Our 35-minute-long call—a mutual sharing of lockdown thoughts and epiphanies—didn’t make me feel like I was speaking to aesthetician and certified access bars practitioner, Mala Punwani, for the first time. Ironically, the pandemic has united us all in our thoughts and actions in more ways than one. We all want to pause. We all want to simplify. And we all, in our own capacities, are trying to make the most of our time at home by learning new ways to be more mindful about everything that we do. My call with Punwani, who has been working in the skincare and wellness industry for almost four decades, started with the intention of asking her recipes for some easy, at-home face masks. It ended with us talking through a whole day-to-night routine and mini lifestyle changes and additions for healthier, happier skin.
The mind-skin connection
Punwani practises and runs people’s bars, the process of releasing lifetimes of stored belief patterns to open up your mind to becoming a better receiver. This is done by gently touching 32-unique points running through your head. Our thoughts have a huge impact on our skin, she belives. “Our thoughts (mainly the negative ones) create all kinds of stories. As human beings we tend to get caught up in those stories. When we get stuck there, our breath is much more rapid. This agitated state of mind directly affects our skin, which means all that we do to care for our skin—our skincare routine, the products we use—none of it will work as well as it would in a calm state of mind. A peaceful mind absorbs everything better and is more receptive,” explains Punwani. That explains a lot when you’re back from a beach vacay and your colleagues can’t stop about your ‘holiday glow’.
A good exercise to reflect on how you navigate your thoughts is introspection, it helps you respond better. “At the end of your day, sit in silence with yourself and in your mind go over the day’s events, interactions, what you said, how you felt etc. Be a witness to the day that went by. There may have been a situation in which you were more reactive than responsive,” says Punwani, whose personal experience with this has helped her relationship with herself and others. “It makes you happier, clearer and less judgemental. When you are in this state on the inside, your outer state shows it.”
Not sure how to add mindfulness to your regular skincare repertoire? We asked Punwani. “When you wake up in the morning, before getting out of bed, offer a thankful prayer. This is very powerful. Refrain from using your phone for the first 30 minutes of waking up. Then, splash your face with very cold water (it could have some ice cubes as well) at least 10-15 times. You could re-use that water to either water your plants or for any other chore that requires water. Gently dab the face after splashing,” she says about her favourite AM routine hacks. She also likes focusing on adding face and hair packs onto the day’s schedule, and adding in techniques like jade rolling and self-massaging too.
4 DIY face mask recipes you can whip up with ingredients you have at home
A tightening mask for sagging skin
“Take one tablespoon of masoor dal, squeeze five drops of lemon juice and enough whey to make it a paste. Apply this upwards on your face and neck, leaving the under eye area. Leave this on for 20 minutes, after which rinse off with tap water,” says Punwani. “This is excellent for tightening and brightening as the lemon is a natural source of Vitamin C, while lactic acid exfoliates the skin,” she says. Masoor dal is able to exfoliate the top layer of the skin, revealing brighter, fresher cells underneath.
A brightening mask for dull skin
“Mash some papaya and apply on your face and neck. Even better if the papaya is overripe. Leave on for 15-20 minutes,” says Punwani, about the Vitamin C- and antioxidant-rich fruit that helps to build collagen and brighten uneven skin tone.
A calming paste for puffy eyes
“Mix one teaspoon coffee powder with half a teaspoon of cornflour as well as baking soda. Mix the three with water to make a paste. Apply it under the eyes. Rinse off with lukewarm water after 30 minutes,” says Punwani. Coffee increasing microcirculation in the area, reducing puffiness, while cornflour and baking soda act as gentle exfoliants in the area.
A cooling mask for strained eyes
“Grate cucumber, squeeze the juice and chill it. Soak cotton pads in it and keep it on the eyes for 20 minutes. This can be done daily or as often as possible,” she says about the mask that is great for combatting dark circles, or soothing tired or strained eyes.