Beauty Care Made Simple

Words: Dr Ambika P NAYAK

I love author Diane Mariechild’s timeless articulation, “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform” — this underlines every woman’s importance, like no other, in our world.

Today, women have made their mark in every walk of life; but, the fact remains that they are, unfortunately, the most vulnerable and neglected when it comes to health. This is because a woman’s preference, or priority, is always her family, also other people. It is time this gets changed, so that they prioritise their own health and also take care of others around them even better.

We celebrate March 8, every year, as International Women’s Day. The first thought that comes to one’s mind is — a woman as the symbol of beauty. Here goes my ‘take’ for all our bold and beautiful women, wherever they are — be it a peaceful hamlet, a busy city, or a place in the midst of catastrophic mayhem, viz., Ukraine.

It is rightly said that every woman should invest in their hair, because it is the ‘Jewel in Your Crown’ that you can never take off. Well, the downside is about 32 per cent of hair fall cases are reported worldwide every year — a majority of them before one’s middle age. The best part is — dandruff, allergies and other skin diseases related to the scalp, including tiny bumps, or rashes, on the scalp, lice, greying and hair fall due to direct, or indirect, causes are all resolvable. These problems do not arise overnight; they are generally the outcome of a chronic cause, either local or systemic.

Oiling the scalp. The hair oil, preferably herbal, or organic, must be made lukewarm and applied from the tips of fingers, dipped in the oil, to the scalp, along with a gentle massage to spread it evenly around. Oiling the scalp and hair can be done every day, or at least twice a week. This helps to strengthen the hair roots and it gives a relaxed feeling by improving blood circulation. Besides, it prevents dandruff and hair from breaking, while improving the texture of the shaft.

Hair wash. The length of hair — or, even the aggregate hair fall — or, lack of time should not be a pretext for not having a healthy scalp. Go for shampoos that are mild, or natural washing agents, like soap nut [shikakai]. Avoid the application of shampoo on the scalp directly, if there is no oil on it. Use lukewarm water in the winters, or of room temperature, otherwise, for hair wash. This promotes the natural growth of hair.

Conditioning. A conditioner may be used occasionally. Natural sources are always better, without a doubt, like egg white, milk, and curd. They make the hair smooth.

Hair packs. This is another useful way to maintain the health of your hair. Amla [Indian gooseberry], methi [fenugreek], and hibiscus, made into a paste, along with curd, or water, are recommended. This improves the hair texture.

Tying of hair. This must not be too tight so as to avoid the hair from breaking.

Greying of hair. This can occur early for several reasons — genetic [hereditary], environmental [stress], chemicals [harsh shampoos, serums, hair dye]. Greying of hair is generally reversible. All you need to do is identify the causative factor and take the right treatment.

Eye care. With the advent of computers, electronic gadgets, and gizmos, we overtly misuse, or overuse, our vision — this is a major cause for dark circles, under-the-eye ‘bags’ and dry eyes.

  • First and foremost: take care of eyes by taking some time off from exposure to bright lights emitted from the devices
  • Avoid aggressive rubbing of eyes
  • Use cold/ice packs to relax the eye muscles
  • Use herbal eyewashes with triphala to avoid drying and also for cleansing the eyes
  • Sleep on time to avoid muscle strain
  • Wash the eyes thoroughly, but gently and after using heavy eye make-up.

Lips are the highlight and a splash of colour on it is one way of beautifying oneself. Dry, or chapped lips, discoloration of lips are common problems.

  • Use chemical-free lip balms, or other natural cosmetics
  • If you use lipstick, look for a safe one, as most of them contain metals that are toxic to the body; more so, because they may be absorbed easily, or ingested, into the system. The amount maybe small, but the cumulative effect can be deleterious. Wash it off before consuming food, or fluids
  • For those who have naturally dry lips, or dryness due to environmental factors, it is best to apply butter, ghee, or oil [coconut, olive, and sesame] over the lips to moisturise it.

It is not the responsibility of a soap, or face wash, to keep your facial skin pretty. The power lies within you. You’d do well to follow certain good practices for a healthy, glowing face and skin.

  • Drink plenty of fluids; eat fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, good fats, with meals, and wash regularly. This will help avoid dryness of facial skin; it also prevents acne
  • A natural herbal face pack, or ubtan, or sandal paste, or a simple application of milk cream, or curd, can help in getting rid of the scars, wrinkles and pigmentation due to dryness, or aging, as also blemishes etc.

Nails and nail folds are another route of entry for chemicals in the form of nail paints. Opt for safe, natural brands and clean them when not needed. If you are involved in doing household cleaning work, either wear gloves and handle the chemicals safely, or wash thoroughly once done. Dry the fingers and hands properly to avoid any chemical traces, especially in the web spaces of the fingers and nail folds.

Moisturising the body from within by ingesting more fluids and good fats in the diet is useful. However, the external environment can have a direct effect on the skin and cause much dryness. This can be tackled with the regular application of oil, or through abhyanga — the traditional Ayurvedic massage with oils.

One significant difference in the genders is the physiology of menstruation in women. The menarche, nowadays, is ensuing at an early age. This is due to the changes in diet and lifestyle; it is the trigger too for endocrine dysfunction. When menarche is nearing and girls start noticing bodily changes, it is necessary to concentrate on a good diet and lifestyle for a smooth and easy transformation. This will also foster appropriate physical growth. There are different regimes followed in different parts of India, all part of traditional practices, that boost the health of a woman’s reproductive system.

It is, in general, advisable to avoid spicy food, oily fried food, confectionery, alcohol, smoking, or limiting their use, to avoid hormonal imbalances, especially close to and during menstruation.

  • Do regular physical exercises for better hormonal balance
  • Women who have a tendency for passing clots during periods must regulate the consumption of food substances that tend to increase pitta — viz., meat, chillies, and papaya
  • Drink more water, or sabja seeds [basil seeds], soaked in water, ragi beverages, coriander seed water, and tender coconut, at least a week before periods
  • Women who have severe pain in the legs/back/waist/abdomen must avoid dry food items, like poha, bread, chapati/roti They should instead drink jeera-ajwain [thymol-cumin] infused water, or spiced buttermilk, on a daily basis, starting at least a week before the periods. They may also use a hot water bag over the abdomen to ease the pain and avoid physical strain.

Premenopausal and menopausal phases are equally important. You should take special care of your diet, during the time, so as to avoid hormonal imbalances that trigger other health concerns. Women nearing the menopausal age, or going through the post-menopausal phase, must consume foods which are good sources for oestrogens — sesame seeds, flaxseed, dill seeds, peaches, apricots, berries, soybean, soya chunks, etc., including natural calcium sources, like milk, buttermilk, paneer, tofu, moringa, broccoli, ladies’ finger, leafy vegetables, fish, lentils, nuts, and figs.

Dr AMBIKA P NAYAK, MD [Ayurveda], is Founder & Managing Director of Ayurvedeeyam, a speciality Ayurveda Clinic in Bengaluru. Her passion for the ancient, yet ‘completest’ natural medical system, and professional clinical skills are keyed to raising awareness for Ayurveda as a first choice of treatment for illness and healthy living, just as much as her axiom, Svasthasya svāsthya rakṣaṇaṃ — the age-old, fundamental principle of Ayurveda. Dr Nayak, who has presented papers and participated in national and international symposia, is also a strong advocate of panchakarma, thanks to its fully holistic and proven therapeutic efficacy in the treatment and prevention of illness, or disease.

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