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Ayurvedic Skincare: an Introduction

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Many tenets of holistic and integrative skincare and nutrition are based on ancient Eastern healing traditions such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda (an ancient healing system from India). Both practices have been helping people live healthier, more balanced lives while preventing illness for thousands of years. By eating and living healthfully every day, and focusing on being in tune with one’s individual needs, it’s possible to correct small imbalances before they can become something larger, more serious, and more difficult to treat. This idea not only applies to the internal health of our physical bodies and the health of our emotional and spiritual bodies, but also to the health of our exterior physical body: the skin.

You may already be familiar with the idea that the skin is a window into a person’s overall health. People who nourish themselves with foods rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants; make healthy lifestyle choices; and keep their levels of stress in check are less likely to experience acute or chronic illnesses and generally have clear, glowing, youthful skin. Whereas, people who have skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, puffiness, discolorations, or signs of premature aging likely have something going on internally as well.

What is Ayurvedic skincare?

In Ayurveda, as with TCM, food is considered to be medicine. However, unlike many popular diets and nutritional theories out there today, Ayurveda is not a “one size fits all” way of eating. In her book, Beauty Pure and Simple, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and Licensed Aesthetician, Kristen Ma states that “each of us is a unique person with unique needs, perspective, personality, rate of digestion, speed of metabolism, and so on. Therefore, it is logical that each of us must customize our treatments, diets, and habits to maintain health, to feel beautiful, and to live with vitality.”

In Ayurvedic skincare, similar to TCM, different areas of the face correspond to different organs and systems of the body. Therefore, breakouts, inflammation, hyperpigmentation, etc. in these various areas of the face point to blockages in the corresponding internal organs of the body. If we then work to release those blockages via nutrition and detoxification, the skin problems will resolve as a result.

In Ayurveda, there are three doshas (personalities/constitutions): Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. Though each of us possesses all three doshas, one’s (or sometimes two’s) influence is often more dominant than the others. It is important to be able to recognize this so we can make choices to maintain balance. Like the theories of polarity and yin/yang, when one dosha is too dominant, it needs characteristics of the others to bring it back into balance. Certain foods and activities are better for certain doshas over others, while conversely, if we eat foods or partake in activities that are not good for our particular constitutions they can cause disharmony.

So for optimal skin health and overall wellbeing, we just need to figure out what our dominant dosha is and then just eat foods, use ingredients, engage in activities that are best for that dosha. You can even take a simple quiz online, like the one offered by John Douillard’s LifeSpa, to figure out which is your dominant dosha, and how prominent the other two are in your individual constitution.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not so fast. Remember, Ayurveda is not just a quick solution or 101 class…as Melanie Sachs said in her Herbal Skincare Summit lecture (which is still available for purchase HERE), it is “the oldest, most complete body of information available to us that helps everybody realize their full potential, natural beauty, and personal wellness.” It can be studied over a lifetime…and beyond.

Change is good…

No one person is the same, and no one person stays the same over a month, a year, or a lifetime. We change as we respond to the Earth’s seasonal changes, and we change as we respond to hormonal changes that occur as we reach the different “seasons” of our lives. What we eat when we are children will probably not adequately nourish us when we are elderly, just as the skincare products we use in the winter will probably not be appropriate for use in the summer.

Each part of the day is attributed to a certain dosha, as is each season of the year, as is each stage of life. We are in a constant state of flux, so to maintain balance we need to learn how to understand how our bodies, emotional states, and nutritional needs change with each change of dosha/season.

The importance of natural skincare in an Ayurvedic lifestyle

While it is imperative that we put clean food and water into our bodies, it is equally necessary to put safe, clean, and natural ingredients on our skin. Certain ingredients contain synthetic toxicants that can cause irritation, and inflammation externally, and toxicity which can lead to disease when the ingredients are absorbed into the body through the skin or mucosal tissue.

Ayurveda offers many topical remedies and lifestyle practices that can easily be incorporated into your treatment room, coaching practice, or home regimen.

Click HERE to read more about Ayurvedic skincare practices in the spa.

As with anything else complex, it’s perfectly fine to start simply, and build from there.

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!We’d love to hear from you!

Do you incorporate Ayurvedic skincare practices into your home or business? Please tell us your favorite in the comments below!

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