Skincare Through Ayurveda
Ayur = Life Veda = Science
Ayurveda. The world's oldest system of medicine originating from India over 4,000 years ago. Ayurveda recognizes the powerful, healing connection between mind and body, practicing individualized medicine according to one's Prakruti (constitution), Doshas, (individual mind-body type) and Vikruti (any current imbalances).
There are 3 different Dosha Types, each governed by 2 of the 5 universal elements. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They begin to manifest at time of conception and represent the energies of our bodies, minds, habits, skin types and influence our personal well being. We each manifest qualities of all 3 doshas but usually have 1-2 that are most dominant. By discovering your Dosha type, you are able to tap into yourself on a more intuitive and individual level. I will lightly cover the basics of Doshas in lifestyle and skincare influences below but for healing and change on a deep level, you should dedicate time to working with a qualified practitioner.
By becoming familiar with your Dosha, you can treat and nourish skin on a more individualized level, helping to discover why you may be dealing with a certain skin condition. For example, a Vata acne imbalance will be treated differently than a Kapha skin imbalance, so on and so fourth. Vatas are most prone to dry skin, Pitta to inflammations, etc.
I often recommend taking a few different Dosha tests to compare results to discover your Dosha qualities. Once familiar, you will notice your patterns of the mind, habits and innate qualities that are aligned with your Dosha type(s).
Vata Dosha is represented by the elements of air and space. Vata represents movement and is dry, light, cold, mobile, quick, changeable and clear. Vata is wind. Vata rules the forehead. Vata skin is delicate and thinner in nature.
Vata skin leans towards a dry, easily dehydrated, delicate, thin skin type and accelerated aging process. Vata skin is to be nourished and nurtured. Use gentle, plant based and high quality oils. Avoid heavy exfoliation products, retin A and use hydroxy acids carefully in order to prevent thinness and irritation of the skin.
Keep the mind grounded and balanced and add ritual into your life, such as a daily skin practice, meal schedule and sleep schedule. Incorporate healthy fats into your diet, ghee intake and foods that increase ojas. Cook all foods and avoid a cold, raw diet. Drink room temperature water and warm tea throughout the day.
PItta is composed of fire and water and represents transformation. Pitta is hot, sharp, mobile, liquid and heating. Agni, our digestive fire, is of Pitta attributes and is most important factor in keeping our skin nourished from the inside out. Pitta skin is slightly oily, soft and glowing when in balance. Pitta rules the cheeks zone of the face.
Pitta skin leans towards sensitivities and can become easily inflamed. Pitta skin should always be soothed, nourished and cooled. Take extra care to protect in sun, as heat aggravates Pitta. Although Pitta skin is strong, it must be treated as sensitive skin due to its fiery nature. Use rosewater to calm and hydrate skin, cooling compresses, cooling stones, anti-inflammatory diet and avoid aggressive exfoliation treatments. Acne can stem from excess Pitta and is thought to be fire under the skin. Because fire transforms, small amounts of imbalance and can be transformed quickly into inflammation when treated aggressively.
Avoid frustration, high alcohol and high coffee consumption. Avoid hot and spicy foods that increase heat in the skin and body. Manage stress level and frustrations with calming activities, yoga, and breathwork to control fiery emotions.
Kapha is composed of water and earth and represents grounded and stable energy, vitality, ojas and comfort. Think of the mud like texture created by water and earth. Kapha is grounded but can be sluggish, slow moving, damp and heavy when out of balance. Kapha skin is moist, thick, oily and plump in nature.
A balanced Kapha complexion has a warm, peachy, supple and youthful glow. Kapha skin is prone to congestion, stagnation, oily skin concerns and accumulating ama (toxins) under the skin when imbalanced. Kapha skin should be cleansed thoroughly but gently twice a day, exfoliated weekly and treated with clay masques for excess oil. Kapha skin responds well to movement through facial massage in order to avoid water retention and puffiness. Kapha rules the chin and jaw area.
Kapha needs daily movement practices and stimulation to stay balanced and avoid stagnation. Kapha should avoid heavy, oily and slow to digest foods, over eating and opt for an abundance of fresh fruit and lightly cooked vegetables. Kapha responds well to all spices through cooking and will find their attributes of stimulation and movement quite beneficial.
A balanced representation of each Dosha quality and lifestyle practices beneficial for all. Including but not limited to healthy water intake by begining your day with a liter of room temperature/warm water, tongue scrapping in the a.m to remove toxins accumulated during sleep, keeping a mindful schedule, managing stress, preventing emotions from festering, following product practices based on your Doshic needs, developing healthy sleep habits and patterns, rising with the sun, following natural circadian rhythms and of course, food as thy medicine.
Ayurveda is seemingly complex yet quite simple at the same time. By slowing down and getting back to our roots, we are able to align with our body, mind and spirits through the profound practices of Ayurveda.