Cleanse, nourish and moisturize. These are the first and most basic tenets of using Ayurveda for skin care. It is the absolute minimum that we need to do every day to maintain a healthy and fresh-looking complexion. Of course, beautiful skin is a result of not just taking care of it from the outside but from the inside as well. It is the combination of a balanced diet, exercise, meditation and stress management.
Who wouldn’t want beautiful, soft and elastic skin with a gorgeous peachy complexion and no discolorations? However, due to many external and internal factors, this is not always possible due to imbalances in our body. Usually the first visual indicators of a problem are found on the hair and skin, which give us clear signals that’s something is wrong.
The Basics of Ayurveda Skin Care
To maintain your skin in a good condition you need to
- cleanse – remove dead skin and stimulate to generation of new skin cells,
- nourish – provide antioxidants to fix and refresh skin
- moisturize – reach the deeper layers of the skin.
Our skin naturally sheds one million dead cells per day. No wonder then that cleansing should be obligatory every day. Cleansing involves nothing more than cleaning pores and the surface by removing dead skin, toxins, make up, dirt and bacteria that are layered on our skin. The goal is to do all this without stripping our skin of its natural moisturizing barrier.
Sadly, most commercial products available on the shelves are too harsh on the skin, drying it out and causing an imbalance in our skin pH. In response, our body tries to balance this by naturally regenerating the oily surface on the skin (for Kapha dosha) to regain moisture in the skin. However, this can end up clogging pores and causing acne. For those with dry skin (Vata dosha), the skin becomes even drier, irritated and inflamed.
This is why I maintain that using soap to wash your face is the worst thing you can do to your skin. Soap, regardless of its brand or its ingredients, dries your skin out. If you, for some reason, still wish to use soap to cleanse, apply rose water or any other toner after cleansing to come back to the correct pH levels.
Ayurveda recommends using plants and herbs daily, but in powder form for everyday cleansing. These solutions are gentle on the skin, maintain its natural moisture and remove toxins. For example, for Vata dry skin we can cleanse our face in the morning and the evening using almond powder with milk. The vitamin E hydrates and the milk soothes the skin.
For deeper cleansing, Ayurveda recommends herby, fruity or flowery face masks adjusted to the skin type twice a week. Take care not to overdo it, though. Retinol or glycolic acid if used too often can cause more harm than benefit. Skin that is removed too fast and too frequently leaves little or no recovery time for new skin cells, leading to problems such as infections, inflammations etc.
Nourishing and Moisturizing Tips
Ayurveda recommends essential oils, rich in vitamins, to hydrate the skin naturally. Due to their chemical structure, they can penetrate even the deep layers of the skin and nourish the cells. We want these oils to go deep into the skin to avoid clogging the pores at the surface of the skin. By massaging the skin at the same time, oils help to improve blood circulation and strengthen tissues which reduces the visibility of wrinkles. The scent of these oils also helps in balancing our doshas and offer protection from infections.
Essential oils combined with base oils such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil etc. should be applied to the skin by mixing with a couple drops of water or applying on wet skin. For moisturizing, mixing essential oils with shea butter or cocoa butter will help to seal moisture inside the skin.
Dosha-specific Ayurvedic Skin Care Treatments
What do you think about the focus on cleansing, nourishing and moisturizing in Ayurveda? Do you do this to care for your skin on a daily basis? Let me know in the comments below.