Every year, many Muslims around the world observe the month of Ramadan, where fasting takes place from dawn to sunset for 29 or 30 days before celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr. This means abstaining from eating, drinking (exceptions are made for the sick and pregnant, the frail and the elderly), smoking and sex. Those who observe are also encouraged to adopt good habits, give back to charity, and generally show kindness and empathy to themselves and others in the hopes that this will continue long after the month of fasting.
Any skincare and wellness enthusiast will notice that eating routines and habits can change during the fasting month. Some might even feel the pressure to use it completely as a detox opportunity, but, says registered dietitian and nutritionist Nirvana Abou-Gabal (aka @intuitive.muslimah): “It’s essential not to allow Ramadan to be co-opted by the diet. culture and transformed into another diet. Fasting is spiritual, not an exercise to lose weight,” she says. Bazaar. “Now is not the time to arbitrarily restrict foods. On the contrary, it is important to make room for foods that bring us joy and satisfaction, which research has shown promote better health.
Ahead, two experts share tips on how to fuel your wellbeing with food during Ramadan while ensuring your skin stays healthy throughout the month.
How does the skin change during Ramadan?
“Studies of fasting have shown different effects on the skin, and not all of them negative,” suggests consultant dermatologist and psychodermatology expert Dr. Alia Ahmed (who offers advice through her clinic and GetHarley).
“One of the most important functions of the skin is to provide a permeability barrier to protect against excessive water loss. Fasting can lead to compromised barrier function due to the skin’s reduced ability to maintain and restore its lipid levels. This means that water can leak out of the skin, causing dryness and dehydration. According to Dr. Ahmed, collagen synthesis is also reduced during fasting, although research has shown answers different in terms of wound healing.
“Some studies report a positive effect through upregulation of the immune system and others report a delayed response, possibly through the effect on collagen synthesis,” she explains. For those who suffer from skin conditions such as psoriasis, Dr. Ahmed notes that there are studies that show an anti-inflammatory effect of fasting has a positive impact on the problem.
What is the best way to treat the skin during the fasting month?
Cleansing is essential to remove all impurities and improve product penetration, says Dr. Ahmed. She recommends a weekly or bi-weekly chemical exfoliator using either an AHA, PHA or fruit acids and coupling it with moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Pay special attention to replenishing the skin barrier and protecting it with antioxidants.
“Skincare layering is extremely important during Ramadan. Apply hyaluronic acid to damp skin, then serums followed by creams,” recommends Dr. Ahmed, who is a fan of Skingredients Skin Good Fats and uses face mists (The Body Shop Edelweiss Bouncy Jelly Mist is his favorite ).
“Due to volume depletion during the day, I usually find that my under eye area is a little sunken. This usually resolves in the morning and with adequate oral hydration and the use of eye cream. For those prone to blemishes, opt for lightweight textures and non-clogging ingredients.
How to approach food and nutrition during Ramadan
It may seem logical to eat anything and everything after the sun goes down, but overeating too quickly can lead to uncomfortable bloating. The best thing to do is to pace yourself without restricting your food and drink intake.
“Approach food with joy,” says nutritionist Abou-Gabal. “Through the cyclical nature of fasting and breaking the fast for an entire month, we experience the blessing of food and nourishment more concretely. Eating is no longer a banal routine, but a much more conscious activity,” she believes.
“The ‘food window’ being limited, I try to ensure that each meal is sufficiently nutritious. I like to eat foods with enough fat, protein and fiber to give me the energy I need for the upcoming fast,” she explains. Hydration is key, so get enough water and incorporate succulent fruits with high water content like watermelon and oranges. in your diet.
Should I take supplements during Ramadan?
Fasting or not, the topic of supplements is divisive. Dr. Ahmed notes that ceramide supplements can help boost hydration by reducing water loss. On the other hand, Abou-Gabal is not a fan of dietary supplements unless advised by a medical professional, as a healthy diet should contain all the necessary nutrients. That said, if you’re feeling very lethargic, it’s worth talking to your GP to check if you’re lacking in a specific nutrient or vitamin.
What are the best foods to eat during Ramadan?
There are no prescriptive rules. Immerse yourself in the foods that make you feel nourished, energized and happy. Dr. Ahmed chooses his meals based on “how these foods can supplement hydration and energy throughout the day.” She also focuses on antioxidants and probiotics to maintain a healthy gut and reduce inflammation; naturally, these foods will also benefit the skin.
Omelets, bananas, chia seeds and walnuts are his go-tos for suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) as they together contain all the essential vitamins, omegas and minerals needed. Meanwhile, Abu-Gabal gravitates to hearty stews and soups for iftar (the breaking of the evening fast). “I like variety, but I almost always make a big pot of harira (a delicious Moroccan chickpea and meat soup), with a big salad with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette and some bread,” she shares. “Meals like this are nutritious, nutrient-dense, and very satisfying after a long day of fasting.”
Whatever your take on a comforting meal, whether it’s a bowl of tagliatelle or just something you’ve been craving that day (salmon bagel, anyone?), try to eat with intention and savor it wholeheartedly with minimal distractions. You deserve it.