July 20, 2024
Nothing spells ‘back-to-basics’, natural beauty care than our good old ubtan – a beauty recipe put together using ingredients from the kitchen

The Gaining Popularity Of Ubtan: Why Are We Obesessing Over this Age Old Beauty Recipe

Nothing spells ‘back-to-basics’, natural beauty care than our good old ubtan – a beauty recipe put together using ingredients from the kitchen

Netflix’s popular Bridgerton evoked age old tradition of using ubtan as pre-bridal shower

It’s clean, it’s sustainable, it’s multi-use and it does amazing things to your face and body. We are talking about ubtan. Well, our grandmothers were right, especially when it came to taking care of our skin and hair. We have often heard them state that an Indian kitchen holds the secret to all our skincare woes. Even now, their hand-me down beauty recipes using herbs, oils, powders from kitchen make sense when you want to revive your dull, tired skin.

From spritzing rose water as a toner to applying ghee as a natural lip balm. From using honey as natural skin healer to adding aloe vera in our beauty kit, natural ingredients or DIY beauty recipes continue to play a pivotal role in our life.

One of the beauty recipes that has remained popular since time immemorial is Ubtan. Ubtans are traditional Ayurvedic beauty and wellness recipes. It is a paste made with herbs, oils, natural powders and extracts. In the olden days, applying ubtan was ritualistic. Auspicious events always had bathing rituals with specially made ubtans – be it a bridal bath or baby shower or religious ceremony.

In their book “Almond Eyes Lotus Feet – Indian Traditions in Beauty and Health”, authors Sharada Dwivedi and Princess Shalini Devi Holkar give detailed description of the bathing ritual that women of yore practices using natural ingredients; they talk about how using different oils, unguents and ubtans was important to keep every bit of your skin healthy. No doubt, these ladies of yore looked gorgeous without tons of makeup to hide blemishes – for they rarely had any.


Ubtan, known by different names and recipes, dates back thousands of years, to various empires and kingdoms. It was prescribed by Vedic physicians for protection and beautification of the skin. Not just in India, using beauty pastes to take care of skin has been popular in China, Egypt and Rome. Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt and a famed beauty, was known to use beauty pastes made with various ingredients – famous among them were her Dead Sea mud pack, and rose, goat’s milk and honey. She was known for glowing, smooth dusky skin. Similarly, in Rome ladies from aristocratic families used beauty pastes made with floral and herbal powders, milk and honey to take care of their skin.

While beauty pastes and packs might have been popular in other regions across the world, but Ubtan is essentially an Indian Ayurvedic beauty recipe based on ingredients that have repairing, healing and protecting properties. It acts as a cleansing agent for removing deep-seated impurities, exfoliating dead skin cells and give skin a smooth texture and soft feel. It helps in eliminating dryness and dullness. “Ubtans are amazing way to revive your skin. It is good for you and good for the planet. The interesting thing about ubtan is that it works on all skin types – whether you have dry, oily, combination or sensitive skin. Ubtans work by balancing your skin and restoring lost moisture and minerals essential for healthy skin. It also helps I the skin renewal process,” says Suparna Trikha, Aesthtician, Herbalist and Natural Skin and Hair Care Expert.


“You can use almost anything from your kitchen to make ubtan, an amazing bathing product that multi-tasks as a body scrub, body mask and even a moisturizer. From just basic gram flour, multani mitti and milk or yogurt to adding mashed fruits or tomatoes, saffron and turmeric, essential oils all goes. It stimulates blood circulation, removes deep seated impurities, tones skin and restores the moisture barrier of your skin. It is a super recipe for complete beauty ritual,” explains Dr Blossom Kochhar, Aromatherapist, Aesthetician and Founder of the natural beauty brand Blossom Kochhar Aroma Magic.

In the afore mentioned book, the authors say that clayey mud called meth was mixed with essential oils and rosewater was used to scrub off dead skin cells and revive dull skin. But they also used chickpea flour instead of this to rub out dirt from the body. “Chickpea flour mixed with a bit of yogurt or water, make a paste which really cleans the skin and leaves it soft and silky…” according to the book “Almond Eyes Lotus Feet – Indian Traditions in Beauty and Health”. That was the most basic of ubtans you can use.

The six most common ingredients used while making Ubtan are sandalwood oil, paste or powder, besan or Bengal gram flour, curd or milk, rosewater, saffron extract and turmeric. Besan or Bengal gram flour forms the basis of the ubtan and is a well-known exfoliator and is rich in zinc that helps to repair skin damage. It also helps to remove fine fuzz of hair from face and body. Milk or curd form the foundation of the paste and have moisturizing effect on skin. They help to repair skin’s moisture barrier. Turmeric is an antioxidant and protects skin from redness and irritation. Saffron has skin-brightening and melanin blocking properties that help give skin a smooth, even complexion. Rosewater acts as a toner and helps to give your skin a dewy glow, while sandalwood oil, past or powder calms skin, balance sebum and envelop your skin a soothing fragrance.  


“Using ubtan, at least twice or thrice week during your bath time, offers many skin benefits. It makes the skin tighter and improves the skin texture. It works on all skin types and helps in the skin renewal process. It prevents acne, reduces oiliness, acts as a facial hair remover and can be an aid in removing the tan from your skin. Gives your skin a dewy radiance. It actually evens out your complexion all over your body,” adds Trikha.

Now, you must be wondering how to make an Ubtan mask? Well, here you go, take a bowl, add two tablespoons of besan, two tablespoons of milk or curd, one tablespoon of sandalwood powder or paste or 5 drops of sandalwood oil, 2 teaspoon of rosewater, one teaspoon of turmeric, half teaspoon of saffron extract soaked in milk. Make a smooth paste. Wet your face and body and apply this all over. Keep on for about 10 minutes or when the pack starts to feel dry. Take little water and start massaging the Ubtan in circular motion starting from your legs and going upwards. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and then apply a bath oil to seal in the moisture. As a final rinse use a litre of plain water mixed with rose water and sandalwood essential oil. Pat dry and come out glowing.

We suggest give ubtan a try. After all it is the perfect recipe for flawless skin that has been the beauty secret of the Indian queens, ladies and brides of yore. Even today, using ubtan for skin and body remains an exotic beauty care experience that is meant to revive mind and body. So go ahead, help your skin feel soft and supple and look dewy and even toned with ubtan.

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