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Ayurveda in Skin & Hand Care
Shahnaz Husain's practical experience of Ayurveda has been in the field of cosmetology, where she has applied the nature principle and found it ideal for modern demands. Apart from its long history of practical usage and the element of safety, Ayurveda has several benefits in skin, hair and body care. Plant extracts and natural substances have been formulated into cosmetic products, according to the Ayurvedic system, not only for the daily care of the skin and hair, but also for the treatment of many problems. One of the major benefits is that biologically active ingredients are easily absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin and influence it at the cellular level. These organic ingredients are based on the same biological principles as the human body. This is the reason why the human body responds extremely well to natural substances, while it has an in-built resistance to synthetic ones.

Advantages of Ayurveda in beauty care

  • Long history of safe human usage.
  • Offers safety from irritative after-effects.
  • The human body responds well to natural substances and has a resistance to synthetic ones.
  • The skin and scalp are influenced at the cellular level, helping to improve normal functions.
  • Promotes the capacity to absorb products.
  • Restores the normal balances.
  • Herbs have a mild effect, but have powerful and specific healing properties.
  • Particularly suited to skin and hair care.
  • Natural fragrances of flower and herb extracts help to calm the nerves and induce relaxation.

For centuries, the west has been attracted to Indian spices and herbs. Today, many Indian plants are being used in the formulation of modern medicines. Research has also been conducted into the medicinal properties and other traditional uses of those ingredients, which have been a part of Ayurvedic pharmacopeia and folk medicine. This has helped to provide scientific support to the empirical knowledge contained in Ayurveda.

Many of these medicinal ingredients have also been in use due to their effects on the skin and scalp and have proved to be ideal in external treatments. They are part of Shahnaz Husain's repertoire of formulations for skin, hair and body care. Apart from products for general care, Shahnaz Husain has evolved many therapeutic formulations for the treatment of specific problems, like acne, pigmented skin, freckles, premature ageing, scars, skin-sensitivity, dehydration, dark circles, enlarged pores, dandruff, hair damage, hair loss and alopecia.

The ingredients that have been selected for these formulations not only have specific curative properties, but have shown a lack of harmful after-effects and irritative reactions. In fact, many of them help to soothe the skin and cure inflammatory conditions. Ayurvedic ingredients are chosen according to their ability to increase or reduce specific doshas. Herbs are also remarkably versatile. They can have a combination of effects, allowing the entire scope of the problem to be treated. For instance, a particular herb may cleanse the skin, restore the normal acid-alkaline balance and also have a germicidal and soothing effect. Thus, the properties of the herb can be related to individual needs. Neem (margosa) is one such versatile product and every part of the tree is used for healing purposes. Neem leaf infusions have been used to cure skin diseases and are still used to relieve itching, soothe rashes, create a germicidal environment and clear inflammatory conditions. Neem contains organic sulphur compounds, which have powerful and versatile healing actions.

Nature is not only an expert chemist, but the best cosmetologist. An entire range of cosmetic products exists in nature, with definite preventive and corrective actions. Henna, which is so much in use today, has its basis in the ancient dyeing method, when chemical dyes and colourants were unknown. Apart from imparting colour, henna has also proved to be an effective natural conditioner. It has the ability of coating each hair shaft, lending strength, body and shine to the hair. Henna has been combined with other herbal extracts, like 'bael' (Aegle marmelos), 'amla' (Emblica officinalis), 'brahmi'(Centella asiatica), arnica, hibiscus and so on, to formulate hair cleansers, tonics, rinses, nourishers etc. These preparations have helped to bring back health to damaged hair, promote hair growth and maintain the health of the hair and scalp, apart from controlling dandruff and other problems. Herbs like Shikakai (acacia concinna) and Arishtak (Indian soapnut) have been traditionally used for washing the hair. Amla (Embelica officinalis) is another such popular ingredient. The ancient physician Charaka referred to amla as a medicine that delays aging, because of its high Vitamin C content. It is said that the Vitamin C content of amla is so stable that it is resistant to heat.

