Friday, December 2, 2011

Islamic Beauty: Face


Asalamu Alaykom,

This is my first post in a planned series.



What is Islamic Beauty?

Muslimahs are the women who follow Islam. 

Islam is the submission to The One God.

Is it within the teachings of Islam for Muslimahs look beautiful?  Of course!

We are all beautiful creations of Allah. 

"Islamic Beauty," is what I am entitling a series of posts which will address the specific concerns of the Muslimah.  Our needs are different than the mainstream and need to remain so.  We don't have to ape the celebrities on People's latest cover to satisfy what others need from us.  We have to stay in touch with what Allah wants for us.

The Quran, which is the word of Allah, has guided us to cover our awrah.  Our awrah is anything which is private.  Remember that men have an awrah too!  A woman's awrah is anything except her face and hands.  The way we accomplish this covering up is with hijab.  A hijab is not just the scarf on our head but the complete covering up of our body.  Alhumdulillah, the hijab removes the focus from our bodies.  Just our face and hands are left showing.

Our face, therefore, becomes the major focus of others' attention during our interactions with the world.  Many Muslimahs neglect their face because they feel that a woman must downplay her looks completely in order to observe the religion.  This need not be the case. 

Take a look in the mirror.

Our faces tell others a lot about us.  Not looking in the mirror and not taking time to observe ourselves means that we are not understanding how we are presenting ourselves to the world.  Because we are Muslimahs, we are also presenting Islam to others.  A Muslimah's beautiful face is a chance to make dawa without even having to speak. 

So how do we acheive Islamic beauty on our face?

Eat Healthy Food

Allah wants us to be healthy and has given us a huge array of halal foods.  Yet we ignore Allah's creation and turn to man's processed excess to satisfy our wants instead of our needs.  We need five fresh fruit and vegetables servings each day. 

When we put healthy food inside our bodies it shows in our face.  The vitamins and nutrients provide our skin with the needed building materials to create new layers of radiant skin.

A person who indulges in pre-packaged chemicals and preservatives is slowly embalming themselves.  Whether it's cheaper, easier or handier, those bags of  fill-in-the-blank are keeping you away from Allah's plan for us.  Allah's plan is fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Get Enough Sleep 

Allah has mandated that there is a day in which to work, play and pray and a night in which to rest.  Electricity has enabled us to work (but mostly play) throughout the night but that doesn't mean we should neglect this mandate. 

When we don't get enough sleep, it shows on our faces with dark rings under our eyes.  "Beauty sleep" is not a silly remark but an actuality. 

Stress-induced wrinkles are caused by repeated nervousness which can be calmed by enough rest. 

Another reason to sleep is that is helps our metabolism burn excess fat which can hide your face's bone structure.

Pray

Prayer gives the believer the "Noor of Islam" which shines forth.  This beauty is something which you cannot gain through any material means.  In order to have this glow, you must do the daily humbling before The Creator.

Slough Off the Old 

Our skin is layers, as I've said, and our top layer of skin is dead.  It's DEAD!  We can collect many dead layers of skin without realizing that we are wearing a kind of death mask.  We no longer look lively and young but take on a older appearance.

Time for exfoliating!  Sloughing off those old dead layers of skin once a week brings sudden renewal in appearance.  It can be through a facial scrub, mask or peel. 

Hydrate 

There are two ways to hydrate your skin; from the outside in and from the inside out.  Drinking water is the best way to keep our skin supple.  If we allow ourselves only caffeinated soda pops, sugared tea and coffee then we not giving our bodies what they truly need.

At the same time we can get water into our skin from the outside in.  When we wash our faces, that water enters into our pores.  I wash my face with soap and water only once a day (in the morning).  I feel the water enter in.  Within three minutes our face starts to lose that moisture.  How do you retain that moisture? 

Moisturizer!  Since I was a teenager, I've been using a moisturizer every morning after washing my face.  This has varied by name.  I used to use "Kiss My Face" products in the U.S. but now use "Eva" products in Egypt.  I use only plant-based moisturizers containing things like Olive Oil or Honey which work with the skin.  Using mineral-based products like Vaseline or glycerine on your face will clog your pores and cause break-outs.

Here's the most important piece of information from this section (and maybe from this entire post):  you must hydrate with a mositurizer within the first three minutes after you wash.  That means you wash with a mild soap, pat dry and mositurize immediately.  This prevents that tightening feeling on your face. 

My mom used to think that was a good feeling until I told her, "No, Mom!  That's your face losing moisture!"

Admit to Acne

I once had acne.  This shocked me!  I was entering college and my face broke out.  I was so sad because I did theatre and prided myself on appearance.  One of my headshots from that time shows every little bump and it looks awful. 

Acne is a problem which needs assessment from a professional.  Go to a demotologist and get treatment.  Don't rely on over-the-counter medications.  I realize that this costs money but this is your FACE we're talking about.  It deserves proper attention. 

Sometimes, we get a little zit.  That usually happens once a month for me.  I don't use any skin medication for that.  Know what I use?  A little dab of toothpaste!  I put the toothpaste directly over the pimple and let it absorb the oils.  I would never leave the house that way but it helps at home.

Never-ever pick at your face.  The bacteria under your nails will likely enter into the sore you've picked and cause a worse problem.  Scaring on the face is a very serious matter.  Picking at pimples is very risky.  Don't risk your face.  Be patient and know that every pimple God gives you is a challenge which you can handle.

