There are now countless bottles on store shelves promising beauty miracles, so it’s no wonder that traditional beauty treatments took a back seat to colourful labels.
The good news is, we are beginning to realise we have been sleeping on some old beauty treasures.
In Nigeria we have a few in our arsenal, and we can also borrow from other cultures. Here are some traditional beauty treatments that actually work.
Igbo and Efik brides are on a roll here. They were kept away from the public before the wedding. Benefits: no exposure to the sun, lots of rest. Undue exposure to the sun causes uneven skin tone and premature aging.
Also, it is not called “beauty sleep” for nothing. Under-eye bags, dark circles, sallow skin and dull eyes are all consequences of inadequate sleep. Seclusion is probably not realistic now, but at least wear sunscreen and turn in as early as possible. No late TV or phones in bed.
Turmeric scrub aka Kurkum Our Kanuri sisters in Northern Nigeria and faraway Indian beauties swear by this scrub. Turmeric is known to fade hyperpigmentation, prevent and treat acne and even out skin tone. You only need to make a paste of: 1 cup usweetened yoghurt ½ cup turmeric 1/3 cup pure honey ¼ cup fresh lemon or lime juice A bride is traditionally scrubbed 2-3 times a week for some weeks before her wedding for a beautiful, golden glow.
Body massage with natural oils This is popular in many parts of the world, and the kind of oil varies depending on indigenous oils. The Efik women of Calabar enjoy major pampering for up to six months before their wedding, where they are massaged daily with oils such as palm kernel oil. You can also use coconut or olive oil; and butters like shea and cocoa butter. Natural plant lipids are known to heal and soften skin, preserve moisture, smooth scars and deliver luscious shine. You’re welcome.
Halawa aka Sugar wax An all-natural method of hair removal practiced by women of Egypt, the Middle East and Northern Nigeria. They use a thick melted sugar paste for this and the result is a smooooth, hair-free body, sans the chemicals in wax.
Potato body scrub Kanuri and Shuwa Arab women have long since used potatoes in their DIY body scrubs. Potatoes contain enzymes that deal with hyperpigmentation. They are also rich in vitamins B &C, potassium, zinc and other minerals that keep the skin smooth.
Pre-wedding Nutrition You are what you eat: fact. No beauty regimen is complete without a beauty diet. Our foremothers knew the importance of a diet rich in leafy vegetables, fruits and protein. Igbo and the aforementioned Efik brides were particularly fed in this way. We do not advocate the excesses that were common then, but they definitely had the right idea with food quality. Processed foods take a terrible toll on skin.