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Homemade Facial Scrubs: Ancient Secrets

ubtan facial scrubs

A bride in India looks stunning partly because of ages-old beauty treatments called ubtans that are applied before the wedding. Read further, as the secrets of homemade facial scrubs are revealed for us all to enjoy – on special days or everyday!

There is nothing so fascinating as attending an Indian wedding. If you’ve ever watched a Bollywood (Indian Hollywood) movie and thought they were exaggerating… think again!

Indian weddings are filled with special rituals and ceremonies that go on for days. Women especially love the beauty pampering that is a big part of preparing for the various events. The bride wants to look her best and her lady friends and family members go all-in for big slumber-party type beauty sessions. The bride is not presented to the public until she has been duly buffed, scrubbed, soaked, polished, oiled, painted, perfumed and then… finally… dressed for the occasion! You’ve probably heard about and seen photos of Indian bridal henna painting, (herbal temporary painted “tattoo” designs) but have you heard of ubtans? If not, it’s time you learned all of the ancient secrets of inexpensive and effective homemade facial scrubs.

ubtan natural facial scrubs

Ubtans: Homemade Facial Scrubs

Natural skin treatments are definitely on the Indian wedding-prep menu, and these powdered wonder-masks are both symbolic and practical. Ubtan homemade facial scrubs are mixtures of herbal powders, essential oils and fruit or vegetable juices. These healing plant-based ingredients are mixed together and spread on the face (and/or body) for beautifying.

Ancient secret family recipes, passed down through generations, are guarded by matriarchs of every family, only brought out as a super-special wedding offering. The new bride is getting initiated into the sisterhood of married women and being prepared to join a new family. In Indian tradition, massaging the skin (face and body) with herbal powders symbolizes sloughing off the old life and embracing the new.

Physically, the skin is lightened as dead skin is removed and the complexion becomes smooth, bright and glowing… perfect for the wedding day.

Or any day! Nowadays, these natural homemade facial scrubs can become a normal part of our beauty routines.

ubtan facial treatment

When I was a child, my mother would sometimes hand me an empty bowl and a wooden mixing spoon and send me out to the back yard to play. I’d spend hours gathering twigs, leaves, berries, flowers and probably dirt and heaven knows what else. Then, I would go sit in the far corner of our yard where Mrs. Broderick’s enormous wild rose bush hung over her backyard fence into our yard. It created a natural cave-like space, perfect for hiding out while I prepared what I called my “witchy-potions.”

Since then, I’ve always loved the earthy scent of natural vegetable and plant powders. Even before I learned about ubtans, I got into the habit of mixing plant powders and experimenting with facial scrubs on my own.

Then realized that I hadn’t “discovered” plant powder facial scrubs at all; they are actually an ages-old thing! I was really eager to find out more about these healing Ayurvedic formulas.

Secret, natural homemade facial scrubs recipes, historically guarded in the ancient wisdom system of Ayurveda, have gradually been shared across the earth. So, now we can all enjoy a bit of pampering when we feel like we need a beauty boost.

Amazing Benefits from Natural Ubtan Homemade Facial Scrubs

For many centuries, these simple Ayurvedic skin treatments have been used successfully to enhance beauty and improve skin health. Here are just a few benefits of using traditional herbal ubtan facial scrubs:

Antibacterial and Anti-inflammatory

Most ubtans contain ingredients with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can clear skin and treat acne.


Ubtans are full of antioxidants that make your skin healthy, slow down aging and improve skin elasticity.


Sandalwood and turmeric smooth fine lines and wrinkles in the skin.

Remove Facial Hair

Applying some homemade facial scrubs regularly can aid in removing facial hair. Massaging exfoliating ingredients into the skin gently discourages facial hair growth over time.

Skin Nourishing

Regular massaging of facial skin with ubtans can tighten the skin and make it soft and smooth.

How to Make Homemade Facial Scrubs

ubtan facial treatment

The ingredients for these effective homemade facial scrubs are simple and usually easy to find. Recipes are also somewhat flexible and, as all of the components are beneficial for the skin, there’s no need to stress about it. Add a tiny bit more of dry ingredients or wet to get the consistency you want.

The grains are usually powdered, mixed with Ayurvedic herbs, essential oils, clay or other substances. Add water or vegetable/fruit juice and make into a smooth paste. This paste is applied to the face and gently massaged into the skin. After being left to dry, the ubtan is then washed off with warm water and voilà! your face is renewed!

