Until I began studying Ayurveda, I struggled with skin issues. From teen- and 20s-inspired hormonal acne to dry skin and a gray complexion, I’d tried everything. Birth control pills and the drug Accutane. Nightly treatments of salicylic acid. Urine therapy (really). Willpower. Prayer. Nothing worked. My face looked better for a few days, and then it reverted to its original condition or worsened. Then one day, I read an article on Ayurvedic skincare and did a bit of research, and I realized something. My focus had always been on treating the problem, rather than caring for my skin. When I started concentrating my efforts on the health of my body rather than stressing about the appearance of my skin everything changed. Not only did my skin improve dramatically and stay that way, but my digestion also got better, my mood elevated, and my knowledge of the human body broadened. Ayurvedic skincare became my foundation for a healthy life.
What’s Behind Ayurvedic Skincare?
The skin is our largest organ, and it reflects what’s happening inside our bodies. Whether it is dry or oily, dull or prone to redness and acne, there is an internal reason for it according to Ayurvedic skincare. Some general rules are helpful, such as drinking a sufficient amount of water, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding smoking and overconsumption of alcohol and processed foods. But most of us already know that. Ayurvedic skincare interests us in why such issues are occurring in the first place, rather than just how to solve them. With a proper foundation of knowledge we can prevent many skincare problems from occurring at all, and if they do, they can act as a signal to look within.
I’ve shared some root-based solutions for achieving great looking skin that I’ve discovered in my Ayurvedic journey of health. I ordered them according to how well they worked for me. If you’re struggling with skin problems or you just want to enhance your skin tone, start with number one and continue.
1 – Know Your Constitution
According to Ayurveda, everyone has one of seven body types comprised of a combination of two or three energies called doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha). Our type, or Ayurvedic constitution, is discovered through an analysis of our physiological traits, activities, and tendencies toward certain behaviors. The interaction between these subtle internal energies and our external environment can often create an imbalance in one or more of the doshas and manifest as different health problems. Ayurveda considers a dosha imbalance the root cause of any physical or psychological disease. Ayurvedic skincare requires that we address internal issues first.
Once we know our constitution, we are better equipped to optimize our personal health and prevent skin issues, inflammation, and other health problems. There’s a reason this Indian health system has been in existence for more than 5000 years and is gaining popularity in the West as an alternative approach to wellness. Starting with what we eat, Ayurveda teaches us about the right foods for our dosha type and how to correct an imbalance, as happens when we transition into summer, for example. Restoring balance to our constitution is Ayurvedic skincare tip number one.
2 – Check In On Your Liver
My second Ayurvedic skincare recommendation is to meet your liver and treat her like your best friend. Take her out for good, healthy dinners. Listen to her and respond with compassion and care.
The liver and the skin have an intimate and sometimes volatile relationship. The liver is one of the main pathways for ridding the body of toxins. When the liver is in distress, it signals the skin to react, a bit like a secondary channel of communication with you that something within you is not copacetic.
What causes the liver distress? Toxins, most obviously found in processed foods, alcohol, and cigarettes, but also hiding out in sneaky little places like certain vitamin supplements, some beauty products, and even mattresses. To encourage clear, problem-free skin and maintain a clean liver, indulge in a daily detox using these three Ayurvedic skincare tips:
- Drink a cup of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning about 30 minutes before you eat breakfast. This promotes detoxification by promoting the flow of bile for later food intake. Lemon is alkaline so it balances body’s pH levels, which can alleviate skin inflammation and breakouts.
- Cook with turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. These detoxifying spices help remove ama from the digestive tract and add bold flavor to food.
- Try yogasana for the liver. The right movements can assist proper functioning of the liver.
Difficult emotions, such as anger, frustration, and impatience also reside in the liver. If you’re particularly prone to volatile reactions, try meditation or other relaxation exercises to reduce liver stress and promote Ayurvedic skincare.
