Indian women are much envied for thick, lustrous, jet black tresses, and our mums did it with yoghurt. The reason? Plain yoghurt is replete with zinc, calcium and protein, making it a terrific softening conditioner for dry brittle damaged hair when massaged in for five minutes after the shampoo. Yoghurt can also be applied directly to the scalp to sooth, rebalance and hydrate, reducing itchiness and flaking. Give it a try today!
Rani Padmavati (also known as Padmini), the legendary 16th century Indian beauty, was famous for her luxurious milk baths. So was Cleopatra all the way in Egypt. And every top-end spa worth its Indian roots boasts of an extensive milk menu in the 21st century.
Why? Milk is a terrific source of lactic acid, a natural alpha-hydroxy-acid (AHA) that gently exfoliates the top layer of dull, dead skin cells, diminishing blemishes and revealing a softer, brighter complexion. It also helps in cellular renewal, along with stepping up collagen and elastin production. And since lactic acid already exists in our cells, protecting against injury and sun damage, the body accepts it more readily than most synthetic AHAs, resulting in minimal inflammation. Besides this, milk is also loaded with vitamins A and D, protein and calcium – all of which are easily absorbed by the skin. Hooked? You might want to try these simple concoctions:
- To replicate the famed royal baths, add six cups of full fat milk to your bathtub and soak for about 30 minutes before rinsing off with warm water. For a more intense (though not so sweet smelling variation) use fermented whole milk, which has curdled. You will emerge with the smoothest skin imaginable!
- No bathtub? Mix some honey and whole milk powder into a paste. Then use this paste in lieu of a shower gel – silky smooth skin guaranteed!
- For deep cleansing, simply apply a layer of milk to your skin, leave on for 10-15 minutes and then rinse off with warm water. Skim well works well for oily skin, while normal, dry or mature skin would show better results with whole milk.
- Blend six teaspoons of honey with five teaspoons of milk, then apply the paste on freshly cleansed face. Leave it for 15 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. Do this once a week for a fresh and glowing complexion.
- To make a potent scrub, mix 2 teaspoons of milk, two teaspoons of honey and two teaspoons of ground almonds. Smooth onto the face and neck; leave on for 5-10 minutes and then massage it off the face with gentle, circular motions. Finally, rinse off all residue with warm water.
- To add body and shine to fine or lifeless hair, mix half a cup of dry milk powder with just enough water to make a paste, then gently massage the paste into your hair. Cover hair with a hot towel for half an hour, changing the towel when it cools. Rinse, shampoo and end with your favourite conditioner for super-glossy locks.
Of all the things that I love about our Indian traditions of skincare, the best one is how you can just wander into the kitchen, open the refrigerator and whip up a potent skincare potion within seconds. Just today morning, I woke up with horrid blotchy, lifeless, lacklustre skin (thank you so much PMS and flu for coming together into my life!) and realised that I am totally out of any complexion-redeeming face masks. Knowing that stepping out of home in such a state would send people running out of my way in horror, I turned to one of grandmom’s favourite skin solutions – the simple pot of yogurt that’s a staple in almost every kitchen across the world.
All I needed to do was spread the yogurt on my face and gently massage it into the skin, let it sit for half an hour and then wash it off with warm water. The naturally occurring zinc and lactic acid (yes! like many other “homemade” concoctions, yogurt’s skin benefits are completely supported by science) did the rest – removing dead skin cells, smoothing out fine lines, tightening the pores, hydrating away dry patches and giving my skin a much-needed glow.
When applied topically, this creamy wonder can hydrate, tighten pores, exfoliate dead skin cells, banish fine lines, bust acne, prevent premature aging, relieve sunburn and reduce discolouration
Want to try it out for yourself? Here are a few easy-to-put-together recipes:
Banish Acne: Slather your face with a creamy (preferably organic) yogurt, then rinse off after 30 minutes. The product’s natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties will deep cleanse the skin and reduce nasty breakouts.
Moisturise: Revive dull skin by smooth a thick, natural yogurt over slightly damp skin. Rinse off after 10 minutes. Yogurt contains lactic acid – which is a natural alpha hydroxy acid – that helps smooth, exfoliate and hydrate the skin.
Get Rid of Discolouration: Mix two tablespoons of yogurt with a few drops of lemon juice; leave on skin for 30 minutes, then rinse off. For best results, repeat at least twice a week. Yoghurt has mild bleaching powers that can smooth out discoloration when used regularly.
Relieve Sunburn: Fried your skin? Nourish it back to health with yogurt to which you have added a few drops of chamomile essential oil. Smooth the mixture over your skin and rinse off after 15 minutes. The zinc in yogurt helps cool the sunburn, while chamomile soothes the surface.
Bust Dandruff: Massage yogurt into your scalp, then wash off with warm water after 15 minutes. The natural lactic acid will moisturise the scalp and exfoliate dead skin cells, thereby curing many forms of dandruff.