Here are a few Homemade facial scrub recipes that you can try at home

1. Traditional Homemade Facial Scrub for Radiant Skin

  • 2 TBSP garbanzo* flour
  • 2 TBSP sandalwood powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric** powder
  • 1- 2 TBSP milk
  • Rose water – to form smooth paste


  • Mix garbanzo flour, sandalwood powder and turmeric in a small bowl
  • Add milk and blend with spoon
  • Add rose water to make a smooth paste; adjust dry ingredients as necessary
  • Apply to face and let dry, then wash off

2. Oatmeal Facial Scrub for Lustrous /skin

  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup red lentils (Masoor dal)
  • 1/8 cup raw rice
  • 1/8 cup garbanzo* (besan) flour
  • 5 almonds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric** powder
  • Rose water


  • Grind oatmeal, red lentils, rice and almonds into a powder
  • Put into a bowl and add garbanzo flour and turmeric
  • Add rose water to make a paste, smooth, but thick enough to stay in place
  • Let dry and then gently wash off

3. Acne Treatment Ubtan

  • 2 TBSP rice flour (grind rice if using raw rice)
  • 1 TBSP fenugreek powder
  • 1 TBSP neem powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric** powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • Water or rose water as needed to make paste


  • Grind rice into powder if using whole rice pieces
  • Mix rice flour, fenugreek powder, neem powder, turmeric powder and cinnamon powders together
  • Add water or rose water to form a thin paste
  • Apply to face and let dry, then gently wash off
  • Can be used 2-3 times per week for best results

4. Anti-aging Homemade Facial Scrub

  • 2 TBSP garbanzo (besan) flour
  • 1/4 cup bentonite clay
  • 2 teaspoons cucumber powder (if not available, then grated fresh cucumber)
  • 2 teaspoons nopal (cactus) powder
  • 2 teaspoons sandalwood powder
  • Yogurt, enough to blend into smooth paste
HomemadeFacia Scrubs Ubtan


  • Mix dry ingredients together
  • Add enough yogurt to blend into a smooth paste
  • Apply to face and let dry, then gently wash off

5. Homemade Facial Scrub for Dull or Washed-Out Skin

  • 1 TBSP garbanzo (besan) flour
  • 1 TBSP almond powder
  • 1 teaspoon red lentil flour
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric** powder
  • ½ teaspoon sandalwood powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Rosewater for mixing
  • Cream for mixing (can use coconut cream/milk)


  • Grind red lentils and almonds to make powder
  • Mix dry ingredients together
  • Add lemon juice and then equal parts rosewater and cream to form smooth paste. Apply to face and let dry, then gently wash off

** Note: Recipes that contain turmeric may temporarily stain the skin if your complexion is fair. Don’t worry! It’s not permanent! But using before a big date or event, you will need to allow time to gently remove any pesky staining. If at all possible, don’t forgo turmeric. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are excellent for improving skin.

Possible turmeric stain removers include:

  • Sugar (mix with water and rub gently to exfoliate remaining turmeric
  • Baking Soda (mix with water and rub gently to exfoliate remaining turmeric)
  • Lemon Juice and baking soda (mix together and rub gently with cotton ball or pad to remove remaining turmeric)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (rub gently with cotton ball or pad to remove remaining turmeric)
  • Coconut Oil or other vegetable oil (rub gently with cotton ball or pad to remove remaining turmeric)
  • Milk or Coconut Milk (rub gently with cotton ball or pad to remove remaining turmeric)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) Mix with water and rub gently with cotton ball or pad soaked in mixture to remove remaining turmeric)


Now you can enjoy the timeless skin care technique called ubtan! If you try any of these homemade facial scrub recipes, please leave a comment and let me know how you like it! You can also read more information about the incredible healing health benefits of turmeric for internal use as well as for skin, is my other article all about turmeric.

And, if you’re interested, I wrote another article all about about neem powder’s antimicrobial and antibacterial internal uses that you might find helpful.

Thank you for reading! If this post has piqued your interest and you find it useful, inspiring or otherwise magical, please pin it and follow us on Pinterest and/or share it on Facebook via the icons to the left… And we’re always happy to hear from you via the Contact page.

* Garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour is made with white chick peas and can be found in natural groceries or in the “health food section of larger grocery stores. It can be used for these recipes. Besan flour, (the flour that is traditionally used in India for these facial scrubs) made from brown chick peas, can be found at Indian stores or either in bulk or packaged at natural foods stores.

*** These lentils are not really “red”, but are the tiny orange lentils you can find at natural markets, often in bulk or at Indian markets

*This Article First Written:  September 21, 2020


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