According to dermatology experts in Dubai, the effects on both the hair and skin are minimal during the holy month, if they’re well-maintained and boosted with a nutritious diet. Image Credit: Shutterstock

During Ramadan, our bodies get a golden opportunity to detoxify and reset. We’re more spiritually aligned and less stressed, not to mention the physical benefits of fasting reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar levels.

What about the health of our skin and hair? With briefly altered schedules and diet, our regular skin and hair care routines can experience some changes. According to dermatology experts in Dubai, the effects on both the hair and skin are minimal during the holy month, if they’re well-maintained and boosted with a nutritious diet.

To help you keep your skin moisturised and locks hydrated, we took down advice from Dr Zaheer Abbas, an aesthetic dermatologist at Skin111 Medical and Aesthetic Clinic in Dubai, Dr Anna Protasova, a dermatologist from Evolution Aesthetics Clinic in Dubai, and Dr Juwariya Tasneem Syeda, a specialist dermatologist at Aster Clinic in Bur Dubai. Scroll to the end to see what experts recommend.

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Our list below highlights all the ways you can pamper your skin and hair during Ramadan, from gentle shampoos to face mists. Put in your orders from Amazon during its ongoing sale, with a Prime membership, so that you can receive them in time.

1. Opt for a deeply hydrating moisturiser

Replenish the face and the body diligently with moisturisers you trust. Dr Protasova said: "I recommend using a gentle and hydrating cleanser, followed by a moisturiser containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin to lock in moisture." This obvious step in our skincare routines earns more weight during Ramadan, as external hydration becomes important, says Dr Abbas. He recommends well-known drugstore brands like Cerave, Uriage and Cetaphil. Go for formulas that will deliver long-lasting hydration for hours. Cerave's classic tub of rich moisturising cream for the face and body locks in hydration for 48 hours from application, using ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Not all moisturisers have to be thick - the Uriage Xemose face cream has a non-greasy texture and is formulated with thermal water and shea butter for up to 24 hours of hydration. Cetaphil's one-litre lotion is ideal for body application post-showers while the skin is still damp. All options are fragrance-free. 

2. Hydrate with a face mist throughout the day

Dr Syeda suggests spritzing the face with a fine facial mist whenever your skin feels parched. "Use mists containing water throughout the day to prevent transepidermal water loss. The mist will form a thin lipid film over the skin," she explained. Popular spring water mists by Avene and La Roche-Posay are widely used - they soothe irritations and dry patches, and also refresh the skin in warmer weather. The antioxidant water is naturally rich in minerals and trace elements, which soften the skin instantly. Sensitive skin types can also replace toner with a water mist to prep their skin. If you want more skincare ingredients, try the K-beauty d'Alba First Spray Serum which contains Italian white truffles, niacinamide, chia seed extract and plant-based oils, making it a multipurpose mist and serum spray in one.

3. Apply lip balm liberally

Avoid licking your lips as a way of hydrating them; this only serves to dry them out further, warns Dr Abbas. Lip care is overlooked, and things are not any different during Ramadan when a cracked pout is more common. Carry a small tube of lip balm at all times after iftar, to relieve and soothe chapped lips the right way. You have great options in Dr Abbas' recommended brand Isdin, which offers lip balms with sun protection, like the Protector Labial Stick that has a high protection factor of SPF50+. Dermatologists we previously spoke to also highlight Aquaphor. Our pick has four sticks in total, of which two have SPF30 with shea butter and nourishing vitamins.

4. Cleanse the scalp well with a gentle shampoo

A clean scalp is key to healthy hair, and Dr Syeda stresses just that. We can use clarifying, gentle shampoos to break down excess oil, product build-up and impurities on the scalp so that new growth can flourish. It's also important to pick formulas that won't strip the scalp of necessary moisture. Dr Abbas compares them to baby shampoos, recommending Sebamed's "very gentle" range, like its Everyday Shampoo that employs an extra-mild formula with vegetal agents to cleanse the scalp. Phyto's clarifying shampoo is also great for a deep cleanse once a week to reset the scalp from dulling residues such as smoke, pollutants and hard water minerals. If you want a shampoo and conditioner deal, pick up Aromatica's rosemary line, infused with the essential oil and salicylic acid for itchy scalps.

5. Moisturise hair and scalp with oils

Oils are to the hair as moisturisers are to the skin. You can nourish the tresses with any hair oil, from coconut to amla, says Dr Abbas, who adds that oiling the scalp lightly after shower, besides the hair ends, should lock in moisture. There are pre-mixed hair oils on the market as well, that combine more nutrients for an extra boost. Check out the popular Fable and Mane pre-wash hair oil formulated with amla, plant roots, castor oil and ashwagandha. Another internet favourite is the Ouai hair oil that's meant to stay on as a leave-in after a wash, keeping it hydrated and protected from the sun with African galanga, Asian borage seed oil and ama oil. Or, you could try the J-beauty & Honey Deep Moist hair oil, which has a base of argan oil, honey, hyaluronic acid, royal jelly and more.

6. Add hair serums and leave-in treatments when necessary

For day two and day three hair, bring your locks back to life by dousing the ends in either a serum or a leave-in conditioner. This keeps the hair from looking dull and limp at iftar parties and get-togethers. Davine's famous milk spray will smooth all the frizz and protect the tresses from heat tools, with infused roucou oil. Another spray leave-in that's specially formulated for colour-treated hair is Pureology's Color Fanatic product with similar benefits, using olive oil and omega-3-rich camellia seed and coconut oils. If you'd rather apply a lighter product, pick up a serum, instead. Kerastase's hair and scalp serum stimulates new growth and promotes a healthy environment for follicles using ceramides.

