Poet, Author, Editor, Creative Writing Consultant

Sunday, November 10, 2013

UBTAN: A Simple, Traditional, Beautifying Treatment

The one traditional method of beautifying and exfoliating that has been used by my grandmother, mother and then by me on my children is what is called ubtan. It is a simple combination of gram flour and mustard oil, mixed together to make a thick paste.

This is how I used to apply it. I would spread a thick bedsheet or a Turkish towel on the verandah. Then I place my son on the sheet and undress him. The exposure of the naked body to the early morning sun enables the skin to make the much required vitamin D for strong and healthy bones. He would kick his arms and legs in delight.

Then I would rub the ubtan gently on my son’s skin, over his arms and legs, stomach and back. When it dried a little, say after five minutes, I would gently rub it off. The ubtan would roll off in little beads, slightly discoloured with the dirt it removed from the skin.
I would take special care to rub a bit more over the arms and legs. This is because the hair on the arms and legs of the child is light and comes of easily. Regular use of ubtan ensures a relatively hairless skin. Girls do not require that frequent a waxing and other beauty treatments once they grow up, if their mothers have used ubtan on them when they were kids.

Ubtan is a beauty treatment in itself, and can be applied by adults to their bodies before having a Sunday bath. It cleans the skin better than any soap or body scrub, and leaves it soft and silky. It uses two things that are found in any kitchen: gram flour and oil (mustard oil can be substituted with any other oil like til oil or coconut oil). It is a cheap and healthy way to get a beautiful skin.
Instead of oil, we can also use the cream of milk or milk.

Do note that the ubtan mixture should be a bit thick if you want to rub it off the skin after it dries a bit, so as to remove the dirt and fine hair. A thinner mixture can also be made, applied on the skin and then washed off, if just softness of skin is required.

Today, as we reach for over-the-counter beauty treatments, we seem to forget the simple, chemical-free home remedies that were used by us traditionally. The time has come to revisit these remedies. It is a known fact that babies when rubbed with ubtan, or even just oil in the sunny courtyards and balconies, and then bathed, have strong bones, healthy bodies, and good skin.
Dabur’s Lal Tail is one of the oils that can be rubbed on the child’s body to help him grow strong and healthy. Dabur is a brand known for decades for its Ayurvedic traditional products that heal and provide health.

The value of any oil on the body is well-known Coconut-oiled hair grows thick and black, that is why Bengalis and Keralites have beautiful, thick black hair even when they grown old. Coconut oil on any burn mark on skin, when applied daily, reduces the intensity of the mark. Mustard oil rubbed on teeth with salt, creates strong gums. There is no end to the use of oils in our traditional applications to make our bodies strong and healthy. There is knowledge here that needs to be respected and used.

All I can say is that I have found ubtan to be one of the best ways of ensuring that my children have strong bones and healthy skin. Also, the kind of bonding that takes place between the child and the mother during this process of applying ubtan, can only be experienced.

This post has been written as an entry for Dabur Lal Tail contest.

1 comment:

  1. Beauty Ubtan Benefits

    Ubtan, a traditional Indian beauty composite applied on brides-to-be a few days prior to D-Day is something this is becomes a ritual of styles! The grooms apply it before the wedding Even.