Homemade Ubtan

Homemade Ubtan for Winters

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.

Orange Peel


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.

Almond Oil

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.

Image Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

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65 thoughts on “Homemade Ubtan

  1. Hehe ! Great article ! Never tried an ubtan before ! So will bookmark this recipe! :thanks:

    P.S. – Ur articles are so funny ! And so interesting! Keep up the good work ! :rose:
    P.P.S. -I m going to listen to banno teri ankhiyan today! lol!!!!

    1. Thankee, Riti! Glad to know that you found the recipe to be useful. :toothygrin: :yahoo:
      And yipeee for banno and her akhiyaan. :tongue:

  2. hahaha u just made me youtube banno teri ankhiyan.. after yearssss i aw that song..! hahaha
    great article..i may try this :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:

      1. Hahahaha. It’s a super song – from a purely omg-that’s-so-ridiculous kind of perspective, of course. :lol2: :tongue:

  3. Wow A great post! and a very informative one! I am a total FAN of Homemade things n as soon as I read the title, I left all my work n jumped to read the article … i am a SUPER Lazy bug when it comes to applying Ubtan kindof things ..but nowI feel I should leave some laziness at bay n try using this according to my skin type. :thanks: so much Jabberwocky.. BTW did u adopt this name from the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ ?

    1. Thankee, Nidhi. Glad you liked it. Do try it. :toothygrin: :toothygrin:
      And yes, I took the name from the poem in ‘Through the Looking Glass’. Big fan of nonsense verse. :specs: :woot: :woot:

  4. m a big big fan of home made ubtans JW whether it ummer or winters… :jalwa: :jalwa: :jalwa:
    awesome write up a usual… :)) :)) :))

  5. awesome article jaberwocky!!!loved the idea of ubtan. skin looking like a 4-year old’s spanked bottom….. hehehehhehehe :stars: :stars: :toothygrin: :toothygrin: :lol2: :lol2: 😆 😆 😆 😆 :lol2: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

  6. never tried much Ubtans..now i guess i will :haanji: ..thnx for the post JB(we have same skin types :high5: )..yea me to will youtube “banno teri ankhiyan ” 😛

  7. :toothygrin: :toothygrin: :toothygrin: hav written up so well JW 🙂
    this ubtan sounds sooooooooo exotic… i have to make it asap…. :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:
    thanks a bunch for sharinggg :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:
    :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks:

  8. this is going to be my new year resolution to make this ubtan. :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo: i must have said it so many times before but just want to say that you are one awesome writer we have on IMBB. lovvveeee reading your articles. :puchhi: :puchhi: :puchhi: :puchhi: :puchhi:

    1. Woohoo for new year resolutions! :yahoo: :yahoo:

      And thankee for the praise! :shying: This kind of encouragement inspires me to write more on IMBB. :happydance: :puchhi:

  9. Enough talking about the great writing skills of Jabberwocky! U r on ur way to become famous girl!!! :yes: :haanji: Awesome writeup!! And very inspirational:) I am going to make this like today!!!

  10. awesme post!!! and so funny….had me in splits 😀 😀 ….my mum is a ubtan fan too……i will email this to her…..as for me….err…umm…m too lazy to round up all the ingredients 😛

    1. Hahaha, thankee! :woot: this recipe was originally supposed to be prepared by my mum but she is lazy like you. :silly: I’m the must-do-anything-for-good-skin kind of person in my family. :toothygrin: :toothygrin:

  11. Gurl…….. u had me rite there. me too like to sing all sorts of songs for each and every occasion. btw loved ur Ms. Ubtan recipe and hope to get y lazy ass off the chair and concoct myself some pampering treatment.
    funny and amazing post :teddy:

  12. Loved your article to bits, Jabberwocky!
    I have oily plus sensitive skin so I will tweak it a bit to suit my skin but I’ll try Ms Ubtan for sure.
    BTW, banno teri ankhiyan is one of my favourite songs as well!

  13. such a great recipe for ubtan and you ve written it so well…love reading your articles..they are funny and informative at the same time! keep up the good work JW! :thanks:

  14. no doubt on my list too for the new year and once I get off my lazy bu^%t I have so many wonderful homemade recipes to make for the skin and hair. maybe it can become my 2012 resolution. :woot: :woot:

    adding this to my favourites for sure. thanks. :thanks: awesome article as always.

  15. lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv your articles n your style of writing… :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: I will make this recipe, need to buy a mixie this weekend…as we are setting up home and then this will be the first thing to make and this does not require refrigeration…. awwwwwweeesssoommmmee…me loving it. thanks a ton and have a loveeeely day :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:

  16. Superb post as always, JW! All the more fun bcoz of ur sense of humour… :yes: :yes:
    U know, I use ubtan whenever I have time.. I use the split lentils too, and oatmeal powder, orange peel, turmeric and tulsi. :haanji: :haanji:
    I have combination skin. I so wanna add rice powder (always) and Cashews (only for winter) next.. :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:
    1 question though: Do almonds grind into a smooth powder? I always felt they were far too coarse n might feel abrasive (I have a tiny pimples).. ?:) ?:)

    1. Thankee, Ramya! :woot: :woot: Actually, no, almonds don’t grind into a very fine powder. That’s why I add a little extra rose water to make the mixture smooth and not very abrasive. However, you could add them in less quantity if your skin is sensitive to them.

  17. this ubtan looks like a must try :jiggy1: :jiggy1:
    u use almond or olive oil to remove face makeup?? it doesnt give breakouts? I have dry skin too, but acne prone

    1. Actually, a vegetable oil like almond or olive is great for removing even the most stubborn makeup. I generally wipe the oil off with cotton dipped in warm water until my skin is clean. It has never given broken me out. :toothygrin: I actually prefer it to other cream cleansers. 😀 😀

  18. Loved the writeup JW.. u r so funny… 😉 😉 .. loved eberryy thing u have written.. :teddy:
    I have never made ubtans.. but this one is so tempting.. i am definitely gonna make it this weekend.. :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:

  19. Definitely one of the most interesting articles I have come across on IMBB. You write extremely well. Honestly, you had me at the mention of Peeves as I am a potterhead too. 😀

    I love the ubtan and will definitely give it a try.

    :thanks: for making me smile with your post.

  20. very useful article!! i make my own ubtan usin watever is avlbl in the kitchen..
    1 doubt-won’t it get spoilt if Sweet Almond Oil is added to it? I mean wil it remain lyk a dry powder aftr adding it?

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