The city: Udaipur, India. The most legendary of towns in Rajasthan, known as the “Venice of the East” due to its stunning lakeside location, rambling old palaces and stunning architecture painted in every shade of white known to mankind.
The quest: Soaking in the ancient beauty of the landscape and going to the very roots of the glorious indigenous beauty recipes that have originated in this land and been adopted by literally every brand, from Aveda to Estee Lauder.
The quandary: A missing camera that’s left sitting on my desk approximately 7,467 miles away. In a land that begs a photo at literally every turn of its winding paths.
The solution: Yes, thankfully there is one. In the form of the ubiquitous smartphone that’s almost surgically attached to my hand 24 x 7. Which is a blessing, it turns out, in more ways than one. Not only do today’s smartphones almost rival DSLRs in their photo quality (the Coolpad Note 5 comes with a 13 MP rear camera) but it’s also small and inconspicuous enough to get into tight spaces to capture a micro-detail, take candid shots without making people feel too self conscious and light enough to take literally everywhere without yoour shoulder falling off. And, of course, then there is the fact that I have yet to meet a camera that lets you take the perfect selfie, complete with a forward facing lens AND night mode to chase away the darkness (hello again, Coolpad Note 5, with your 8 MP front facing camera with flash!).
The result: A wealth of traditional beauty recipes that have made Rajasthani women some of the most revered in the world, along with a treasure trove of photographs that will make for the memories of a lifetime.
Enjoy them both here!
Indian beauty recipe #1: Sandalwood & almond face scrub
Rose water is purifying, while almonds and saffron represent fertility. But that’s just the ritualistic part. The reason Indian women have revered this scrub since the times of Ayurveda is because almonds contain essential fatty acids for smooth and super-supple skin. They are also packed with antioxidants, including vitamin E, to neutralise environmental toxins and keep skin healthy.
Rose water and saffron, in the meantime, are packed with skin soothing and complexion perfecting ingredients, like Vitamin C and polyphenols, which can erase fine lines, boost collagen, clear blocked pores, soften the complexion and hydrate cell tissues.4-5 almonds 3-4 strands of saffron, dissolved in a few drops of warm water few drops of rose water
1. Rub the almonds on a coarse stone with rose water till you get a paste
2. Mix this paste with the saffron water
3. Apply the mask to your face; let it dry, then rub it off with wet hands. Weeks of accumulated grime and dead skin will come off with the paste
Indian beauty recipe #2: Heal chronic acne
Sandalwood has potent antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties that make it a treat for flawlessly glow-y complexions. It’s also superb at reducing skin scarring of all kinds. Vetiver is antiseptic and very effective in treating chronic acne. Added bonus: this paste smells divine!1 small bunch vetiver few drops of vetiver essential oil 2 tsp sandalwood powder
1. Soak the vetiver in a little water overnight
2. Next day, strain the water and mix it with the sandalwood powder
3. Add few drops of vetiver essential oil to the paste
4. Apply this paste on your face, paying special attention to the affected areas; wash it off once dry. Repeat daily till for 2-4 weeks; the left over paste should be kept refrigerated
Indian beauty recipe #5: Whole body mask
This traditional body mask (called an ubtan) is applied to both bride and groom for seven days before the wedding. It’s messy but superb for making skin smooth, flawless and glow-y. Turmeric cleanses, disinfects and glosses; sandalwood is antiseptic, astringent and anti-inflammatory; gur (jaggery) is packed with glycolic acid for exfoliation and humectants to keep everything moisturised; yogurt’s lactic acid helps slough off dead skin cells; chickpea flour busts grime and toxins; and ghee deep cleanses, moisturise and heals.2 cups besan (chickpea flour) 1 tbsp sandalwood powder 2 tsp turmeric powder 2 tsp gur (sugar cane jaggery) 2 tbsp yogurt 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1. Mix everything together to form a paste
2. Apply the paste to clean skin; wait till it dries (approximately 15 minutes), then rub it away with wet fingers. Finally, rinse clean with lukewarm water