Ayurveda has been talking about the concept of beauty from within for 5,000 years. It’s message in a nutshell: How you nourish yourself on the inside is what will be reflected on the outside. In light of this, it makes sense that the way Ayurveda approaches skincare is rooted in good overall health. In fact, some of the modern skincare practices that we see today are derived from this ancient science.
Skin, according to Ayurveda, plays a crucial role for two main reasons. It’s very important that we experience the world through all five senses, and skin is the largest sense organ in the body. Even though it is not used as extensively as the eyes or the tongue, it is still the largest. If the skin isn’t properly cared for, then your understanding of your surroundings you will not be complete.
Skin is also an organ that excretes waste material, i.e., sweat. Perspiration happens when toxins need to be eliminated in a timely fashion from the body, and the skin is responsible for that. For both of these reasons it’s crucial to place special attention into caring for your skin.
How Your Dosha Impacts Your Skin
You may already be familiar with the idea that there are three forces in the body, vata (wind), pitta (fire), and kapha (water). You may also remember that each person has a dominant dosha, or body type, that can be seen in a person’s skin appearance. Of course, this can vary, but when someone is at their healthiest, this is, generally, what their skin will be like depending on their body type.
Vatas tend to have dry, rough skin.
Pittas tend to have redder, delicate, and oily skin.
Kaphas tend to have normal skin that’s well-nourished and moist.
Vata regulates the gut on the inside, and is also seen in the skin on the outside. Because of this, skin is used as one of the organs that indicates how vata is working in the body. If the skin is dry, cracked, or discolored, then vata is increased and health can be compromised. This is important because vata controls every part of the body, including the other doshas, pitta and kapha. If vata can be controlled, then the rest of the body can automatically reach homeostasis.
Skin sensation is made possible by vata, but pitta is responsible for generating and secreting sweat. Pitta is also responsible for healthy color and complexion. In order to control vata and pitta in the body, Ayurveda uses the skin, so treatments meant to influence vata and pitta may be applied directly to the skin.
The Best Foods for Clear Skin
Diet, undoubtedly, plays a role in skin health. The word twak means “skin” in Sanskrit, and is the derivative of a specific action called twachya. Twachya is anything that you do or ingest that’s beneficial for the skin. Following general Ayurvedic diet principles is a good method of boosting skin health. Also, here are some specific foods and herbs that your outer layer will love:
- Astringent and bitter foods, like mung beans and amalaki (Indian gooseberries), turmeric, and cumin seeds are thought to firm and tighten the skin.
- Anything that’s moist, either with water or oil, is considered to be great for the skin because of its lubricating qualities. Examples include ghee, grapes, almonds, flax, and hemp seeds.
- Shatavari is a rejuvenative Ayurvedic herb is commonly used to boost skin health.
- Sprinkling food with Himalayan salt can be beneficial for the skin.
- Drinking licorice tea is recommended from time to time to promote skin health.
Related: Guidelines for Eating the Ayurvedic Way
Try these All-Natural Topical Treatments
These days, face masks are a common cosmetic treatment. It might surprise you to know that Ayurveda has been using them for thousands of years. All those years ago, people knew that the skin is a surface for absorption. It’s only recently that this has been accepted into Western medicine.
Thirty years ago, when I would tell people that the skin absorbs everything, they would laugh at me because it was considered to be just a barrier. But now we know that it’s a living organ that absorbs and processes everything. In Ayurveda, we use all kinds of pastes and oils to reduce pain, redness, numbness, and more.
When it comes to beauty purposes, there is a completely dedicated category of treatments for healthy skin. Oils, pastes, and scrubs are used to smooth, clarify, lighten, and darken skin. That’s right, Ayurveda introduced the world to self-tanning.
If you’re interested in getting started with Ayurvedic skincare, one of the best things you can do is incorporate an oil into your daily beauty routine. Some of the most popular oils are:
- Almond oil is recommended for all skin types.
- Saffron oil, also known as kumkumadi, is recommended for all skin types.
- Sesame oil is recommended for vata types.
- Coconut oil is recommended for pitta types.
The next step would be to introduce a face mask. Here’s a homemade Ayurvedic skin treatment that you can try on your own, using everyday household ingredients.
A Homemade Ayurvedic Face Mask
- 1 tablespoon rice flour
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- A pinch of turmeric
- A pinch of cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoon honey
- Enough water or rosewater (for aroma) to make the mixture into a thick paste
- ½ inch of lemon or orange peel, grated (optional)
1. Mix the following together, then apply as a mask on the face and allow to dry for 30 to 60 minutes.
2. Rinse with water. This gentle nourishing mask rejuvenates the skin and helps to neutralize the irritants that harm the skin.