Wear Sun Protection

I never liked sunbathing.  It always seemed to me to be one of the lamest of activities.  So, I would go out into the sun to do things like garden (with a hat) or go biking (with a helmet) but I didn't get into "sun worshipping" (astragferallah).  Alhumdulillah, at 43, my skin hasn't aged as much as my contemporaries who liked to roast themselves each summer. 

Now here in Egypt, I felt the dangers of the sun like never before.  When I first moved here, I would sporadically put on my Clinque City Block with SPF 25.  I would use it when I was going to be out in the sun for a long period of time.  However, I realized that the cummulative times of watching the children on the playground, waiting for a taxi, going up to the roof, walking to the store were all adding up to skin damage.  The area being hit the worst was the tops of my cheeks.  Every time I smiled, I raised them up to the sun for increased exposure and my skin began showing the effects.

Now?  Every day, I use the SPF 25 immediately after I moisturize.  I use this as a kind of foundation.  I do powder after it to reduce any kind of shine it produces.  Since using it every day, I have seen an improvement in both my skin's tone and my skin's softness. 

It is worth mentioning, of course, that skin cancer can also be avoided by using an SPF. 

Make-up

This is controversial. 

Kohl outlining the eyes is considered halal in Islam but most other efforts at coloring the face is not---at least not publicly.  Remember that there is beauty which we can show to the public and beauty which we can show only in private.

I do wear some make-up.  The make-up I wear is so little as to be non-conspicuous.  I wear make-up to look pleasant but not to look attractive.  So, for instance, I do wear lipstick.  I tried wearing only lip moisturizer but my lips got so chapped.  I found that lipstick was the only substance to keep them from painful dryness.  I wear colors which are as close to my natural as possible. 

I avoid any lipstick with sparkles or gloss.  Those would attract attention and, as I said, the goal for me is to look pleasant not to attract the eye. 

I do line my eyes but not with kohl;  I use eyeliner.  I do not usually wear mascara.  If time permits, I may curl my eye lashes with an eyelash curler.  I do use eye shadow and try not to be too obtrusive with it. 

This is my decision to wear make-up.  I am not recommending it to others but rather putting it out there as a truth.  My intention is to create a pleasant face which fully looks like me.  I am not interested in becoming a heavily made-up Robert Palmer video chick.  I still remain me.

Facial Hair

This is also controversial.

Some Muslimahs believe that correcting any facial hair is wrong since God gave it to you; you should keep it.  I disagree.  I believe that there can be some hair on a woman's face which detracts from her beauty in such a way as to be unsightly. 

Hormonal changes can really start dark hairs growing on a woman where before there was none.  It can be very upsetting.  It was for me after the birth of my first child.  I thought that, since it was natural, then it was acceptable and I had to learn how to live with it.

Eventually, when I came to really love myself more, I knew that those dark little hairs hurt my self esteem.  They were only a few in number but they needed professional attention.  I did use electrolysis.  This was sometimes painful and costly, but in the end, highly effective.  I no longer have any dark hairs around my lips. 

I know that lots of women in Egypt use Halawa a kind of sugar-based hair ripping removal product.  I have no intention of ever using that on my face.  I've seen the pockmarks from women who have used that on their face.  It can cause permanent skin damage.

There are other women who shave.  I know one actress back in the States who has to shave regularly.  She has appeared in TV and movies and has to shave each morning because she started the process long ago.  Don't start this.  It isn't healthy for our faces.  There are other ways to eliminate unwanted hair which don't encourage dark, thick regrowth. 

Then there's plucking and threading.  I do pluck stray hairs around my eyebrows with a tweezer.  Stray hairs are those which creep up in between your natural brows or show up around the edges.  I do not try to shape my eyebrows into the latest trend.  My eybrows are basically the same shape they've always been.  Others would not even realize I pluck anything.

Use a magnifying mirror to see what is out of place.  Actually, a magnifying mirror is good for applying eyeliner as well.  Tweeze at the base of the hair and pull quickly.  Some like to ice the area first.  Afterward, you might want to apply a pore soothing Witch Hazel or other tonic.   

 Smile

"You're never fully dressed without a smile."  This is an age old truism for others.  Is it true for Muslimahs? 

There is a kind of smile which we share with those we select.  We don't flash those pearly whites to the masses.  This is a kind of downplayed version.  We smile from our heart and not from our ego.  We are not trying to attract others with our dazzling teeth; so again we're attempting to be pleasant and not attractive.

In order to have a pleasant smile, we really need to take care of our teeth.  This is having good dental health.  It isn't really important to make your teeth glow-in-the-dark white.  However, be smart about brushing at least twice a day.  Floss regularly. 

I also use a stain removing toothpaste once a week.  Just like a facial exfoliant, a teeth whitening toothpaste gets rid of an unwanted layer.  This has become really important in tea-drinking Egypt.  I have also tried to reduce the browing of my teeth by rinsing my mouth with water after every tea time.

Conclusion

Your face.  My face.  The face of Islam.  We have the ability to make the most of our faces and the way we are perceived.  We can be more positive about ourselves by learning to accentuate the positives and changing the negatives. We can present our face to the world in a pleasnt way and therefore become better servants of Allah.  Practising good health and hygiene and making conscious decisions about this important part of our body will enable us to be better people and better Muslims; beautiful Muslimahs.



Others in the Series

Islamic Beauty: Hands

Islamic Beauty:  Hair

2 comments:

Londoneya said...

The sleep bit is something I struggle with, it's giving me lines under my eyes which isn't good!

MarieHarmony said...

Very Interesting,I like the way you describe each phase in great details. I realized when reading this I should definitely look after myself more and get some good rest.
Thank you. Looking forward reading your next post.