What is Ubtan? | Benefits of & How to use ubtan correctly for glowing skin

What is Ubtan? | Benefits of & How to use ubtan correctly for glowing skin

What is ubtan? Is it the last word in Ayrvedic skin care? Should you wash your face wth one?  What the the ways an ubtan helps in skin care? Does it give a natural glow to the skin? 

Lets understand what the Ayurvedic texts say about an ubtan and answer these questions and more. 


What is Ubtan? 

An Ubtan is a mixture of a base of many natural ingredients like lentils, clays, grains and Ayurvedic herbs used to cleanse skin. This term does not exist in the classical texts or does it find an exact mention in formulations for skincare. However, Ayurvedic text use the term “Snana Choornam” or bathing powder.

Snana choornam is a generic phrase used in Ayurvedic textbooks to describe a bathing powder made with Ayurvedic herbs. The texts give us many formulae, underlying principles and the correct process to select herbs, lentils and grains and process Ayurvedic bathing powders.

An ayurvedic snana choornam is called "ubtan" colloquially in many Indian languages.  In Maharashtra, ubtan is referred to as “Utane”. In Tamilnadu, ubtan is referred to as “Kuliyal podi” or bathing powder.

An ubtan can be formulated to address skin concerns and needs of different types.

What are the ingredients used in an ayurvedic ubtan powder ?

An Ubtan does not follow a standardized formula. There are many posts on the internet which specify that an ubtan MUST contain besan (gram flour), turmeric, rose water, milk etc.

However, there is no stringent rule specified in Ayurveda that an ubtan or Snana choornam must contain one ingredient or the other.

Certain ingredients may not suit different kinds of skin or may not be suitable in certain seasons. For example, gram flour / besan very strongly removes oil, as does rice flour. Both may not be suitable in seasons like Hemanta ritu or Shishira ritu (Ayurvedic winter).

For extremely sensitive Pitta prakriti skin, a large amount of turmeric used in the product can heat the skin and cause minor inflammation.

Therefore, an ubtan formulation must be created to suit a particular prakriti or skin condition. A generic ubtan will only work for a small proportion of the population.





Can we use Ubtan for face and body?

At Krya, through our work on skin care and understanding and working with Ayurvedic formulations over 13 years, we segregate cleansing products for face and body separately.

Facial skin is extremely thin, delicate, gets clogged and sensitised easily. However an ubtan or body wash for body skin does not trigger body skin as easily.

This is because body skin has a thicker layer of fat and collagen. It is covered and exposed less to weathering forces like heat, wind and dust. So it is relatively more stable.

Facial skin should NOT be cleansed with an ubtan or ayurvedic body wash powder. Instead we should use a specialised ayurvedic face wash powder that is formulated specially to suit facial skin skin and should be a finer and more delicate formula. 


How should I mix my ayurvedic ubtan? Should Milk be used in the ubtan paste?

Liquid ingredients that are added to mix an ubtan or Ayurvedic choornam are technically called Anulepana in Ayurveda. Anulepa is any material, usually liquid that is added to a Snana choornam (bathing powder) or Lepa (mask) in order to add specific properties to the liquid.

Depending upon our need we can add Anulepana to moisturize or nourish skin, to have an astringent or toning effect, to shrink and bind skin to clear out immunities or even to perform more complex roles.

So if we are interested in buying or making a good ubtan, we must make a difference between the ubtan formula itself and the Anulepana.

If we have access to a good company’s Ayurvedic ubtan, we do not need to add heavy Anulepana like milk, rose water etc. such anulepanas are usually added to homemade ubtans. This is because at home ubtans use very simple and easy to use and process ingredients.


Whereas an Ayurvedic company can use a wider range of ingredients including difficult to process barks, roots etc. Therefore, such formulations can simply be mixed using Water as an Anulepana.


An ubtan is intended for Snana after Abhyanga & not on dry un-oiled skin

Here’s the ONE thing most people don’t know about using an Ubtan. An Ubtan is designed to be a post Abhyanga Snana product. This means you should ideally be using it on well-oiled skin and NOT on dry skin.

If you go through the review section of most commercial ubtans, you will see people comment that they don’t use the product regularly as it leaves their skin dry, or it does not suit the skin in winter.



This is because apart from those with naturally oily skin or in warm humid climates or seasons like summer, an ubtan cannot be used as is on dry skin. This is why there is such a large emphasis on adding moisturizing anulepanas like milk to it. If your skin is unoiled, an ubtan may be too drying for skin. 


What are the benefits of ubtan according to Ayurveda?

An Ubtan is a Snana choornam (bathing powder) in Ayurveda, which is used on well-oiled skin. A natural ubtan is a herbal mixture of ayurvedic ingredients to cleanse skin well and remove excess oil from it.

