In a recent, and, might we add, extremely grateful discovery, we found ghee in a lip balm from a new Indian skincare brand that got us thinking—had we forgotten about the old Ayurvedic staple in our skincare routines? We are so enamoured by international skincare that most of us have blindly followed the demands of popular Korean beauty or even the actives trend without considering skin differences and also the large repository of skincare knowledge that Ayurveda has always had. The lip balm brought us back memories of the bitter winters when our mothers would rub ghee on our lips before we got out, and the resultant nourished lips ascertained the positive qualities of the ingredient.
“Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine in India, recognises ghee as a valuable ingredient for internal and external use, and the history of its use in skincare can be traced back to ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita,” says Astha Katpitia, head of Shankara India, an Ayurveda-forward skincare brand.
Ghee has been an integral part of traditional Indian cooking and skincare that got lost in the heavy fat debate that led to many switching to “healthier” oils, including its use in skincare. With the now growing understanding of ghee as a healthy fat rich in fatty acids that is good for heart health and is great for the skin and the growing popularity of Ayurvedic skincare.
“Rich in essential fatty acids; vitamins A, D, E, and K; and antioxidants, ghee helps hydrate the skin and maintain moisture, promote a healthy skin barrier, and protect against environmental damage. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe and calm irritated skin, and also help maintain the elasticity of the skin and reduce wrinkling,” says Dr Anoop Dhir, senior consultant, Apollo Hospital and ex-president, Indian Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
Add to that, the knowledge of Ayurvedic skincare is vast, customised, and holistic. It recognises that each person’s skin is unique and therefore requires personalised care. The system is based on the idea that five elements make up three key doshas, or life forces of the body. Each person has a dominant dosha that shapes their physical traits and personality, and you need to make adjustments to your lifestyle, diet, stress, and exercise according to these to promote healthy skin.
“Vata can be dry and cold, and ages quickly. Pitta is fair, thin, and sensitive, with a tendency toward acne, moles, and freckles, and ages moderately fast. Kapha is normal to oily, clear, smooth, and firm, and ages slowly,” elaborates Dr Dhir.
Ghee is especially beneficial to the first two doshas, which are also the most common doshas.
Katpitia explains the many ways in which ghee can be incorporated in one’s daily skincare routines.
1. Moisturiser:Ghee can be applied topically as a natural moisturiser. Take a small amount of ghee and gently massage it onto clean skin. It can be used on the face, body, or dry areas like elbows and knees.
2. Face mask : Mix ghee with other natural ingredients like honey, turmeric, or rose water to create a nourishing face mask. Apply the mixture to your face, leave it on for about 15-20 minutes, and then rinse off with lukewarm water.
3. Lip balm: Ghee can be used as a lip balm to soothe and hydrate dry, chapped lips.
4. Body oil: Warm ghee slightly and use it as a body oil. Apply it to damp skin after a shower to lock in moisture and keep your skin soft and supple.
5. Emulsion using 100 times washed ghee: Wash pure ghee 100 times in a copper vessel to obtain clarified butter named shata-dhauta-ghrita. During each washing, the fresh water becomes warm which is then discarded and followed by the next washing cycle. With repeat washes, the water particles connect with the fat molecules in ghee, thus breaking the ghee into smaller molecules. This process significantly increases the moisture level of the cream, converting it into a light, non-oily, and deeply absorbing emulsion.
This said, we can understand the scepticism of using raw ghee, which is why we thought we’d share our list of the best ghee products.
Shankara Gheesutra Face Emulsion, ₹2,550
Forest Essentials Ojas Illuminating Night Beauty Balm, ₹3,800
Nat Habit Beetroot Crush Lip Butter, ₹308