The only beauty detox you will ever need

After a full week of back-to-back weddings, complete with shovelled-on makeup and ultra-late nights, every pore of my skin is crying out for mercy. Time for a hefty dose of Beauty Rx!

Step 1: Cleanse out the gunk

When an event runs from morning to night, it means multiple makeup touch-ups. Result? Skin that gets completely clogged over. And there can be no better way of scrubbing out the gunk from every pore than this simple-yet-potent natural exfoliator, which comes from a Greek buddy who has the most gorgeous skin ever!

Ingredients

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 drop vanilla extract (for a soothing fragrance; recommended but not essential)

Method

1.  Whisk together all the ingredients.

2.  Massage them into your face and neck for a couple of minutes, rubbing in circular motions.

3.  Rinse with warm water and a wash cloth (to remove the oil).

Step 2: Deep cleanse from the inside-out

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Truly beautiful skin needs to be nurtured from the inside out. And this old Russian recipe helps you do just that, upping your beauty quotient multifold.

Ingredients

3 cups water

1 bowl

3 tablespoons dried herb (chamomile soothes dry skin, peppermint controls excessive oiliness, while rosemary and parsley are great for congested, acne-prone skin)

1 tea infuser

1 towel

Method

1. Pour one tablespoon of the dried herb in a tea infuser. Place the infuser in a mug and add boiling water until the mug is full. Infuse for 10 minutes.

2. Boil the remaining water; place the remaining herb in a bowl and pour in the boiling water.

3. Lean over the bowl, draping your head with a towel so that you are inhaling the vapours from the herbs. Remain as long as you can stand the heat or until the water cools.

4. Pat face dry with a clean towel, sip the tea slowly and don’t go out into the cold for at least half an hour. You’ll have a glow that comes from the inside out!

Step 3: Lay on the beauty mask

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Exhausted skin is sluggish skin and you need to rev up the circulation. Besides its circulation boosting powers, this Russian recipe also simultaneously tones, hydrates and refreshes the skin.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon tomato juice

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon (unbleached) white flour

1/2 cup buttermilk (for later)

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients except the buttermilk to form a paste.

2. Apply the paste to your face and neck; leave it on for 5-10 minutes. It may tingle a little as the blood starts flowing. However, never leave anything on it if it begins feeling uncomfortable.

3. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat skin dry.

4. Soak a cotton ball in buttermilk and apply it all over the skin. Rinse off after 10 minutes.

Step 4: Toner

Sweeping a slightly slightly astringent toner across newly clean skin preps the perfect canvas for applying moisturiser and completing the beauty detox. There are various type of skin fresheners but one of my favourites is still one that good old mom recommended years ago.

Ingredients

2 lemons

1 1/2 cups cold mineral water

Method

Squeeze the lemons and and strain the juice into a small bottle. Add the mineral water. Use an astringent toner after any of the facial masques. Follow with your favourite moisturiser.

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What is your acne telling you?

I always knew that the once-monthly spots that overtook my chin were the result of not-so-stable hormones. However, when my dermatologist took one look at the sudden outcrop of angry zits on my nose and asked me to get my blood pressure checked, it introduced me to a whole new (actually old) science of face mapping, which is pretty much the key to unlocking the mysteries behind problem skin.

Face mapping, which is fast taking centre stage at most clinics nowadays, combines Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine with cutting edge dermatologists’ prescriptions to explain how certain parts of your face are connected to other areas of your body. Put simply, think of your face as a map and blemishes as X’s on that landscape. Spots in different zones correspond to different problems. So, with this “map” as your guide, you can address the underlying causes of blemishes and not only make the unsightly zits vanish but also treat the underlying health problem in time.

Pretty awesome, right? Try it out: Here is how to decode breakouts in the basic areas.

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1 & 2: Digestive System — Eat less processed or junk food, reduce the amount of fat in your diet, step up water intake and opt for cooling things like cucumbers.

3: Liver — Cut out the alcohol, greasy food and dairy. This is the zone where food allergies also show up first, so take a look at your ingredients. Besides all this, do 30 minutes of light exercise every day and get adequate sleep so your liver can rest.

4 & 5: Kidneys — Anything around the eyes (including dark circles) point to dehydration. Drink up!

6: Heart — Check your blood pressure (mine was slightly high) and Vitamin B levels. Decrease the intake of spicy or pungent food, cut down on meat and get more fresh air. Besides this, look into ways to lower cholesterol, like replacing “bad fats” with “good fats” such as Omegas 3 and 6 found in nuts, avocados, fish and flax seed. Also, since this area is chock-full of dilated pores, check that your makeup is not past its expiry date or is skin-clogging.

7 & 8: Kidneys — Again, drink up! And cut down on aerated drinks, coffee and alcohol as these will cause further dehydration.

