There are endless skin products out there that claim to shrink pores, eliminate redness, and smooth the complexion—so many, that choosing the right elixir or serum can be a total headache.
Unless, that is, you've got a perfect skincare plan, totally customized to you. That's where Ayurvedic medicine comes in.
Ayurveda, "the science of life," is one of the oldest forms of healing and medicine, and has been around for more than 5,000 years. But this ancient healing practice could be the key to finally getting perfect skin.
A major component of Ayurveda is treating an individual based on their dosha. A dosha is the energetic physiology that each person relates to, and the doshas themselves are related to the elements—earth, wind, fire, water, and ether.
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. All of these exist within us, but one is probably stronger than the others, and that's what you're trying to keep in balance with food and exercise. The goal of Ayurveda is to balance all of these energies in your body through natural remedies, and that includes customizing a beauty routine to compliment your body's dosha.
An Ayurvedic healer can diagnose your dosha, or you can take a simple self test to tell you the elements most dominant within your body.
For those with Vata energy, the corresponding element is air. Air suits Vatas perfectly because their lighthearted, energetic, and flighty nature keeps them breezing through life. Sometimes Vata moves so fast that they almost feel unstoppable—their energy is boundless at times, but then they crash easily once tired. Vata types are usually slender and have a willowy build, with thinner hair and drier skin. They also tend to run cold, and always have cold hands.
When Vata energy is out of balance, their creative energy will feel grounded and anxious, and issues like extremely dry skin, eczema, and premature aging can occur. These are all signs that Vatas need to slow down and breathe.
Vata has dry skin that wrinkles easily, so the key is to moisturize and create as much warmth as possible. Use gentle cleansers to clean skin, and use a cream immediately afterwards to seal in moisture. Consider different warming oils in your skincare routine to help combat dryness: coconut, olive oil, and almond oil mixed with a little shea butter are perfect for this dosha. Vatas also tend to have dark under eye circles, so use an emollient lotion that can soften sensitive under-eye skin while still treating skin tone.
Pitta types are associated with fire, and usually have strong personalities, intense emotions, and incredible leadership qualities. When in balance, Pittas are warm, friendly, intelligent, and quick, but when they're out of balance they can feel easily irritable, fatigued, and inflamed. Mimicking their fire energy, Pitta can have a temper that strikes quickly, especially if they haven't eaten or are stressed.
Pittas usually have a medium build with good muscle tone, are somewhat athletic, and have soft, reddish skin that flushes easily. Because of this, Pittas have a tendency to acne and rashes, especially when they're out of whack. For Pitta, the key to mastering oily and problematic skin is to use cooling products to calm the body down. Added chemicals are pretty much the worst thing a Pitta can apply to their skin, so stick to the natural stuff to get a glowing complexion.
Pitta, your goal is to balance skin with hydration and cooling, so look for products with ingredients like coconut, lavender, rose, and tea tree oil. Sandalwood and thyme are also great for your skin, but be careful to use the actual oil, not just something with added fragrance as that will cause breakouts in sensitive Pitta's skin. A cooling scrub and even a face mask are good additions to your beauty routine to help reduce oil and sebum production.
Kapha is the calm, cool, collected dosha in Ayurveda. Water is their element, and their easy-going personality is reflective of that. When Kaphas are in balance, they are tolerant, forgiving, relaxed, understanding, and loving; but when out of balance, they can become lazy, gain weight easily, and become depressed.
Kapha skin has few wrinkles and is naturally well hydrated without being oily, Kaphas often have gorgeously thick, wavy hair. Even though they're basically genetically blessed, Kapha complexions can still become pale and dull, pores can get clogged easily, and they might have a hard time getting rid of old scars.
For Kapha, super clean skin is mandatory—wash your face every night and use a toner to make sure you remove every last inch of dirt or makeup! Even though you might think that you don't need a moisturizer because your skin is naturally balanced, if you skip this crucial step your body will respond by creating more oil. Counteract this effect by using a light moisturizer or a lighter oil (rosehip oil is good option) on your skin.
To clear old scars and smooth any lines, use an invigorating serum that contains vitamin C. Not only will this dosha benefit from energetic vitamin C, but it can also naturally help skin brighten and heal.
If your current beauty routine just isn't cutting it, consider exploring Ayurveda and find your doshas' natural balance.
Illustration by Karley Koenig