Trifala, a combination of three herbs, has varied uses, from toning the scalp to curing eye ailments and digestive disorders, soothing cough and inflammation. It consists of amla, haritaki (Terminalis chebula) and vibhitika (Terminalis belerica). Bilva (Aegle marmalos) and Brahmi (Indian Pennywort) have also been used in hair care. Bilva helps to control Vata and cures hair problems and inflammatory conditions, while Brahmi helps to control stress-related problems, as it has a calming effect on the nerves, apart from other beneficial properties. Brahmi (Centella asiatica) is well known for its ability to bring back health to the hair, as its fragrance induces relaxation and helps in cases of stress related conditions like alopecia and general hair loss. Other ingredients, like amla (Emblica officinalis), shikakai (Acacia concinna), reetha (sapindus trifoliatus), bhringaraj (Eclipta alba), anantmul (Hemidesmus indicus), have been made into tonics, oils, cleansers and conditioners for hair care. They have been effective in the treatment of dandruff, seborrhoea, alopecia and general hair loss.

Sandalwood is one of the most popular cosmetic ingredient used in India. It has been mentioned in ancient Indian texts as far back as the 5th century BC. It has powerful germicidal and antiseptic properties, while its exotic fragramce is said to have a relaxing effect on the mind. Not only does sandalwood soothe the skin and heal inflammatory conditions, but also has anti-ageing and rejuvenating effects. It is ideal for all skin types. Protective creams have been formulated with sandalwood, to protect the skin from the effects of pollutants, sun-exposure, dehydration and skin sensitivity. Sandalwood oil and extracts have been used in many other formulations, from light moisturizers, rich body shampoos, body lotions, massage oils, to after-shave creams. In fact, the gentle action of sandalwood makes it ideal for baby-care products too, soothing and preventing prickly heat and other rashes.

Tulsi (Holy Basil) has so many medicinal uses that it has been traditionally venerated and worshipped. Modern research has revealed that it helps to purify the air, apart from its soothing and curative actions on the skin and scalp. Extracts and oil of rose are also common beauty aids. Oil of rose, in fact, originated in India. It has been used for centuries, in various ways, both for its healing action and delightful fragrance. The fragrance of rose, sandalwood, brahmi and other natural scents is said to have a soothing and relaxing effect on the nerves. In fact, rose was used as an anti-depressant during ancient times. Today, we know that a relaxed mind is one of the pre-requisites of healthy skin and hair, because mental stress can trigger off many skin and hair problems, like acne, alopecia and general hair loss. Rose is suited to all skin types and has a refreshing effect too. It has powerful tonic properties, improves skin texture and soothes inflammations. It can assume the role of a cleanser-cum-refreshing lotion for all types of skins. In fact, it even benefits the delicate skin around the eyes, reducing puffiness and fatigue.

Herbs and natural substances also help to promote the elimination of toxins and wastes, as well as dead epithelial cells, thus encouraging the regeneration of new cells. This, in turn, helps to preserve the youthful qualities of the skin. The aging process can be hastened by many factors, among which exposure to sunlight is the most significant. Chemical pollutants, artificial heating and cooling, make-up cosmetics, chlorinated water, alkaline soaps, can also trigger off the manifestation of aging signs. Neglect and abuse also take their toll. Such assaults cause the skin to become dry, lose its resilience and wrinkle easily. Chronic lack of moisture can be a single factor that causes premature aging of the skin.

It is only through daily cleansing and care with natural ingredients that the skin can be protected from early aging and other problems. Cleansers containing powerful moisturizers, like aloe vera, have been formulated to remove impurities without disturbing the moisture balance. They also improve the skin's ability to retain moisture and restore the normal acid-alkaline balance. Aloe vera is also known to help cell renewal. During the ancient times, aloe vera was used to heal cuts and wounds, as it speeds up the skin's cell renewal. Extracts of aloe vera, lemon, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), turmeric, rose, etc., have been used to formulate cleansers and protective creams for the skin.

Similarly, almond, wheatgerm, lavender, jasmine, balsam, sesame and many such herbal extracts form the ingredients of emollient nourishing creams. Wheatgerm oil is rich in Vitamin E and helps to protect the tissues from degeneration. Almond is ideal for the delicate skin around the eyes, keeping it free from wrinkles and dark circles. These vitamin and mineral rich extracts benefit the skin by increasing blood flow and restoring damaged capillaries. Sesame seed, sunflower oils and even sandalwood are known for their sunscreen properties. Such natural sun-filters have been used in sun-block products, along with natural rehydrants and humectants.

Apart from plant products, Ayurveda also used metals and gems for healing. These have been incorporated in formulations for skin care, mainly due to their powerful age-control properties. Among these are gold, diamond, gems and powder of pearls.

The Shahnaz Husain formulations, which use a large number of such Ayurvedic ingredients are a perfect union of an ancient tradition and the latest scientific techniques. Not only have they been subjected to stringent clinical and laboratory tests, but to the most exacting test of all……..the Test of Time.


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