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Alum for skin: Benefits, Uses and side effects

Alum or fitkari is known for its astringent properties and other benefits for skin. We tell you if you should use alum for skin or not.

Alum or fitkari is a naturally occurring salt usually made of potassium alum. Often available in crystal form, the colourless or white substance is a hit among fans of natural deodorants. Some men also use it after shaving as it may help to do away with razor bumps, minor bleeding, and inflammation. Women can use it too! Alum may tighten and shrink skin tissues, which in turn may help in reducing the appearance of pores. Its natural antiseptic properties may help to deal with acne as well. Read on to know more about the benefits of alum for skin, and how to use fitkari for skincare.

What is alum or fitkari?

Alum refers to a group of chemical compounds that are a combination of sulfates of aluminum and another metal, typically potassium or sodium, explains dermatologist Dr Aparajita Lamba. In simple terms, alum is a type of salt.

Woman using fitkari as a deodorant
Alum is widely used as a deodrant. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the benefits of alum for skin?

There are multiple benefits of alum, and it can be good for your skin due to the following reasons:

1. Astringent properties

Alum, chemically known as potassium alum or aluminum potassium sulfate, exhibits astringent properties when applied to the skin. Astringents work by causing proteins in the skin cells to coagulate, which leads to a shrinking effect on the skin tissues, says the expert. This tightening action helps to reduce the appearance of pores and can also control excessive oiliness on the skin. By constricting the skin, alum can give a smoother and more matte appearance, making it a popular choice in skincare products aimed at controlling oily skin and minimising pore size.

2. May prevent acne

When applied topically, alum can help prevent infections in minor cuts, scrapes, and wounds by killing bacteria that might otherwise cause infections. This antiseptic action also makes alum beneficial for acne-prone skin, as it can help reduce the bacteria responsible for causing acne breakouts. Its antiseptic qualities make it a useful addition to skincare routines aimed at maintaining clear and healthy skin.

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3. Deodorant action

One of alum’s notable uses is as a natural deodorant. Alum has excellent antimicrobial effects against body odour-producing bacteria and is so, can be used either directly by topical application or as an active ingredient in deodorants, as per a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Health Sciences. It works by inhibiting the growth of odour-causing bacteria on the skin, particularly in areas prone to perspiration such as underarms. These bacteria are responsible for breaking down sweat into compounds that produce unpleasant odors. Alum, when applied to the skin, creates an environment that is less favourable for bacterial growth, so it helps to reduce body odour.

4. Exfoliation

Alum can aid in exfoliation, which is the process of removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. While alum itself is not a traditional exfoliant like scrubs or peels, it has mild abrasive properties that can help loosen and remove dead skin cells when used in skincare products. This gentle exfoliation promotes a smoother and more radiant complexion by revealing fresher skin underneath, says Dr Lamba.

5. Skin tightening

Alum has the ability to temporarily tighten the skin when applied topically. This tightening effect is due to its astringent properties, which cause the skin to contract and appear firmer. While the effect is temporary and primarily cosmetic, alum can give the skin a more youthful and lifted appearance, which is beneficial for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

How to use alum for skin?

Whenever you use alum for the face, dilute it with water, as it can be harsh when applied directly. Here are some ways to use alum:

  • You can directly rub wet alum on your body
  • For the face, you can mix it with rose water and make a thin paste
  • It can also be dissolved in water and used as a natural toner
rose water
Mix fitkari with rose water to enjoy the benefits of alum for skin. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock.

What are the side effects of alum for skin?

If you have sensitive, or dry skin, use it once a week. For oily skin, you can use it 2 to 3 times a week, says the expert. Overuse can lead to side effects like:

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  • Skin irritation
  • Redness
  • Burning sensation, particularly when applied topically.

Alum can be combined with sunscreen, moisturiser, and soothing agents like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Also, since it is mildly exfoliating in nature, avoid peels or scrubs if you are using alum.

Alum may help in reducing the appearance of pores, and help people with acne. But don’t use it frequently, as it can cause skin irritation.


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