Skin Care

By Amber Roniger

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To be perfectly honest with you, when I endeavored upon all this beauty editorial writing business, it never occurred to me that I would get free products ‘n swag. Totally sweet! But in spite of so many amazing freebies, I find myself, again and again, going back to nature when it comes to plopping down my own hard-earned moolah for beauty products. Ayurvedic Indian products are totally where it’s at for my overly-sensitive emotional skin. Authentic Ayurvedic products at amazing prices are not as tricky to find as you might think. You don’t have to travel halfway to Dharamsala to find a diverse selection of products and treatments grown right in the Indian dirt. Ayurvedic wisdom looks to the jungle for natural cures to all ailments, something I can get behind.

As for my tremendously tumultuous skin, it’s been a roller coaster ride. As a kid, I had just about every skin ailment you could ever (or never) think of: diaper rash, immediately upon arrival into this world (oooh, what adorable rosy red cheeks she has!); pityriasis rosea (every bit as unpleasant as it sounds); impetigo (over and over); and of course, the great ego-destroyer, acne (thank God I had a boyfriend in high school who loved me). I was on Accutane for years. I swear, even now in my late early-thirties, if the wind blows on my skin wrong it flares up. Sweating in the sun…automatic breakout. Stress…foggedaboutit. It’s been a harrowing lifelong journey finding products that actually work for my helplessly susceptible skin. I’m constantly on fire and seeking remedies to quickly cool down my internal heat and soothe my wiggedy skin, especially in these scorching summer months. But then again, don’t we all? To these ends, I finally forced myself to really read up on Ayurvedic philosophies and figure out that I’m a pitta-kapha dosha (my fiery constitution is my most prominent characteristic).

Apparently you don’t have to go to the health food store for genuine Ayurvedic products. Many ordinary Indian grocery and knick-knack stores stock amazing stashes of beauty products and make-up goodies dispersed inauspiciously throughout the spices and teas (without the jacked-up prices). The Ayurvedic beauty regime makes no distinction between external, topical beauty products and internal, systematic detoxification achieved from foods, teas, vitamins, herbs and spices. It is a holistic approach to total beauty living. I’d like to say thank goodness for clever friends, my personal beauty shopping mavens who introduce me to hidden spots stocked with amazing products with reverse-sticker-shock prices. My yogi friend, Jayadev, turned me on to BUTALA EMPORIUM hiding in plain view in the ‘little India’ section of Lexington Avenue. Peering through the front window, you’d mistakenly think the emporium was filled with only giant Buddhas and kitschy wall hangings. Sooo, not true…just inside the entrance, you’ll notice two blissfully stocked shelves utterly brimming with beauty products. I specifically seek-out products aimed at cooling and soothing to get me over the hump of these next summer months.

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Most basic product for cooling the face – AYUR SANDAL FACE PACK: anti-dryness face pack for normal and dry skin, helps in curing local inflammations, removes wrinkles, conditions dry and undernourished skin, has excellent cooling effect.

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You know how the majority of body heat escapes through your noggin – NAVRATNA HAIL OIL: cooling massage plus hair oil enriched with authenticated herbal extracts and oils for head and body massages, to soothe, relax, and tone body muscles; strengthens and rejuvenates hair roots, cools the scalp and minimizes dandruff with: sesame oil, menthol, amla, camphor, thyme and rosemary oil.

Internal cooling drink to fight exhaustive summer heat: AVIPAT TIKAR CHURNA POWDER: purgative, carminative, relieves indigestion, hyperactivity, constipation, heartburn and melancholia. I’ve been advised, for my pitta-fiery constitution, to take one tablespoon at night with room temp water twice a week for its powerful internal cooling effects.

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More internal air-conditioning to survive the sultry summer – GOODCARE PITTA TEA: caffeine free mixture of authentic Ayurvedic herbs for balancing pitta, and when anxious and irritable, skin is irritated or extra sensitive, feeling excessive body heat, especially in hot weather.

