According to popular tradition among Hindus, Lord Ganesha was created by Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva, … ‘She scrubbed her skin with sandal paste, scrapped off the dead skin, mixed it with clay and molded out of it a beautiful doll into which she breathed life.’
The sandalwood tree, its paste and oil, is considered to be a very sacred tree and is known as the sage and other ordinary trees are like ignorant men in front of it. Popularly known as Chandan, Sandalwood has an extraordinary fragrance and is commonly used in making incense and in religious ceremonies. The paste is smeared on the foreheads of worshipers of Vishnu and Shiva, which is meant to protect the “Agna Chakra” present between the eyebrows. According to Indian Mythology, the sandalwood tree is always depicted as having poisonous snakes entwined around it, which ultimately means that it is able to retain its fragrance even with the serpents coiled around it. It is said to be the epitome of excellence and imparts fragrance to even the axe that cuts it!
The soothing aroma and healing property of sandalwood paste is also excellent for the skin. It is a common sight to see one’s tonsured head covered with a paste of sandalwood and turmeric. Women, mostly in South India, offer chandan paste and vermilion to visitors, which are considered auspicious.
The Warehouse of Goodness:
Sandalwood is a virtual ware house of goodness and has antiseptic, astringent, anti inflammatory and disinfectant properties. The antiseptic quality of sandalwood benefits to treat rashes, acne, blackheads and other skin eruptions. Its germicidal quality inhibits the growth of bacteria. It is also a natural astringent, especially for oily skin and also helps in toning up the skin.To better understand these terms and their significance, I have given below a brief definition of the following properties:
Antiseptic: Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/ skin, to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis or putrefaction.
Astringent: When applied externally astringents cause coagulation of skin proteins and are used to protect the skin from acne, insect bites, superficial cuts or abrasions and allergies.
Anti inflammatory: Whenever there is an injury, either internal or external, the surrounding tissue tends to swell up causing pain and discomfort. An anti inflammatory is a substance which helps to reduce inflammation and reduce the swelling in the injured tissue.
Disinfectant: An agent that destroys or inhibits the activity of micro organisms that causes disease.
Sandalwood and Skin Care:
Sandalwood is one of natures most versatile and effective skin care treatments. Used as a powder or as an oil extract, it is a key ingredient used in the cosmetic industry to prepare perfumes, soaps, powders, facial creams and masks and also other Ayurvedic skin care products. However, most of these cosmetics also contain chemicals and bleaching agents which can be harmful for certain skin types. It would be a good idea to use natural products, which provide safe and better results and which are easy to access and easy on the purse as well! Make it a part of your regular skin care routine by following simple and easy to use combinations and watch your skin become soft, supple and glowing.
Sandalwood for a Glowing and Soft Skin:
- Make a paste of sandalwood powder, turmeric powder and fullers earth (Multani Mitti), add rose water and apply on face and hands daily before your bath. Let it dry before washing off. You can replace the rose water with milk if you have a dry skin. Regular use will result in a soft and glowing complexion.
- Mix one spoon of sandalwood powder and one spoon of almond powder with milk and apply on face and neck for a fairer complexion.
- An excellent face mask: Make a smooth mixture of 1 teaspoon of sandalwood powder, ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder and 2 tablespoons of honey and apply over face and neck. Leave for 20 minutes and wash with cold water. Use this mask at least twice a week for a smooth and tingly fresh skin
- A good remedy for dry skin: Mix 1 teaspoon of sandalwood powder with 2 tablespoons of fresh coconut milk. Apply to face and neck and leave to dry. Wash off with cold water and watch the glow return to your face. (Also read benefits of tender coconut water)
Sandalwood for Pimples and Acne:
- Add 1 teaspoon of sandalwood powder to 1 teaspoon of powdered black gram. Make a paste by adding distilled water and apply on pimples and acne. Wash with cold water after half an hour. This treatment is most effective way to get rid of acne and acne scars.
- Mix equal quantities of sandalwood powder, turmeric powder and a pinch of saffron and add water to make a smooth paste. Apply evenly on skin overnight to zap away those zits.
- To reduce acne and acne scars, mix equal portions of sandalwood powder, coconut oil and lime juice and apply it on affected parts. Leave it over night before washing it off with cold water.
The Itch Cure:
The cooling and anti microbial property of sandalwood helps to soothe the skin and heals small abrasions
- Sandalwood powder mixed with a teaspoon of lime juice relieves skin irritation and allergies.
- Make a paste of one teaspoon of sandalwood powder, one teaspoon of turmeric powder and one teaspoon of lime juice. Apply all over the itching areas. Leave for 20-30 minutes and wash with cold water. Notice how the itching subsides and the redness disappears.
- Suffer from excessive sweating? Apply a paste of sandalwood and Rose water on areas of profuse sweating for quick relief. (Read more home remedies for excessive sweating)
The Ideal Sunscreen:
- An excellent suntan remedy would be to make a paste of 1 tablespoon each of cucumber, lemon juice, curd, honey and sandalwood powder and mixing it with the juice of either one tomato or potato and applying evenly on the affected parts. Wash off after an hour.
- Take four spoons each of sandalwood powder and coconut oil and mix with two spoons of almond oil. Apply on face for 15 minutes before washing with warm water. The soothing and healing property of sandalwood softens the skin and helps in curing suntan.
Goodbye Prickly Heat:
The onset of summer brings with it the annoying problem of prickly heat which is caused due to excessive sweating. Most prickly heat powders use sandalwood as their base ingredient as it has a cooling effect on the skin. A do it yourself skin pack would be even more effective.
- Make a paste of sandalwood powder with a little distilled water and apply where there is an eruption of prickly heat rashes. It would be a good idea to smear children with this paste to protect them from the terrible summer heat. It is safe to use on infants too.
Iron away those Wrinkles:
- Make a mixture of sandalwood powder, glycerin and rose water and apply on your face daily for about twenty minutes and watch your wrinkles disappear.
- Mix sandalwood powder, turmeric powder, and the white of an egg and apply as a mask on your face. The collagen in the egg helps to remove creases while the turmeric and sandalwood powder leaves the skin supple and glowing.
- Sandalwood oil is a sedative and helps in soothing nerves. Used in aromatherapy, this oil provides relief from stress and also has a soothing effect on the mucous membranes.
Relief from Headache:
- To gain relief from headaches and to bring down fevers, pound a few basil (Tulsi) leaves and add 2 teaspoons of sandalwood powder. Apply on forehead and temples.
- Dab a mixture of sandalwood, turmeric and lavender oil on insect bites for immediate relief from swelling and itchiness. This mix can also be used to banish the bugs too.
Skin Abrasions, Eczema, Psoriasis:
- Add a teaspoon of sandalwood powder and a teaspoon of camphor to rose water to make a paste. Apply to affected parts of the skin to cure eczema.
Apart from being used to benefit mankind, the sad part is that this tree has also faced a lot of abuse from poachers who indiscriminately hack down even small trees and smuggle it out of the country where they fetch a handsome price. The infamous sandalwood smuggler, Veerappan, who operated out of the forests on the Karnataka Tamilnadu border, was one such example. Although this has caused inflation in the cost of sandalwood and its products, it nevertheless continues to be a very important part in the life of every Indian.