No, Mr Hakeem, your totkas cannot cure every problem!

Published: April 5, 2016

Ground some nutmeg powder and mix it with rose water, he said. Apply it on the scars; this magical concoction will make all your scars disappear with just one single application. Oh! You can have perfect clear skin, he said.

There is nothing better to be goofed about.

One day, while flipping through channels, I stumbled upon a Hakeem on ARY’s morning show. Among many other health and beauty tips, he was generous enough to openly share a remedy that I couldn’t wait to try; I was so convinced by his confidence that there was an organic remedy that could rid me of my scars. I felt even more excited knowing that the ingredients to the potion that answered my ever long quest have always been in my kitchen. I bolted immediately – I was on a mission.

Overtaken by a bout of stupidity (cocooned by wishful thinking), I religiously followed this routine for about a month (twice a week). Sheer common sense tells you what I discovered eventually – how can scars (which take years to lighten themselves naturally or require expensive treatments for immediate lightening) disappear within a matter of seconds? I was so disappointed. It did not work. Not even a little bit.

Mr Hakeem, on the show, you ensured everyone of this concoction’s magical prowess, that too upon a single usage. You over-hyped. You swore to its capabilities, only pushing my expectations up to the seventh sky.

The use of natural ingredients is trending all over the world as ‘beauty secrets’. However, the manner in which these ingredients are being publicised on such morning shows is appalling. Each day, a new ingredient or a new remedy emerges, however the problems continue to remain unchanged. The various qualities and healing properties of ingredients such as mint, coriander or daal are exaggerated in the entire two hours of the show.

How many organic solutions are there for one problem? You are not the only one with your eyes getting bigger and bigger in a progressive state of betrayal and confusion.

If you are following Dr Khurram Mushir on Facebook, his tips for acne scars are as follows:

1. Wipe dipped piece of cotton in milk on the face

2. Apply mixture of cold milk, rose water and crushed Quaker oats

3. Apply cucumber juice on affected areas

4. Apply mixture of coconut oil, mineral water and glycerine

5. Apply mixture of lemon juice, orange juice, carrot juice and olive oil

6. Apply mixture of cucumber juice and lemon juice

7. Rub raw potatoes on the scars

These, along with other doctors with their own set of remedies, are endorsed by a variety of TV channels.

When such remedies are promoted in this manner, they are portrayed as being universally effective. Everyone knows that natural ingredients take time and are effective – anything natural is – but what these herbalists/Hakeems fail to inform everyone is that just like any product, home remedies also gravely differ from person to person.

Let’s look at acne for example. Acne can be caused by a multitude of reasons. Perhaps your pores are clogged due to inefficient cleaning. Maybe your skin is oily and an overproduction of oil is causing the acne. Perhaps there is a chemical imbalance in your body. Maybe you don’t drink enough water and it’s not clean enough from the inside? Point being, there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to such matters. It’s a trial and error basis that helps you discover which totka best suits you and solves your underlying problem. If you have sensitive skin and can’t afford to experiment, visit a doctor, just like I did. Take calculated risks whilst experimenting.

Where these herbalists and Hakeems are concerned, they are not social activists who disclose their secrets out of love for philanthropy. They are professionals who want you to walk into their clinics.

Such people have no right to exploit women’s feelings by sparking their insecurities and making them feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Beauty is not a physical quality, it is a metaphysical one. Whether you are fat or slim, dark or fair, tall or short, when you feel good, you will always look good.

It’s always good to strive to be the best version of you. But don’t overdo it. Don’t rely on them because no matter what you do, you will not project beauty unless you feel it.

Have you ever tried a totka prescribed by a Hakeem on TV?

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Sadaf Pervez

Sadaf Pervez

The author is a freelance writer who has also worked for The Nation magazine. Her work can be seen at She tweets @sadafpervez

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.