7. Take supplements for extra measure

Our skin and hair need a colourful variety of nutrients to stay healthy, and if you have an inkling that you're lacking a few essentials in your diet, supplements could make up for them. Dr Abbas points out Perfectil's Plus Hair tablets, a beauty multivitamin with 28 micronutrients and extra biotin, zinc and selenium to support your hair. There are special ingredients like horsetail botanical extract and collagen, too. You could also take biotin gummies by NutraChamps, which are flavoured and easier to consume than pills. These gummies have 10,000 mcg of biotin each, so it's great for fueling stronger hair, nails and even healthier skin.

What happens to our hair and skin during Ramadan?

skincare stock
You could expect dry skin and dull tresses for the first 10 days or so, but ouir bodies adapt quickly as the month goes on. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Admittedly, we will see a difference as we begin fasting, whether it’s because of the fried foods and sugar consumed at iftar or a change in sleeping patterns. Dr Syeda says that as long as we “avoid food containing excessive sugars and salt, incorporate healthy nuts, drink eight glasses of water, and limit caffeine”, our skin and hair will make the most of fasting benefits.

She explained: “A lot of skin inflammatory conditions, like psoriasis, reduce during fasting. There will be an improvement in your body’s metabolism, and your body starts regulating inflammation more efficiently. It also gets an increased ability to fight oxidative stress.”

You could expect dry skin and dull tresses for the first 10 days or so, but since our bodies are excellent at adapting, we tend to recover quickly as the month goes on. Dr Abbas cautions, however, that self-recovery from inflammation and dehydration is only possible if both diet and beauty routines are followed closely.

“If you pay good attention to your hair and skincare routines, there would be no consequences. Hair loss can come about if there’s vitamin and mineral deficiency, and less protein in the diet. Eating behaviours might cause breakouts and those with oily skin can experience clogged pores,” he added.

How can we maintain our skin health?

Stay true to your regular skincare routine. Image Credit: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

There are two things that should be at the top of our list, when it comes to skin and hair health in Ramadan. Dr Protasova said: “It's essential to prioritise hydration and nutrition. Drinking plenty of water during non-fasting hours helps maintain skin and hair hydration levels. Consuming nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide essential vitamins and minerals to support skin and hair health. Additionally, incorporating hydrating skincare products and deep conditioning treatments for the hair can help combat dryness and maintain moisture balance.”

“Our body is about 70 per cent water, so keeping hydrated means no shrinkage of cells, more elasticity and less instances of the skin looking dull and wrinkly,” added Dr Abbas.

Squeeze in at least six to eight glasses of water before suhoor and after iftar. As we hydrate internally, moisturising externally is just as important. Consistent and regular use of a good moisturiser and applying body lotion after short showers are just some steps we should keep up with.

Dr Syeda recommends continuing your usual five-step skincare routine, which includes using a gentle cleanser, toner, serum, moisturiser and actives like retinol, which might be irreplaceable for oily skin types. However, if you’re prone to irritation, then it’d be a good idea to cut actives down to twice a week.

“Try to reduce retinols, glycolic acid and peeling products during this month. Switch to gentle exfoliation or introduce a longer gap between uses,” advised Dr Abbas. In the daytime, don’t forget to apply sunscreen regularly.

People with dry skin types should also take extra care in Ramadan, according to Dr Protasova. She said: "Dry skin tends to become more dehydrated when water intake is limited, leading to increased dryness, flakiness, and irritation. Therefore, it's crucial for individuals with dry skin to prioritise hydration by using moisturising skincare products and consuming sufficient water during non-fasting hours to mitigate these effects."

We’ve all dealt with a stubborn case of chapped lips while fasting. The solution is simple: carry a lip balm at all times, as it’s the only item that’s going to keep them moisturised. “We forget to take care of our lips. Since we’re not drinking water during the day, we lick our lips thinking we’re hydrating them. This just makes things worse. Start applying lip balm from the first day onwards,” said Dr Abbas. You could do this after iftar.

How can we maintain our hair health?

hair oil
Make sure your shampoo doesn’t use harsh surfactants. Image Credit: Shutterstock

To prevent the hair from looking limp and brittle, invest more in scalp care during this time, says Dr Syeda. Oily scalps can be washed two to three times a week, while dry types can stick to twice a week.

Make sure your shampoo doesn’t have harsh surfactants, which might strip more oils from the scalp. Dr Protasova said: "Using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner can help prevent stripping natural oils from the hair and scalp." Besides gentle shampoos, Dr Abbas also recommends oiling the hair with good options being amla, argan, olive and coconut oils. You could oil the scalp an hour before a shower to hydrate it, as well.

Incorporating a weekly deep conditioning treatment can also help nourish and strengthen the hair, by preventing dryness and breakage, according to Dr Protasova. She shared other recommendations: "Protecting the hair from sun exposure and heat styling by wearing a scarf or using heat protectant products is advisable. Getting an adequate amount of sleep and managing stress levels can also positively impact skin and hair health during Ramadan."

“If you’re advised by your healthcare provider, then you can take hair supplements. These are usually a right combination of essential vitamins, minerals, collagen and protein for the hair,” added Dr Syeda. Do note that supplements should not replace natural sources of these nutrients, which you can get by adding more fruit, vegetables and protein in your diet.

Some hair types might need extra hydration, in which case hair serums and leave-in conditioners for the hair ends are also viable options, she adds.

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