Pull out that spice rack for healthy skin

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Masala Dabbas are integral to every Indian kitchen and no food would be complete without the flavours of its varied spices. But did you know these aromatic flavour and colour providers are also packed with antioxidants? Not just that, some of them are also rich in anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making them a great choice to combat everyday skin care issues.

Listed below are five such spices and ways to use them effectively:

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1.Turmeric or Haldi: There’s a reason this bright yellow powder has been used for years in Indian weddings. A natural antioxidant and an inflammation fighter, Haldi can enhance your complexion before the big day, and for give you a beautiful glow. It is also known for fighting fine lines, hyper-pigmentation and even acne.  

To use: Mix a teaspoon of Haldi with a teaspoon of Honey and apply it evenly all over your face and neck. Leave it on for about 15-20 mins, and then rinse it off with chilled water. If you plan on using it for fighting acne, replace the honey with yoghurt. The probiotic property of yoghurt helps in combating acne better.

2. Cinnamon or Dalchini: This sweet and spicy fragranced spice has much more to offer than just enhancing the flavour of your daily cup of chai-latte! Cinnamon has inherent properties that improve blood circulation when used topically thereby acting as a skin plumper (it stimulates the blood vessels and brings the blood to the surface of the skin), it is a gentle exfoliator, and has antimicrobial properties.

Here are some ideas on how you can get the most out of Cinnamon.

  • Cinnamon for skin: Mix a little Cinnamon powder with Virgin Olive Oil and use this on fine lines. For your lips, mix Cinnamon powder with a tad bit of Vaseline and apply. Wash this off with lukewarm water after about 5-10 mins. When using on acne, mix a little bit of Cinnamon powder to Honey (prepare the quantity as per requirement) and apply on the affected area. Rinse off with lukewarm water.
  • Cinnamon for hair: Cinnamon works well in stimulating hair growth and also for cleansing. For gentle exfoliation and cleaning of the scalp, mix a teaspoon of Cinnamon with a teaspoon of Honey and a quarter cup of warm Olive Oil. Massage this mixture into your scalp and leave it for 15-20 minutes before shampooing as usual. Use it as a hair growth enhancer, by mixing a teaspoon of Cinnamon powder with a teaspoon of Honey and Olive Oil. Add in an egg to this mixture, and put it as a mask to your hair. Leave it on for 20 minutes, and then rinse your hair with a mild shampoo or with soap nuts.

3. Fenugreek Seeds or Methi dana: Methi seeds though bitter in taste, have been associated with multiple health benefits. The seeds are rich in Vitamins and Minerals, and are great for hair care – they help stop hair fall, help with dandruff and being rich in Vit C also work in protection from UV rays and wrinkles.

Here are some ideas on how you can get the most out of Methi:

  • Methi seeds for skin: Fenugreek seeds when germinated (by soaking overnight) have a higher degree of antioxidants that fight free radicals, thereby keeping wrinkles at bay. Soak a tablespoon of Methi seeds overnight. Blend this with a tablespoon of yogurt and apply the mixture on your face. Leave for about half an hour and rinse it off. The lactic acid in yogurt works well in keeping the skin soft and supple and also in exfoliating it gently.
  • Methi seeds for Hair: For combatting dandruff, soak a tablespoon of Methi seeds overnight. Grind them into a paste in the morning and apply all over the scalp for half an hour. Wash as usual with shampoo. For stronger hair and to stop hair fall, soak Methi seeds in Coconut oil and leave this in a closed lid bottle for about 3 weeks. Use this for massaging your hair.

4. Cloves or Laung: This aromatic spice has a strong presence in the natural medicines and toothpastes. due to its antiseptic properties. Being rich in antioxidants, it helps fight bacteria, repairs skin, and also keeps blemishes away.

To use: powder a couple of cloves and mix these with a tablespoon of honey and a few drops of juice from a freshly squeezed lemon. Apply this mixture onto your face and wash off with lukewarm water after about 5-10 minutes.

5. Cumin aka Jeera: This one’s a spice that gets used almost daily in our cooking but did you know that Jeera in addition to being great at aiding digestion and helping with multiple health issues, is also packed with Vitamin E.  Vitamin E is a key ingredient in keeping skin healthy and young looking. To add to that, it has antibacterial properties, which cure acne and other skin issues.  

To use as a toner: boil a tablespoon of cumin seeds in water. Strain the mixture and cool. Once cool, add a couple of drops of Lavender and Tea Tree Essential oil to it. Store in a bottle and use as per need. Alternatively, for a face pack, mix a teaspoon of cumin powder to three teaspoon of turmeric. Add a spoon of honey to this and apply this on your face. You can also use this for de-tanning, by replacing the honey with yogurt. Leave the mask on for about 20 minutes, and then rinse off with lukewarm water.  

Replacing most market based skin care products with spices will help eliminate the use of chemicals on skin. As shared in our previous posts, most skin care products available in the market are packed with chemicals that can be harmful to both you and to the environment. You could also read our post on natural skin cleansers, found in your kitchen.

That’s not all, the packaging that these products come in, adds to the dry waste put out by your house, and contributes to the rising pollution levels in our cities. If you do know of any other spices that can be used effectively for skin care, please do share them with us.

A word of caution: Even when using natural kitchen ingredients or spices, it is best do a patch test on your skin first, prior to applying it on the whole face. This eliminates the risk of any unknown allergies.

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