Ayurveda Skin Care
Ayurveda is an ancient science, originating in India, that is based on all the elemental principles pertaining to life on earth. Ayurveda recognizes the natural elements as ether/space; air; fire; water; earth. These elements are the building blocks of the natural world. According to Ayurveda, these five elements pair-up in three combinations to form the primary forces of nature called doshas. Ether and air form Vata dosha. Fire and water constitute Pitta dosha. Water and earth create Kapha dosha.
Ayurveda explains that you are born with a unique combination of the doshas. The doshas are the structure that supports life’s design. As you come to understand the doshas you see how they define, and give clarity to the unique features of your specific body and mind; the individual qualities that equip you to fulfill your life’s purpose. You are made of the three doshas, and therefore you carry all the inherent qualities of the five elements. Your original doshic combination is fixed throughout your lifetime, but just like other forces of nature, your unique balance is susceptible to stresses that affect you. You are doshically influenced by your age, the time of day, the season, the temperature, your diet, your social support system, environmental conditions, etc. In Ayurveda, like forces create like results, opposite forces create balance. For this reason, the influences of vata, pitta and kapha are constantly fluctuating to help maintain your natural state of balance.
In Ayurveda, when you understand your individual doshic nature, you understand how the world affects you. The benefit is to be able to make healthful decisions that lead to doshic balance in all aspects of your life; body and mind.
“Everything that affects you affects your skin.”
Your Dosha Skin Type
Ayurveda teaches that your skin type is determined by the qualities of your original doshic design. These qualities are uniquely responsive to your stage of life, environmental conditions, dietary habits, skin regimens and the passing of time. According to Ayurveda, it’s best to know your doshic tendencies to determine your optimal skin care regimen.
Vata skin is inherently dry, thin, rough, and tends to be cold to the touch. Vata skin type people are likely to have irregular skin tone and develop signs of pre-mature aging with wrinkles and loss of elasticity. Conditions that can intensify the qualities of vata include cold and windy weather; light, cold, dry, and rough food; insufficient hydration; absence of oil (dietary and topical); high stress; lack of sleep. Ayurvedic skin care treatments and products that balance vata skin are nourishing, hydrating, emolliating and revitalizing.
Pitta skin is apt to be fair, sensitive, warm, freckled and a combination of dry to oily. Pitta skin types easily burn in the sun and are prone to visible sun damage, inflamed acne, and skin cancers. The qualities of pitta are aggravated by hot weather; direct sun exposure; spicy, sour, acidic and fermented food; strong chemicals; unresolved conflicts; time pressure. Ayurveda utilizes skin care methods and products that are protective, calming, cooling and clearing.
Kapha skin is naturally soft, smooth, thick, damp and oily. Kapha skin types may experience congested pores, cystic acne or dull skin, all due to Kapha’s sluggish nature. The obstructive potential of Kapha is increased by cold, damp weather; heavy, cold, sweet, rich and oily food; overeating; inactivity; excess vata and pitta influences (as this calls on kapha’s protective response.) Kapha balancing Ayurvedic skin care treatments and products are decongesting, stimulating, warming and lightening.
Your skin can reflect the qualities of a single dosha or a combination of doshic qualities. The doshic qualities of your skin change. Everything that affects you affects your skin.
The Science of Skin, Time and Dosha
In Ayurveda the stages of life follow doshic patterns. The Kapha stage of life is birth to puberty. The Pitta stage of life is puberty to later adulthood. The Vata stage of life is later adulthood to elderly.
In the kapha stage of life, skin is naturally youthful and healthy; it has a smooth surface and even color tone, with a soft and supple quality that exudes radiant vitality. The outer layer of the skin (epidermis) is firm and well hydrated, providing a protective barrier to the effects of the environment.
However, skin is in a constant state of cellular renewal. “Cell turnover” refers to the body’s depletion and manufacture of cells – your skin is a biological machine; cells are constantly being produced and shed. When skin cells are shed and replaced at an ideal rate, the skin’s surface maintains a bright, healthy appearance as it provides protection for the underlying tissues.
In the pitta stage of life, your complexion can reflect hormonal changes that present as blemishes, increased oil production, and sensitivity to the sun, wind or chemicals. With the inevitable biological passing of time, the skin’s elasticity, fullness, luster and strength gradually decline.
In the vata stage of life, cell turnover is much slower and the vitality of the underlying matrix of the skin (dermis) is diminished. As the strength of the dermis declines, it is reflected in the quality of the skin’s complexion by being rougher, thinner, looser and more wrinkled.
Ayurveda explains that your skin’s response to time is unique to your original combination of the qualities of vata, pitta and kapha. It also recognizes the way your past and current doshic factors contribute to the rate at which your skin ages. These factors include lifestyle, self-care routines, environment, dietary habits, activity level, quality of sleep, level of stress, sun exposure, and hydration, as well as, your medical history.
Ayurveda supports the aging process of the skin through internal and external methods that are both detoxifying and nourishing. Ayurveda cares for the whole body, mind, and spirit, which is reflected in the health and appearance of the skin.
Your Skin Reflects your Inner Health
Ayurveda views your skin as the mirror of your inner health and doshic balance. So, along with your skin care regimen, the choices you make regarding your lifestyle and dietary practices fully contribute to your doshic balance and this leads to healthy skin. These ‘choices’ include habits that support your digestion and elimination, by assisting your digestive fire (agni) and removing damaging residue (ama).
The beauty concepts of Ayurveda support inner and outer vitality by instructing us to synchronize our personal rhythm and daily routines (dincharya) with the rising and setting of the sun. When you coordinate your routines and the choices you make with the rhythms of nature, you experience the harmony of Nature’s wisdom.
Practices that help to manage your stressors and promote peace, such as yoga, meditation and breathing techniques, contribute to your inner and outer radiance.
These are important principles of Ayurveda; to better understand your individual needs, consult a qualified ayurvedic practitioner.