Zone 9 & 10: Respiratory system — Do you smoke? Have allergies? This is your problem area for both. If neither of these is the issue, don’t let your body overheat, eat more cooling foods, cut down on sugar and get more fresh air. Also keep the body more alkaline by avoiding foods that make the body acidic (meat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, sugar) and adding more alkalizing foods like green veggies and wheatgrass juice. Another thing that most of forget – dirty cell phones and pillow cases are two of the top acne culprits and this area is what they affect the most!

Zone 11 & 12: Hormones — This is the signature zone for stress and hormonal changes. And while both are sometimes unavoidable, you can decrease their effect by getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, eating leafy veggies and keeping skin scrupulously clean. Another interesting point: breakouts in this area indicate when you are ovulating (and on which side).

Zone 13: Stomach — Step up the fibre intake, reduce the toxin overload and drink herbal teas to help with digestion.

14: Illness — Zits here can be a sign that your body is fighting bacteria to avoid illness. Give it a break, take a yoga class, take a nap, take time to breathe deeply, drink plenty of water and know that everything always works out!

So, the next time you break out or notice dark under-eye circles, look to your face map: your skin is probably trying to communicate on behalf of the internal organs. However, do remember that, as with all medical issues, it is always best to see your doctor or dermotologist for a proper prognosis. This is just a general guide to head you off in the right investigative direction – just becuase you break out between the brows doesn’t always mean you have a bad liver!

Also read: What is your body acne telling you?

Holy & holistic: Discovering Ila skincare

Yesterday, I chanced upon a divinely gorgeous brand called Ila, which felt absolutely luxuriously fabulously blissful against my skin while calling upon ‘vibrational energies’ to soothe the senses. Developed a handful of years back by Denise Leicester, a Brit who came to India and fell in love with it’s culture, traditions and flowers, it offers up a sensual medley of fragrant floral and plant extracts, natural mineral oils and Himalayan salt crystals. The word ‘Ila’ comes from the Sanskrit word for ‘earth’ and there is a sacred place in northern India at the confluence of the Sarasvati and Drishdvati rivers known as Ilayaspada, which is considered to be extremely holy.In keeping with it’s name, the brand is devoted to the ancient practises that respect the sanctity of Mother Earth while calling upon it’s healing energies. According to the founder, “Everything in our products comes from a plant or mineral – nothing else.” But the brand goes even beyond the merely organic – ensuring an exceptionally high degree of purity in every ingredient. All the products are entirely free of synthetic chemicals and are crafted by sourcing the finest ingredients directly from local producers who cultivate and harvest the raw ingredients in harmony with nature.

For example, the Rose Damascena from India (below), which forms a core ingredient in many of the signature products, comes from a family that has been growing and distilling roses for many generations according to a centuries-old methods. The water is drawn by solar energy, then mixed with petals in copper vats and heated by natural fire-fuel. The spent petals are fed to the cows, completing a cycle that begins and ends with nature. The end result is a distillate of Rose Otto with a depth, a richness of scent that is so potent, I can smell the fragrance and feel it’s silken touch a full 12 hours after washing the Body Balm for Feeding Skin and Senses off my skin!

Similarly, the Argan Oil from Morocco (below) is made by a womans’ co-operative whose skills have been passed on down the Berber generations. It’s crushed, filtered and cold-pressed in the way it always has been, using many hands and just a few simple mechanical aids. The brand owners eschew middle-men, choosing instead to travel and handpick the “purest sources” by themselves, which lays the foundations for fair trade. The reason? “The purer the source and the process, the purer ila’s products will be and the more suffused with the earth’s natural healing energy.”

The products themselves are artisanal and hand-blended in an environment of peace and purity, accompanied by the rhythm of energy and balance-imbuing chants, in the English countryside. This is to imbue the finished holistic products with all the pure vibrational energies of nature that work in consonance with the therapeutic ingredients “to improve natural beauty through the health and vitality of our skin, to increase well-being through the transforming effects of energy healing, and to connect to a greater sense of inner serenity.”

The products have garnered a number of awards and are available at premium outlets across the world (including the Four Seasons Spa in Mumbai, which also offers up terrific spa rituals based around the same,  for the benefit of Indian connoisseurs). Prices normally start at approximately Rs. 2,000 (or 35 British pounds, depending on which part of the world you are based).

The Stress-Busting Watch

Ever had one of those days when nothing can go right? It’s not even lunchtime and my day has been inundated with all kinds of crisis situations, nerve-grating encounters and frazzled moments.

It’s days like these when I crave a quick-fix mood booster – like the new Fruitz watches launched by launched by Philip Stein, a  company that specialises in proprietary natural frequency technology.

These ultra-cute timepieces not only look cheery, but also emit soothing energy frequencies through your wrist, helping you get into a happier frame of mind, improve focus and relieve anxiety. Wearers attest to having reduced stress, less headaches and clinical studies show that the natural frequency technology in the watches improves sleep.