Homemade Ubtan for Winters
One of my biggest vices is my urge to burst into silly songs at the most inopportune moments. I once got thrown out of my school library for crooning “Loony Loopy Lupin” (a once-upon-a-time favourite song of Peeves, the Hogwarts poltergeist) in a made-up tune. Growing up in the horrible Hindi music era of the 90’s, I used to burst into rather risqué songs like “Choli Ke Peechhe Kya Hai” despite my dad’s threats of stopping my chocolate supply if I dared to even utter, let alone sing, those words. I would not have confessed all this at the peak of my cocky I-have-such-an-awesome-music-collection period about five years ago, but at the age of 21, I am grown up (and unabashed) enough to admit that another childhood delight was “Banno Teri Akhiyaan.” I used to LOVE the “yellow thingie” (I had a very articulate vocabulary even then) they rubbed on Manisha Koirala’s body in the video of the song. I was a fan of “getting married” and had decided at the age of 7 that I’d get married as soon as I was “big” so that I could get that “yellow thingie” massage too.
Now that I am older, wiser (questionable but let’s just go along with the idea, yes?) and slightly vagabond-ish, I am quite happy to stay single for another decade or so. However, my love for the “yellow thingie” aka “ubtan” has not gone away. I’m a huge fan of home remedies and if there’s an equally awesome natural equivalent for some cosmetic product that I spend cheesecake-worthy money on, I gladly grab it. Haven’t become a patchouli-smelling, tree-hugging hippie yet, but I am quite close.
After the Great Karmic Acne Outbreak of 2010-11, I prefer to opt for homemade cleansers than to buy chemical-ridden, pimple-causing horrors no matter what the airbrushed models claim. So, I have tried a lot of things ranging from yogurt and honey to sandalwood powder and besan. They’re all more or less effective but I needed something more fuss-free and less prone to induce laziness attacks. That’s when my old obsession for Manisha Koirala’s “yellow thingie” massage stuff rose again and I decided to make my own ubtan this winter.
Oh, wait, where are my manners? Ms. Ubtan has been pestering me to introduce her formally to IMBB readers instead of simply shoving her into this post so unceremoniously. So, everyone, meet Ms. Ubtan. She (our Ubtan is not just a THING!) is probably the world’s first known cosmetic which was recommended by Vedic physicians to IMBB-type fans in ancient times (cannot vouch for it but it gives me a great kick as a history nerd). She is the natural version of microdermabrasion and depending upon her ingredients, she can be anti-fungal and anti-bacterial or moisturising and revitalising. Her regular use improves the complexion, helps to remove scars and makes the skin healthier. She is also used in South Asian weddings to embarrass the bride and the groom, and to prove to them that desi products will ALWAYS trump that fancy-pansy TBS or L’Occitane. She is also used on newborn babies by mothers who don’t want their kids to waste money on waxing or “Fair & Lovely” when they grow up.
Now that the usual politesse has been accomplished, let us get back to the topic of creating a winter special ubtan. For me, winters are the time when I recover a lot of things – lost weight, original skin colour, brain cells, sleep and healthy skin. So, I decided to make an ubtan that would save my skin from looking like a 4-year old’s spanked bottom and put some moisture into it while cleansing it at the same time.
It was purposely made in a powder form so that it does not spoil and can easily last me till March even if my mum steals from it. I did not use besan as the ubtan base because it leaves my skin stretched out and dry during winters. I have gone berserk adding other ingredients according to my own skin type though (dry but acne prone and not too sensitive).
Here’s what all went in it and why:
- Almonds – 15. Almond is a rough but VERY rich kid. In an ubtan, almond meal provides abrasion that “polishes” the skin, increases blood circulation, stimulates lymph production to eliminate toxins and triggers the skin’s natural oil secretion. Its richness comes from the Vitamin E content that provides moisturisation to winter-tormented skin.
- Cashew nuts – 15. Cashews are more loaded in nutrients than A. Raja is in black money. They have minerals like copper and magnesium and also contain oleic acid, a little skin charming healthy fat found in the beloved olive oil too. Besides that, they also contain multiple B-vitamins as well as Vitamin K and Biotin (aka Vitamin H). Although not too abrasive, they help to cleanse the skin more deeply than other nuts and nourish the pores.
- Flaxseed – 1/4 cup. Archana has done an excellent job of explaining the benefits of flaxseed here. When applied topically, flaxseed provide Omega 3 nutrients to parched skin. They are also high in antioxidant content and add the much sought after glow to the skin.
- Pistachios – 20. Yet another bunch of Omega-3 rich nuts, they are excellent for dry, mature or weather beaten skin and provide much needed moisturisation benefits. Thanks to their content of Vitamins A, C, E and B6, they provide collagen to the skin as well as help prevent a multitude of skin problems.
- Split Orange Lentils – 1/4 cup. Okay, I am not a total dud in the kitchen. However, I only cook heart-attack-on-plate kind of unhealthy (but super awesome) stuff and to be honest, lentils do not fall in that elite list. So, I never bothered to learn them by their Indian names. Kindly do not snicker derisively at me. Anyhoo, I think it’s called masoor dal or moong dal or something but I’m not sure. The picture will give you a fairer idea. I mainly added it because I noticed that the use of its powder in face packs gave a distinct glow. Also, its slightly granular effect helps in tackling whiteheads, and I have a platoon of those on my poor little chin.
