by Leyla Bile
Four years ago I had a health scare when my GP told me that my cholesterol actually surpassed beyond the extremely high cholesterol level, which is around 7.8 and mine was around 9.5. That became the wake-up call I needed and kick started my journey towards a more healthy living. I changed my diet, exercised more and gradually also started making my own natural DIY beauty recipes by watching several YouTube tutorials made by natural hair gurus such as ‘Hey Fran Hey’. I became more and passionate about making my own stuff like body creams, facemasks and body scrubs because I wanted to know exactly what was going into my body wouldn’t cause me any harm. Plus they give me a tremendous joy to make them and satisfaction I get that I made it.
The more I got into practicing self-care, the more I started to realize this natural DIY beauty culture was already ingrained into my Somali culture and that I didn’t need to look further for inspiration. I just had to look and see how my own hooyo (mother) practiced it. Soon enough I started incorporating what can found in most Somali households like qasil, xabatasoda, qaxwo banaadir and saliid macsaro.
For the following recipes I will be using the above-mentioned ingredients and more for a Somali inspired facemask and coffee body scrub. I will also go into further detail what those ingredients are and their benefits. Most of them are easily found in Somali shops or your local African and Asian shop.
Somali Coffee Body Scrub
I use coffee and sugar body scrubs at least once a week to get rid of the dead skin and to get that silky smooth feeling.
• 4-5 table spoons of qaxwo banaadir (Somali coffee)
• 3 table spoons of dark brown soft sugar
• 2 table spoons of ginger powder
• 1 table spoon of xabatasoda (nigella/black seeds)
• 2 teaspoons of saliid macsaro (sesame oil)
• 2 tea spoons of xabatasoda saliid (nigella/black seed oil)
• 15-20 drops of peppermint essential oil
• 15-20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
Before you start mixing the ingredients together make sure you grind the nigella seeds using mortar and pestle, called kal iyo mooy in Af-Soomaali. After that mix all the ingredients into a bowl starting with the dry ingredients and store the mixture into an airtight 400-500 ml glass jar. Use the scrub once a week before your regular body cleanser and notice the difference it makes to your skin.
Besides the exfoliation coffee offers to get rid of dead skin, it also has another benefit: caffeine. It helps to tighten the skin, which can minimize cellulite because it restricts the blood vessels and reduces swelling and inflammation. Caffeine is also full with antioxidants, which can help us with wrinkles, sun spots and fine lines.
Make sure that the coffee grounds you use are fresh and of high quality with plenty caffeine content.The reason for using this Somali coffee mixture over the others was because it also contains cardamom cinnamon and ginger powders. By mixing all those different textures it will give that extra friction needed to create better circulation for the body and an amazing smell of those spices.
Dark brown soft sugar
Many body scrubs I have used before had hard granulates sugar, which I find too harsh on the skin. Because of that I replaced it with dark brown soft sugar, also called Muscovado sugar which contains molasses. Like most sugar it does not contain enough minerals and vitamins to have substantial health benefits but it can have a healthy impact on our skin when applied directly as a scrub.Homemade sugar scrubs softens the skin, prevents acne, whiteheads, blackheads, breakouts and other skin blemishes. By getting rid of the excessive oil, dirt and dead skin, which clogs the pores. The skin exfoliation it provides removes all those things without leaving the skin dry.
Dry ginger powder contains anti-inflammatory properties that help with joint pain. Although the Somali coffee mixture already has ginger powder I think you can never have enough of ginger powder. It is also anti-bacterial and very useful to unclog the pores.
Nigella seeds/black Seeds (Nigella Sativa)
The seeds contain essential fatty acids like linoleic and linolenic acids, which can replenish your skin texture.
The benefits of sesame oil on our skin are immense. It contains fatty acids, linoleic acid, vitamin E, D and B complex. They also have high amount of viscosity, which makes them good for massaging, they are capable of penetrating deep into the pores of skin and thereby regulating the circulation of blood. It prevents bacterial infections, repairs damage skin cells, slows down skin aging process and is a natural sunscreen.
Black seed oil
Black seed oil nourishes the skin with its vitamin A, B and C. It reduces clogged pores, provides moisture, prevent scarring and reduces dark spots.
Peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils
Besides their uplifting properties peppermint and eucalyptus also provide pain relief for sore joint and muscles. Like most essential oils less is more and is always recommended to not use directly into the skin without it diluting it first with carrier oil. Too much of it can cause skin rashes, respiratory problems and even poisoning.
Somali Facial Mask
Lately I’ve started incorporating more of the clay and powder based facemasks into my natural DIY beauty routines. Before my mother introduced me to the Somali qasil powder I was mainly using rhassoul clay and activated charcoal as the base until I realized it was less drying and more soothing to the skin. It leaves my face looking even toned, hydrated and glowing.
• 1-2 teaspoons of qasil powder (shredded leaves powder)
• 1 teaspoon of aloe vera powder
• 1-2 teaspoon of honey
• 1-2 teaspoons of almond oil
• 1-2 teaspoons of aloe vera gel
• 5 drops of vitamin E oil
• half cup of filtered water
• a quarter cup of rose water
Mix all ingredients in a small glass bowl, starting off with the dry ingredients. Use it once or twice a week depending on your skin type. Unlike turmeric it does not stain so it can be applied using your fingers but it is better to use a brush for less mess. Always wash your face with a gentle cleanser before you apply any facial. A clean surface will provide better absorption of the benefits of the mask.
Leave it on between 20-60 minutes again depending on your skin needs and its type. Besides the added oils will provide extra moisturize to limit the drying effects of the powders.
Wash it all off with warm water to open the pores and seal the pores again by washing your wash with cold water. Gently dry your wet face preferable with a microfiber towel or a old t-shirt. Follow it off with your preferred moisturizer. I use rose hip oil or vitamin E oil as a moisturizer. I quit using store bought facial creams the same time I started making my own natural products and I have noticed significant skin improvements ever since.
Qasil is made of the shredded leaves of the Gob tree, which is native to Somalia and Somaliland and countries that share similar environment. It is called the natural soap due to its gentle cleansing components. It leaves the skin feeling clean and soothed.
Aloe Vera powder
In both its powder and gel form aloe vera contains anti-bacterial, anti-aging and anti- inflammatory properties. It sooths and clears the skin when applied topically.
Honey is yet another food that contains many benefits for our skin. Its anti-bacterial so great for acne treatments, is full of anti-oxidants which works great for anti-aging and it is extremely moisturizing and soothing.
Aloe Vera gel
The aloe leaf contains a gel that heals wounds, sooths skin, treats sunburn, acts as an moisturizer, treats acne, treats different types of dry skin and lessens the appearance of stretch marks.
Sweet almond oil can be used to get smooth, flawless skin, deep cleansing, to remove dark circle, to relieve eczema, psoriasis, treating skin rashes and to reduce fine lines.
Vitamin E oil
It acts as moisturizer, reverses premature skin aging, treats sunburn, lightens dark spots and acts as a cleansing agent.
Besides its hydrating properties like regular water, rose water also has anti- inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits which sooths and cleanses the skin.
Shea Luxuries is my soon to be launched natural skin and hair line, which focuses on Shea butter body whips, coffee body scrubs and soon to pretty also a self-care gift box.
For information about the product line please contact me via the Facebook page for your custom made natural products.