To look beautiful has been an obsession with men and women alike throughout the ages but it differs from one land to another and also according to the time and mode of living. The desire of looking enchantingly beautiful laid the foundation of world’s first known natural cosmetic – ‘Ubtan’, initially started as a ritual in India. The ritual of ‘Ubtan’, also known as ‘Battne di Rasam’ in Punjabi, and ‘Kappumanjal’ in Tamil is one of the vital components of the concept of ‘Solah-Shringaar’ (Sixteen ways of beautification of body). ‘Ubtan’ is a body application used for the beautification of the body, dating back to the remotest antiquity and is the legacy of the rich Indian Heritage.
It is believed that during Vedic era, it was being prescribed by the Vedic Physicians for the protection, nourishment & beautification of the skin. The apparent results obtained with the application of ‘Ubtan’ gave it a wide-spread publicity by which perhaps it became a fashionable routine for men & women, those days, to apply it for the beautification of skin and later on established its credence as a ritual for brides & bridegrooms before marriage.
‘Ubtan’ which is used to bring a enchanting look to the skin, is the paste-mixture of turmeric, saffron, san¬dalwood, bengal-gram, and seeds of yellow mustard, mustard oil and water, is applied by the brides & bridegrooms while reciting ‘Ved Mantras’ or traditional folk songs, as an important ritual of marriages in India. This paste is prepared in various ways to make the skin fair and to nourish it from within. On the occasion of social and religious festivals, preparation of ‘Ubtan’ itself is a fairly enjoyable task for ladies in India. The paste is applied to the whole body for 25 to 30 minutes thereafter scrubbed before taking the customary bath. It helps to improve and tighten sagging skin and keeps the skin glowing for a long time. Earlier it was also customary to make special cosmetics for ladies of high rank and social classes, by adding several other aromatic herbs, yoghurt, milk cream, honey and essence of flowers. Various other ingredients are also added like petals of rose and jasmine, Khus-Khus, drop of lemon juice and other herbs to get a unique beautifying lotion.
‘Ubtan’ is a a powerful exfoliating treatment that stimulates the underlying tissues of the skin. Upon scientific researches of its ingredients, it has been found that the ‘Ubtan’ not only enhances beauty, but also possesses definite medicinal values by virtue of its antifungal, antibacterial, antiperspirant, deodorant & skin-toning properties, thereby ruling out the possibilities of skin infections. It serves the multi¬purpose role of cleanser, astringent, stimulant, and skin-tonic all at the same time. By its revitalising, refreshing & refining actions, ‘Ubtan’ helps in the glowing of complexion and making it appear luscious. It also gives protection from various skin problems including acne, pimples, blemishes, white patches, freckles, blackheads, etc. Its regular usage prevents the occurrence of premature wrinkles, removes scars, & helps to lighten the open pores. The natural ingredients of ‘Ubtan’ build up flabby and drooping tissues, improve blood circulation & skin texture, provide anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, anti-rash, anti-blemishing, anti-bacterial, anti-tanning effects to the skin and nourish it.
As a beauty aid, Curcumin – the alkaloidal content of the main ingredient of Ubtan, Turmeric prevents and cures pigmentation, maintains the PH balance and makes the skin glow. Santalol in Sandal¬wood helps in inhibiting the growth of micro-organisms and preventing skin infections. The woody fibre & Vitamin C in Bengal gram open the blocked pores, maintain the secretions from glands and bleach the sun freckles. Due to its Sandalwood contents, ‘Ubtan’ acts as an astringent and helps to tighten the pores. The crocetin contents of Saffron add to the lustre of the skin and make it glow. The rough nature of Bengal gram powder cleanses it by removing the dead infected parts of the skin. It is also used to promote healing of the cracked & inflamed skin.
The glowing glory and the amazing pharmaco-kinetics of ‘Ubtan’? Were our ancestors really aware of them? It seems they really were. Hats off to them!