Beauty

Luminous in Lockdown

Lockdowns have closed everything from beauty parlours to book shops. But like a breath of fresh air in these choking times these lovely ladies (and a few gorgeous gentlemen) have turned to their own home remedies, readings, and other homebound activities to stay beautiful and brainy… in a word, Luminous.

In this series, they share their secrets with Cuckoo News’s global readers.

Today’s Offer: Tips From The “Organic Junkie”

By Lalee (Anindita) Chatterjee

“Be careful, what you wish for,” it is often said, “it may just come true.”

Many of us had always had a sneaky desire to don a Venetian mask. That these ultimate fantasies would come nightmarishly alive was beyond our imagination. But now we find ourselves permanently donning a face mask.

Well, I asked for it. So I am going to make a style statement out of it.

In fact, in these locked-down times, the face mask is a savior.

It protects the viewer, mystified about what lurks behind that mask, from getting devastatingly demystified.  It prevents them from getting glimpses of the real you.

Indeed, with beauty parlors having downed their shutters for over two months, you wake up to a “new” you every day, who reveals herself to you in the mirror every morning. And the discovery of the “real you” is a revelatory journey, almost spiritual in nature, in which the physical manifestation of the “self” becomes unrecognizable.

It is a cosmic revelation of untamed eyebrows, unruly hair with streaks of silver rush, hair on upper lips and chin showing signs that they all have a singular mind of their own to go the nature’s wild way. 

Fortunately, however, other than the taming of those ill-mannered locks, my beauty regimen has never been THAT salon-centric. I am, what they call, an “organic junkie”.

I am a “mistress of spices” and have always been, even before Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni delighted me with her book.

My beauty treasure trove is my home, my kitchen.  

The kitchen remedial tales go back to my childhood and I have vivid memories of my mother smearing me with a paste of gram flour (“besan” in Bengali), milk and turmeric and feeding me plump tomatoes and juicy apples, fanning my delusional hope that my cheeks will one day be red like Heidi’s, that adorable Swiss child who colored my imagination from the pages of Johanna Louis Spyri’s book.

Thus began the journey of the “besan” girl’s evolution into girlhood and womanhood. And the constant companion in this lifelong journey has been the resolve to never let anything in the kitchen or garden, go to waste. “Recycle everything… or give it back to nature” became my motto.

As a Bengali, rice is my constitutional right. I make it regularly. Instead of throwing out the water from the cooked rice after straining it, I use it to wash my face as often as I can. Rice has many nutrients and hence nourishes the skin. I do not mind the mild smell: it merges with my Zen-meditative, pre-menopausal state of mind most of the time. However, you may use a few drops of sandalwood essential oil with it, which has a beautiful fragrance and one drop with your routine face moisturizer can keep you in a state of OM-ish spiritual delight in these stormy times. You can store cooked rice water in the refrigerator, where it can stay fresh for two to three days.  

During normal times, in the rush of mornings, scrubbing the face with yoghurt, which contains probiotic, gets rid of dead cells and is part of my daily skin-care ritual. Add a tinge of honey for more effect. I look like a Kabuki performer for 20 minutes, but nothing gives an instant glow to the skin more than a full-fat yoghurt-facial. Alternatively I use almond milk and honey. Almond milk with a few drops of olive oil and one or two drops of ylang ylang essential oil for its divine smell, works wonders on the skin and makes a great a body lotion too.  

Last but not least, is one of my favorites: “homemade rose water”, a refreshing tonic for the face and skin. Yes, it CAN be made. I do. With freshly-cut roses from my garden. Boil the petals in low heat for a few minutes till the color fades, drain out the water, cool and sprinkle a few drops of rose essential oil into it and voila you have scented rose-water which you can bottle and shelve. This is great as a toner and skin freshener and it wards off the skin-ogres like pimples and makes the skin dewy soft. Needless to say my office cabin smells of roses amidst unwanted thorns.

Often I look at myself in the mirror and am reminded of the paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, whose subjects have heads of fruits, flowers and vegetables. I missed being his muse, born in the wrong era, although seeing his paintings in Italy, I wondered if he had had a premonition about a future “fruits and flowers” fanatic.

Well, having opened up the doors to my kitchen, to reveal the secrets of my lockdown beauty rituals, I think I will get back to my book: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” in which he delves into “intuition” and other fascinating subjects.

Here’s the real secret: beauty is nothing if not balanced out with a little bit of brain.

Lalee (Anindita) Chatterjee works in the mining sector as a senior executive. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Caution: This article contains personal beauty rituals shared by our contributors. It is not an endorsement or recommendation by Cuckoo News. Every person is different and some people may have allergies or other reasons that may make it dangerous for them to try any of the regimens described here. Before starting any new regimen, you should consult your healthcare professional.

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