Beauty inside out

Whether it’s building a better immune system or getting rid of a tan, Shahnaz Husain tells you how to ace it with all things natural

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A weak immune system not only leaves us vulnerable but undermines the body’s ability to fight bacteria and virus causing diseases. In fact, when the body’s immunity system is weak, the micro-channels are easily clogged, overloading the immune system. Ayurveda believes that strengthening the immune system is not only part of therapy, but also helps in prevention. In fact, many of its treatments are geared towards strengthening the immune system.

Nature actually provides us with the means to build up immunity and maintain good health. For instance, in winter, she gives us fruits and vegetables that are beneficial to the body in cold weather, like citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables. Citrus fruits and amla are rich in Vitamin C and help to build immunity, especially against cold and cough. In Ayurveda, ginger is known as “Sarva Roga Nivarini” i.e., a universal remedy because it has so many benefits. Teas and pills are made from ginger alone. Ginger tea can be taken after meals for digestion and for cough and cold in winter. Ginger has to be boiled in water to make ginger tea. As everyone knows, ginger can also be added to a cup of tea. You can also add other spices to tea, like cardamom, cinnamon and pepper. In fact, cinnamon is known to have several beneficial properties. It builds immunity during winter and helps to prevent viral ailments.

Oranges are rich in Vitamin C and help to strengthen our immune system and protect us from cold, cough and respiratory ailments.

Green leafy vegetables are also rich in vitamins and minerals. So, have plenty of orange vegetables and fruits too, like papaya and carrots. Amla is the best source of Vitamin C. Nuts and dry fruits also strengthen the immunity. Many Ayurvedic ingredients, like neem, saffron, turmeric, tulsi, and mint, are known for their influence on the immune system. Saffron, for instance, is a natural anti-allergen, especially for respiratory problems. It has been used in the treatment of asthma, bronchial diseases, pneumonia and spasmodic coughs. Neem and tulsi are nature’s own antibiotics — they strengthen the body’s resistance to disease, including those caused by bacteria and virus. They are known to prevent virus and bacteria from taking root in the body.

Tulsi helps to purify the body and is a common remedy in cold, cough and bronchial ailments. Some of these are powerful germicidal, while others cleanse the body of toxins deposited by infections. This actually boosts the body’s natural healing ability. The combination of these various extracts helps those who suffer from respiratory ailments during a change of season, or due to exposure to chemical pollutants, by increasing immunity and preventing problems.

According to experts, “even if a person tests positive for the virus, the progression of the disease is determined by his/ her natural immunological status.” So, building up immunity is the way to fight such diseases.

Ban the tan

Not having to step out so often in the sun may have actually led to skin tanning. Make the most of this time at home and get rid of your tan naturally, with home remedies.

Ingredients like saffron, turmeric, cucumber, lemon, oranges, ripe papaya, almonds, turmeric, yoghurt, buttermilk, tomato, etc., help to remove tan. These are certainly safer than chemical bleaches and actually benefit the skin in many ways. For example, cucumber has an astringent effect, while turmeric is a natural antiseptic and skin softener. Yoghurt and buttermilk also help to nourish and soften the skin. Similarly, almond is extremely nourishing for the skin, apart from its gradual skin lightening effect.

Using a facial scrub is useful. If the skin is dry, a scrub should be used only once a week, but for oily skins, it may be used more often. The scrub should be applied and rubbed gently on the skin in small circular movements. Then wash it off with plain water. This helps to remove dead skin cells, along with their contained pigment. The skin becomes brighter and the tan is gradually removed.

You can make scrubs and packs at home with kitchen ingredients. In fact, many such ingredients can be applied on the skin to gradually remove tan and also soothe the skin.

Scrub: Ground almonds make a good facial scrub. Soak the almonds in hot water till the skin comes out easily. Then allow them to become totally dry. Grind them into a powder, making sure to follow absolute hygiene and cleanliness. Keep this powder in an airtight jar. Every morning, add a little curd or cold milk to two teaspoons of the powder and rub the mixture gently on the skin. Wash it off with water. Mixing rice powder with curd and using it as a scrub works well on oily skin types.

