I grew up in a household where my grandmother believed ‘champi’, a head massage with oil, was a non-negotiable, unmissable ritual every night. Acne issues, split ends, dry skin – name a beauty-related issue and she had a solution for it. No, I’m not talking about chemical-infused creams and lotions, but about all-natural beauty secrets. All her solutions were herbal, natural, sometimes even organic. She taught me the importance of coconut oil, turmeric, and sandalwood in my skincare and haircare routines, ingredients that have only just appeared in the mainstream beauty industry.

Instead of spending money on products that are mostly just chemicals, head to your kitchen and you’ve got natural skin and hair care solutions right there. Here’s a list of well-kept South Asian beauty secrets that have been passed down from generation to generation, but are still as effective as ever.

1. Coconut oil

[Image description: Coconuts.] Via Pexels.
My personal favorite, applying coconut oil to your hair on a regular basis can do wonders. It nourishes, thickens, and enhances shine. Additionally, coconut oil can be used to remove makeup, and you can also apply a few drops onto your elbows and ankles on days when your skin feels extremely dry.

2. Curd

A lady massaging her hair.
[Image description: A lady massaging her hair.] Via Giphy.
A cup of coconut oil mixed with curd and you can kiss dandruff and dry scalp goodbye. Curd is also a good moisturizer – apply it on your face for a few minutes and wash it off for softer and brighter skin.

3. Turmeric powder

Turmeric and sandalwood powder.
[Image description: Turmeric and sandalwood powder.] Via Pexels.
One of the most powerful, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant ingredients in your kitchen is turmeric. Before waxing was introduced, South Asians used turmeric to get rid of hair. Apply it on your upper lip over a period of time and you’ll soon see your hair growth reduce. Turmeric can also be used to remove dark spots or improve an uneven skin tone. A mix of turmeric, milk and honey can do wonders to your skin and help get rid of scars and acne.

4. Sandalwood

Actress Jennifer Lawrence talks about how someone smells like sandalwood.
[Image description: Actress Jennifer Lawrence talks about how someone smells like sandalwood.] Via Giphy.
A coolant, sandalwood mixed with turmeric is an ideal combination for a face-mask. Apply the sandalwood paste to your face, let it dry and wash it off for skin that looks instantly brightened and refreshed.

5. Honey

Honey dripping off a spoon.
[Image description: Honey dripping off a spoon.] Via Pexels.
Honey has excellent antibacterial properties and also contains antioxidants. Got a slight burn or scar? Use this for a few days and see it slowly heal and disappear. Beyond external application, one spoon of the ingredient every day can help keep your body well-balanced and nourished, especially for kids.

6. Gram flour

Gram flour spilling from a jar.
[Image description: Gram flour spilling from a jar.] Via Pexels.
Often used in DIY face-masks, gram flour is mostly used to brighten skin, get rid of acne, and fade blemishes. Gram flour, milk, and a pinch of turmeric makes for a fantastic mask. Apply it on your face and body and leave it for at least 20 minutes before you wash it off for maximum effect.

7. Castor oil

A bottle of castor oil.
[Image description: A bottle of castor oil.] Via Pexels.
If you’ve got scanty eyebrows, apply a little bit of castor oil to them every night to grow brow hairs. Castor oil can also help moisturize your skin.

8. Multani Mitti

A GIF of a woman in a green face mask blinking.
[Image description: A GIF of a woman in a green face mask blinking.] Via Giphy.
 Multani Mitti, or Fuller’s Earth, is a type of clay that comes from decomposed volcanic ash, usually cream or yellow in colour. Relax your skin and mind with this age-old beauty secret. Mix it with water, apply the paste to your body, let the mixture dry, wash it off, and revel in how good your skin looks.

9. Egg yolk

7 eggs arranged like a flower. The egg in the middle is cut open to reveal the yolk.
[Image description: 7 eggs arranged like a flower. The egg in the middle is cut open to reveal the yolk.] Via Pexels.
This one’s a little tricky. They’re sticky and smelly, but eggs can give your hair a new lease on life. Mix the egg yolk with the white and apply it to your hair. Let it dry and wash it out carefully and thoroughly – this usually takes a few washes. You can also use the yolk on your face – put in on, let it dry, and wash it off for tightened pores and glowing skin.

10. Henna

A lady exclaims, "I love Henna!".
[Image description: A lady exclaims, “I love Henna!”.] Via Giphy.
Apply this magical green powder to your hair for a hue that can be brown, orange or burgundy, depending on your natural hair color. It also softens and nourishes the hair. Henna contains neem leaves, tea leaves, and a lot of other natural ingredients to make your hair super silky, so you’ll be ready to star in a shampoo ad in no time.


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