South India was an inspiring trip because a lot of locals practice sustainable living and rely heavily on handmade and DIY solutions. It’s also the land of Ayurvedic treatments and a wonderful place to learn about all-natural and simple beauty recipes. Ayurveda is a form of Hindu holistic medicine that believes health comes from a balance of mind, body and spirit. It’s the basis for many South Indian remedies!
Big thanks to Dr. Pramod Kumar for these recipes. He’s a wonderful Ayurvedic Professional at Cardamom County in Thekkady, Kerala.
DIY FACE WASH
1 1/2 cups boiled (and then cooled) water
2 cups rose petals
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Add rose petals to boiled and cooled water. Let steep for two days inside fridge. Muddle petals in water to release final essential oils. Strain water into sterile bottle or jar. Add lemon juice and shake/stir. Keep face wash in fridge and use as needed. Moisten cotton ball with rose water and wipe across face for cleansing.
In South India they believe rose water is a moisturizing and soothing beauty solution that works for ALL skin types. It also holds antiseptic properties which makes it a gentle cleanser that removes dirt and debris in a natural way. The lemon adds Vitamin C and antioxidants to help brighten skin. The citrus also helps keep the rose water fresher for longer.
DIY FACE TONER
1 cup whole milk
Zest of two oranges
Spread the zest from oranges on a plate or piece of paper and let dry for two days. Once dried, grind zest into a coarse powder. Pour milk into a sterile bottle or jar and add the orange powder, then shake gently. Keep face toner in fridge and use as needed. Moisten cotton ball with the milk-orange and dab onto clean face every other day. Let milk soak into skin for a few minutes, then rinse face with cool water.
In South India they believe that the fat and lactic acid in milk has moisturizing and softening properties. It truly nourishes your skin. The orange zest adds pectin and citric acid to the milk. This works to even out skin tone and dig up dirt to clean pores.
DIY FACE MASK
2 Tbsp plain yogurt (full fat is best)
2 Tbsp papaya paste
Mash chunks of ripe papaya to make a thick but smooth paste. Mix the papaya paste with yogurt. Apply a thin layer of mask onto face and let sit for 10-20 minutes. Remove with a warm and damp washcloth.
Papaya contains Vitamin A and an enzyme that helps remove dead skin and also keep your skin hydrated. Many women in India believe using papaya on the skin with fight blemishes and add a glow. Beauty experts agree that yogurt is a natural hydroxl-acid which helps exfoliate and soothe skin. You can replace the yogurt with honey if you want to try a thicker and stickier mask.
DIY PRE-SHOWER MASSAGE OIL
1/2 cup sesame oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 basil leaves
Warm sesame oil in saucepan on stove,or in the microwave. Bring oil to boiling point but remove from heat as soon as it begins to boil (don’t let it smoke). Add herbs and spices. Cover and let steep for one day on counter. Strain the oil into a squeeze bottle. Use this oil as a pre-shower treatment or after-bath moisturizer.
Sesame oil is used extensively in South India as a healing oil. It is believed to be a naturally antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent which makes it wonderful for the skin. By adding the herbs and spices, you’re creating a “hot” massage oil which will help warm your body and keep you grounded. The scent of this massage oil is amazing and gender neutral!
DIY HAIR CONDITIONER
1-2 Tbsp coconut milk
Lots of beautiful long hair on ladies in South India and when I asked what they use to keep their hair healthy…there was one overwhelming response! Coconut Milk. The easiest thing to try is replace your regular conditioner with coconut milk once a week. Put 1-2 tablespoons in your palm and condition your hair as normal in the shower. Let the milk sit on your hair for a few minutes and then rinse it away. Within a few weeks you’ll start to feel and see a big difference in softness and shine.