Ramadan is here, and it's a time when Muslims dedicate themselves to worship. During this time, Muslims are encouraged to tap into the best versions of themselves by practicing unity, charity, purity, and generosity. It's also a time when Muslims fast between 12-16 hours daily for 30 days, abstaining from food and even water.
While the action and length of fasting can be challenging, there are many physical and mental benefits. Still, due to limited water intake at the start of the fast and no fluid consumption for prolonged hours, it's worth wondering: How does fasting impact overall skin health? And how can those observing fasts keep their skin healthy?
To help, we tapped board-certified dermatologist Dr. Kiran Mian, based in New York City, for her tips on how to keep your skin hydrated and healthy during a fast. We also asked Muslim women for their tried-and-true tips for hydrating skin during Ramadan. Read more ahead.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Kiran Mian is a board-certified medical and aesthetic dermatologist based in New York City.
The Importance of Skin Hydration
Water is integral to the skin's balance. "Without it, many things slow down," Dr. Kiran Mian says. "The first thing that I notice when it comes to dehydrated skin due to lack of water is sallowness. So the complexion can look dull." Mian describes the skin as a balloon. When the balloon is filled with air, it has a smooth and even texture; however, when it deflates, it sags and looks duller. "That happens because our skin cells are essentially 75% water, which helps them stay plump versus shrinking," Mian said. So, when abstaining from drinking water for long periods, you risk a drier, less radiant surface.
Ingredients That Help With Hydration During Fasting
While many dermatologists report no direct evidence to suggest that water is the sole contributor to skin hydration, Mian says there are ways to maximize hydration in your routine while you're fasting.
"Use a gentle cream-based cleanser that will aid in retaining moisture," she suggests, adding that Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($18) is one of her go-to formulas. Additionally, Mian recommends looking for products containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, squalene, and dimethicone, all of which will help the skin hold onto water. To moisturize, she recommends formulas like Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream with Squalene ($38) or La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Multi-Purpose Cream ($18).
If you want to refresh your skin throughout the day, Mian says thermal spring water sprays are great for replenishing moisture (she loves Avene Thermal Spring Water). In the evening, Mian likes to use a hydrating face mask before sleeping to lock the moisture into the skin and minimize the impact of active ingredients. For example, suppose someone uses a retinoid during Ramadan in their daily nighttime routine. Mian suggests reducing frequency since your skin might be drier and more susceptible to irritation. For those in colder climates, she suggests using a humidifier at home to help bring moisture to the skin.
How Muslim Women Keep Their Skin Hydrated During Fasting
Many people observing Ramadan put Mian's tips into play in their daily beauty routines. Sahar Kariem, an aspiring stylist and graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, loves to use the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel ($20) in the morning and at night for extra hydration. For a brightness boost, she uses the Vitamin C Clay Mask by Gleamin ($40). "It helps me look glowy and radiant, which is nice because, during Ramadan, my sleep schedule is interrupted, so it helps revive my skin," she says.
Narjis Hussain, a beauty, lifestyle, and modest fashion micro-influencer from Chicago, exfoliates her skin twice a week before using a hydrating cream and sheet masks. She also is diligent about using lip balms for moisture. While consistency with products is important to Hussain, she also says to incorporate professional treatments if possible. "Consider a hydrating facial from a reliable esthetician at the beginning and end of the month if you can," Hussain recommends.
Fasting is a cherished act that comes with challenges, but the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional benefits are supreme. It can be difficult to think about one's welfare when there's limited time to eat and drink, but the beauty of Ramadan is that it teaches millions the art of discipline and how integral it is to take care of our bodies, skin included. May this month bring us closer to achieving our goals of becoming better people, and may our skin thrive in the process.