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Another mainstay favorita store of this fair-skinned chica for great beauty products and advice is DAWAL, on First Avenue. As you very well know, the E. Vil is brimming with a million secret spots that only the ‘hoodies know about. Again, thank goodness for my other maven for leading me to Dawal, which at first glance appears to be an ordinary grocery store, but just like Butala houses an abundant supply of beauty products and treatments dispersed all over the store.

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I constantly crave that perfect just-stepped-into-the-house-from-the-steaming-streets-and-am-schvitzing-like-a-fountain cool-me-down find – RUH GULAB ROSE PREMIUM ROSE WATER: cleanses skin or dirt and grime, moisturizes by replenishing essential fluids, tones skin with astringent action. I use it as a toner, make-up remover and general cool-down cleanser.

I switched from my winter facial moisturizer (HIMANI GOLD MOISTURISING CREAM WITH ALMOND) to the more seasonally-appropriate VICCO TURMERIC CREAM: an Ayurvedic cream which prevents and cures skin infections, inflammation, blemishes, wounds and other skin disorders, soothes boils, pimples, acne and burns, nourishes the skin, improves skin tone and fairness. In other words, good for zits.

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I drink it like water – ROSE PETALS and HIBISCUS FLOWER LOOSE LEAF TEA: for cooling, soothing, delicious herbal tea to sip all day long.

This is the serious stuff – SAT-ISABGOL PSYLLIUM HUSK: natural fiber source that maintains bowel regularity, promotes cardiovascular health, natural colon cleanser, and absorbing toxins adhered to intestinal walls. Great for spring cleaning and seasonal cleansing.

Dawal also serves a little sip of refreshing heaven – FRESH COCONUT WATER: served in the shell to hydrate and cool your core, for a fraction of the price everywhere else. Keep those taste buds happy and your insides cool from the roaring heat.

And then there are so many classic stand-by favorite products that I return to both stores for again and again:

CHANDRIKA SOAP: pure herbal bath soap prepared from genuine herbal extracts and high quality vegetable oil (vegetarian). Reminiscent of that clean as a whistle Irish Spring but naturally superior). Your bathroom will radiate the cleanest greeny wonderful smell you can imagine… trust.

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FAIR and LOVELY CREAM: fairness face cream enriched with vitamin B and natural milk protein.

HIMALAYA HERBALS WALNUT SCRUB: dead cell remover with crab apple, walnut shell and wheatgerm oil, refines skin and fades tiny lines.

BOUTIQUE BOTANICAL EXTRACTS ALMOND UNDER EYE CREAM: light nourishing cream to protect the delicate skin around the eyes and remove puffiness and dark circles from under the eyes.

And for those stunningly exotic Arabic eyes – KOHL EYELINER: in both stick and powder form. Fierce.

The panacea of all Ayurvedic ingredients, neem – HIMALAYA HERBALS NEEM FACE PACK: anti-bacterial and purifying, regulates excess oil, cleans clogged pores, prevents recurrence of pimples and improves skin texture. I leave this on overnight all the time as a spot mask (like we used to with toothpaste on the blemishes when we were teenagers).

Another clutch nighttime spot remover – HESH NEEM LEAVES POWDER: antiseptic and curative properties to treat dandruff, anti-bacterial action to treats allergies, prickly heat and rashes, removes excessive oiliness from skin and fights eruptions. Mix it into a paste with a drop of water and spread on like a mask.

Time and again, I look to Butala and Dowel for my absolute must-have products for sensitive summer skin. Products that really work and keep me cool as a cuke. You should experiment too, read up, assess your doshas, ask lots of questions and explore Ayurvedic beauty. It’s quite an adventure.

Butala Emporium
108 East 28th Street, NYC
(212) 684-4447
www.indousplaza.com

Dowel Quality Products
91 First Avenue, NYC
(212) 979-6045

Originally published July 2006
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