The New Rules Of Pandemic Beauty Trace Back To The Ancient Age

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I recently came across the Ayurvedic practice of pechoti on journalist and beauty influencer Vasudha Rai’s Instagram page. Intrigued by its promise of healing chapped lips, period cramps and stomach aches, I decided to give it a shot, and I am happy to report that it delivers. Rai’s book Glow, published by Penguin in 2018, is choc-full of holistic healing gems like pechoti, and she is not alone. The steady rise of jade rolling and crystal totting Tiktokers and Reelers confirm their popularity among the GenZ and younger millennial generations. In recent years the use of ancient practices such as reiki, yoga and sound bathing to heal skin from the within have also made a comeback.

There’s definitely something different about this moment. A decolonisation narrative aimed at reclaiming Ayurveda and yoga from white practitioners by BIPOC folks, particularly the South Asian diaspora, is gaining momentum. We’re harkening back to indigenous wisdom with the explosion of medicinal cannabis, and mushrooms have entered mainstream skincare. The global pandemic and the lockdowns have turned skincare into a veritable form of self-care.

Old Meets New

A merger of potent ingredients, innovation and technology with ancient knowledge has resulted in a specialised approach that consumers are lapping up. Healing adaptogens (looking at you, Ashwagandha) are making their way into supplements and serums, and advanced Ayurvedic concepts such as Shata Dhauta Ghrita or 100 times washed ghee are being adopted by homegrown brands like Enn’s Closet and Kalya Shastra.

Image via: Kama Ayurveda 

Founded by Simran Lal in 2018 as a milestone to her own wellness journey, skincare line Botanica comprises emollients, resins, herbs, and pure essential oils. Lal says, “It is the result of my mother Anita Lal’s vision, passion, years of research and experience. Rituals of self-care and artisanal offerings are crafted using purely natural ingredients.”

Like A Pro

Beauty influencers are increasingly encouraging followers to DIY with massage tutorials using face oils and professional tools. What was once considered a specialised skill possessed by trained facialists is now democratised, with people taking matters into their own hands. Brands are happy to jump on the bandwagon with everyone from Goop to Nykaa, adding gua shas and jade rollers to their virtual shelves. The kansa wand crafted from an ancient metal with healing properties is Ayurveda’s answer to the Chinese gua sha, and brands like Ranavat, Soul Tree and Ohria Ayurveda, among others, have added it to their repertoire. Pure Earth has gone a step further to create the Kwansha coin. It’s a hybrid of the gua sha and kansa wand we didn’t know we needed.

Image via: Pure Earth 

Consulting dermatologist Dr (Major) Gurveen Waraich attributes the rise of this DIY trend to the inaccessibility of skin clinics, spas and salons in the middle of a pandemic, and she warns that we must be wary of taking it too far. “With skincare, a one-size-fits-all approach is seldom a good idea. If you randomly pick up a facial oil marketed on social media without considering suitability to your skin type, you might end up with breakouts and skin clogging,” she says.

The Mind-Body-Beauty Connection

Concepts of the skin-gut connection and skin microbiome are becoming part of the mainstream discourse, and there is a recognition that healing needs to come from within. Dr Waraich, a proponent of the yoga glow, adds, “Skin mirrors your well-being. Emotional stress can take a toll on your hormones, and its effect on skin and hair is something we constantly see in our practice these days. Cortisol, a hormone released by the nervous system during periods of stress, can manifest in the form of acne, rosacea or eczema.”

Image via: Unsplash

The Power Of Rituals

Since last year, we’re all living through our screens, zooming incessantly. We are looking for something wholesome, holistic and tactile to ground us. Lal’s dinacharya or daily ritual has been crafted according to Ayurvedic principles. “I start the day early with mediation. This is followed by a gentle self-body massage with warm Panch Bija oil. I then spray cooling rosewater on my eyes, ears and face, and massage it with my kansa roller. A half an hour of exercise is followed by my bath, post which I spray my face with rosewater, apply a face serum, followed by a face oil and cooling rose gel, all from Paro. By 9.30 AM, I am ready to start my workday,” she says.

Image via: Ohria 

For stylist and entrepreneur Jayati Bose, the return to traditional regimes happened nine years ago when she became a mother. “I have been consistent with my rituals since then—whether that is using natural, often homemade ingredients on my skin, a weekly ubtan or kitchen remedies for health concerns. The only ritual that has crept into my routine post the pandemic is the introduction of immunity-building concoctions or kadhas,” she says.

While it remains to be seen if our reliance on ancient rituals and tools continues post-pandemic, I shall carry on rubbing coconut oil into my navel every day after a shower.

Photograph: Getty Images, Unsplash, Brands 

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