Home Natural cosmetics Concept of cosmetics in the Unani system of medicine – II

Concept of cosmetics in the Unani system of medicine – II


posted on March 13, 2022 | Author DR. ALTAF SHAH

Types of Unani Cosmeceuticals

Several Unani cosmeceuticals are described in classic Unani literature. These can be broadly categorized as follows:

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

· Solid cosmetics: this includes ghaza, ghalliya, nawwera, kohal, kajal, etc.

· Semi-solid cosmetics: this includes zimad, tila, ubtan, etc.

· Liquid cosmeceuticals: this category includes ghusool, pashoya, roshoya, etc.

· Types of Unani cosmeceuticals based on their pharmacological actions.

Corrosive (Akkal Advia): Drugs in this category possess keratolytic action whereby they are useful in treating abnormal skin growth like warts, acne, etc. Some examples of akkal are choona (lime), hartaal (orpiment/arsenic trisulfide), etc.

Abluent/lava (Ghassal Advia): Drugs in this category possess the activity of peeling off dead skin or debris, used to clean the skin of the face, hands, etc. Some of them are for example Asl-e-khalish (honey), aab-e-lemun (Citrus limon) etc.

Detergent (Jali advia): The drug of this category has detergent activity, which is used to cleanse the skin. These drugs have the ability to clean the pores of the skin. Some of the medicines mentioned are Aqarqarha (Anacyclus pyrethrum), Baladur (Semecarpus anacardium) and Chadela (Parmelia perlata) etc.

Astringent (Qabiz Advia): If drugs of this category are applied topically, they increase skin tone. Some of the drugs mentioned in classic Unani texts are gil-e-multani (Land of Multaan/Land of Fuller), gil-e-surkh (Red Ochre) etc.

Absorbent (Jazib Advia): They have absorbent properties, used all over the body to absorb sweat. Some examples of these drugs are Jund bedaster (Castorium), tukhm-e-panwad (Cassia tora) etc.

Antiperspirant (Mane’y arq Advia): These drugs act on the sweat glands in the skin and decrease sweating through the skin. Some examples are jauz masil (Datura stramonium), kuchla (Strychnos nuxvomica) etc.

Epilator/Epilator (Haliq Advia): The local application of these drugs helps to eliminate unwanted hair. For example, Hartaal (arsenic trisulfide), Safeda (zinc oxide), Choona (lime), etc.

Rubefacient (Muhammir Advia): If drugs in this category are applied externally, they produce/cause redness of the skin. Some examples are Khardal/Rai/Laaee/Laahee (Brassica nigra (Linn.) WDJ Koch), Unsul/piyaz (Allium cepa), Laung/qaranfal (Syzygium aromaticum) etc.

Peeler / Stripper (Qasir Advia): Drugs of this category possess powerful detergent activity. Used to remove dead skin. Some examples are kaf-e-darya (cuttlebone), jangabeel (Zingiber officinale) etc.

Blood Purifiers (Musaffi-e-dam Advia): Drugs in this category are used to remove impurities in the blood. Some examples are neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.), chiraita (Swertia chirayita (Roxb. ex Flem.) Karst.), unnab (Zizyphus jujuba) etc.

Emollient (Murakkhi Advia): If the drugs of this category are applied topically, they have a soothing and softening effect on the skin. These drugs have moisturizing properties for the skin. Some examples are roghan badam (almond oil), roghan-e-kunjud (sesame oil), mom-e-zard (wax) etc.

Hematinic (Muallid-e-khoon Advia): Drugs in this category are used to increase the hemoglobin content in the blood. Some examples are khubsul hadeed (iron rust), anar (Punica granatum) etc.

Tonics for teeth and gums (Muqawwi-e-dandan was lissa Advia): If the drugs of this category are applied locally in the oral cavity, they provide strength and tone. They also used to clean teeth and gums. Some examples are shib-e-yamani (alun) post-e-anar (Punica granatum) etc.

Types of Unani cosmeceuticals based on site of application

Cosmeceutical facial treatment: This includes ghaza (face powder), ghalliya (perfume powder), ubtan, roshoya (face wash) and ghusool (wash), etc.

Cosmeceutical body care: Several cosmeceutical body care measures are mentioned in the classic literature of Unani medicine, eg noora (epilator), mane’y arq (antiperspirant), tila (liniment). The emollient is used in chapped lips, hands and feet.

Cosmeceutical hair care: This includes roghan, sabagh, khizab, application of henna paste, ghusool-e-sha’r.

Cosmeceutical eye care: This includes surma, kohal, kajal, anjan, mascara, neela anjan, etc.

List of simple Unani medicinal plants commonly used in cosmetics. These medicinal plants are classified according to their actions and preparations as mentioned in the classics of Unani medicine.

Medicinal plants used as skin moisturizers, tonics and posing anti-aging activities

· Gheekawaar/Sibr (Aloe barbadensis Mill. Syn. Aloe Vera (L.) Burm.f.): It is a good moisturizer, sunscreen. Also acts as an emollient.

· Genda (Tagetes erecta): It has healing properties.

· Kasni (Cichorium intybus): It stains the skin.

· Haldi (Curcuma longa): It has antiseptic, antibacterial and complexion improving properties.

· Gajar (Daucus carota Linn.): It is a natural tonic and skin rejuvenator.

