Written by Zeynab Mohamed
We asked the professionals to tell us everything you need to know about post-Ramadan skin.
Ramadan is arguably the biggest month of the Islamic calendar. It’s a month of reflective rituals, an act of coming back to oneself and gratitude for Muslims. I liken it to a state of meditation – a 30-day meditation – of focused clarity without losing touch (though, I would like to add here that I am no meditation expert – I’ve only dabbled in the practice – but I’m going with it).
This year, Ramadan couldn’t have come at a better time as we slowly but surely (fingers crossed) ease out of lockdown. For me, it presented itself as an opportunity to get my priorities straight. You know, answer the big questions: who am I? What is the purpose of life? What is it to be a good person? It can get pretty deep and becomes the transitional retreat that I didn’t know I needed.
Alongside this journey, my skin goes on one, too. Skin is extremely volatile. It changes with the seasons, it changes with our diet, it changes depending on the air quality; the list goes on and on. So, it only makes sense that it changes with Ramadan.
Navigating our daily skincare is a minefield but a post-Ramadan skincare routine is a whole new ball game. Understanding how your skin changes during Ramadan is paramount. But it isn’t an easy task when the mainstream skincare narrative doesn’t talk to the millions of Muslim individuals. Who, as we approach the end of fasting, are looking to give our skin a much-needed refresh and revival.
Focus on hydrating ingredients
Fasting not only comes with spiritual benefits, it has physical and mental benefits, too. Karen Lee Thompson, founder of skincare brand Wo, says fasting can help to “reduce inflammation, improve overall fitness and boost cognitive performance”. However, the fast observed in the month of Ramadan includes inhibiting the consumption of water.
“During fasting, you can experience short-term dehydration, which leads to skin dehydration,” explains Thompson. It’s hard enough to keep your skin hydrated outside of Ramadan, let alone with no water to drink. The key lies in a combative and preventive approach. First up, powerhouse ingredients such a hyaluronic acid is what you’re looking for. Hyaluronic acid works to retain as much water in the skin as possible.
Tropic Rainforest Dew Hydration Serum
A lightweight non-sticky hydrating serum that’s made up of multi-molecular hyaluronic acid to provide maximum hydration, both on the surface and the deeper levels, and matcha tea extract to help soothe the skin.
Shop Tropic Rainforest Dew Hydration Serum at Tropic, £42
111Skin The Hydration Concentrate
You know that cold, refreshing glass water as you broke your fast? This is that for your skin. This seven day treatment works to soak the skin with water and prevent transdermal water loss.
Shop 111Skin The Hydration Concentrate at Harvey Nichols, £125
WO Power Tonic Intense Hydrating Essence
Cleverly packaged to deliver single doses of instant hydration, each one contains just the right amount of product.
Shop WO Power Tonic Intense Hydrating Essence at Wo, £18
Incorporate a gentle exfoliating cleanser
To compensate, your skin can produce extra oil as a result of dehydration. “Fasting can increase the sebum level in the skin and, in turn, make your skin oilier,” explains Dr Yannis Alexandrides, dermatologist and founder of 111Skin.
I can confirm this is certainly a thing. My typically dry skin has joined the oily skin camp. Dr Alexandrides recommends honing in on the basic rituals of your skincare routine, starting with cleansing: “It’s important to cleanse twice a day, to ensure that you remove dirt, impurities and dead skin cells from your pores”.
It’s times like these when you need a hard-working cleanser so look for a formula with active ingredients that will take the burden off your load. Scout out gentle exfoliating cleansers that make use of AHAs and BHAs, as these will do the majority of the work for you.
Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser
The cleanser that does it all: it draws out impurities, protects and hydrates skin and gently exfoliates for a smoother and brighter complexion. Don’t be deterred by its super abilities, though. This water-based cleanser is still super gentle on the skin.
Shop Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser at Cult Beauty, £26
Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel
Foolproof cleansing in a bottle. This Oskia bestseller contains a potent blend of hard-working natural ingredients, including pumpkin enzyme and vitamins C and E to deliver a clear and brighter complexion.
Shop Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel at Cult Beauty, £36
Murad Cleanser AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
This clever cleanser makes use of a powerful combination of lactic, salicylic and glycolic acids to gently exfoliate skin.
Shop Murad Cleanser AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser at Feelunique, £38
Strip your routine back
With increased sebum and oiliness comes blemishes. Exhibit A: my forehead.
“As your body goes through a detoxification process, the skin might flare up, which causes blemishes or skin sensitivity,” explains Thompson.
This is my cue to strip back my routine to the very basics; cleanse, tone, moisture and SPF.
Omorovicza Silver Skin Tonic
This targeted solution is formulated with colloidal silver, niacinamide and salicylic acid to treat blemishes and keep them at bay.
Shop Omorovicza Silver Skin Tonic at Cult Beauty, £59
Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream
Enriched with lipids, squalane and ceramides, this moisturiser hydrates and repairs the skin barrier.
Shop Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream at Cult Beauty, £49
Glossier Invisible Shield
This water-based SPF leaves no white cast or irritation; just sun protection.
Shop Glossier Invisible Shield at Glossier, £20
Add in radiance-boosting products
As well as the disruption to a normal day of food consumption, there is a heavy focus on nightly prayer. For many Muslims, this is the opportunity for a night of contemplation, as well as getting up to get your last fill of food and water just before dawn breaks.
By now, we can all acknowledge sleep is to good skin like water is to a thriving house plant. Lack of sleep manifests itself on your face – the dark circles, lacklustre complexion and puffiness are a dead giveaway.
“Ensuring the use of a product containing ingredients such as vitamin C will brighten and promote collagen in the skin,” says Dr Alexandrides. Plus, we’re all after glowing skin, right? Even Boots reported an increase of over 5000% in searches for vitamin C products.
Hum Nutrition Glow Sweet Glow
This Hum supplement contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to encourage hydrated, luminous skin.
Shop Hum Nutrition Glow Sweet Glow at Cult Beauty, £27.25
Lumene Nordic C [Valo] Glow Boost Essence
This super-concentrated serum contains berry extract from wild arctic cloudberry, vitamin C and pure arctic spring water for intense hydration and a radiant glow.
Shop Lumene Nordic C [Valo] Glow Boost Essence at lookfantastic, £29.90
111Skin Meso Infusion Overnight Micro Mask
This clever eye mask delivers vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to the skin overnight via micro-cones for deeper penetration. The result? Brighter under eyes.
Shop 111Skin Meso Infusion Overnight Micro Mask at Cult Beauty, £100
As I go through this routine of beautification, I came to realise that the real beautification took place over Ramadan. The last 30 days saw a betterment of my character, realignment of my priorities and strengthening of my expression of gratitude.
For Muslims, Ramadan is so much more than the abandonment of food and drink – it’s the warmth, compassion, sense of community and a return to a truer self. And while my skin has felt the impact, it’s something I look forward to every year.
Main image: Getty
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