Part two: Beauty from the inside
Surely we have all heard someone say to us how important inner beauty is, and that it can shine through to visibly affect us externally.
In Ayurveda this is true in more ways than one. And the wonderful thing about Ayurvedic beauty care is that it is useful for men and women alike. We all want to look our best. We also want to be our best.
The Ayurvedic system of healthcare includes meditative practices, exercises, lifestyle regimens, dietary recommendations, herbal medicines, and cleansing and rejuvenative therapies. In addition, there are plenty of recipes for all kinds of yummy potions to apply to the skin and hair. In each of these aspects of Ayurveda, there are variations specific to each of the three subtle energies that comprise every one of us: the doshas (see above).
The goals for each of us is to attain balance and to optimize our health to prevent imbalances that lead to disease. It is important to adopt a lifestyle that suits your prakruti, or innate dosha. Engage in meditation, exercise, pranayama, yoga, and a diet that helps to correct your vikruti, or the dosha that is out of balance with your nature.
But enough about inner beauty. You want to know about the yummy potions, I am sure!
Ayurvedic beauty care
Ayurveda uses massage quite a bit for body and beauty care. It improves circulation, drains lymphatic congestion, moves toxins out of the body, reduces the effects of stress, and improves muscle tone for a pleasing appearance.
Vata-specific oils include avocado or sesame, and vatas love lots of oil for their drier skin. Pittas benefit from a moderate amount of sunflower, safflower, or coconut oil, and their skin may be quite sensitive. Kaphas love oil, but really only need a small amount of almond or olive oil; mustard oil is especially good and stimulating.
There are many brands of dosha-specific body oils available on the market if you do not wish to make your own. They may be scented with essential oils or steeped with herbs specific to your individual dosha. After a massage, it is beneficial to rub fresh chickpea powder all over to absorb the excess oil, then rinse off in a shower with no soap.
Massage is also used on the face and scalp for relaxation and for reducing tension and headaches, toning the skin, and increasing circulation.
A healthy glow
For the face, herbal steams, mild and nonabrasive scrubs, and clay-based masks and facial packs are all used to clean the skin and detoxify the pores. These can be made at home or purchased commercially. Toners are important after cleansing and before moisturizing to rebalance the skin and prepare it to receive moisturizer, if needed. A toner should never have alcohol in it, but might be based in witch hazel, rose water, or even tea.
Ayurvedic moisturizers contain oils specific for the dosha of the skin, even for already oily skin. To make any of these products at home, read Melanie Sachs’s book Ayurvedic Beauty Care, an excellent guide on this subject. Many products are now produced commercially, but should still be free of preservatives and must be kept more carefully than conventional cosmetics because they won’t have as long a shelf-life.
Makeup can be used to augment beauty, to mark a special occasion, to make us feel more confident, and to express our artistry or individuality. Ideally, though, it is not used to cover up and hide skin that is less than healthy because we are not caring for ourselves properly. Skin is a tattletale: Eventually it tells the story of our inner environment. Even if you cover your skin with makeup, pay attention to what it is telling you and address those causes to prevent the development of deeper problems later on.
Ayurveda offers us the tools and recommendations to optimize our mental health, harmonize our minds and hearts, and purify and properly nourish our bodies internally, not to mention the many treatments applied to the skin and hair to polish it all off.
By: Amber Lynn Vitse
“ Introduction to Ayurveda ”
©Copyright 2012, By Amber Lynn Vitse - Remedies For Life Magazine, September 4, 2012