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Zeynab Mohamed On Practicing Self Care Through Skin Care During Ramadan

Two pictures one of a muslim woman Zeynab Mohamed wearing abrown headscarf and looking into the camera, the other image a collection of skin care products

To mark the start of Ramadan, freelance beauty editor and writer Zeynab Mohamed tells us how her beauty routine increases in importance during the month, delivering respite and vital moments of self care… 

Every single year, I wonder how Ramadan comes around so quickly – it aways manages to catch me off guard. A pivotal marker in the Islamic calendar akin to a new year, the next one often seems to be in the distant future… 


This year, the Islamic month of Ramadan begins on the 11th of March, and for 29 or 30 days (depending on the new moon sighting – the Islamic calendar is lunar based), Muslims across the globe will embark on a fast from sunrise to sunset. While many people know Ramadan involves abstaining from food, drink and, yes even water, until the sun sets, it holds deeper significance for observing Muslims. It’s a sacred retreat from our mundane routines, an opportunity to establish a spiritual reconnection, and an opportunity to analyse your daily routine and find steps that fill you up. And by the end of the month, I find my spirituality replenished, and my faith deepened.   

During the month of Ramadan, the daily routine is turned on its head; everything from sleep to your average daily chores are modified to suit the practice. The day begins super early, before sunrise, for Suhoor (meal before fast). In many ways Suhoor feels ceremonial, you set your intentions for the day and consume a meal or snack to welcome a day of fasting. For me, this is often the hardest part of the day, having to wake up from my sleep to eat; not only can’t my stomach handle food in those early hours, but I am also very grumpy(!) – we all are. The day is filled with prayers and extra recitation of the Quran (Holy book) in addition to regular work or duties. As for Iftar (meal to break fast), it becomes an elaborate affair… particularly during the first half of the month. It’s like MasterChef on steroids; we’re buzzing to create the most elaborate meal fuelled by the hunger from the day. However, as the month progresses into its latter half, there is a drastic shift. Simplicity reigns, and we opt for fuss-free meals and maybe even some takeaways – a welcome change. In the final 10 days of the month, as part of the practice of Ramadan, Muslims spend the hours after Iftar at the mosque for special congregational prayers that can last well into the early hours.   


I can’t quite remember how many years I’ve been practising Ramadan, but it’s been a long time – I am a seasoned pro for sure. And, in all those years, without even realising, I seem to have picked up little habits to survive. It’s a challenge, there’s no doubt about it, and during the month, you can often find me utterly exhausted but also weirdly elated. Ramadan is my opportunity to purposefully examine how I look after myself, and – for me – it has been my beauty routine, in particular my skin care routine, that is my saving grace (I wouldn’t expect anything else from a beauty editor!). Within my skin regime, I find that I am able to focus on caring for myself through the moments of stillness it allows, letting go of the hunger, thirst and even the tiredness that comes with a long day of fasting. 

During Ramadan, in a bid to get through the day, it’s so easy to let many things go. To rid your day of tasks that seem too demanding, to try to save energy and of course devote time to your religious practice. On some days, especially during that last stretch, even applying moisturiser can feel too taxing. But for me, taking the time for myself helps me feel refuelled. I attempt to stay up until Suhoor (I just can’t bare waking up and going back to sleep again) and in those quiet moments, when everyone is asleep, I sit down to do my skin care. It’s become a ritualised part of my night and has woven itself into my Ramadan routine. 

I find that engaging in a structured routine can be a way to stay connected with yourself and avoid becoming overwhelmed by not eating and drinking. Call it a distraction or call it self care; to me it’s one and the same. Over the years, I have become immensely vigilant over my beauty routine, keeping that sacrosanct moment for myself during this period; during Ramadan, it feels different, and when done with extra care it allows me to go outside the daily grind. You get so much from the extras that come with Ramadan, from the additional prayers and the congregational worship, to time with family. But it’s in my skin care routine I have the opportunity to rebalance and come back to myself. 

two images, one of which is a close up of a Dessee Pro face mask being used, and the other a collection of skin care products near a mirror with a womans reflection


The disruption to your normal eating and drinking habits and sleep pattern can have a huge impact on the way your skin looks, from increased dryness and dull skin to breakouts. The biggest change I make to my beauty routine during the month is to employ my most hard-working, low lift products. There is no skimping; I aim to use my LED device almost every day. By exposing the skin to these targeted wavelengths, red-light therapy stimulates cellular energy production. This process, known as photobiomodulation triggers a surge of positive responses that promote cell turnover, reduction in redness and overall skin health. My Déesse PRO LED Phototherapy Mask helps breakouts and encourages skin renewal, but it also offers a moment to completely shut off. It’s incredibly soothing and relaxing, and – it’s great for my skin. 

During this period, there’s definitely the urge to completely overhaul your routine or add in multiple products. But this isn’t always the best thing for your skin (plus you’re still conscious of how you spend your time during the day). 

For me, it’s probably the best time to examine my skin care routine, to identify the products that I truly need and the products I can do without. I tend to focus on the major interruptions to my skin; it’s almost always noticeably dehydrated. To combat this, I swap in ingredients that help boost the moisture levels in my skin: hyaluronic acid, squalane and ceramides that aid in maintaining a robust skin barrier to prevent water loss are your best friends.  

From my cleansers and toner to my serums and moisturisers, there is an element in each to replenish the loss of hydration and strengthen my skin barrier. I’m the first to admit, I’m a creature of habit, and I find myself going towards the same products every year. My hydrating cleansers of choice are always the Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturising Cleanser, and the OSKIA Violet Water Clearing Cleanser. My go-to serum is BYOMA’s Hydrating Serum, followed by Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Advanced Moisturiser. And I couldn’t leave out one of the best sheet masks – I’m never without the 111 SKIN Cyro De-Puffing Facial Mask. 

There is no way around it; the late-night prayers and waking up for Suhoor (plus work) can play havoc on your sleep pattern. Because of this, dark circles and lacklustre skin aren’t very far behind! I have extremely sensitive skin on a good day, and as Ramadan comes with many changes, the best approach for my skin is a gentle one. To combat a lacklustre complexion, I opt for exfoliation that is a little gentler on the skin. I prefer liquid exfoliation over manual and the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, formulated with a non-abrasive BHA, is my fail-proof option. It helps clear the skin of any dead skin cells to reveal a brighter and more glowing complexion. For my dark circles, I always have a pot of under eye masks in the fridge and pop them on whenever I am in the kitchen preparing Iftar – they’re my cheat code to faking a full night of undisrupted rest. 

And the most essential beauty item for Ramadan? The humble lip balm. My lips become unbearably dry during the whole month, and my lip balm becomes my sidekick because of how many times I reapply throughout the day. Can you go wrong with the LANEIGE Sleeping Mask Lip Balm? Definitely not, but I also adore the Summer Friday Lip Butter Balm offering, especially in the shade ‘Brown Sugar’; it makes me feel a lot more put together. 

My routine may sound extensive to some, but there are days when my routine is as simple as cleanser, toner, moisturiser and SPF, and there is solace in that simple routine too. Beauty routines take on a larger role than just simply tending to your needs to maintain your appearance; it becomes an ease, a chance to unwind and come back to yourself, and to feel rejuvenated and ready to fulfil your spiritual practices. What is amazing about Ramadan is that you get the chance to almost step out of your regular day-to-day and see with fresh eyes the small things that matter the most. That, in the end, is the true power of Ramadan. 




Cult Beauty

Cult Beauty

Writer and expert