Cooling & tan removal pack: Cucumber juice (or pulp) can be mixed with two teaspoons powdered milk and one egg white, into a paste. Apply on face and neck and rinse off with water after half an hour. For oily skin, mix multani mitti instead of powdered milk.

Add a little turmeric to gram flour and curd into a paste and apply daily. Wash it off after 20 to 30 minutes. 

Mix one teaspoon each honey and orange juice with egg white. Apply on the face and wash off after 20 minutes. It removes tan and also nourishes the skin, making it soft and smooth.

Mix ground almonds with curd and a pinch of turmeric. Apply on the face. After 15 minutes, rub gently with circular movements. Wash it off with water. For oily skin, mix multani mitti with rose water and lemon juice into a paste. Apply on face and wash off when it dries.

Soak one tablespoon moong dal in water for a few hours. Make a paste and add one tablespoon tomato pulp. Apply on the face with a light massage. Wash off with water after 20 minutes.

A good massage: Massage the body daily with sesame seed oil. Mix besan with curd, lemon juice and a little turmeric. The paste should be thick and should not drip. Apply on neck, arms and legs three times a week for 30 minutes. Wash it off.

For hands: Take 2 tablespoons sunflower oil and 3 tablespoons coarse sugar. Mix together till it becomes a paste. Apply and rub into hands. Rinse off after 15 minutes. 

For feet: Add lemon juice in water and soak feet in it. It cools, cleans and removes tan and odour. Rubbing a lemon on the feet also helps.

Pack a punch

Pamper yourself with a home facial. First, take a headband or scarf, place it just above the forehead, along the hairline and tie it at the back just above the neck. This protects the hair. Start by cleansing the skin thoroughly. Choose the cleanser according to skin type — gel/cream cleanser for normal to dry skin; cleansing milk or lotion for normal to oily and combination skin. Apply it on the face. Take moist cotton wool pads. Using these, wipe your skin with upwards and outwards strokes.

On the forehead, use strokes from just above the bridge of the nose, going on either side towards the temples, following a gentle arc. Don’t forget the neck area. Wash your face with plenty of water. Use a facial scrub for deep pore cleansing. This is particularly good for oily skin and blackheads. Avoid scrubs on pimples, acne or rash, or if the skin is very dry and sensitive.

Make a facial scrub with walnut powder. Add honey and lemon juice. Apply the mixture on the face and leave it on for a few minutes. Then, rub gently, with small circular movements, washing off with water. For normal to dry skin, apply nourishing cream, wet your hands with water and massage the cream into the skin, using outward and upward strokes.

Use extremely gentle strokes for the area around the eyes, by massaging it with only your ring finger. The motion should be outwards and care should be taken to see that the skin is not pulled or stretched. For the neck, use strokes from the chin downwards. Continue the massage for three to four minutes and wipe your skin with damp cotton wool or a clean, moist face towel. Avoid applying cream if the skin is oily, but nourish the neck area.

Next, apply a face pack, avoiding the lips and area around eyes. Fruit packs suit all skin types. Mix grated apples with ripe papaya pulp and mashed banana. Yoghurt or lemon juice can be added to the mixture. Apply it on the face and leave it on for half an hour. Wash off with plain water. Take two cotton wool pads and soak them in rosewater and use as eye pads. While the mask dries, lie down, close your eyes and put the eye pads on the eyelids. Relax. Wash off after 20 to 30 minutes. Then give the skin a cold compress with chilled rose water, using large cotton wool pads. It will help to tone the skin, close the pores and add a healthy glow. For oily and acne-prone skin, avoid facial massage with cream. Apply a scrub, avoiding areas with pimples, acne or rashes.

For dry skin, after thorough cleansing, massage the skin with oil or cream to strengthen supportive tissues and keep the skin firm and smooth. Special massage techniques are used for special areas, like the delicate region around the eyes. Fruits like banana, apple, papaya, avocado, watermelon can be mixed together and applied as a face mask for all skin types. Apply and wash off after 30 minutes.  For normal to oily and combination skin, mix two teaspoons oats with one teaspoon each ground almonds, rose water, honey and yoghurt. Apply on the face, and wash off after 20 minutes.