‘Just a Spoonful of Sugar… Friday, Aug 12 2011 

… will make the rough skin go away.’

Alright, alright! I’ll leave the skill of song writing to the experts and stick to things I have a little knowledge about.

So, for the skin you need pure brown sugar and not just any sugar; many brands use pure brown sugar as their base in face and body scrubs.  A face scrub is a ‘must’ in your bathroom cabinet, right next to your face cleanser!  Using a scrub to exfoliate your skin is not a spring cleaning process that needs to happen once a year; instead you must exfoliate your skin at least once a week.  This helps keep pores clear and gets rid of dry rough patches.

I tend to be a little bit of a nag when it comes to my friends and skin care; I like to blame my South Asian genes for that.  South Asians, and sometime Asians, do not have a filter and (at least the older generation) are not sensitive to how the other person might feel, but let me assure you it comes from a good place.

My best friend was a recent victim to this – I have been pestering her to get a facial for a while, as I thought her skin needed some pampering.  Then one day, out of the blue, she tells me she has booked herself facial at the Aveda salon.  Even though I would like to take credit for my nagging skills, it was not I who was the reason for this decision.  It was her nail stylist.

She was getting her nails done at her usual place and all of a sudden the nail stylist goes, ‘Hmmph! …’  My friend asks if everything is alright and nail stylist gives her a sharp look and says, ‘You need facial! Pores very clogged!’  Of course my friend was way too mortified to say anything but immediately made an appointment thereafter.

Anyway, if you want to avoid getting disparaged by your nail stylist about your skin, make sure you unclog those pores by exfoliating your skin regularly.

My favorite face scrub is the ‘Sugar Face Polish’ by Fresh.  This exfoliating mask has brown sugar, antioxidant-rich wild strawberries along with hydrating seed oils that nourish and brighten the skin.

  • Gently massage your (cleansed) face with the scrub and wash off with warm water

(I would like to stress on the word ‘gentle’ because another friend (yes, I have fascinating friends) told me that she does not use a scrub because she has sensitive skin and ends up with scratches.  Ladies, please do not scrub your face, or for that matter any part of your body, like you would the kitchen floor.  Please be gentle with your skin!)

The results are absolutely amazing!

Happy skin care,

-Nusrat Shariff 

For Richer or Poorer Sunday, May 29 2011 

For around 4000 years it has been used as an aromatherapy agent;  Queen Elizabeth-I is said to have liked her bed linen to be perfumed with it;  Indian priests regard this as a cleansing agent for sins and according to myth, God instructed King Solomon to make his furniture from it.  My favorite use of sandalwood, along with ancient Egyptians and Indians, is in cosmetics; to preserve the youth and beauty of women.

Well known for its luxurious scent, sandalwood is also a highly regarded Ayurvedic herb.  It is used not only to treat skin infections, scraps and cuts, but also as an anti-aging treatment to add glow, diminish acne and prevent wrinkles.

Back in the day, as a beauty regimen, the queens would apply a concoction made of sandalwood and turmeric root.  The sandalwood and turmeric root would be ground from its natural form into a paste, which would either be applied to the face or all over the body as a remedy for sun damage and age spots.

Since none of us have royal subjects waiting on us hand and foot to ground us this paste, I have tried and liked the following application –

You will need –

  • Sandalwood powder (you need to make sure that this is the purest form of powder)
  • Rose water (or rose oil)
  • Cream (or coconut cream)










Mix the sandalwood powder with rose water and regular or coconut cream.  Apply the mix to the face and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off.   Sandalwood has a drying effect on the skin, which is why it is used for treating acne.  If you already have dry skin then the cream will help balance the dryness.  Once a week of this treatment will do the trick!

Happy skin care,

-Nusrat Shariff

Berry, Berry Beautiful Monday, Mar 14 2011 

Remember ‘freshman fifteen’?

Well, my sister and I gained more like ‘freshman fifty’!  My parents did not recognize us at the airport and my mum’s horrified look when she saw us was priceless.  It looked like someone had messed up her order – I could almost hear her say, ‘I did not place an order for two roly-poly daughters, topped off with zits, and dry and patchy skin!’

She did not waste any time worrying and got to work, more like got us to work.  It was going to be a cleansing process inside and out!  First, we got gym memberships and had to go twice a day, in the morning and evening.   Along with having this juice (made of lemon, honey and warm water) that was supposed to help with the weight loss.  Then there was the daily mask we had to apply for ½ hour every morning to brighten our complexion, which I still go back to when I feel my skin is starting to look dull and needs some rejuvenation.  This is my favorite!

You need to following ingredients –

  • Strawberry – in the summers, it is easy to get a box of strawberries.  For the winter you can buy a box, freeze it and take out one strawberry each time you want to make the mask.
  • Coconut cream – a small can from any store will last a long time.  Make sure to remove the cream from the can into a plastic/glass container and refrigerate it.










