The concept of beauty and cosmetics dates back to ancient mankind and civilization. The ancient science of cosmetology is believed to have originated in India, but the earliest records of cosmetic substances and their application dates back to Circa 2500 BC, to the Indus valley civilization. There is evidence of highly advanced ideas of self beautification and a large array of various cosmetic usages both by men and women, in ancient India. Many of these practices were subtly interwoven with the seasons and the normal rituals of life. Significantly, the use of cosmetics was directed not only towards developing an outwardly pleasant and attractive personality, but towards achieving merit, Longevity with good health and happiness.
Different Lepās (Masks) were recommended for different seasons for body beautification. The ingredients used during the cold seasons were quite different from those used in warm seasons. In fact Ashtānga Hridaya (a 1500 year old book of Ayurveda) offers six different formulations to be used for the six seasons of the year. Similarly special cosmetic Tailams (Oils) and Ghritas (Clarified butter or ghee) were used for facial beautification. Superfluous hair was considered to be a stigma and a large number of depilatory agents were recommended to get rid of it. Special ingredients were used for hair washes. Many remedies have been indicated for hair growth, prevention of falling hair and premature graying. Hair dyes, fragrant hair rinses and fumigants were also in use. Fragrant bath powders and body deodorants also find frequent mention. Oral hygiene in the form of care of teeth, mouth deodorants and coloring of lips were daily chores to be religiously pursued. It appears that the whole range of modern cosmetic usage was conceived by the ancient Indians and was practiced with the help of natural resources then available.
The word ‘cosmetic’ was derived from the Greek word “kosm tikos” meaning having the power, arrange, skill in decorating. Herbal cosmetics are referred to as beauty products which are formulated by using various herbal ingredients to provide defined cosmetic benefits such as healing, smoothing appearance, enhancing and conditioning. Natural beauty is blessing and herbal cosmetics help in presenting and increasing the beauty and personality aspects of human beings. Saundaryaprasadak (Herbal Cosmetics) are the preparations, which represents cosmetic base correlates with known Ayurveda. In the traditional era, people were used to various lepa, Alepa, Pralepa, Udavartan, Prakshalan, etc forsaundryaprasadan karma.
Nature has offered us various herbs for beauty enhancement that do not have any reactions or side-effects on the human body; rather enhance the body with, supplements and other helpful minerals. The science of Ayurveda had utilized many herbs and floras to make cosmetics for beautification and protection from external effects like exposure towards microbes, chemical agents and environmental contaminants.
Since herbal cosmetics are natural and free from all the harmful synthetic chemicals which may prove to be toxic to the skin. Compared to other synthetic beauty products, natural cosmetics are safe to use. Herbal cosmetics intended to improve the health and beauty of the skin by providing a specific result, ranging from acne-control and anti-wrinkle effects, to sun protection. Herbal cosmetics have medicinal benefits which affect the biological functioning of skin depending upon type of functional ingredients they contain. These are cosmetic products that are not just used for beautification but for different skin ailments. These products improve the functioning/texture of the skin by boosting collagen growth by eradicating harmful effects of free radicals, maintains keratin structure in good condition and making the skin healthier. There are numerous herbs available naturally having different uses in cosmetic preparations for skincare, hair care and as antioxidants.
Indian herbs and their significance are popular worldwide. An herbal cosmetic has a growing demand in the world market and is an invaluable gift of nature. Herbal formulations always have attracted considerable attention because of their good activity and having no side effects. There is a huge variety of the herbal cosmetics that are produced and used for daily purposes like herbal oil, shampoos and conditioners for hair, herbal soaps for skin; herbal face wash and many more. The best thing about herbal cosmetics is that it is purely made by the herbs and shrubs. The natural content in the herbs does not have any reactions on the human body; rather enhances the body with supplements and other helpful minerals.
Advantages of Herbal Cosmetics over Synthetic
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