As an ubtan is to be used for Snana AFTER an Abhyanga, It is also generally created with warming, vata balancing herbs

The benefits of a well-crafted traditional Ubtan made with the right ayurvedic ingredients are :

  • Ubtan is a natural cleanser. It removes dead skin cells and other impurities
  • Ubtan has been used traditionally to remove excess oil from skin after Abhyanga without leaving the skin dry
  • We can use ubtan to make skin complexion and skin tone better , and to brighten the skin
  • Ubtan also keeps the skin healthy & gives it a natural glow unlike  synthetic soaps and body wash products


Can I use ubtan for face ? 

Facial skin is usually much thinner and sensitive compared to body skin. Facial skin has a rich number of nerve endings and micro blood vessels – the density of these nerve and blood vessels is very high in the facial region.

This makes facial skin very sensitive to cleansing or any substance we apply on the skin.

Facial skin is also much more thinner compared to body skin. Because it is usually well exposed to heat, wind and light, the skin layers are much thinner with lesser collagen levels in this area.

Facial skin today is also much more sensitized due to the use of makeup, synthetic cleansers and higher pollution levels. It easily clogs and develops minor inflammations.

This means we have to be extremely careful when choosing products for facial skin. An oil which is used for our body cannot be applied on facial skin as it may be too thick and heavy for facial skin a clog it or cause breakouts.

Similarly for ubtan. If you apply it on your face and your skin is dry, an ubtan can dry out skin even more .

Ubtans also may be too drying and astringent for facial skin which needs a slightly different formulation.



Plus in body care, we also look at other issues like body odour, sweat, etc. Facial skin has different concerns. People expect facial skin to be well balanced, have better clarity and glow. Therefore a standardized ubtan formulation is unsuitable for facial skin. You should definitely not use an ubtan for your face.

Instead, you should use a product that has been specially formulated for facial skin keeping its sensitivity delicacy and special concerns in mind. Try one of Kryas's face wash products instead for the face. 


What is an Ubtan face pack? Is it good for my skin type? 

A natural face pack / lepa is an excellent skin treatment. However here, the product is usually mixed with a special anulepana like milk or milk powder. It is then left for 20-45 minutes on skin to deep cleanse skin, clear srotas and balance the doshas on the skin.

When done with the right products this can have a positive impact on skin clarity and appearance.

But if you do not prepare ubtan corretly or if it is not processed correctly, it may again dry out and age skin. Try a specially formulated Face Lepa product instead.


Can ubtan remove body hair?

The use of rooksha (dry), and astringent herbs daily in the Snana does help the thin down body and facial hair. If the underlying condition is a hormonal imbalance, the hair may be thicker and spiky – this needs to be tackled internally through a good diet, a suitable exercise program and ayurvedic medicines.

Snana choornams with rooksha and astringent herbs, can help thin down and weaken body and facial hair  if used regularly. But, if there is an underlying health condition that is causing facial hair, this needs to be addressed first.

An ubtan is a traditional cleanser - It does not have a strong depilatory effect, but it can weaken and lighten hair over time. For true depilation, we have to use highly alkaline herbs like Ksharas . Such herbs can be very irritating to skin.

Turmeric ubtan and other such products and herbs are not truly depilatory in their action. They cannot remove body hair like waxing shaving or threading does. When used regularly, they simply thin down hair and weaken it. 


There are many products advertised as a natural depilatory, sometimes even claiming an ayurvedic status. If you read the ingredient list very carefully you will find chemical depilatories used like salts of thioglycolic acid, etc. Any product that works instantly will usually use a chemical ingredient. Such products are not safe or good for skin.

If you have excessive facial or body hair, please start by investigating the cause. If there is an internal issue , please address this first by seeking treatment. Usually when the underlying cause has been treated the problem of excessive body hair will also reduce.

As a supplement, you can try a well-formulated Ayurvedic ubtan to get hair thinning and lightening effects for body hair . Use it regularly to see a good effect. A special Krya product you could try is our Mangalya Lepa which is formulated with 6 different kinds of turmeric – the combination is made along with nourishing herbs like Yashtimadhu and Amla. You can add this into your ubtan along with some milk to prevent any over drying or sensitization of skin.

What to apply after ubtan?

As ubtan is to be used on well oiled skin, there is no need to apply an additional moisturizer or any such product after using an ubtan.

In fact, Ayurveda does not suggest using an extensive amount of product on skin after bath as it could interfere with the basic functioning of skin. The skin contains minute tubular structures called Srotas which end in pores on the surface of the skin.

These Srotas help in the thermoregulatory exchange that skin does and help transport sweat, oils, triglycerides to the surface and help maintain the body at the right temperature, and also help feed the natural microbiome colony, regulate oil production on skin, etc.

Applying a thick / greasy layer of external products after cleansing can slow down and interfere with the skin’s normal work. Therefore you may avoid post bath application of moisturisation of products, provided you have used the ubtan in the correct way.

