Tag Archives: skin care

Ayurvedic beauty tips for great skin

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Ayurveda was a very early adopter of the mantra that “beauty comes from within.” The 5,000 year-old-science is known for extolling the benefits of balancing the whole body, supporting digestive health, optimizing energy, and treating each individual according to her specific dosha (constitution)—and not just finding the right facial cleanser or aesthetician.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore skin and hair. In fact, Ayurveda’s got more beauty practices than Estee Lauder—and they all do double duty, boosting your overall wellness while they give you a glow.

Some of them might not sound all that intuitive—traditionally there’s a lot more oil used than lotions or creams, and exfoliation is part of the drill for detoxing purposes—so we asked top Ayurvedic practitioners to share some of their favorite holistic beauty tips that you can do easily. Put them in your routine now for that inner-outer beauty balance. —Ann Abel

1. Know your dosha. Your Ayurvedic constitution also points to your skin type, says Lisa Amechazurra, marketing manager for skin-care line VPK at Maharishi Ayurveda. (The VPK line stands for the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha.) Vata is thin, dry, fine-pored, delicate and wrinkle-prone; Pitta is susceptible to rashes, breakouts, and rosacea if out of balance; and Kapha is thicker and oilier, prone to enlarged pores, blackheads, pimples, and eczema. Her company’s website provides great information about treating each one, as well as other Ayurvedic beauty secrets.

2. Let the seasons dictate your skin care. Siva Mohan, an Ayurvedic doctor at Svastha Health in Long Beach, California, says constitution-based skin care has it’s place, “there are seasonal approaches that are even more important. Even if someone has a Vata constitution, they will have to balance Pitta during the heat of the summer. Our climate is a significant energetic input. All approaches to summer beauty from an Ayurvedic standpoint are about balancing Pitta dosha, or bringing in the opposite qualities of Pitta.”

3. Moisturize your face with coconut oil and whip up facial masks. Dr. Mohan likes coconut oil for daily use because it’s cooling in nature, and not too heavy. Some women swear by ghee (clarified butter), which you could also try. Dr. Mohan says masks are your go-to: dry and irritated skin will bounce back with an organic castor oil mask. And if you suffer from the opposite, you absorb excess oil with chickpea flour. Use it as base for masks to absorb excess oil from the face, chest and back, she says.

4. Exfoliate with sugar instead of salt. Sugar helps boost cell turnover and retains moisture, and it’s considered cooling (not heating), which makes it good for summer. Svastha recommends mixing it with cooling, rejuvenating herbs and botanicals such as rose petals, slippery elm, and bhringraj, for a facial scrub. (She stocks them; your local drugstore probably won’t.)

5. Swab your skin with raw milk—or bathe in it. “Full-fat milk or cream-based masks are wonderful for soothing and cooling irritated or inflamed skin,” says Dr. Mohan. Once a day dip a cotton ball into a small bowl of raw milk and wipe your face thoroughly with it to remove dirt from your pores. Thanks to its fats and lactic acid, “it has tremendous moisturizing, softening properties,” says Ritu Srivastava, spa manager at the Ayurvedic spa, Ananda in the Himalayas in India. Adding milk or cream to your bath will also soothe and nourish your skin. And if you’re vegan, coconut milk has similar properties, says Dr. Mohan

6. Use rosewater as a toner. Dr. Mohan likes rosewater spray because “it smells good and feels great” and can be used several times a day. “Roses are cooling and support soft, supple skin.”

7. Spot-treat with neem oil. Use a cotton swab to apply it directly to pimples or spots of minor inflammation and “let it do its magic overnight,” says Dr. Mohan. “It’s drying and similar to tea tree oil but more cooling and better suited for the summer.”

8. Add aloe vera to your regular regimen. Srivastava says the plant isn’t just for sunburns. It makes the skin smooth, supple and younger looking. Some women apply it topically, like a toner or treatment. Others swear by a daily swig or sipping it in a juice.

9. Practice oil pulling. Swishing sesame or coconut oil instead of Listerine has become a super popular practice of late. And while you’d think its immediate benefits would be related to oral hygiene, the idea is that a healthy mouth boosts your overall wellness (healthy gums are related to healthy heart) and that it aids in all-over detoxification. Here’s how to do it.

10. Use a raw silk gharshana glove or natural bristle dry brush on your body. It’s key to toned and firm skin, great for places that retain fluid, and helps cellulite, says Dr. Pratima Raichur, author of Ayurvedic beauty bible, Absolute Beauty. For Vata and Pitta skin types (dry or sensitive skin), use a raw silk gharshana glove for an effective but less abrasive form of exfoliation. For Kapha skin type (thicker, oily skin), use a natural bristle brush. Starting with your feet, massage in upward, circular motions toward the heart. Then rinse off.

11. Make hair lustrous with coconut oil. In addition to imparting sheen, it provides strengthening nourishment to the hair, says Srivastava. Take your time massaging it in (add essential oils of geranium, lavender, and rosemary, like at the spa, if you can) to improve circulation and slough off dead skin cells, which is said to help hair growth.

