Be Healthy. Be Happy. Naturally.
Ayurvedic medicine provides us with a simple guideline when it comes to skincare: if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. The skin is considered an organ in Ayurveda and absorbs and digests whatever you apply to it, directly into your blood stream and liver. When you choose your cosmetics and body care products, be sure to read the ingredients. Eliminate any products containing man-made chemicals and avoid anything with which you are not familiar, until you research the ingredient. There are many companies that now make wonderful, healthy products. Or you can be adventurous and create your own.
Beautiful skin is the result of your whole body being healthy. This is accomplished by living in harmony with nature, practicing good habits, and eating well. Fortunately, there are several easy and nourishing routines you can add to help keep your skin looking dewy, soft and radiant.
Ayurveda views each person as completely unique and treatments are customized to each individual’s constitution and skin type. Vata type skin tends to be dry, flaky, itchy, rough, and cold and easily becomes dull, wrinkled and tired looking. Pitta type skin tends to be oily, sensitive, red, inflamed, freckled, with moles, sweaty and warm, and is prone to acne, rashes, and rosacea. Kapha type skin tends to be cool, heavy, thick, oily, clammy and moist, and is prone to lots of oiliness, clogged pores and eczema.
The first place to start is with your diet. Be sure to eat the freshest, purest foods you can find. Avoid old, leftover, frozen, canned, processed and synthetic foods. These foods lack prana, or life energy, and because they are hard to digest they tend to create toxins which can cause skin problems. When you understand your body type and any existing imbalances, you can fine tune your diet for yourself. Drink plenty of pure water throughout the day. A wonderful tea that can detoxify and nourish you can be made by mixing equal parts cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, and steeping a teaspoon of this in a mug of hot water. You can either strain out the seeds or use a tea ball.
The daily use of a loofah sponge or bath brush on your skin works as a gentle exfoliation of dead skin cells and stimulates circulation. Use the brush gently and brush towards your heart. You can make a gentle scrub with chickpea flour mixed with a little powdered rose petals, turmeric or ground orange peels. If your skin is dry, you can add milk or cream to make a smooth paste. Oily skin can mix these powders with lemon juice or yogurt. For your face, you can mix ground flaxseeds with a little water to form a paste. Gently rub onto your skin either in the morning or at night.
Gentle oil massage maintains the beauty and texture of the skin. Called abhyanga, this self-massage reduces stress, relaxes you, and improves the health of your skin, organs and endocrine system. Choose organic oil appropriate to your body type. Good choices are sesame or almond oil for vata, sunflower or coconut oil for pitta and sesame or corn oil for kapha. Vatas can add warm and calming essential oils such as lavender, jasmine and frankincense. Pittas can add cooling and soothing scents like khus, rose and sandalwood. And kaphas might add warming and spicy scents like lemon, bergamot and rosemary. For more information about self-massage see my post about abhyanga.
As a general rule, use gentle soap only occasionally; once or twice a week is plenty. Of course this needs to be adjusted to what your personal routine and work are. If you do hard physical work and sweat a lot, then you may use soap more often. If you skin is very oily, then three times a week should be enough. Neem or sandalwood soap are both gentle and nourishing for bathing. You only need to use soap on the smellier parts of your body or if you have actual dirt on your skin from gardening or other activities.
Neem oil makes a wonderful facial lotion and is nourishing for all skin types. Neem oil also acts as a mild sunscreen. If your skin is very dry, you may use cocoa butter as it is very helpful in rehydrating the skin.
Specific skin problems can be helped by the external care of the skin, but more importantly, by learning the most beneficial way to eat for your specific constitution, as well as by the use of medicinal herbs, meditation, hatha yoga and pranayama. Beauty truely does happen from the inside out.
You can find the oils and soaps I recommend at Banyan Botanicals
I have worked with Banyan for 20 years and trust the purity of their products.
To learn more about your constitution and what is specifically best for your own health, consider scheduling an Ayurvedic consultation. I can help you discover what the best practices are for you and help you learn how to use your inherent strengths and nourish your challenging areas.
Be well and smile often,
I'm Shivani Chase. I love to help people learn how to live the best life they can using Ayurveda, yoga, compassion and common sense.