
Take a teaspoon of aloe vera with a pinch of turmeric and honey and apply the mixture to the face and neck.
Green gram pack for oily skin
A teaspoon of finely ground green gram, a pinch of turmeric, and two tablespoons of rose water can be mixed, left for 15 minutes on the face and neck, and washed off with lukewarm water.
Oats pack for combination skin
Take a teaspoon of finely ground oats, add a teaspoon of curd or honey, and a pinch of turmeric. Apply on the face and neck, and wash after 15–20 minutes with lukewarm water.
Protection from the sun
Protecting the skin from harmful UV rays helps prevent dark spots and premature ageing of the skin. Make sure that you wear natural sunscreen like shea butter, almond oil, coconut oil, and a mixture of glycerine and rosewater. Also, it is important to protect your face with physical barriers like sunglasses and hats. In fact, avoid facing direct sunlight if possible.
She summarises that using home remedies like potato and papaya peels, and lemon juice are a few of the best and most affordable ways of getting flawless skin.
Luke Coutinho, a holistic nutrition, lifestyle, and medicine coach, is clear that as far as skincare is concerned, simplicity works. In his opinion and experience, good skin health doesn’t come from expensive supplements, serums, face masks, and fancy treatments. He feels that the quality of your skin is a reflection of your inner environment. Skin health requires an inside-out approach, he says. The kind of nutrition going in your system, the quality of your thoughts, the number of toxins in your body, the oxygenation level of your body, the level of your physical activity, and the quality of your sleep—all these determine your skin health.
He adds that there are plenty of simple home remedies that have worked well for his clients across the world who are suffering from skin conditions ranging from pigmentation and blemishes to psoriasis and eczema patches.
Raw potato peels/juice
While there is a root cause underlying hyperpigmentation, which we would encourage you to address, this remedy works great for under-eye dark circles or for reducing the darkening of the skin. All you need to do is grate the potato and squeeze out the juice or slice raw potatoes and rub it on the pigmented area.
Coldwater splash or ice cube treatment
Puffy face and eyes? Want to look fresh before a party? Splash your face with icy water or rub ice cubes. The cold temperature helps depuff the face and closes pores, giving your skin a tight and supple appearance.
Crushed sabja seeds
Besides addressing the root cause behind autoimmune skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, this remedy always helps unless it doesn’t suit the individual. One needs to take two tablespoons of sabja seeds or basil seeds and crush them with a pestle into a powder. Then take four tablespoons of cold-pressed coconut oil, add it to the powder, and heat it on a low flame for a minute. Cool the mixture and apply it to the affected area every day for 15 minutes, followed by washing with plain water. After washing, we need to apply raw potato juice to the area and let it stay for around half an hour. It will form a crust, after which we can gently wash it off with plain water.
Exfoliating face mask for smooth and silky skin
1 tbsp besan (ground gram flour)
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp A2 milk yoghurt
Method: Mix and apply on your face. Massage gently. It works like the ancient ubtan.
Fasting is something that requires nothing but loads of discipline and consistency. Just by giving your body and digestive system a break, and allowing it time and energy to perform the basics like detoxification, repair, rejuvenation, and regeneration, people have reported better and brighter skin, lighter dark circles and scars, lesser acne, and overall happy skin. This speaks so much about the intelligence of our body that we are already born with but gets masked in a world of complexity and faulty lifestyle. Fasting also activates longevity genes, which can help slow down the ageing process of the skin. This is a principle that most traditions follow and recommend to everyone from the young to the old, for our lifestyle is indeed who we are.
Dr Siddhant Bhargava, a fitness and nutritional scientist and the co-founder of Food Darzee says, “Nourishment to your skin starts from within. Nutritionally rich food as per the body’s requirement provides all the essential elements needed to help your skin stay soft, supple, and blemish-free. Treat your skin with care, and optimise your nutrition by eating a healthy and balanced diet. This is what our older generation has been telling us.
We can see that we are returning to our roots for complete, holistic health. The internal and external go together always. We, in India, are lucky to have traditional guidance from our elders along with a well-modulated lifestyle handed down to us. Of course, the weather also matters, so one needs to keep the skin cool in summer and avoid dryness in winter by using natural packs and washing ourselves as frequently as possible.”
Dr Mugdha Jhamwar Dagdia, MD, DNB, a dermatologist at Dr Hedgewar Hospital, says, “There is a saying: Invest in your skin as it is going to represent you for a long time to come. Not often do we realise that twenty-five per cent of our body is made of skin, which needs care. As a protector of our body, the skin is an ambassador of overall physical health that needs our attention.” She asks people to first understand one’s skin type and proceed accordingly.
The skin is one of the first organs that cries out aloud when stressed or when one faces relationship problems. This can be set right by following the right principles of life and not comparing ourselves with others in any area.
The fact is that our skin is the first thing that usually reflects any disorder. To keep it completely healthy, we need to take care of it both externally, with a regular lifestyle, and internally, by giving ourselves the peace and calm we deserve. It is not all that difficult. Our attitude is, after all, totally in our control. With this, we shall indeed glow like gods or goddesses all our lives. This is certainly something we all owe ourselves. Holistic wellness within us reflects outside naturally, unlike an artificial mask that keeps falling off every now and then.
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