3 – Perform Daily Self-Massage
When it comes to physical health, release is as important as strength and flexibility. In the West, having regular massage is considered a luxurious indulgence. Ayurveda recommends massage to promote circulation and lymph drainage and encourage the release of toxins–and it has incredible benefits for the skin. This Ayurvedic skincare practice disperses your skin’s natural oil and removes dead cells, revealing smoother and younger-looking skin. Try garshana massage (dry skin brushing) with raw silk gloves or abhyanga massage, using copious amounts of coconut oil. Morning, before a shower, is the best time to perform either massage. Just 10 minutes of this Ayurvedic skincare practice will revitalize and condition your skin, enhance skin tone, reduce inflammation, and soften the epidermis. I indulge in garshana massage every morning to improve the circulation of lymphatic fluid. I’m rewarded with a little energizing skin buzz and glow.
4 – Take An Herbal Supplement
If you’re going to take an internal medicine for your skin choose an herbal supplement. Ayurvedic herbs are free of toxins, have minimal side effects, and benefit many body systems so you’ll improve more than just your skin. Taking the right herb can address the primary cause of skin issues, rather than manipulate naturally occurring functions within the body as many drugs do. Some of the best herbal supplements for Ayurvedic skincare include turmeric, tulsi, and triphala. Check out our blog on 8 Ayurvedic Herbs to learn how tulsi, among other herbs, can enhance your skin. Consult an Ayurvedic doctor to find out which one is most conducive to your skin’s health.
5 – Crack Open A Coconut
There are infinite uses for coconut in Ayurvedic skincare and nutrition. Coconut water is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antimicrobial properties that kill bacteria that contribute to skin issues such as certain types of acne. Many health experts say coconut water is a better rehydrator than H2O. Anything that hydrates the body is good for the skin and coconut water has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that is refreshing on a hot day.
Adding coconut milk to a bath is one of the most soothing Ayurvedic skincare practices. It calms and cools inflamed skin. It is a particularly good sunburn or heat rash remedy For a great complexion, just dip a cotton ball into coconut milk and swab your face once a day to remove impurities and nourish your skin. If you’re not vegan, cow or goat’s milk delivers similar benefits.
Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal and incredibly moisturizing for dry skin and conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema. It contains fatty acids that help reinforce the skin’s protective barrier, and it also contains a natural SPF. Try a coconut oil mask to remove impurities and make the skin more supple. Mix coconut oil with sugar or salt, and coffee grounds for an aromatic face and body exfoliant that also minimizes the appearance of cellulite. (If your skin is prone to excess oil or acne, try a chickpea flour mask instead).
Bonus Ayurvedic Skincare Tip
Sweat, sweat, sweat! Whether you’re a runner, a hot yoga enthusiast, or love the heart-pumping action of spinning, getting your sweat on is an excellent way to purge toxins from the skin and promote a clear, luminous complexion. Ayurvedic skincare supports anything that makes you sweat and doesn’t create a dosha imbalance. Even sex, in moderation, releases powerful endorphins that contribute to a beautiful post-orgasm glow better than you’ll find in any skin highlighter.
A Healthy Body = Beautiful Skin
The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the skin reflects all that’s happening deep within our dhatus (body tissues). Skin problems indicate that something is wrong inside our body. From blood circulation and lymph drainage to a build-up of ama and emotional distress, the skin shows us when we need to pay closer attention to our health and transform the way we care for ourselves. Just a few simple Ayurvedic skincare practices can reduce the signs of aging, replenish skin’s moisture, balance skin pH, and treat inflammatory skin conditions. You’ll boost your immune system and prevent the risk of many diseases too.
Whether something is good or bad for the body, our skin lets us know. Trust that naturally glowing skin reflects a healthy liver, properly functioning body systems, and a well-hydrated body. If you’re serious about taking your Ayurvedic skincare up a notch and want to embark on a traditional Ayurvedic cleanse, consider panchakarma. Click here to learn more about how it can help you achieve healthy skin and a balance of energy.
Linda Reynolds has studied and practiced Ayurveda and Yoga for more than 6 years. From a career in academia to a full-time freelance-writer and nomad, Linda has always enjoyed research and writing, particularly about topics that support increased self-awareness. Linda loves to sing, play guitar, do yoga, and take long walks in nature. Her greatest act of courage so far was selling everything she owned and leaving Canada to travel and discover a new way of life.