Turmeric: The super skincare spice (and it doesn’t always turn you yellow!)

There is a reason turmeric is a core ingredient in beauty rituals and medicinal regimes all the way from Japan and Indonesia to Sri Lanka and India. Multiple reasons, actually: this yellow-colored spice is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and detoxifier. It keeps skin soft and smooth, makes it glow, tackles acne and helps bust hyper-pigmentation. Turmeric paste is also prescribed in Indian medicine for various skincare issues, like puffiness, wrinkles and eczema.

Besides this, it is used for cuts and burns due to its antiseptic effect and ability to promote healing. In addition, turmeric boosts liver detoxification, so that pesticides and other environmental chemicals are safely removed from the body. And it can help to decrease muscle soreness after an intense workout. In fact, turmeric is currently even being investigated for possible benefits in Alzheimer’s, cancer and arthritis.

turmeric skincareSurprise: Turmeric doesn’t always stain your skin!

Many of us balk at putting turmeric on our skin for fear of looking like a character out of The Simpsons. I resisted it for quite some time as well – right until I attended an Indian wedding, where the bride was covered from head-to-toe in a mixture of turmeric, gram flour, sandalwood powder and mustard oil. It turned out this is an ancient bridal ritual to deep cleanse the body and impart a radiant glow. A similar tradition is held sacred in the palaces of Indonesia, where brides-to-be rub a mixture of turmeric and gram flour on their bodies on the morning of their wedding to give their skin a golden glow.

Which led me to think: brides wouldn’t risk turning yellow hours before their wedding, would they? Turns out, turmeric has got an unfair reputation. Pure, organic turmeric doesn’t leave a permanent yellow stain; rather, it’s the artificial dyes added to the supermarket stuff that stains skin with the unflattering hue.

If you want to be extra careful, look for kasturi turmeric (curcuma aromatica), which is intrinsically non-staining and is superb at clearing acne, inhibiting facial hair growth and brightening the complexion. However, it is not edible and should only be used externally.

Even if you can’t find kasturi turmeric, don’t worry. Just make sure there is a fair amount of milk in your beauty ritual – this cancels out the staining. And absolute worse case situation, mix some water with sugar and scrub your face with the solution. This will leave your skin super-clean and stain-free!

Now, with that sorted, it’s time to remember that this potent ingredient is even cropping up in leading skincare products like Ole Henriksen Visual Truth Eye Creme and DDF Anti-Ageing Restorative Advanced Firming Cream. So, it’s definitely worth a try in the natural form! Just note: whole turmeric (which you grind into a paste with a little water) trumps powder; and organic powder trumps the non-organic version in potency.

Turmeric as a deep cleanser

Mix chickpea (or rice) flour with turmeric powder in equal proportions. Add just enough raw milk or plain yogurt to make a paste. Apply evenly to the face and leave on for about 10-15 minutes; wash off with warm water.

Turmeric for acne

Mix one tablespoon of turmeric with a few drops of milk. Apply on skin for 15-20 minutes and then wash off with plain water. This will both reduce active acne and lighten the scars.

Turmeric as a skin brightener

Mix 2 tablespoons of sandalwood powder, a pinch of turmeric powder and a few drops of lemon juice. Add enough milk to make a paste. Apply this mask on your face and neck; wash off with warm water once dry.

Turmeric as a face mask for oily skin

Add 1½ tablespoons sandalwood powder and a pinch of ground turmeric to 3 tablespoons of orange juice and apply the paste to your face. Leave on for about 10-15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

Turmeric as a wrinkle buster

Mix turmeric powder and rice powder with equal amounts of raw milk and tomato juice to make a paste. Apply this paste to face and neck for 30 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

Turmeric for facial hair

Mix kasturi turmeric with chickpea flour. Leave on for 10-15 minutes, then wash off in light circular motions.

Turmeric as a body hair remover

Make a paste of turmeric and sugar and apply it all over the skin. Leave on for a couple of hours and then scrub gently. A regular application of this paste discourages hair growth altogether.

Turmeric as scalp saviour

Add 1 tablespoon of turmeric to a cup of jojoba, olive or coconut oil. Massage this mixture into your scalp and leave on for 15 minutes, then shampoo as usual. This is a great deterrent for dandruff and improves the scalp’s overall condition.

turmeric skincare 3Turmeric as ‘longevity tea’

Dr. Andrew Weil notes that people in Okinawa, the Japanese island nation with the world’s longest average life span, drink turmeric tea daily. To make your own, boil 4 cups of water, add 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, allow to simmer for 10 minutes, strain and add ginger and/or honey to taste.

And finally… the legendary Turmeric Elixir

Boil a half-inch piece of turmeric with half a glass of milk. Once the milk has turned yellow, remove from heat, let it cool slightly drink thrice a week, at night. You can add a tablespoon of turmeric powder in place of the turmeric piece. This will help you gain strength, protect the body against infections and strengthen bones (thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis).

Have you ever used turmeric as a beauty ingredient?

Deodorant as face primer? THAT’s how celebs look so flawless on the red carpet

Humid evenings are never a good match for alfresco dinner parties. And yet I keeping getting trapped into them over and over again. So, with makeup literally melting off faster than I could apply it, I decided to risk a truly bizarre beauty tip that I saw in action at the Cannes Film Festival last year – using deodorant as a face primer.

deodarant on faceSeriously! It sounds totally bonkers but works like a dream. The logic is simple: antiperspirants formulated to keep underarms dry should have the same effect when applied to parts of the face that have the most sweat glands. Yes, I am talking about the upper lip and hairline. Today, most celebs on the red carpet stay sweat-free under the glaring lights by applying clear, unscented deodorant to their face (with a foundation brush, in thin layers) before putting on makeup.