All you have to do is –

  • Mash the strawberry and mix half a teaspoon for coconut cream
  • Apply the mask and leave on for ½ hour

… and Voila!! The results are visible pretty quickly, even with just weekly applications – the coconut cream helps nourish and clear the skin, whereas the strawberry helps in the brightening process.

This mask is very easy to prepare and using it before you head out in the evening will give your skin that radiance.  Of course, please DON’T try this if you are allergic to coconut or strawberries!

It’s Back to Basics! Monday, Feb 28 2011 

I am at the stage in my life where I am being forced to focus on the effect everyday activities are having on my body, internally and externally.  In your early and mid-twenties your body is like a shield, deflecting everything harmful and the bane of your existence is ‘zits’!  As you roll into your late-twenties and early thirties your body needs a lot more loving and this is the right time to make certain you are providing it with all the care it needs.  Why wait until you see those lines and wrinkle to pay attention to your skin and instead start now, when you can actually prevent them.

Before anything, the first steps towards achieving radiant and healthy skin or hair is making sure you are eating the right food.  At the risk of sounding like your mom (she is usually always right)… what goes into your body is equally, if not more, important as what you apply to your skin and hair.

My daily routine is to drink a glass of milk (skim with a tad bit of instant coffee to give it some flavor) every morning before heading to work.  Drinking milk everyday is something my sister and I have been doing since as far back as I can remember…  When we lived in Bangalore, India my grandmother was very apprehensive of the milk that was delivered to our house and decided that it was not good enough for the girls.  She had this brilliant idea that we would get milk directly from its source; yes, the cow!  So, every day this scrawny little man would arrive at the house with his well-fed cow in tow, and my grandmother would watch over while he milked the cow to make sure he did not water down the milk.

I wouldn’t call these fond memories, funny maybe, but not fond.  Growing up, drinking that glass of milk was the most dreaded part of my day!  Even though the milk was stove boiled for a long time (in-home pasteurization… sure!), it still is one of the nastiest things I have smelled in my life!  The point of the story is that at the end of the day, my sister and I had clear and naturally glowing complexions.

It is really important that you eat healthy meals throughout the day; this is what keeps your body nourished and as a result makes you look and feel great.  A lot of people (I have been guilty of this as well) go without eating proper meals days at a time with the goal of losing weight.  Not eating might help a little with weight loss but at the cost of looking haggard with patchy skin and limp hair.  If you want to lose weight and cover up dull looking skin with make-up, then I guess you can continue what you are doing.

Eating the right food will provide your skin with the nutrients it requires to protect from damage and replenish dead skin cells with new healthy cells; giving your skin that natural glow without having to use make-up.

Here are a few things I like that are really good for you –

  • Milk – a glass every day!
  • Or any form of milk products – cheese, yogurt, etc
  • Prunes – great anti-oxidant and a good source of fiber
  • Almonds – eating these along with prunes is an added bonus
  • Freshly squeezed juices – I prefer orange but any fruit juice is good for you
  • Berries – most berries are anti-oxidants and help erase sun damage to the skin

All these are used in skin care products as components for anti-aging.  By using them externally you can erase the look of lines, imagine the benefits if you ate these on a regular basis.

So let’s start with the basics, ladies…

Hello! Monday, Feb 14 2011 

I thought my first entry should be a quick look at what to expect from this blog and a little bit about me… so here goes!

According to Ammi (‘mom’ in urdu) it all started when I was 3 or 4 years old, when we lived in Bhutan; Ammi found me standing on top of a chair in front of the sink mirror rubbing a mango pit on my face.  When asked what in the world I was doing, I apparently said, ‘Aunty D told me to rub the mango pit, after eating the mango, and my complexion would be beautiful!’

Though everyone had (and still do have) a good laugh, Aunty D was actually on point in saying that mango is good for your complexion.  Not only is it good as an anti-aging and nourishing agent, it also increases elasticity of your hair and is one hell of a tasty fruit!  So there… ha!

The reason for starting this blog is because after getting asked about what skin care and make-up products I use by my friends, I thought it would be fun to write about it.  I, of course, made sure by asking a couple of friends if I was being overly presumptuous that anybody would really care, and got a definitive ‘NO’.  And as one of them said that it would be for friends (or anyone) who are interested, not everyone.

An Indian background and growing up in the Middle-East has provided me with a whole bunch of tips & tricks of homemade remedies for the skin and hair.  Also, it does not hurt to get a review about a product from someone who is using it as opposed to an Ad by the brand.

Something to know about me is that I really enjoy learning about nature’s elements and love using the basics to take care of my skin.  I feel natural concoctions (made from things that are already available in your home) that are created at home are more beneficial and effective than most of the products off the counter.  That said, I have come across a few products that have worked wonders on my skin.

So, WELCOME TO SKINESSENCE!! And I look forward to updating this blog with something new and refreshing…