- Rice – 1/4 cup. Rice powder is an excellent way to counter sun damage and add radiance to the skin. Its emollient properties keep skin cells healthy, while its ceramide increases collagen production to make skin more supple and no, it does not make your face too white or Geisha-like.
- Oats – 1/4 cup. Oats are incredibly gentle emollients and make the skin soft and smooth. They help in case of dry, itchy skin and are thus an excellent addition for a winter ubtan. They’re also hypoallergenic which means no ugly breakout reactions.
- Turmeric – 1 tbsp. Ahem. If you don’t know what THIS product does, please go away and find a jadoogar to turn you back into a kid again. Then, grow up properly and alertly, and ask your dadi/nani to badger you with stories of how the super amazing haldi can cure of you everything from skin problems to cancer.
- Orange peel powder – 1/4 cup. This is a brilliant example of effective waste management. Once you’re done devouring oranges for that Vitamin C, preserve the peels and dry them in the sun for about 4-5 days until they’re completely dessicated and brittle. Their powder is a very rich source of antioxidant loving Vitamin C too, and is very effective in tackling a wide range of issues right from tanning and dullness to acne and patchy skin.
- Saffron – a pinch or two. This was simply added to support the Kashmiri economy. Okay, not really. Saffron is the spice equivalent of Kareena Kapoor – ruddy (as in Kareena’s excessive blush), showy, expensive, pretty, but despite everything, quite good at its job. I mainly put it in to combat the dullness that comes with the onset of winter and also to counteract any tanning caused by excessive basking in the winter sun.
- Sweet Almond Oil – 8-10 drops. Yet another cool kid. It is your best friend in winters if you want a soft and glowing skin. It also helps to treat red, patchy or irritated skin, a common occurrence in winters. Also, it helps to restore moisture to skin ravaged by room heaters (or air conditioners, for that matter). The Vitamin E content in it will also act as a preservative for your ubtan.
Taking separate turns for each, grind the nuts, flaxseed, orange peel, oats, rice and lentils into a fine powder. Mix them all together. Then, add saffron and turmeric in it. I used wild turmeric powder. You could use the regular one too, but get the homemade one instead of some packaged absurdity with artificial colouring. Finally, pour in sweet almond oil and mix everything properly. Store the powder in an airtight jar.
This process SEEMS lengthy but it is incredibly easy and does not consume much time. It took me barely 45 minutes to prepare the final powder. You could do it in probably less than half an hour if you do not have a neurotic mother hissing heartbreakingly distracting stuff like “What on EARTH are you doing?!”, “Get out of my kitchen!”, “You’re too clumsy to use the food processor!” etc., in your little ears.
How To Use:
I use it twice a day to cleanse my face by mixing it with honey and rose water. On days that I feel I can walk as far as the fridge without falling flat on my face due to grogginess, I mix curd or milk in the powder and give my face a little treat.
In the morning, I just apply it before stepping into the shower and scrub it off after 3-4 minutes. It is the perfect face treatment for slackers and the too-busy-to-use-face-packs kind of excuse mongers. When I get back home, I normally remove traces of kajal and sunblock using some almond/olive oil and then use this ubtan again to cleanse my face. If you apply makeup, you should remove it completely with some other product before using this.
I know there is a lot of laziness factor involved in using this twice a day, particularly the usual grumble about time. I solved that problem by keeping the jar in my bathroom cabinet itself along with a bowl, a bottle of rose water and a jar of honey. That takes care of the trouble to march to whatever little cove you may have hidden all your beauty products in. Overall, it would take you no more than 5 minutes to mix and apply this on your face.
Special Note for People with Other Skin Types:
This ubtan was customised to suit my dry, non-sensitive skin. You could tweak it to suit your own skin type. Oily-skinned beauties could give the cashews a skip and add some besan or multani mitti to the mix. Dried herbs like tulsi, neem and mint could also be added for extra love as could a few drops of tea tree oil. Sensitive skinned girls, please skip some ingredients as the mixture may be too abrasive for you. Just stick to a basic mix of oats, turmeric, saffron, cashews, pistachios and flaxseed.
For the sake of the good ol’ common sense, please IGNORE this post completely if you have any kind of nut allergy and no, you are not allowed to sue me for tempting you with an ubtan that is out of bounds for you.
NB: You MUST sing “Banno Teri Akhiyaan” in a super rustic voice accompanied by Nina Gupta expressions while using this particular “yellow thingie” if you want it to work effectively. I am sorry but the excuse of having a highly evolved music taste involving the likes of Lady Gaga or Britney Spears does not exempt you from this step. Yes, life is cruel. Get over it and sing the song.
I’ve been using this ubtan for about a week now and the effects are already visible. The acne marks on my cheek are lightening and my skin has a subtle glow. I’m hoping that the glow will take the intensity of a 1000 watt bulb in a few weeks and turn my face good enough for an ubtan advertisement equivalent of that Happydent commercial.
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