I did it yesterday and it totally worked – for the first time, my makeup actually stayed in place. But remember that deodorants were not exactly developed for use on facial skin, so test them a small patch before applying all over the face. And only use the unscented ones for this purpose – I used Dove, though I guess Nivea would work just as well!

What’s your most bizarre beauty tip?

Why you should wash your face (and hair) with vodka

If you were in Russia, your day would probably begin and end with vodka, which is called upon for everything from rinsing the mouth to curing hair loss. Translating as “little water” or “dear water” in Russian, this crystal clear liquid was invented in 1503 by Kremlin monks who used it as a topical antiseptic and cure-all drink. The tradition continues till date – which can be a little weirdness-inducing at first glance. Then you see the zillion beauty benefits and figure that it’s simply like the French love for wine… cheers!

On this trip to Moscow and Samara, I pestered scores of women for traditional vodka-based beauty recipes. So, this weekend, save a few sips of this potent alcohol for absolute (Absolut?) miracles on your face. And hair. And every other pore of your body. Salud!

Vodka’s beauty benefit #1: Astringent action

Mix equal amounts of vodka and water, then apply with a cotton ball to your face as an astringent. It will cleanse the skin and tighten pores.

Vodka’s beauty benefit #2: Ole’s firming ice cube treatment

This one comes straight from beauty guru Ole Henriksen and is perfect for tightening pores and firming the skin. All you need is equal amounts of fresh lemon juice, strongly brewed rose hips tea, strongly brewed mint tea and vodka. Blend all ingredients together and pour into an ice cube tray. When frozen, wrap an ice cube in a thin cotton handkerchief and rub across the entire face and throat for 2-5 minutes. Ice brings down the bloat, while vodka and lemon juice tighten pores and brighten the skin. Rose hip tea calms any inflammation and mint tea promotes micro-circulation to impart a healthy glow.

Vodka’s beauty benefit #3: Go frizz-free

Roughed up cuticles? Zero-shine strands? Add a shot of vodka to your deep conditioner. It will lower hair’s pH, helping the cuticles to close – and sealed cuticles mean reduced frizz and tons of shine.

Vodka’s beauty benefit #4: Clarifying rinse

Mix a mug of water with a tablespoon of vodka and use it as a final rinse after shampooing and conditioning. Perfect for removing product buildup from the scalp and strands, making hair lustrous and shiny!

Vodka’s beauty benefit #5: Diminish dandruff

Flaky scalp spoiling your beauty cred? Add three teaspoons of dried rosemary to a cup of vodka and leave overnight. Next day, strain the solution and massage it into your scalp. Leave for half an hour, then wash off with cold water.

vodka skincareVodka’s beauty benefit #6: Prevent hair loss

Mix a tablespoon of organic honey and onion juice in a jigger of vodka and apply on your scalp. Leave it on your hair overnight and wash off in the morning. Vodka cleanses the scalp, removes toxins from hair and stimulates the growth of healthy tresses.

Vodka’s beauty benefit #7: Bust foot odour

Simply rub each foot with a shot-worth of vodka. Goodbye, funky odour!

Vodka’s beauty benefit #8: Ban bad breath

Swish around half a shot’s worth of vodka in your mouth for a minute and your breath will go from poor to pleasant.

Vodka’s beauty benefit #9: Cold sores

Apply a dab of vodka on a cold sore to dry it out.

Vodka’s beauty benefit #10: Poison ivy

Pour a bit of vodka on a poison ivy rash to help relieve itching – it removes the urushiol oil that causes this problem.

Vodka’s beauty benefit #11: Smooth shave

An uber-smooth shave begins with an uber-clean razor. So, soak your blade in a cup of vodka after shaving. Vodka will prevent it from getting rusty and clear any bacterial buildup.

Stressed? Exhausted? At the end of the road? Your Skin NEEDS this DIY face mask

What is life without a bit of stress? And we all know what stress does to skin. Acne, lack of radiance, dryness, dullness, wrinkles, rashes… it’s not a pretty sight. Especially with winter looming. This is definitely NOT the time to battle with horrid skin.

While I can’t actually take away your stress (sorry!), here’s a solution to the skin woes at least. The honey in this anti-stress face pack is super hydrating, to keep skin supple and glowy. Plus, its enzymes soften the skin, while antiseptic and anti-fungal elements penetrate clogged pores to draw out impurities, thus tackling breakouts, reducing redness and calming inflammation.

Carrots are a terrific source of antioxidants, which neutralise the effect of stress and environment-induced free radicals. Their beta-carotene boosts the renewal process of skin cells, besides helping to nourish, tighten, revitalize and rejuvenate the complexion.

Baking soda is alkaline in nature and hence disrupts the growth of bacteria (without disrupting the pH balance of the skin) to help fight acne.

anti stress face maskYou will need

2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon fresh carrot juice, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

How to make the anti-stress face mask

Pour all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Apply this paste all over your face and leave it on for 20 minutes. After that, remove the mask with lukewarm water. Finally, dip a cotton ball in rose water (or plain mineral water) and gently dab it all the face and neck.

How do you keep yourself sane when the world is spinning out of control?