12. Slather yourself in oils—and learn the art of self-massage. Jenoa Navarrete, product development manager for VPK, says massage is as important to boosting radiance as it is to helping manage stress. “For example, Abhyanga, an Ayurvedic massage done with warm massage oil, not only deeply moisturizes but afterward, you’ll look and feel more radiant. It offers many health benefits when done regularly, as well.” Can’t slip away to the spa? Use an Ayurvedic oil and work from your face down to the soles of your feet. And good news—even two minutes before bed helps.

How To Get Your Best Skin Ever With The Ancient Power Of Ayurveda

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Often referred to as “the science of life” and “the mother of all healing,” Ayurveda looks at the whole being (body, mind, and spirit) to find the underlying sources of imbalance and disease, as opposed to simply treating symptoms. This holistic approach provides a practical, intuitive way of looking at skin and the care you provide it.

From increasing your digestive fire to detox your skin from impurities to eating foods that feed your skin and hair, Ayurveda can greatly enhance your overall appearance and wellness factor. The first step? Determining your dominant dosha.

Dosha is a Sanskrit word used in Ayurveda to describe one’s unique body-mind constitution. There’s no one-size-fits-all, even when it comes to a so-called healthy lifestyle because what may be beneficial for one dosha could potentially be detrimental to another. For example, if you’re primarily a vata dosha (the air and space type), then eating a raw food diet may be too cooling for an already cold and airy system, weakening your digestion and potentially causing excess dryness … even constipation.

It’s important to know your dosha so you can implement traditional balancing practices to enhance your positive attributes and also lessen or reverse the more negative aspects of your physiology and even character. Here’s a very simplified way of understanding the three main doshas (keep in mind that this is a very general guide and it is possible to be a combination of two or more doshas):

Vata: This is the air and space type. An agile, thin frame with dry skin and hair are all common physical traits. It’s said that most people in the West need balancing in this dosha as it’s often associated with an overactive mind. Vatas desperately need stillness, a regular meditation practice, and silence for balance.

Pitta: This is the dosha associated with fire and transformation. Pitta skin tends to be warm or hot to the touch with a red or pink undertone. Their hair may have a reddish tint with a tendency toward thinning hair or balding. Pittas often suffer from inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.

Kapha: The skin of someone who is primarily Kapha tends toward oily and moist. The Water-Earth elements make up the Kapha dosha. They typically have a thicker bone structure with full, oily, and wavy or curly hair. Because Kapha holds a tendency toward stagnation it’s important to use herbs and oils that are invigorating and non-comedogenic.

Here are four steps to incorporate Ayurveda into your new radiant skin care routine:

1. Garshana (dry brushing)

Dry brushing is great for lymphatic drainage, circulation, detoxification, and exfoliation. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start at your feet and use a friction-like motion to brush each area of the body working your way up toward the heart (to promote purification and circulation). Use long strokes on the longer parts of the body like the calves, thighs, forearms, and upper arms.
  • Move in a circular motion around joints.
  • Be gentle in the sensitive areas of the body such as the breasts, armpits, and belly, but these areas should not be avoided — just use lighter pressure with shorter strokes.

2. Abhyanga (full-body oiling)

Not only is our skin our largest organ, but it also absorbs oils through the pores to lubricate, hydrate, and nourish joints, organs, and deep layers of the epidermis. Practicing a daily self-massage is not only good for our overall health, it’s also a simple yet profound self-love practice. Here’s how to do it:

  • Take a warm, organic oil and slather it on from head to toe. Then, start at the top of the head and scrub the scalp with the oil as if lathering shampoo. Oil your face with circular motions and leave no area of your body untouched.
  • Moving all the way down to your feet, spend quality time on each area of the body with a firm friction/rubbing motion.
  • When you’re done with your oiling, leave the oil on your body and jump into a warm/hot bath or steam room. The heat opens up the pores, allowing your body to release impurities in the system and let the oils penetrate deeper.

3. Facial steaming

Steaming is a cornerstone to good health in Ayurveda. The trick is to apply a pure oil to clean, dry skin first. The oil enters through the pores, binds with the amma (toxins) and then is expelled through the pores, detoxing the entire body. Once your skin is clean and ready, it’s time to steam.

While steaming with simply a bowl of hot water will definitely benefit your body and skin, adding an herbal blend to the mix is even more beneficial. My favorite is dashamula, a traditional 10-herb blend used in conjunction with heat or steam treatment. Here’s how to do it:

  • Place two tablespoons of dashamula or another blend in water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Very carefully place the pot on a table and sit closely in a chair with a sheet or towel over your head and the pot of steam. Breathe normally and allow the steam to penetrate the pores.
  • Alternatively, you can strain that same dashamula water and place it into a hot bath and soak for 10-15 minutes. If you opt for a bath and don’t have any herbal blends, a simple salt soak will also do wonders.

4. Neti pot and pranayama (breathing exercises)

Neti pots are used to treat many ailments, but one of its greatest uses is to clear the nasal cavity of any debris and mucus that prevents proper oxygen flow to your entire body. Try using a neti pot with Himalayan sea salt in the morning followed by some pranayama exercises to send fresh oxygen to all your cells for glowing, radiant skin.

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