By Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro, Contributing Editor
Chances are you’ve seen the Sanskrit term Ayurveda many times, but do you know what it means? Helming from the ancient Vedic culture of India as a form of alternative medicine, Ayurvedic skincare is the practice of achieving better skin through a holistic balance of the mind, body and soul.
Ayurveda translates to the "science of life,” and the goals of an Ayurvedic skincare routine is to restore "sattva" or balance. Basically, if you’re well on the inside, you will appear well on the outside. We are not meant to do battle with our visage. Ayurvedic beauty is all about nurturing, replenishing and renewal.
The main tenet of Ayurveda are rooted in the belief that every person has one of three doshas or “energies”; Vata, Pitta or Kapha. By determining the state of your skin, you can figure out your own dosha. You may usually have oily or combination skin, but it can change from influences such as stress, diet, sleep patterns and weather. Check out an online constitution quiz to start the process.
Don't get too hung up on which dosha the quiz helps you to determine. Your skin's dosha may be totally different from your overall dosha. You may learn that you're Pitta: a fiery person, but your skin might be dry, flaky, cold to the touch. Each of these symptoms are indicators that your skin is in a state of Vata imbalance. Take a look at these breakdowns:
Vata skin imbalance = rough, thin and dry
Pitta skin imbalance = sensitive, warm, redness
Kapha skin imbalance = thick, oily, acne-prone
Ayurveda focuses on minimal clean ingredients as opposed to harsh scrubs, acids and products loaded with fragrance and fillers.
Gentle Steam is Your BFF
Steaming with a handful of rose petals, rosemary, or pinch of chamomile tea is a great way to start. Set up a large pot of hot water (safely placed on a proper, heat resistant surface.)
Place a towel over your head; allow the steam and herbs to calm your skin, start the de-stressing process. Take slow, grounding breaths in and slow, complete exhales to deepen your calming experience. Stay 6-8 inches above the water; do this for 3-5 minutes.
Dosha Specific Oil Cleanse
Instead of a soapy cleanser, opt out of the squeaky-clean club and use a nickel's size dollop of one of the following oils to cleanse your face:
Vata: Almond/sesame (untoasted)
Massage the oil in a gentle circular motion. Don't forget to cleanse your neck and add a bit more oil as you go if you're very dry.
Buff the oil away using a warm, moist washcloth. Do not scrub your face raw, as this will further aggravate any imbalance. To quote one of my western beauty school educators "Your face is not a dish!"
Soothing Customized Mask
Next, blot the face dry using a soft, clean cloth and mix up a mask following these guidelines:
Vata: 1/2 mashed banana/avocado, 1 tbsp almond oil, pinch of powdered rose petals
Pitta: 1 tbsp fine ground oatmeal, 1 tbsp yogurt*, pinch of fine ground citrus peel (lemon/orange)
Kapha: pinch of ground ginger, 2 tbsp mashed papaya/strawberries
(*plant-based yogurt is okay - just use plain, no flavors). Also, feel free to mix and match especially if your skin is showing a hybrid of these issues. For example, Vata: Pitta or Kapha: Vata.
Slather the mask onto your face and be sure to apply to undereye area, neck and décolleté. Allow mask to set for 10-15 minutes.
Remove by hopping into a warm shower; use circular motions to rinse away the mask. Pat yourself dry after you rinse off. Finish with a few spritzes of lavender or rose water.
Creating a healing, effective self-administered skincare routine based on the traditions of Ayurveda helps keep us grounded, while maintaining healthy, glowing, supple skin. Take some time to customize an at-home treatment and be good to yourself.
I'm always glad to answer your Ayurevdic skincare questions; reach out to me here.
Photo Credit: Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro