Natural and true beauty doesn't need embellishments. Its source stems from the centre of our being. The more we are connected, pure and present in the moment of now, the brighter we shine. Our beauty is not something self-evident. It actually needs to be grown, nurtured and preserved each day and is a result of every single action we take as well the way we breathe, think, talk, eat, move, and live. This is why in Ayurveda true beauty is a result of balancing and nurturing our entire body according to a specific dosha.
A healthy lifestyle, incorporating fresh and local foods, exercising, breathing exercises, as well as a consistent, healthy daily routine are essential in order to grow and develop your beauty from within. Old and dead food is not only difficult to digest but also results in the development of toxins in the body, blocking the pores and internal pathways so nutrients cannot be transported to deeper layers of the skin, thus finally resulting in the death of skin cells rather than regeneration. Moreover, tinned food, food containing pesticides and a stressful lifestyle can lead to various skin problems as your internal organs cannot cope with the toxins and therefore consequently secret them through the skin. This means that before you start treating your skin, you need to clean your body from within. For detailed tips on body balance according to your doshic type, please refer to the previous articles in the Ayurveda section.
Your skin changes as you age and is especially susceptible to seasonal changes. Due to its elasticity and ability to regenerate, an intensive beauty care regime is only necessary after the age of 35. Also, each doshic type needs a different type of skin treatment: Vata type needs regular skin care, Pitta needs to take cooling precautions in summer, and Kapha needs oil-free and light skin treatments.
It is, however, recommended to treat your skin daily with a cleansing and moisturising routine, since it helps remove dead particles, enabling your skin to shine and grow healthier. Daily whole body oiling (Abhyanga) not only revitalises your skin and makes it radiant, but also stimulates healthy circulation and flushes out toxins, lubricates deeper body tissues, calms the nervous system and keeps you awake early in the morning. Daily breast massage for women also helps stimulate the lymphatic system, preventing stagnation in the breast tissues and also results in an increased feeling of loving-kindness towards oneself.
Furthermore, weekly bath rituals and the use of relaxing herbal teas have a soothing effect on the nervous system, helping to release muscle tensions and quieten the mind, resulting in fewer wrinkles. Use Epsom salt, ginger, and baking soda for deep relaxation and in the case of Pitta, a shorter bath with cooling herbs. A full body massage/scrub before getting out of the bath will remove dead cells and a final rinse with the shower, switching between cool and warm will increase circulation. Another great option is daily facial exercises (yoga, massage, tapping), this increases the blood flow towards the head, resulting in more clarity, healthier skin, and healthier internal organs. It is best to nurture and moisturise the skin around your eyes with ghee or castor oil.
Below you can select your doshic type to find simple tips for a healthy and glowing skin. If you fall into the category of a mixed type, focus on your main dosha first and add the sub-dosha later.
Vata types have very delicate, thin and dry skin, which is cool to touch and prone to early wrinkles. If there is a doshic dis-balance then the skin may turn dull, rough and very dry. Therefore, it is of utmost importance you take time daily to nurture and moisturise your skin.
One of the best things you can do is oil your body daily (Abhyanga). The best oils for this are almond, jojoba, avocado, primrose and sesame. Adding moisturising herbs to your oils, depending on your needs: cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, or sweet orange, will warm you up and stimulate your circulation; jasmine, lavender, neroli or rose hip will soothe your skin and calm down your nervous system. However, please note, it is very important to only use clove and cinnamon in small amounts as it may irritate your skin.
The best facial treatment for this type is a daily cleansing and moisturising routine with natural products (if possible). Do not skip this routine during dry and cold winter months and also make sure your skin is moisturised from within by drinking enough water, eating warm and nourishing foods, and having a regular daily routine.
Your home-made facial beauty care:
- Cleanse with rose, lemon or lavender water (squeeze lemon into water or leave petals in water overnight, ready to use in the morning). Apply with fingertips in a circular motion. Wipe off any remaining liquid and dry. Ensure your skin is damp before applying oil.
- Use oils to moisturise: jojoba, almond, or avocado and massage your face allowing the toxins to move to the upper layer of your skin. After you have finished, either wash or dry off the remaining oil from your face.
- If you are older than 35, you can continue with a facial scrub, followed by a face mask (once a month in winter but only once or twice throughout the whole season of summer). A good Vata scrub is to mix sea salt with oil, then gently massage into your face. After you have washed the scrub off, add a face mask.
