More of today’s modern beauty concepts and products are incorporating Ayurveda—a 5,000-year-old Indian medicinal system that combines yoga, diet, meditation and herbal remedies.
“The focus of modern beauty regimens has shifted away from chemical-based therapies to natural, herbal-based treatments and almost every such therapy can trace its roots to Ayurveda,” says Sushrut Badhe, Ayurveda expert and executive manager of KVM Research Laboratories.
As we seek holistic approaches to skin and hair care, mindfulness practices and ancient traditions are also making their way into our beauty regimens to clear not only our skin but also our minds. Some of these practices may take a little more time—but trust us, they’re worth it.
Know your skin—and body—type
In Ayurveda, knowing your dosha is a big deal. Your dosha, or mind-body constitution, should guide your decisions concerning foods, supplements and beauty products. The three doshas—vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth)—govern everything from metabolism to digestion to beauty.
“Because skin is the body’s largest organ, it expresses this energy,” says Ayurvedic practitioner Kristen Ma, author of Beauty: Pure + Simple (McArthur & Company, 2010). You’re probably a combo of two doshas, but your primary dosha is what is most important.
To make the most of your beauty regimen, make sure your body is in a good place to reap all the benefits of Ayurvedic products and ingredients by removing toxins and balancing digestion.
“To enhance the effect of Ayurvedic practices, it is essential that the digestive system is healthy and the intestines are clean,” Badhe says. He recommends drinking two to three glasses of lukewarm water first thing in the morning and eating plenty of seasonal, local fruits. Keep up the hydration throughout the day to prevent breakouts. Ma recommends the tried and true eight to ten glasses daily.
Indulge in a massage
Massaging with oils and powders “has a smoothing, cleansing and firming action on the body,” says Badhe. Applying aromatherapy-scented pastes can improve the complexion, while alleviating muscle pain.
Other benefits, according to Badhe: fighting body odor and controlling excessive perspiration. Not only does massage increase blood flow, which is linked to a better complexion, but a scalp massage can increase hair thickness, according to recent research.
Try oil pulling
Oil pulling is another calming Ayurvedic beauty practice gaining more popularity. It involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil in your mouth for anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes.
Its oral health prowess is backed by science, too. Benefits include reducing plaque and gingivitis, according to new research. The rising popularity of oil facial cleansers also involves a meditative process—using a slow, circular motion to remove impurities from the skin with an oil-based cleanser is a different take on simply washing your face. And facial masks, often used in Ayurveda to detoxify, moisturize or exfoliate the skin, should be kept on for at least a half hour—read a book, listen to soothing music or simply sink into your thoughts with a hot cup of tea.
Take your time
Ayurvedic beauty isn’t just about the products and ingredients you choose; it’s also about slowing down and being more mindful. Yoga, by alleviating stress, is a great way to maintain a clear complexion (stress and hormonal imbalances are two causes of adult breakouts).
Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.
Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.
Improves mood, memory, and focus.
Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.