What is the difference between the way Ubtans and Soaps clean skin?

One of the many ubtan benefits is their intelligent cleansing of skin compared to synthetic soaps. They conserve skin microbiome and only remove excess oils and dirt from skin. 

The ubtan ingredients are safe, environmentally sustainable and non toxic for skin.

The ayurvedic herbs used in ubtan and snana choornams are precisely selected and carefully manfactured to work on your skin concerns.

For all of these reasons, an Ubtan / snana choornam is a better cleanser for skin. 

Does ubtan lighten skin?

Skin colour is determined genetically and is determined by many factors according to Ayurveda like time of conception, parents' prakriti, diet followed by mother, mental gunas of parents at time of conception. Therefore no product can fundamentally alter the inborn colour of skin .

Skin clarity and texture are often affected by factors like excessive sun exposure, poor diet, poor circulation, etc. These factors temporarily dull skin, leave dark spots on the skin and affect its clarity and the glow of skin. Such factors can definitely be worked on.




What are some important benefits of Ubtan?

As an ubtan is formulated with astringent, skin healing herbs, here are some of its benefits for the skin :

1.     Improve microcirculation in the skin

2.    Cleanse skin gently (and depending upon the formulation)

2a. Mildly exfoliates skin, removes dead skin, without stripping it of natural oils (this is true of skin is pre-oiled or other nourishing substances like milk are added to the ubtan as an anulepana medium)

3.     Balance the local doshas in skin improving skin clarity, appearance, and texture

4.     Minor antiinflammatory effect & helps treat minor, local skin issues

5.     Improve skin health over time – so the fresh skin cells have good clarity. Over time you get glowing skin and softness with reduced dark spots and pigmentation

Is ubtan powder helpful for oily skin?

Oily skin indicates a specific imbalance in skin according to Ayurveda. Pitta imbalance causes excessive oiliness and skin sensitivity leading to acne and breakouts.

For people with oily skin, using a one-off product cannot help in the long run. Instead use a facial and skin range that suits oily skin . Explore here .


Is there an Ubtan for dry skin ?

For dry skin, an Ubtan must be specifically formulated with vata balancing, skin healing ayurvedic herbs. The formula when used regularly should make skin more radiant and healthy.

The Krya Moisture ubtan is one an excellent option for dry skin and gives this skin the care it needs. All Krya Moisture plus products make the skin healthier, more balanced and skin appears more radiant with regular use.

Does ubtan remove facial hair?

We have answered this question previously.


Can ubtan masks be used daily?

If you are pre-oiling skin everyday or doing an abhyanga every day with a good Ayurvedic oil, an ubtan can be used every day. However, as explained previously, an Ubtan should not be used on facial skin as it may e too drying and astringent for facial skin.

If it is not possible to pre-oil your skin every day, an Ubtan is NOT advisable for daily use. Instead, you can use a milder Snana choornam which has been expressly formulated for unoiled skin.

At Krya we have developed a range of Snana choornams which are meant for daily use on unoiled skin. We call the products Ayurvedic bodywashes. We have formulated them for different skin types and concerns. Please explore these products here.

What is the difference between an Ubtan and Krya’s Bodywash powders?

An Utan is formulated to be used on well oiled skin. Therefore it contains herbs which are rooksha and astringent which help remove excess oil properly.

As Krya’s bodywash powders are formulated for use on non oiled skin, we use a combination of herbs which have madhura rasa and are unctuous and nourishing along with herbs that have a cleansing effect. We also carefully follow seasonal guideines when we formulate our bodywash powders and use herbs that are compaile with the weather in each season. We follow seasonal guidelines for ubtans as well, but we need to be more careful in our body wash powders as we are working with un-oiled skin which is more delicate. 



 Therefore Krya’s body wash powders can be used daily for a bath , on unoiled skin. However they are NOT suitable for facial skin and not suitable for post Abhyanga bath.

As we have already explained, facial skin needs a different approach because of the sensitivity and delicacy of the skin. For facial cleansing we have a specially formulated range of face wash powders.

Oiled skin needs a product with higher astringency and herbs which are more drying in nature. For this you can use an ubtan or even use one of our ubtans – The Krya body wash powders cannot cleanse high level of oil very thoroughly and may leave the skin feeling oily even after a bath. For this kind of stronger cleansing please try one of our ubtans instead.


Does ubtan remove acne scars?

Acne is a problem of 2 doshas going out of balance. 

Acne scars and pits form as a result of long term cystic acne. Picking, manipulating and using harsh products which superficially dry out the acne without tacking the root cause can all lead to the spread of acne and result in scarring and pits.