- Face mask: mix together avocado, yoghurt and honey, or banana and honey. Avocado is moisturising, a banana gives the skin elasticity and honey nourishes and tightens the skin. Yoghurt is soothing, moisturising, provides vitamins and elasticity, and also oils the skin. Keep the mask on your face for 10 minutes then wash off.
Pitta has thicker, oilier, softer skin, which is warm to touch. If the dosha is aggravated then the skin will be very susceptible to inflammations, allergies and rashes. Therefore, it is important to protect your skin from heat, sunlight, tanning and emotional stress, which may immediately show in a form of redness.
Since this type of skin is already shiny and beautiful in nature, cleansing and moisturising is not necessary on a daily basis but instead just every couple of days. Cooling oils (coconut or neem) are best for body and facial massages but jojoba or olive oil can be applied as well. Feel free to add cooling herbs to the oil such as: coriander, fennel, hibiscus, neem, turmeric, rose or lemongrass. If you like dry brushing, use a silk gharshana glove and gently brush your body before oiling. Make sure you rinse off with water after brushing.
For healthy and radiant skin on your face, use cooling tonics on a daily basis, especially during hot summer days and use moisturising oils every second day. A great idea is also to spray your face before going to bed with calming rose or lemongrass water. Ensure your diet and lifestyle is balanced and soothing, try to avoid too much competition and stimulation and be in bed by 10pm.
Your home-made facial beauty care:
- Cleanse with aloe vera (squeeze out the juice), cucumber (grated) or rose/jasmine water (leave petals in water overnight, ready to use in the morning). Apply with fingertips in a circular motion. Wipe off any remaining liquid and dry. Ensure your skin is damp before applying oil.
- Use coconut or neem oil as a moisturiser in summer and jojoba or olive oil in winter. Massage your face allowing the toxins to move to the upper layer of your skin. After you have finished, either wash or dry off the remaining oil from your face.
- If you are older than 35, you can continue with a facial scrub, followed by a face mask (once or twice throughout the whole of the winter season and once a month in summer). A good Pitta scrub is a mixture of sugar and cooling herbs: rose petals, lemon balm, lavender. Sugar has a cooling and moisturising effect and boosts new cells. Gently massage it into your face and add a face mask after removing the scrub.
- Face mask: mix cooling cucumber, yoghurt and clay. Cucumber is cooling and refreshes the skin, whereas clay not only has a cooling effect on the skin but also binds toxins and is an anti-inflammatory. Yoghurt is soothing, moisturising, provides vitamins and elasticity, and also oils the skin. Keep the mask on your face for 10 minutes then wash off.
This type has very thick, smooth and oily skin, which is cool to touch and does not wrinkle until much later on in life. If Kapha is aggravated then the skin will turn even more oily, and pimples and eczema will appear.
Frequent exfoliation plays an important role in controlling the oil. The best way to do this is to lubricate your skin at least twice a week with warm milk, followed by a bentonite clay scrub. However, make sure you do not dry out your skin as this will make it more oily. Moisturise your skin with almond, safflower or grapeseed oil and add stimulating herbs: rosemary, yarrow, peppermint, geranium, citrus (lemon or orange), or sesame. Dry brushing is recommended on a daily basis or at least before oiling. Use a natural bristle brush, starting from your feet and brush upwards in a circular motion. Rinse off with water after brushing.
The best facial treatment for Kaphas is a daily skin cleansing to stimulate circulation and detoxify. Orange, grapefruit, or citronella oils are recommended. Try a daily practice of face yoga and avoid oily foods and a lethargic lifestyle. Exercise daily and make sure there is enough stimulation in your life to keep you active.
Your home-made facial beauty care:
- Cleanse with aloe vera (squeeze out the juice), orange or lemon water (squeeze and peal lemon/orange into the water). Apply with fingertips in a circular motion. Wipe off any remaining liquid and dry. Ensure your skin is damp before applying oil.
- Use oils to moisturise: safflower, grapeseed, or corn oil. Massage your face allowing the toxins to move to the upper layer of your skin. After you have finished, either wash or dry off the remaining oil from your face.
- If you are older than 35, you can continue with a facial scrub, followed by a face mask (twice per season but a little more often in spring) containing stimulating and detoxifying ingredients. A good Kapha scrub is a mixture of oats, warm water (you can add rosemary or peppermint) and honey. Gently massage it into your face and add a face mask after removing the scrub.
- Face mask: mix sandalwood powder, clay powder, tea (mint or eucalyptus) and rose water. The clay and mint will dry, cleanse and detoxify the skin, the rose water will soothe, and the sandalwood powder will soften your skin as well as work as an astringent. Keep it on your face for 10 minutes then wash off.
