Whilst we know that Ramadan is not about focusing on beautifying yourself, the process of fasting during daylight hours for 30 days and then shifting your eating patterns to fit in can have an impact on your hair and skin. Friday speaks to experts to find out about the simple tweaks you can make to your regime during this special time.
During Ramadan your normal bed time and wake up call shift to fall in line with sun set and sun rise. And this affects your sleep, but not just any kind of sleep. We are talking about your beauty sleep. There is a very good reason why the phrase ‘beauty sleep’ exists and it’s not because it sounds cute. It’s because when we are sleeping and our body is at rest, our skin gets to work on repairing itself from the damage its been exposed to during the day, such as UV rays, pollution, screen time and diet. Or during Ramadan the fact that it hasn’t been fuelled by any fluids or food. Meaning that when we wake up our skin should look better than when we went to sleep, especially if it’s been boosted by the right skincare ingredients to make skin cells work even more efficiently.
And our skin cells are exceptionally clever things, ‘Our skin is a dynamic organ,’ says UK-based consultant dermatologist, Dr Anjali Mahto, who is also the author of The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide to Great Skin.
‘Any change in your usual food, hydration or sleep routine will affect it. Our body has a master clock found in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain. This clock establishes our circadian rhythm, the internal 24-hour cycle coinciding with day and night. Skin cells have their own internal clock in addition to the brain’s master clock. This includes igniting the activity of skin cells such as cells that make collagen (known as fibroblasts) and pigment (melanocytes). These work together and in conjunction with the brain produce rhythmic changes in the skin.’ All this is done at night. Much like your natural circadian rhythm, if it is interrupted it has an adverse effect on our body. Which explains why if we have a bad night’s sleep, we are not able to focus as well the next day. Similarly if your skin cells circadian rhythm is altered, it ‘accelerates the signs of skin ageing,’ explains Mahto.
So during Ramadan it is important to squeeze in as much sleep as possible so that your body gets as near to the amount it’s used to getting over night, but broken up during the day. Try to get to bed as early as you can and return to sleep, if you can, in the morning. Power naps during the day – they only have to be 20 minutes long – can also help power up your skin so that it can work as fast as possible in the shorter sleep you’re getting at night.
Skin boosting serums
During Ramadan you need skincare that delivers a serious dose of powerhouse ingredients that will work quickly in the few hours of sleep you’re getting. And as you’re not going to have the time or inclination for a convoluted regime, it’s best to keep it simple. And that means turning to the most effective product in your skincare arsenal; serum. By slathering on a generous layer of a brilliant serum when you go to bed, you will tick all your skin requirement boxes in one go. ‘Look for a product that contains vitamins and mineral such as Vitamin A, B, C, E and Zinc. These will help feed and nurture the skin,’ says Mahto.
Serums to try
1. Skinceuticals C E Ferulic, Dh673
Containing a highly potent vitamin C, this serum is one of the most effective in the market for protecting the skin against ageing.
2. Guerlain Super Aqua-Serum Dh801
Dry skins will love this exceptionally hydrating serum that also helps to boost the circulation of the skin to make it look brighter and more glowing.
3. Elemis Pro-Collagen Super Serum Elixir, Dh419
With a silky smooth texture this feels like utterly luxury on your complexion and its been clinically proven to significantly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
4. Vichy Mineral 89, Dh140
Packed with the highest concentration of Vichy thermal mineral waters as well as hyaluronic acid, which instantly plumps, this is a great option for sensitive skins.
And to make your serum EVEN better
Look out for serum boosters. Made popular in Asia, these are lightweight jelly-like liquids that you apply underneath your serum to act like a booster, making the ingredients work even harder. Our favourite is Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, Dh625. Not an essential step, but as all it requires is a speedy slather before your serum to maximum efficiency, it’s worth it.
To get great looking hair your diet has to be just right. ‘Hair thrives on energy and we get energy from our food,’ explains trichologist Iain Sallis. ‘So when your diet is either reduced or changed then it will have an effect on your hair, mainly by shedding more than normal.’ However you won’t notice any difference straight away. ‘Hair does not react immediately to stresses, so keep your eyes peeled for any shedding three months after Ramadan finishes.’ With that in mind, what should you be eating during it to maintain its health? ‘Iron and protein during your evening and morning meal, ideally from food but if that’s not possible then look for a supplement that includes both instead.’
Optimum scalp health is also essential. To keep it in tip top condition increase your consumption of green tea, it’s filled with polyphenols which, when consumed regularly, can protect your skin – scalp included – from free radical damage. It’s also good to use a detangling hairbrush, not just to get rid of any pesky knots but to use on the scalp as a massaging tool. This encourages blood flow and ensures the nutrients reach the hair follicles. Ideally, apply a hair oil all over your scalp first and then use your hairbrush to ensure it’s evenly spread and massaged in. Oil also provides extra hydration to the skin, helps prevent flakiness and also gives the root of the hair extra nourishment that it might not be getting from your body during Ramadan. Dry shampoo will also be your hair’s best friend during Ramadan, because when it comes to prioritising washing our hair over getting some sleep, we know which one we’ll be choosing!
Your hair heroes
1. SHOW Beauty Premiere Dry Shampoo, Dh185
On days where washing your hair is just too much, a few spritzes of this will get it degreased and the decadent perfume will scent it to perfection.
2. Phyto Phytoelixir Subtle Oil Intense Nutrition, Dh185
Not only is this super hydrating for parched hair and scalps, it smells divine too. When applying as a scalp treatment, follow with two shampoos to ensure you wash it all out.
3. Tangle Teezer Detangling Hairbrush, Dh100
Designed to be totally ergonomic in your hand, glide through hair without snagging, this also works wonders as a massage tool for your scalp.
4. Philip Kingsley Trichotherapy Tricho Complex, Dh230
Packed with amino acids, biotin and selenium, which are the building blocks for hair, this supplement will get your locks to be their very best.