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 doshasAyurveda 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 agniAfter 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 skinTaking 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 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. Moisturize 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.
- 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
- 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