HAIR, NAILS & BONES
Whatever you do to sustain your beauty, whether it is on the inside or outside, your hair, nails and bones, which are considered body wastes, reflect it, clearly indicating the state of your health. Therefore, extra care should be given to those parts of the body by eating calcium-rich foods such as leafy greens, milk, and sesame seeds. Healthy fats (ghee, olive and coconut oil) and vitamin D also play an important role.
Weekly warm scalp oiling and massage greatly help the scalp and hair. It promotes healthy hair growth, helps clear and calm the mind, increases circulation, cleanses pores and helps remove dead skin cells. For best results leave oil on your head for an hour or two after a vigorous head massage, then wash off. Once again use coconut oil with lavender, rose, lemongrass for Pitta; olive or sesame oil with rosemary, orange, geranium for Kapha and almond or avocado oil with lavender, ylang-ylang, jasmine for Vata.
Vata needs to wash their hair only once a week using nurturing hair products; whereas Pitta needs to wash their hair more often with cooling and clarifying ingredients, and Kapha needs to wash their hair almost daily with refreshing and stimulating shampoos.
As well as making sure you get enough vitamin D for your nails, you should also spoil yourself with a weekly nourishing hand and foot massage, this stimulates circulation, removes blockages from your inner organs and keeps your skin radiant and smooth. You can end your treatment by applying a nourishing nail cream which contains ingredients best for your type.
- Vata types have thin and dry nails that break easily. Their nails have little or no moons, which shows weak digestion. The best nail cream for Vata is moisturising and nurturing, made at home from almond/avocado oil and honey and can be left in the hands overnight.
- Pitta types have soft, pink, shiny, flexible and smooth nails. Pittas should prepare a protecting and appeasing cream with coconut/almond or olive oil, cucumber and lavender.
- Kapha types have strong, thick, oily and lubricated nails with little or no moons and they almost never break. They should use a home-made nail treatment made from safflower/olive oil, eucalyptus and grapefruit. Massage into hands and nails and wash off after a while.
Although it is still unclear how aromas work, there is speculation that it is due to the odours influencing our feelings because the nasal passage opens directly to the part of the brain which controls our emotions and memory. Thus, merely smelling a fragrance not only influences thoughts and emotions but also our hormone production, stress levels, general metabolism and brain chemistry. Also, the molecules of essential oils have the ability, due to their small size, to enter directly into the bloodstream when applied to the skin and also into the lungs when inhaled!
Aromas and scents can be added to your foods, lotions, diffusers and baths in order to support and balance your health throughout the seasons. In order to soothe your doshic type, follow the short guidelines below:
- Vata best aromas are calming, grounding and strengthening: basil, henna, patchouli, vanilla, vetiver, lavender, palo santo.
- Pitta benefits most from cooling and calming aromas: sandalwood, rose, jasmine, lotus, gardenia.
- Kapha needs warming and stimulating scents: camphor, juniper, clove, sage, frankincense, mint, eucalyptus.
No matter the type of your skin, every skin type reacts to the seasons. If the season aggravates your dosha then you will need to apply the relevant ingredients (see below) to help soothe it and bring it back into balance.
- Springtime is cool and wet, normally from March to June, representing Kapha season, a time of detox, therefore it is best to cleanse your body using stimulating herbs and oils. The most caution needs to be taken if you are Kapha, whereas the other two types will only need to add a couple of stimulating herbs to their oils to stay balanced. Turmeric is beneficial as it helps to cleanse and detox. You can also try a skin nourishing spice mixture to help with circulation and detoxification: turmeric (purifies the deeper layers of the skin and is an antioxidant), coriander, fennel, black paper (is cleansing as it induces sweat).
- Summertime is when the heat is rising, so it is important to swap heavy oils for lighter oils, such as almond, or castor oil (in case of dry skin). The use of coconut oil is not recommended for Vata types as it has a drying effect on the skin in the long run. Rejuvenating baths with milk and cooling herbs are very soothing on hot summer days. During summer, treat inflammations or skin irritations by applying neem oil directly to the affected areas. To release emotional heaviness that may arise due to increased heat, use sandalwood, peppermint, lemon or thyme.
- Autumn and Winter time is from November until February and represents Vata season. During this time you should nourish your skin with lots of moisture, as well as heat (warm oils, steam). Daily massage and a consistent daily routine for the entire body is almost a must. For smooth and elastic skin, prepare a home-made lotion from almonds, milk and honey. For cosy, calm and relaxed winter days try: basil, cedarwood, sweet orange or clove.