· Asl-us-soos (Glycyrrhiza glabra): It is a skin bleaching agent.

· Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum): It is a good anti-aging, antibacterial and antiseptic.

· Gulaab (Damask Rose): It has invigorating and refreshing activities.

· Iklil-al-Jabal (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.): It is a skin rejuvenator and cleanser.

· Majeeth (Rubia cordifolia Linn.): It has healing and anti-aging properties.

· Gandum (Triticum aesativum): It is antioxidant and anti-wrinkle. It also nourishes the skin.

Solar cream

· Gheekawaar/Sibr (Aloe barbadensis Mill. Syn. Aloe Vera (L.) Burm.f.): It is a good moisturizer.

· Gandum (Triticum aesativum): It is an antioxidant.

Sun tanning

· Nager motha/Saad Kufi / Sad Kufi (Cyperus rotundus Linn. / Cyperus scariosus R. Br. / Cyperus arundinaceum Baker): Sun tanning

· Shajana/Sohanjana (Moringa pterygosperma CF Gaertn.) Tanning


· Narmushk/ Nagkesar (Mesua ferrea Linn.): It is strongly astringent.

· Kakra singhi (Pistacia integerrima JLStewart ex Brandis): It is reddening, astringent and antibacterial.

· Halelah (Terminalia chebula Retz.): It is antibacterial, astringent, antifungal and antiseptic in nature.

Hair care ingredients

· Shikakai (Acacia concinna (Willd.) DC.): It is a natural detergent and anti-dandruff.

· Gheekawaar/Sibr (Aloe barbadensis Mill. Syn. Aloe Vera (L.) Burm.f.): It is a good cleanser and conditioner.

· Neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.): It is an anti-dandruff. Reduces hair loss.

· Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri (Linn.) Penn.): It is a good hair tonic. It promotes hair growth.

· Deodar (Cedrus deodara (D.Don) G.Don): It is an anti-dandruff.

· Brahmmi Booti (Centella asiatica (Linn.) Urban): Darkening of hair.

· Bhangra (Eclipta prostrata (Linn.) Linn. Syn.: E. alba (Linn.) Hassk.): It reduces premature graying of hair, good remedy for alopecia.

· Aamla (Phyllanthus emblica Linn. Syn.: Emblica officinalis Gaertn.): It is tonic and anti-dandruff. It protects the hair and reduces hair loss.

· Gul-e-Gurhal (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn.) It is a natural hair dye. It prevents hair loss. It is also an anti-dandruff.

· Kapurakachari (Hedychium spicatum Sm. in A.Rees): It promotes hair growth

· Hina/Mehdi (Lawsonia inermis Linn. / Jasminum sambac (Linn.) Ait./Lawsonia alba): It is a natural hair dye. It is anti-dandruff and revitalizing.

· Iklil-al-Jabal / Libanutis (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.): It nourishes, soothes and restores the shape of the hair.

· Bunduq-e-Hindi/Reetha/Atamtoot/Rattah (Sapindus trifoliatus Linn.): It is a natural detergent and cleanser.

· Gandum (Triticum aesativum): It provides lubrication, nourishment and shine.

· Balela/Bahera (Terminalia bellirica (Gaertn.) Roxb.): It prevents graying of the hair.

· Kunjad Siyah/Til/Sheeraj (Sesamum indicum Linn.): It promotes hair growth and prevents premature graying of hair. In addition, it darkens the hair.

Ingredients for dental care

· Neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.): It is a powerful antibacterial. Useful especially in toothaches and dental wear.

· Kikar/Babool (Acacia arabica/nillotica Willd.): Useful in dental swelling, bleeding gums and syphilitic infections.

· Pya bansa/Jhinti (Barleria prionitis Linn.): Useful for toothache and bleeding gums. It also strengthens the teeth.

· Moolsari (Mimusops elengi): It is astringent. It keeps the gums healthy.

· Anisoon/ Aaneesan (Pimpinella anisum Linn.): It is an antiseptic with an aromatic flavor.

· Peeloo (Salvadora persica Linn.): It is a powerful antimicrobial.

· Qaranful/Laung (Syzygium aromaticum (Linn.) Merr. & LM Perry): This is a local anesthetic. It relieves toothache.

· Lodh Pathani (Symplocos racemosa Roxb.): It strengthens gums and teeth.

Ingredients for dermatological applications

· Neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.): It is a powerful antibacterial.

· Khulanjan (Alpinia galanga (Linn.)Willd.): It is a good antibacterial.

· Seer/ Lahsan (Allium sativum): It is antifungal, antiseptic and tonic.

· Karanj (Pongamia glabra or pongamia pinnata): Good remedy for herpes, scabies and leucoderma.

· Malkangni/Nammilnaraa (Celastrus paniculatus Willd.): Used for wound healing and eczema.

· Kalonji/Shooneez (Nigella sativa Linn.): Good antibacterial. Used in leucoderma.

· Babchi (Psoralea corylifolia Linn.): Good remedy for leucoderma, leprosy, psoriasis and skin inflammations.

The Ministry of AYUSH has established a Medicines Technical Advisory Council for Ayurvedic, Unani and Siddha medicines under the Medicines and Cosmetics Act 1940 to control the standards of medicines, their manufacture, sale and their distribution.


(Dr. Altaf Shah is Chief Medical Officer (Unani), AYSUH Unit, District Hospital, Pulwama