The ancient medical system from India- Ayurveda has been becoming more popular in recent years. Ayurveda (आयुर्वेद) comes from the Sanskrit language and means knowledge of longevity or 'Science of Life'. Either translation is very fitting for this sophisticated system if you ask me. My mother studied Ayurveda when I was a child and I got to experience delicious ayurvedic cooking growing up. In India, about 10 years later, I got to experience its full healing power. I caught a nasty stomach bug (as you do when in India) so I went to a local pharmacy which sold me these weird brown pills (if you had asked me back then I would have sworn they were rabbit droppings, turns out they weren't... or so I think). These natural pills have saved my trip back then. My stomach bug went and I got to enjoy the rest of my stay in the foothills of the Himalayas. Ever since that experience I got interested in studying Ayurveda myself. It has helped me to understand my body's constitution and what I need to do in order for it to be balanced. Without me going into too much detail, I would like to keep this post short and sweet and give you a quick overview about how Ayurveda can help you to balance your skin.
Everyone has their own dosha combination which affects the way that their body functions. A dosha is a bio- physical force which is made up of five different elements that might be predominant in the body. There are three doshas present in everybody namely Vata (Ether/ Air), Pitta (Fire/ Water) and Kapha (Water/ Earth). Everyone has a predominant dosha which they are born with (Prakriti). This often changes over time and can be caused by different factors like the environment, diet or lifestyle. This imbalanced state is called Vikriti. Ayurveda looks at bringing you back to your original state (Prakriti) by pacifying the excess elements in the body.
The Vata skin is dry, flaky, pale, thin and cold to touch. The cold and windy English weather can get to this skin type very quickly and exacerbate its dehydration and dryness. Due to it's dry quality, Vata skin types tend to age much quicker than the other doshas. This skin type needs A LOT of nourishment. Think all things nourishing, warming and calming essential oils like lavender, geranium, chamomile or vetiver. You can blend them into vegetable oils, sesame or avocado oil. When choosing your skin care products make sure that you look for products that are very nourishing and are on the heavier side. Maybe blend your favourite oil into your serum or moisturizer. Having a regular AM and PM routine is super important for this skin type, as the skin will most possibly be dry and dehydrated in the evening and will needs some TLC. Regular facial massage can be very helpful with working the facial oils and serums into the skin. You will find that you use much more product when it is massage into the skin rather than just 'slapping' it on whilst popping out for work. Facial cupping, Gua Sha or classic ayurvedic facial massages are just a few examples on how to nourish that Vata skin.
The Pitta skin type is more prone to redness, sensitivity, inflammation and break outs. This skin type can be very photosensitive and reactive. The skin is generally warm/ hot to touch. Moles and freckles are more prominent in this constitution. Skin care products that are cooling and soothing are most suitable for Pitta skins. Base oils such as coconut, olive or sunflower oil act cooling on the skin and can be blended with essential oils such as rose, blue chamomile, sandalwood or jasmine. Try to stay away from anything that stimulates the skin such as harsh cleansers, toners or serums. Light weight to medium weight products work best for this skin type. Also watch your diet and try to stay away from food flavours such as sour, salty or spicy and prefer sweet, bitter and astringent. In my experience this dosha reacts really quickly to foods which can cause an explosion of nasty little breakouts or make that rosacea skin even redder. So really try to think about what you eat if you think this is your constitution and if you suffer from Pitta related disorders (which doesn't mean you can just eat what you want if you are not Pitta!). Aloe Vera juice or cucumber juice on a daily basis can help to pacify the excessive heat present in this dosha. Hormonal imbalances can also be related to Pitta and can show up on the skin. I have seen several patients with aggressive blemishes all over their face and never did they connect their polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) to their problematic skin. In this case it is of course important to address ovary health (with Ayurveda and Homeopathy of course) before starting to think about specialised skin treatments.
The Kapha constitution has a very robust and thick skin which is well nourished and has a tendency towards oiliness. This skin type is the one that usually ages relatively slow. This skin type can suffer from blemishes, enlarged pores and comedones (blackheads). Due to its high oil production, you might find a clogging of the pores is your main area of concern. Puffiness or swelling might also be another concern of this dosha as it quality is rather slow and sluggish and might have a slower circulation that the other doshas. Dry facial brushing is very beneficial to stimulate and invigorate the skin. Stimulating the micro circulation and the lymphatic flow can help to balance the skin and help with fluid retention. Essential oils such as clary sage, orange or rosemary can also help to stimulate the skin and if blended into a base oil such as jojoba or almond oil can help to balance the complexion. Lighter products are much more suitable for this skin type. Regular cleansing of the skin is very important to avoid any clogging of the pores. Products with salicylic acid in them can help to break down excess sebum and reduce break outs.
Often we have more than just one of those dosha types presented in our skin. In this case focus on your main concern and treat your skin accordingly to the most prominent dosha. For example: A skin type that might have dryness but also might be congested could be a Vata- Pitta skin type. Try to figure out what you want to address first and then build your regimen from there.
If you are completely lost in this mind field that Ayurveda can be, I do online skin consultations and I will incorporate not only Ayurveda but also Homeopathy and classic skin care advice to find the best solution to your skin concern. Drop me an e-mail and we can book a complementary 15 mins consultation to discuss your imbalance.