To treat acne prone skin, we need to do 3 things:

  • Unclog and deep cleanse the skin, especially the Srotas
  • Work with the skin and assist the regenerative process
  • Discourage the growth and spread of microbes that can infect the Srotas and increase the chance of comedones and cystic acne

Apart from these 3 things, the acne sufferer needs to look at their diet and regimen and work on improving pitta and kapha balance.




An ubtan is too strong for facial skin, which is extremely delicate. Secondly, the purpose of ubtan is to simply cleanse and remove excess oil. It is not hyper focused on healing skin and discouraging active microbial growth. Plus it is not formulated to support skin in its healthy regeneration. Additionally Acne prone skin requires active declogging of teh srotas and not  just surface-level oil removal or basic cleansing.

For all these reasons, an ubtan is not the ideal product to work on acne sars. Acne needs specially formulated products with the right herbs. Explore ours here.

Can we use soap after ubtan?

The greatest defense we can have is the natural microbiome barrier present in skin. Unfortunately, the harsh cleansing and alkaline nature of soaps destroys this immune layer leaving us weaker and more susceptive to infections.

Soaps are also extremely harsh and drying on skin. So any good done by the ubtan is effectively rinsed away by the soap

Besides this, the nature of soap cleansing is itself different from grain and ubtan cleansing. The cleansing is much more harsher and is not tailored for skin. For these reasons, we do not recommend the use of soap. It is certainly not advisable to use soap after cleansing skin with ubtan.

Are there any side effects of ubtan or in any of the natural ingredients used in it?

In this article, we have explained what an ubtan is and what kind of ayurvedic ingredients should be used. When it is correctly formulated , and used after abhyanga on oiled skin, it has has no side effects and an ubtan really is good for the skin.

However, if you are using an ubtan face mask or a face scrub that is made using too many hot and drying herbs like turmeric powder, gram flour, besan, etc, then the skin could start feeling dry and you cpould develop skin problems.

So if you are experiencing side effects after ubtan, it is possible you are not using the product correctly or that the formulation is not suiting you.


How to make ubtan at home in a custom recipe?

Can you customise your ubtan? Yes you most certainly can. But should you be customizing your ubtan? That’s the question we will be answering here.

If you want to create a custom ubtan, the underlying assumption is that you know your prakriti well, understand your skin needs and also understand how your skin is changing with relation to the current climate. It also assumes you have full access to a wide range of herbs that you can process correctly in order to add to your custom ubtan formulation.



Many home made ubtan recipes use easy-to-access herbs flowers and grains. Herbs like Turmeric, Rose, Green gram are often used. It is even possible to find a few powdered herbs like Vetiver, Yashtimadhu, etc in a local Ayurvedic herb shop. But beyond these common herbs, we have literally thousands of Ayurvedic herbs available in India to treat different skin and hair concerns.

At Krya alone, we use over 200 ayurvedic herbs in our formulations. Many of these are hard to buy or process for at home recipes. However, they are extremely good for skin / hair and help with specific conditions like pitta imbalance vata imbalance, etc.

So if you don’t want a standard diy ubtan and want to work on your specific skin concerns, make sure you find a good Ayurvedic company who can help understand your needs.

Choosing from a wide range of Ayurvedic Snana choornams and finding a product that helps address your skin concern is better than attempting to customize your ubtan.

Can I use gram flour or Multani Mitti in my ayurvedic ubtan face recipe?

There are many recipes online that suggest using ingredients like turmeric , Gram flour (chickpea flour) , almond powder, , Multani Mitti, or even specific herbs like sandalwood powder, neem powder in your ubtan recipe or in your natural face mask.  Should everyone use these ingredients?
No, not really.

Because every herb in Ayurveda comes with its own pros and cons , so not every herb may suit everyone.

Gram flour or Besan can trigger Pitta-based skin sensitivities in people who are prone to these imbalances. Skin may break out into hives or feel warm and itchy. Multani Mitti or Fullers earth may be too drying for those with already dry skin. So again there is no set list of ingredients or rules when it comes to an ayurvedic ubtan. You must understand your skin and then decide what can help your skin.

What is the correct diy ubtan recipe for my baby? Can I use a turmeric ubtan? 

Baby's skin has completely different needs from adults skin. It is thinner, not fully formed and therefore extremely delicate. Home remedies should not be experimented on such delicate skin. An adult ubtan cannot and should not be used on a baby's skin. 

Do explore Krya's ubtans for babies here

To sum up: What is ubtan

There is a lot of noise on many ayurvedic hair and skin products of late. The ubtan has been gaining a lot of traction in the past few years with many new D2C companies labelling their products after an ubtan even though the actual products have nothing to do with an ayurvedic ubtan.

We hope this detailed post answered many basic questions about ubtan and clarified how you should choose an ubtan, what skin conditions it helps with and also how to use it correctly.


Do let us know if you found this post helpful and useful by responding below in the comment section. Thank you.



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