Kitchen Face Packs

Yes, from now on, I refuse to say "face mask" - it will be "face pack" instead. Don't ask why they use "pack" instead of "mask" in India. I still cannot understand how anything can be a pack or be packed with regard to the face. However, it feels deliciously defiant to refer to the gooey-ness that we slather all over faces as a pack instead of mask, so here goes.

Again, despite my apparent obsession with product, I'm rather stubborn about skincare and beauty routines. Since age 10, I'd been taught to use most things anyone can find in their kitchen as a beauty product, with the exception of Pond's Cold Cream, Oil of Olay, Baby Powder, and Baby Oil (which, now that I think about it, all deserve special mention on this blog). These included: yogurt, gram flour, turmeric, honey, milk, lemon juice, lentils, rose water, and almonds. When I was younger and would get dreadfully tanned to the point where both grandmothers would gasp in horror at the very sight of my face (let's not get into the very many issues present here), my mom started suggesting that we use some of her handy-dandy food-based packs to keep our skin fair and lovely. I thought this was awesome because I've always been a tad bit earthy and feel better when I can indulge that side of myself.

I thought I'd share some of my face pack "recipes" (although there is of course no science to this - many of these things are generally good for your skin in any combination/proportion) since they are simple and easy to make/use, and since, despite my love affair with drugstores and Sephora, they were my first forays into establishing any sort of beauty routine:

1) Gram Flour/Turmeric Pack - This is a milk/yogurt based-pack, which generally calms and soothes irritated skin, and moisturizes as well. I like to use one weekly/bi-weekly during the warmer seasons since they are cool to the touch and because it helps fade a bad tan quicker (most people like us do not tan well - if you disagree, please comment). The yogurt-based one is slightly acidic and so helps exfoliate.

1 tbsp plain yogurt (whole-milk based is best) or
1 tbsp milk (again, whole-milk based)

1/2 tbsp gram flour
A few pinches or 1/4 tsp turmeric
1 squirt lemon/lime juice (for oily skin)
1/2 tsp honey (for drier skin)

Apply directly to face and massage gently. Leave on for 5-7 minutes and rinse with warm water. Follow with a light moisturizer, especially if you use the yogurt-based one.

2) Almond Pack - This pack is another great moisturizer and is good at anytime of the year. Soak about a half a palmful (I didn't say I was going to be precise, did I?) of almonds overnight in a small bowl filled with water. Remove the skin from the almonds and grind up either by hand (pretty easy) or a coffee grinder to form a smooth paste. Adding a bit of yogurt or honey can help with consistency here. I like to add a few drops of rose water to also calm/soothe skin.

Apply directly to face and massage gently. This pack is harder to use since it doesn't always give a very smooth consistency and isn't easily slathered on. But stick with it and it will still do wonders. Leave on for 7-10 minutes and rinse with warm water. Follow with a light moisturizer if needed (I don't feel one is really necessary with this pack, unless the weather is cold and dry or your skin is on the drier side.)

3) Lentil Pack - You can find lentils at Indian grocers as well as a lot of other supermarkets now a days. I like the pink kind for this pack. I refer to it as pink because that is what it looks like and because I always confuse my lentils (trust me, when you're a second-generation subcontinental person who likes to be uber-subcontinental, it can happen). For now, let's refer to it as the pink lentil. I think its actually "moong" dal (lentil), but I will verify later.

Soak 1/4 cup lentils overnight and grind into a paste using a coffee grinder or food processor. Add 1/2 tsp freshly grated turmeric and 2-3 tbsp rose water.

Apply directly to face and massage gently. Leave on for 7-10 minutes and rinse with warm water. Follow with a light moisturizer if needed.

4) Plain Yogurt - Take a tablespoon and slather on!

I don't have the best skin but when it has been at its worst, one of these babies has always freshened it up in no time. It's also fun to use them because you can always add natural ingredients like oils (olive, jojoba, or vitamin E) or even sugar as an exfoliant.


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