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Unani Medicine in skin care & cosmetology - By Dr Faeeza Abdullatief

Concept of cosmetology in Unani System of Medicine

The term cosmetology is used for the study and application of beauty treatment or the study or art of cosmetics and their uses or the science of practice of beautifying the skin, face, hairs and nails etc. Unani Tibb (medicine) has its roots in Egypt, Persia, India and practiced in countries all around the world like South Asian countries, African and Arabian countries where is has gained popularity over the recent years. Most of the treatment options available worldwide have ignored the cosmetic aspect of an individual while Unani system has discussed it in detail from the Traditional texts in Unani Medicine. Unani Medicine has various therapies and herbal/natural treatments for local application in cosmetology on the skin, hair, nails, teeth and eyes. The cosmetics help in presenting and enhancing the beauty and personality aspect of human being [1].

History of cosmetics:

Evidence of use of cosmetics is found since prehistoric times. As the civilization grew further developments in the branch of cosmetics occurred. Maximum cosmeceuticals formulations were developed in the Egyptian era. The Arab physicians brought the cosmetics at the zenith and coined the term adviya e muzayyana wa moattara (cosmeceuticals & perfumery). Natural substances for the purpose of beauty are in existence from when the men started to use the cosmetic products. So they are oldest products used by the mankind and the branch of cosmetics in Unani system of medicine has been evolved for the first time. A number of cosmeceutical formulations are mentioned in Unani classical literature, which is naturally derived and effective too. It can be classified in various ways according to modern classification [2].

photo credit: wikimedia

Advantages of Unani Medicine in Cosmetology

  • Unani medicines/ ingredients have a long history of safe human usage although not tested scientifically on animals. They offer safety from after effects.

  • The human body easily develops resistance to synthetic drugs. Simultaneously our body responds well to natural substances.

  • The skin and scalp are influenced at the cellular level, helping to improve normal function. Unani medicines particularly suites our skin and hair.

  • Natural products and entities promote the capacity of skin to easily excrete toxic materials.

  • They help to restore the normal pH balance.

  • Herbal/ plant source drugs have a mild effect but have powerful and specific healing properties.

  • They are particularly suited to skin and hair care as the ingredients selected have no toxicity/ side effects.

  • Natural fragrances of flower and herbal extracts help to calm the nerves and induce relaxation [1].

The best thing of Unani cosmetics is that it is purely made by the herbs and other natural substances which enrich the body with nutrients and other useful minerals while modern cosmetics have many side effects such as damage to skin, carcinogenic effect and ageing. Unani cosmetics are comprised of floras like Asgand nagori (Withania somnifera), Saffron (Crocus sativus), Haldi/turmeric (Curcuma longa), Neem (Azadacta indica) and many drugs are used as Zamad (paste) such as sandal and Husn-e-Yousuf [3].

Various herbs and oils have specific medicinal effects which are used in Unani Tibb for skin and hair disorders both internally and externally:

1. Aloe vera - Moisturizer, Sunscreen & Emollient

2. Calendula officinalis - Wound healing

3. Curcuma longa-Antiseptic, Antibacterial, Improves complexion

4. Daucus carota -Natural toner and skin rejuvenator

5. Glycyrrhiza glabra - Skin whitening

6. Rosa damascena - Toning & Cooling

7. Rosmarinus officinalis - Skin rejuvenator & Cleansing

8. Rubia cordifolia - Wound healing & Anti-aging [4]

Types of Unani cosmeceuticals on the basis of physical state of dosage form

  1. Solid cosmeceuticals: This includes ghaza, ghalliya, nawwera, kohal, kajal etc.

  2. Semisolid cosmeceuticals: This includes zimad, tila, ubtan etc.

  3. Liquid cosmeceuticals: this category includes ghusool, pashoya, roshoya etc. [1]

Types of Unani cosmeceutical on the basis of site of application:

  • Face care cosmeceutical: This includes ghaza (face powder), ghalliya (Perfume powder), ubtan, roshoya (face wash) and ghusool (wash) etc.

  • Body care cosmeceutical: Several body care cosmeceutical measures are mentioned in classical literature of Unani medicine, e.g. noora (hair remover), mane'y arq (anti-perspirant), tila (liniment). The emollient is used in cracked lips, hand and feet.

  • Hair care cosmeceutical: This includes roghan, sabagh, khizab, henna paste application, ghusool-e-sha'r.

  • Eye care cosmeceutical: This includes surma, kohal, kajal, anjan, mascara, neela anjan etc [1]

Therapies used in Unani For Skin disorders/cosmetology

Massage & Cupping therapy:

The mechanism of cupping therapy is negative pressure by applying suction cups onto the skin which in tern promotes blood flow to surface capillaries and elimination of toxins trapped in the tissues by promoting dilation of skin pores, toning the skin and improving circulation. Wet cupping therapy particularly removes toxins from the bloodstream and surrounding tissues and promote healing [5].





  4. Mohd Saqlain et el, Cosmetology in Unani System of Medicine- A review, Vol 05, Issue 01, 2016. World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research


Author: Dr Faeeza Abdullatief (Unani Tibb practitioner)


The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Please consult a qualified practitioner if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned.

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