Sure its a huge relief after the scorching heat, and youre singing in the rain for the first few days. But its not long before the monsoon grouses start pouring in too. Bad hair days, problem skin, colds. You cant really wish these away but you can take care of yourself and make the most of the season without sulking.
Most people tend to ignore their skin at this time. The sun (thankfully, one would think) does not beat down on us so hard so sunscreens are usually given the miss. Also, since the humidity is high it seems as if the skin can do without moisturising. The problem begins right here.
Says Dr Sangeeta Amladi, head medical services, Kaya Skin Clinic: Summer is the season for growth — our skin cell turnover increases leading to the piling up of dead layers of skin by the time monsoons set in. Besides, even if its cloudy, harmful UV rays from the sun penetrate the clouds and do the usual damage. As a result, without proper care skin starts looking dull.
The high humidity also makes the skin sweaty and oily. This attracts dirt and pollutants which is why eruptive conditions like rashes and pimples are common monsoon ailments.
|The Deluxe Pedicure at ITC The Sonar includes a mineral-salt scrub to exfoliate the skin; Pic by Rashbehari Das
According to Dr Amladi, apart from daily skincare, the ideal treatment for the skin during this season should combine the use of anti-oxidants (like citric acid) which take care of the dullness, patchiness and impart an even tone to the skin.
Also, go for gentle exfoliating milk peels (like a lactic acid peel) that remove the dead skin, and stimulate skin regeneration while a hydrating, lightening mask adds to a glowing skin. For best results, skin treatments need to be repeated once in four to six weeks, or even once in three weeks if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
Beauty expert and Graphiti columnist Suparna Trikha Dewan suggests a homemade face wash. Mix four tablespoons of Fullers earth, half a teaspoon of powdered camphor and 10 crushed mint leaves with rose water to make a smooth paste. Refrigerate this. Whenever you step in from outdoors, splash cold water on the face, rub the paste on the face and wash off. It helps reduce oiliness, aids blood circulation and brings an instant glow, says Dewan.
The monsoons also spell disaster for the hair. Forget bad hair days, the monsoon is bad hair season, jokes stylist Chandan Jaiswal of Guy Kremer Eyecatchers. The most common complaint, of course, is frizziness. Remedy — hair spas, deep conditioning and nourishing treatments. You can oil your hair once in 15 days to keep it manageable, says Jaiswal. He recommends camphor-based oils for oily scalps, and coconut or almond oil for dry scalps.
But, make sure you wash your hair well because, says Dewan, residue oil can attract dust and grime, which along with sweat, can cause dandruff and even scalp infections. Dewan recommends a pack of four tablespoons of ground neem leaves to which you add a drop of clove oil. Apply this to your scalp and keep for 10 minutes and shampoo. This reduces itchiness and dandruff.
Another handy tip comes from Graphiti columnist and beauty expert Bridgette Jones: Do not comb greasy hair too often. Intensive brushing can also spread the grease over the whole head. And make sure you wash the brush and comb after shampooing or the grease will be put back into the hair when you style it.
The feet are another problem area during the monsoon. Apart from keeping them clean and dry to avoid infections, pedicures are a great way to keep your feet in good shape this season. Head for the Salon Di Wills at ITC Sonar for a 60-minute Deluxe Pedicure. Good for both men and women, this foot cleansing ritual, which costs Rs 850 (plus taxes) includes a mineral-salt scrub to exfoliate the skin and a moisturising foot massage.
Or check out the special monsoon detox-pedicure at June Tomkyns which uses ingredients like herbs, peppermint, lavendar, and other aroma therapy products. The treatment that involves a mild foot peel and a detoxifying mask costs Rs 750.
But its no use pampering your skin and hair if youre not healthy inside. According to Indrani Ghosh, executive dietician, Columbia Asia Hospital, Calcutta, immunity levels tend to be low during the monsoons. This makes people susceptible to ailments like colds and fever. Also, because of the high temperature and humidity, the bodys digestive capability suffers. So, eat right. No harm enjoying those pakoras with your tea on lovely rainy days, says Ghosh but only occasionally, and make sure the rest of your diet is regulated, she says. Eat foods which are drying in nature, the most popular being makka (corn), chana (chickpea), besan (gram flour) and oats. Avoid heavy oils like peanut oil and sesame oil. Go for drying oils instead like corn oil, or light oils like olive oil.
Amla and citrus fruits contain a lot of Vitamin C and help in building immunity. Pomegranates, chikoos, bananas and strawberries are ideal for the monsoons. Eat a few dates every day to boost your iron and energy intake since lethargy is another common complaint.
Take good care of your body — inside out — and let the monsoons bring it on.
• Shampoo your hair in the evening instead of the morning to avoid the onslaught of the dust, sweat, sun immediately after a hair wash
• Skin cleansing should be followed by toning using an alcohol-free toner, since increased humidity could open up your pores
• Keep your feet as dry as you can during the monsoons. If they get dirty due to water-logging or mud, wash with an antiseptic solution. It is also good to use an antiseptic powder especially if you wear shoes and socks
• To strengthen immunity, include food items like neem, karela (bitter gourd), methi (fenugreek) seeds, basil and raw haldi (turmeric) ground into paste in your diet
• Avoid heavy, salty food as it causes water retention