Look Inside

Herbal Cosmetics In Ancient India With A Treatise On Planta Cosmetica (An Old and Rare Book)

FREE Delivery
Express Shipping
Express Shipping: Guaranteed Dispatch in 24 hours
Delivery Ships in 1-3 days
Item Code: IHL304
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan
Author: Kunda B. Patkar & P.V. Bole
Language: English
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 7276085X
Pages: 327
Cover: paperback
Other Details 7.4 Inch X 4.8 Inch
Weight 350 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description
Back of the Book

The earliest records of cosmetic Substances and their application dates back to circa 2500 and 1550 B.C. to the Indus valley civilization. There is evidence of highly advanced ideas of self beautification and a large array of various cosmetic usages both by men and women in ancient India. Many of these practices were subtly interwoven with the seasons and the normal rituals of life. Significantly the use of cosmetics was directed not only towards developing an outwardly pleasant and acceptable personality but towards achieving merit (Punya) longevity and Happiness.

The oriental ideal of beauty remains undiminished and many modern women in India have begun to research and combine ancient aids to beauty with present day sophistication. Herbal cosmetics in Ancient India have gleaned various cosmetic formulation contained in a wide body of literature on subjects as diverse as Dharma (religion) the art of love and health sciences. The book is thus the result of a multidisciplinary investigation and constitutes an ethnobotanical contribution to mankind’s constant’s search for eternal beauty and good health.


The word cosmetics defined as substances of diverse origin scientifically compound and used 1 to cleanse 2) to allay skin troubles 3) to cover up imperfections and 4) to beautify (Encyclopedia Britannica 1970) is used in this work in a wider sense to include oral hygiene also.

The ancient science of cosmetology is believed to have originated in China but the earliest records of cosmetic substances and their application dates back to circa 2500 and 1550 B.C. in the Indus valley civilization. Excavations at Mohenjodaro and Harappa have revealed a highly developed culture. Barrel shaped terracotta scrubbers to scrub the body while bathing kohl pots and sticks with collyrium in them and a large number of jars containing paints for the adornment of the eyes uncovered around the great bath and at Chanhudaro go to prove that both men and women of ancient India took special care to beautifully themselves.

Prakrit and Sanskrit records assigned to pre Christian and early Christian era (200 B.C. – 500 B.C.) leave no doubt in one’s mind about the highly advanced ideas of self beautification and a large array of various cosmetic usages both by men and women in ancient India. It is also evident that many of these practices were subtly interwoven in normal rituals of life.

Different Lepas (applications) were recommended for different seasons for body beautifications. The ingredients used during cold season were quite different from those used in hot season. In fact Ashtanga Hridaya (Fifteen hundred years old book of Ayurveda) offers six different formulation to be used for six seasons of the year similarly special cosmetic oils and Ghritas were used for facial beautification.

Superfluous hair was considered to be a stigma and a large number of depilatories were recommended to get rid of it. Special ingredients for hair washes were used. Many remedies have been indicated for hair growth prevention of falling hair and premature graying. Hair dyes for fragrant hair rinses and fumigants were also in use. Fragrant baht powders and body deodorants find frequent mention. Oral hygiene in the form of care of teeth mouth deodorants and coloring of lips were daily chores to be religiously pursued.

If appears that the whole of modern cosmetic usages was conceived by the ancient Indians and were practiced with the help of natural resources then available. Even the philosophy of usage of cosmetics was directed not only towards developing a pleasant and acceptable personality in the society but for achieving merit longevity and happiness in life.

Both men and women used fresh flowers to adorn themselves. The women applied a variety of perfumes and pastes and painted intricate designs on their breasts. It was however in the matter of hairdressing that women gave vent to their imagination. They braided and painted their hair and arranged it in a chignon or top knot over which they studded ornaments or flowers.

The oriental ideal of beauty remains undiminished and modern women of India have begun to research and combine ancient aids to beauty with present day sophistication.

In this book with a view to bringing the ancient usages to the notice of researches the various cosmetic formulations contained in widely strewn literature on Dharma art of love and health sciences were collected and examined. This was an unfamiliar and uncharted effort needing a combination of cultural and scientific approach. It turned out to be a challenging but time consuming task as the references were not readily available. The more difficult part was the interpretation of the formulation and translation needing expert consultations. The formulation have been classified in the following categories on the basis of current concepts (cosmetics and the skin by wells F.V. and Lubowe, I.R. Reinholt N.Y p. 174, 1964) :-

I. Facial Cosmetics
II. Oral Hygiene
III. Depilatories
IV. Body Cosmetics
V. Cosmetics for hair

Each formulation is reproduced from its original language and translated in English followed by its exact reference and textual variations if any. The English translation is rendered by the authors with the help of several scholars.

The authors have been advised by some well wishers to delete some of the formulations which may be considered repugnant by contemporary global concepts among users of cosmetics. However it was felt that even those formulations should be subject to critical tests and should not be discarded merely on emotional grounds. We have therefore retained then as part of ancient wisdom and/or experience.

The second part Planta Cosmetica describes each botanical in the form of a monograph each monograph under the Sanskrit name of the includes the Sanskrit synonyms (occurring in the formulations only) trade names, English name(s) if any description(s) of part(s) used observations and notes relation to the scientific identity of the botanical under references 210 different botanicals have been referred in 314 formulations given in this work. Of these 151 botanicals are identified 21 are unidentified and 38 remain uncertain. The scientific name of the plant species is followed by references equating the Sanskrit name or synonyms and references given in parenthesis relate to the scientific name only. The nomenclature is followed by a very short description and distribution of the species and references to the uses of the botanicals as reported in literature on Indian medicinal plants. The use of botanicals in cosmetics in ancient India is indicated by referring it to the appropriate formulation(s) in Part I.

It is obvious that this type of investigation is multidisciplinary and copious and it is hoped that it forms the basis for further chemical, clinical, and allied investigation in the cosmetics and therapeutic aspects of the Indian botanicals. The non botanicals though equated with their generally acceptable English or trade names may need a further critical study.


Acknowledgements vii
Glossary of Sanskrit terms used in textxiii
Measurements xxi
List of Sanskrit texts and
authors in chronological order
List of Abbreviations used in the textxxv
Part I: Formulations1
Part II: Planta Cosmetica89
1 Scientific Names264
2 Sanskrit Names of Botanicals 275
3 Trade and English name287
4 Sanskrit names of non botanicals 294
**Sample Pages**

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. What locations do you deliver to ?
    A. Exotic India delivers orders to all countries having diplomatic relations with India.
  • Q. Do you offer free shipping ?
    A. Exotic India offers free shipping on all orders of value of $30 USD or more.
  • Q. Can I return the book?
    A. All returns must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the delivery date. All returned items must be in new and unused condition, with all original tags and labels attached. To know more please view our return policy
  • Q. Do you offer express shipping ?
    A. Yes, we do have a chargeable express shipping facility available. You can select express shipping while checking out on the website.
  • Q. I accidentally entered wrong delivery address, can I change the address ?
    A. Delivery addresses can only be changed only incase the order has not been shipped yet. Incase of an address change, you can reach us at [email protected]
  • Q. How do I track my order ?
    A. You can track your orders simply entering your order number through here or through your past orders if you are signed in on the website.
  • Q. How can I cancel an order ?
    A. An order can only be cancelled if it has not been shipped. To cancel an order, kindly reach out to us through [email protected].
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Book Categories