According to Ayurveda, our skin is the reflection of our current state of overall wellness. As a result, we all have the potential to enjoy radiant, glowing, supple, and clear skin by achieving health and balance.
Learn how you can get beautiful skin with an Ayurvedic skin care routine.
The Basics of Ayurvedic Skin Care
There is a total and intimate connection between human life and nature. The same forces that harmonize our universe work in our bodies. – Melanie Sachs, Ayurvedic Spa
Balance the doshas
Ayurveda treats the skin by first addressing internal health. According to Ayurveda, we are each ruled by three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When one of the doshas are agitated or imbalanced, disease will occur. This can manifest as skin issues, like acne, dryness, oiliness, patchiness, dullness, redness, and more. Therefore, it’s important that you learn about each of the dosha types so can understand potential imbalances and how to correct them.
Care for your agni
After addressing potential doshic imbalances, Ayurveda recommends caring for the agni or digestive fire. Proper digestive function is the root of all other health and functioning in the body, so it is advised to focus on agni to enhance skin health.
If agni is low, ama builds up, and the skin will show signs of dullness, irritability, sensitivity, breakouts, and lackluster. In addition, if agni is too hot and sharp, you may experience fiery digestive issues, which can show up on the skin as redness and inflammation. Some steps you can easily implement into your daily routine that will help strengthen and balance agni can include:
- Upon waking, drink a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon. This will help to gently wake the digestive tract and stimulate the movement of the bowels.
- Incorporate Chyawanprash into your daily morning routine, consuming a teaspoon each morning at least 15 minutes before eating. Chyawanprash contains essential herbs and a formula that helps to regulate all of the doshas and promote healthy tissue growth.
- Incorporate yoga into your morning routine. Strengthening the muscles along with stretching improves methods of elimination and detoxification (sweat, urine), resulting in improved kidney, bladder, and skin functioning.
- Meditate every morning and evening. When the mind is quieted, it is strong and helps you make better dietary choices.
- Make good dietary choices. Eating seasonally and based on your dosha or vikruti will ensure you are offering your body the ideal nourishment to function optimally, and helps you achieve a more glowing, radiant complexion.
Treat your skin
Taking care of your skin from the outside is equally as important as taking care of your inner health. These are a few Ayurvedic skin care tips and treatments to incorporate into your routine that are wonderfully relaxing and nourishing:
Cleanse your skin morning and evening, using cool or warm water (never hot), and with a gentle skin cleanser. Choose a cleanser that has natural ingredients, and isn’t harsh on the skin.
Moisturizing your skin according to dosha and skin type is very important in preserving the natural moisturizing factors (NMF), keeping the barrier between the environment and your skin strong, and maintaining suppleness and vibrancy in the skin. Ayurveda recommends practicing abhyanga with oils for moisturizing. The oil closest to the skin’s natural sebum is jojoba, but if you feel you need a more attentive oil for moisturization and barrier repair, try these:
- Sesame oil is great for Vata or Kapha types, and for cold skin, poor circulation, dry skin, breakouts, or dullness. Sesame oil has a warming effect, is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory.
- Coconut oil is the best to use in the summer months, and is ideal for Pitta skin that suffers from eczema, patchiness, dryness, and has antibacterial properties. Coconut oil is high in nourishing fatty acids which are essential in rebuilding and maintaining the moisture barrier of the skin.
- Sunflower oil is best for Kapha predominant individuals, as it is non-comedogenic, ideal for thicker skin, safe for acne-prone individuals, and absorbs well. Sunflower oil is also tridoshic.
Feel free to add the essential oils of your choice to your abhyanga treatment (but consider opting for florals like rose, lavender, ylang-ylang, or geranium and shying away from citrusy EO’s as they can cause photosensitivity). Mix about 10:1 oil to essential oil, then warm up the mixture in your hands and apply to the whole face, neck, and body. After the entire face and neck are covered in oil, begin using gentle upward sweeping motions with the pads of the fingers and pad of the palms. Focus on areas where there is tension buildup and fine lines.
Incorporate marma therapy
Marma therapy can be incorporated into your face abhyanga and helps to release tension and alleviate the imbalances in the body. When massaging the face and neck, use your middle or ring finger to add slight pressure on marma points, hold for 5 seconds, then release.
Exfoliate your skin 1-2 times a week using a custom exfoliant you can make right at home! You’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons of Besan (chickpea) flour
- Half a tablespoon of finely ground Himalayan sea salt or sugar
- 1-2 drops of essential oil to your choosing
- A few drops of a freshly squeezed lemon
Take about half the mixture and mix with a hydrosol or warm water to create a paste in the hands. Apply to the entire face, and massage in circular motions for 2-3 minutes. Remove with warm water or damp cotton pads, and apply the moisturizer of your choice. Regular exfoliation promotes glowing, clear skin.
Apply a homemade mask
Homemade face masks are affordable and can be deliciously pampering! There are numerous blends of ingredients you can create for at-home face masks. Here is one of our favorites that is tridoshic. You’ll need:
- 1/3 cup of yogurt
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 tsp of powdered sandalwood, neem, or turmeric. (If using turmeric, be wary the face can become temporarily yellowed after masking)
- 1 tablespoon of rose water
Mix the ingredients in a bowel, and apply to the face after exfoliating. Leave on for approximately 10 minutes, then remove with warm water or damp cotton pads. The best time to moisturize is after a mask!
Schedule a facial or massage
Ayurvedic facials and massages by a qualified esthetician, massage therapist, or Ayurvedic practitioner are also encouraged on a regular basis. These professionals have the knowledge and experience to perform customized treatments and expert maneuvers that encourage youthful, healthy, and balanced skin.
Ultimately, Ayurvedic skin care is based on balancing the doshas, caring for agni, and combining at-home treatments with a professional service. Together, working on each of these three areas will help you achieve radiant and beautiful skin.
Ceanna Saatsaz is a Licensed Master Esthetician, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Certified Professional Herbalist from Seattle, WA.