How To Recreate The Luxuriant Beauty Rituals Of Ancient Indian Royalty At Home.
At first glance, you wouldn’t think you had anything in common with ancient royalty of centuries past.
Not the sprawling palaces, the treasuries filled with the most exquisite gems and jewels or the dazzling opulence at every turn.
But what if I told you that you likely have some of the most revered possessions of India’s royals right in your bathroom cabinet?
All of your favorite beauty brands, right from Aveda to Drunk Elephant- they incorporate some of the most arcane and closely guarded beauty secrets of Indian regality.
For example, there’s something a lot of us like to use as part of our skincare routines- rosewater.
Perhaps it’s to soothe angry skin after a breakout, or to relax after a long day.
Or maybe you just like to spritz a little something something for a burst of freshness.
If you regularly turn to rosewater as a calming toner or fragrant hair mist, you’re not the only one.
The kings and queens of Rajasthan recognized the medicinal and aesthetic benefits of rosewater centuries ago, and legend goes, it was an empress who discovered the haunting, ethereal fragrance of rose perfume.
The setting- India, in the 17th century.
The woman- Mughal queen Noor Jahan.
The discovery- Rose Attar, an Indo-Persian fragrance.
The queens of India knew their beauty secrets, and Noor Jahan was no exception.
The empress was known to have been partial to taking long, rejuvenating baths in giant, claw-footed tubs of carved porcelain arranged in a position of privacy on the castle grounds.
These tubs were placed under the sky, for the queen to gaze up at the stars while she relaxed in a soothing stream of water adorned with gorgeous rose petals.
While indulging in this ritual, Noor Jahan noticed that a light layer of oil from the rose petals had begun to spread over the surface of the water, lending the water and the air a delightful floral scent.
Noor Jahan arranged for the oil to be distilled and poured into delicate glass bottles with clear stoppers; this fragrance would later be refined and perfected to form Attar, a luxuriant Indo-Persian perfume reserved only for the higher echelons of the time.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Fragrance is just one section of the intricate history of Rajasthani beauty rituals and practices.
The women of the kingdom knew how important it was to take proper care of their skin, and they were always sure to use only the highest quality, organic ingredients for their complexions.
One of the earliest concoctions made during that time period, and still used even now in India, is the detoxifying sandalwood and almond face scrub.
This Ayurvedic scrub is rooted in science, calling upon the purifying and cleansing properties of rosewater, the nourishing calcium and minerals of almonds as well as the antiseptic, healing and clarifying potency of sandalwood.
This gentle exfoliator would be accompanied with a rinse of milk and honey, oftentimes with a few strands of saffron steeped in.
This rich beauty ritual would cleanse the face and neck of all accumulated dust, pollution and dead skin cells, revealing supple, baby-soft skin that glowed from within.
Even though the ladies of the land focused their extravagant rituals and traditions on their faces, they absolutely didn’t neglect the skin below the neck.
Introducing: the Ubtan full body mask.
As an Indian gal who much prefers the smooth and easy application of Korean sheet masks, I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t crazy about the idea of smearing my skin with a messy mask that truth be told, doesn’t smell so great.
But one hesitant trial after?
Though the invention of the mask dates back to the 16th century (!) and has had many different versions, its classical, heavily inspired by Indian heritage attributes remain as powerful and beneficial as they were many moons ago.
Boasting a powerhouse suite of au natural ingredients, this total body masque deep cleans, gently exfoliates and soothes to uncover silky and moisturized skin.
Case in point:
turmeric, used since time immemorial as health supplements, spices and skincare- famed for its ‘golden glow’ by way of thorough cleansing.
astringent and calming sandalwood.
glycolic-laden Jaggery powder that exfoliates and sloughs off dead, flaky skin cells.
yogurt and milk for brightening and dullness-busting lactic acid.
chickpea flour to banish the day’s gathered grime and
lastly, intensely hydrating Ghee to lock in the moisture and softness.
Beauty tip- If you’re not a fan of the smell, add in a few drops of rosewater and lavender essential oil. It’ll help soothe the skin as well as give it a subtle fragrance.
Last but not least, the Rajasthani royals had a vast array of elixirs and potions to achieve long, glossy, Rapunzel-level covetable hair.
And if your own tresses seem to lean more towards straw than silk, take a leaf out of the royal beauty book and give this recipe a whirl:
To strengthen your strands, stimulate the shaft and improve the health of your hair, treat yourself to a divine head massage using the holy trifecta of hair oils- coconut, amla (Indian gooseberry) and jasmine oil.
It’s true that coconut oil is a bit of a hit and miss when it comes to beauty, especially since it’s comedogenic and can clog up your pores, making it not the best ingredient to use on your face, but your hair?
That’s a whole ‘nother story.
Experts have long since lauded the restorative and medicinal properties of coconut oil, combining lauric acid, capric acid and Vitamin E to penetrate deep into the hair shaft, volumizing the hair and strengthening the roots.
But that’s not all.
Coconut oil replenishes the hair follicles with much-needed proteins, treating and repairing the fragile strands, split ends and almost eradicating breakage.
Next up, Amla oil.
The humble Indian gooseberry contains one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C as well as a host of antioxidants.
That, combined with essential fatty acids and antimicrobes helps to greatly lessen hair fall, combat those annoying spells of dandruff and overall increase hair health.
That brings us to the last element of this magical blend- jasmine oil.
Heady and intoxicating, sensual and charming; the scent of this alluring oil alone makes it worth a try.
On days when your hair feels like the end of a witch’s broom and looks even worse than that, a few drops of this fragrant oil will be enough to breathe new life into your tired locks.
The natural oils released by crushing the jasmine flowers purify the hair shaft, clearing the scalp and making it softer and in time, glossier.
Healthy hair starts at the scalp, and Indian women have known this to be true for centuries.
By combining these supercharged oils and working them through your hair in relaxed, circular motions, you’ll be able to encourage blood circulation, shinier strands and stronger hair growth.
Personally, I feel that the best way, hands down, to feel like a queen?
Treat yourself like one.
Throughout India, times modern and ancient, women have always prioritized self-care, treating it not as something to tick off a list, but a true celebration of life and joy.
Whether that means taking long bubble baths with vanilla candles and French music or maybe just tucking a pretty little flower into your bun, there’s a lot of ways to bring that mystique, that luxury into your daily life.
And if you’re not exactly a pro in the DIY department, I’ll leave you with a list of my personal favorite beauty picks that seamlessly integrate modern science with the enchanting mystery of Indian royalty.
The Jasmine Tonique from Ranavat Botanics
The Ultimate Royal Rituals Set from Ranavat Botanics
Aveda Tulasara Renewing Radiance Creme
Pitta Essential Oil from Pratima Skincare
C.E.O Glow Turmeric Face Oil from Sunday Riley