“Skin is our first line of protection from the outside, and the reflection of everything going on inside of us.” Pramtima Raichur
Your skin is the largest organ of the body and requires routine care to look and feel its best. Being exposed to the external environment on a regular basis, your skin faces many challenges including weather, pollution, chemicals in toiletries, food and water, stress, poor nutrition, excessive drinking or smoking, and changes in body chemistry. The good news about skin care is that many of the factors that damage skin can be managed by practicing mindfulness throughout the day and establishing healthy routines for your constitution. Activities such as eating wholesome organic foods; using chemical-free products; incorporating yoga, pranayama, and meditation into your daily routine to reduce stress; wearing hats and sunscreen when playing outdoors; and practicing moderation when/if you consume drugs or alcohol will make your skin healthier and more beautiful.
In Ayurveda, we suggest a few extra steps to promote healthy glowing skin with practices like dry body brushing, abhyanga (Ayurvedic medicated oil massage), saunas, sweating, clay masks (mixed with honey are great to avoid drying out skin), and Epsom salt baths.
During the fall and winter seasons (or if you live in the desert), I’m a big fan of abhyanga (several times a week to nourish your skin). Abhyanga massages are said to be one of Ayurveda’s most effective means to slowing down the skin’s aging process. Here are a few other reasons to treat yourself to an oil massage at home or with a practitioner near you:
- Increase flow of prana
- Lubricates joints
- Produces softness, strength, and color to the body
- Decreases the effects of aging
- Increases longevity
- Benefits sleep patterns
- Imparts tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
- Stimulates the internal organs of the body, including circulation
- Pacifies Vata and Pitta, and harmonizes Kapha
Dosha Specific Base Oils
Vata : Heavy and warming oils, such as sesame or almond
Pitta: Cooling and calming oils, such as sunflower or coconut
Kapha: Light, heating and stimulating oils, such as safflower or mustard
Note – anyone with excess Kapha dosha imbalance should avoid oil massage and instead practice dry brushing with a loofah or raw silk gloves (garshana).
Dosha Specific Essential Oils
During the winter and spring season when you might enjoy baths more frequently, consider using high quality essential oils to take your bathing experience to the next level!
- Warming oils: Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon
- Heaving/grounding: Vetiver, Jatamansi, Patchouli, Sandalwood
- Cooling: Peppermint, Rose, Honeysuckle, German Chamomile
- Warming oils: Cinnamon, Tulsi, Basil, Sage
If you’d like to learn more about Ayurvedic Skin Remedies, I highly recommend these books:
Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur
Ayurvedic Beauty Care by Melanie Sachs