Alum, commonly known as “phitkari” or “fitkari” in Urdu, is well known for its benefits for skin and hair. Alum that cosmetically used is potassium alum that has astringent and bacteriostatic properties. Astringent means something that causes contraction of tissues to make them tight or to shrink them, hence it is beneficial in shrinking the pores of the skin. It is bacteriostatic meaning it prevents the growth of bacteria.
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Alum is an amazing natural product for skin and hair. Here are some of the benefits of Phitkari:
1. Phitkari for Hyperpigmentation
Phirkari has amazing skin lightening properties which makes it excellent for acne scars and hyperpigmentation on the skin. People of South Asian decent have skin that is more prone to hyperpigmentation so it is obvious that alum has been used for a long time.
Some ways to use alum to reduce the appearance of blemishes, hyperpigmentation and acne scars are to mix alum powder with different ingredients to make a face mask. These are
- Mix Alum powder in equal parts with rosewater and apply on the face for 10 minutes and rinse it off.
- Mix 1 tbsp alum powder with 2 tbsp of multani mitti (also known as bentonite clay) and 1 tbsp of milk. Make a paste and apply on the face for 15 minutes and rinse off.
Always remember to moisturise afterwards since these treatments can dry out the skin. Use these treatments once or twice a week. Natural treatments take longer than usual to show their effect but consistently is key to get the desired results without using unnecessary chemicals on your face.
2. Alum for Skin Tightening and Reducing Wrinkles
As discussed above, alum has excellent astringent properties, meaning that it great for keeping your skin tight and shrinking the pores in your skin.
To use alum for this purpose, make a paste of alum powder, water and egg and apply it on the face for 30 minutes then rinse it off. Remember to moisturise afterwards and use this treatment once a week.
Alum also reduces the appearance of wrinkles on the skin. Wet your alum stone and rub it gently all over the skin and moisture afterwards.
3. Phitkari in Shaving
Phitkari has been used after shaving for a long period of time. It’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties make it an excellent product to soothe the skin and prevent the nicks and cuts that might have occurred while shaving to get infected. It reduces inflammation, prevents bacterial growth and soothes the area.
To use alum block for this purpose, simply take your alum block, wet it under water and apply it on the affected area. You might feel a sting but let the alum material settle in your skin and let it do its magic. It will help reduce the irritation on your skin and even prevents ingrown hair.
4. Alum Stone for Hair
Alum stone is great for your hair as it not only fights the dandruff in your scalp but it is also used to fight lice growth in your hair. Alum stone also has cosmetic uses in hair as a hair dye.
Alum stone is great for fighting dandruff in your hair. To do this simply mix some amount of Phitkari powder in your shampoo and use shampoo as per your routine.
Alum stone is also used to fight off lice infestation in your hair. It prevents the growth of lice and its eggs while also reducing the inflammation in your scalp. To do this mix some of the alum stone powder with water and oil and apply in your hair and rinse it off after some time.
Phitkari is also very good for your hair health. It fights off dead cells, controls oil production in your hair and fights off inflammation in your hair. It is also used as a natural hair dye for people with white hair. Combine alum powder with rose water and apply on the hair. Use this treatment twice a week and wait for the results.
5. Alum Stone as a Natural Deodorant
Alum stone is a great natural deodorant as it has antibacterial properties. It fights off the odour producing bacteria in the armpit and reduces body odour. To use alum stone for this, wet the alum stone with water and rub it on your armpit. Use this every time you take a shower.
6. Phitkari for Cracked Heels
Phitarki is also beneficial for cracked heels. It helps in the production of new tissues and reduces the inflammation of cracked heels. To do this heat the phitarki powder with some basin or chickpea flour to form a crumbly paste. This paste along with coconut can be applied to cracked heels. This will exfoliate the affected area and help repair the dead skin.
Phitkari Meaning in English
Phitkari is known as Alum in English. It is a naturally occurring, transparent mineral that is excellent for the hair and skin. In scientific terms this chemical compound is known as potassium aluminium sulfate or potash alum for short.
Side Effects of Using Phitkari
Things when used in moderation have very productive effects but when used in access come with side effects. Over use of alum stone have following side effects of the skin
It is also possible that a person may be allergic to alum stone. Symptoms of an allergy include breaking out in hives, swelling of the area where alum stone is applied, redness, itching etc. This is an emergency and hospital treatment must be sought out immediately.
Storing Alum Stone
To make sure your alum stone lasts long, it is important to store it properly. Shelf life of phitkari lasts longer if it is kept in a cool and dry place. A damp phitkari reduces its shelf life because it starts to dissolve as soon as it is wet. It is important to dry your alum stone properly and store it properly after each use.
Alum stone or phitkari is a naturally occurring aluminium compound that has great astringent and antibacterial properties. The uses of alum stone for skin and hair are numerous and these benefits are all natural. Consistent use of the above mentioned methods yield good results but it is important that we do not over use alum stone to prevent the side effect from occurring.