Top Ten Ayurvedic Beauty Secrets
In this special newsletter, our ayurvedic expert from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians discusses the top ten ways to feel and look beautiful all year long.
Customize Your Skin and Beauty Care
Q: There are so many beauty products to choose from. How do you know which ones to use?
A: Have you ever tried a skin care product and found it just doesn't feel right for your skin? While you may have unctuous, smooth, unwrinkled skin, your friend may be plagued by dry, thin skin that wrinkles as it ages. Still another will have sensitive skin that breaks out or turns "rashy" when exposed to harsh skin care products. Or a fourth friend might have a combination of two of these (i.e., sensitive overall, dry in patches). These different skin types are not only recognized in Maharishi Ayurveda, but they form the basis for your customized skin care program. Once you figure out your skin type, it's easy to choose the right products to create beauty from the inside and the outside. The three basic skin types — Vata, Pitta and Kapha — are based on the three doshas. Look at the description below to see if you recognize your skin type.
Vata Skin Type
Vata dosha is light, dry, and cool. If your skin is thin, dry, fine-pored, delicate and cool to the touch, you probably have Vata skin. When out of balance, it may become excessively dry, rough or flaky, or be subject to dry eczema or skin fungus. Vata skin tends to wrinkle more as it ages, due to the dryness of Vata dosha, and can take on a grayish or dull quality if your digestion is not in balance. If you have Vata skin, you are particularly sensitive to mental stress, which tends to show up in a tired, stressed look.
Pitta Skin Type
Pitta skin is more fair or rosy in color, soft, warm to the touch, and of medium thickness. These qualities, along with blond or red-colored hair, correspond to the warm, fiery Pitta dosha. When out of balance, Pitta skin types can suffer from skin rashes, breakouts, acne, liver spots or rosacea. Pitta skin is usually more sensitive, and emotional stress can cause you to blush when embarrassed, or experience breakouts, canker sores or rashes when under stress.
Kapha Skin Type
Kapha skin is cool to the touch and is thicker, softer, oilier and smoother than the other two types. This is similar to the oily, smooth, strong qualities of Kapha dosha. If your skin is pale and your hair thick, wavy, oily and dark, you probably have Kapha skin. People with Kapha skin don't tend to form wrinkles until very late in life. When out of balance, Kapha skin can suffer from excessive oiliness, enlarged pores, blackheads, pimples, moist types of eczema and water retention.
Q: Once you know your skin type, how do you customize your skin care routine?
A: Knowing your skin type gives you clues as to what you should eat and how to plan your daily routine to balance and nourish your skin. Knowing your skin type also gives you the key to customizing your skin care routine. For instance, the Youthful Skin routine has four steps: cleansing with the Youthful Skin Herbal Soap or Youthful Skin Cleansing Gel; toning with the Youthful Skin Toner; replenishing with the Youthful Skin Oil; and nourishing with the Youthful Skin Cream. While all of these products are designed for all the skin types, how often you use them will vary, depending on your skin type. Here are some examples.
The Key to Vata Skin
If you have Vata skin, your skin doesn't retain as much moisture as other skin types. For that reason, adding moisture is your priority. Apply the Youthful Skin Cream generously on your face before you go to bed at night and in the morning after cleansing. The Youthful Skin Cleansing Gel is especially designed for dry Vata skin, because it restores moisture balance at the same time as it cleanses and removes makeup. It's also best to use Youthful Skin Oil each night before bed. Avoid skin care products with chemical preservatives or ingredients, because these will only dry and damage your skin.
Keep your skin moisturized from the inside by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day and eating plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Eat warm, nourishing foods and avoid drying foods, such as crackers. Be sure to keep a regular routine and regular eating habits. Get to bed early, and include a daily abhyanga, or oil massage, to moisturize your entire body. Use Organic Vata Churna and Organic Vata Tea to nourish and balance Vata skin.
The Key to Pitta Skin
If you have Pitta skin, your treatment program should focus on calming your sensitive skin. You'll want to stay away from excessive heat and too much direct sunlight. Tanning salons, steam facials and long hours in the sun can damage your skin. One of the best ways to calm your skin is by calming the tactile nerves. The Youthful Skin Cream contains Sensitive Plant and other natural essences of herbs that not only deeply moisturize but deeply nourish the tactile nerves as well. Because Pitta skin types have more oil in their skin, you probably want to apply the Youthful Skin Oil every other day instead of every day. Use cool-temperature water for cleansing and bathing, but not ice-cold, as that can freeze the pores in the skin.
Avoid hot, spicy foods and too much exercise in the sun. Organic Pitta Churna and Organic Pitta Tea will have a cooling, balancing effect. Make sure you fall asleep before the Pitta time of night, which starts at 10:00 p.m. Avoid synthetic chemicals, preservatives and harsh ingredients on your skin and also in your food. Eating organic foods of the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and drinking pure water will help calm your skin and stop breakouts.
The Key to Kapha Skin
Proper cleansing is the most important thing you can do for Kapha skin. Frequent deep cleansing should be the basis of your beauty regimen. To do this ayurvedically, first loosen the impurities by lubricating the skin. Pat your face with warm milk for five minutes before you go to bed. Then in the morning, use bentonite clay to exfoliate. Because you've loosened the impurities first, your skin won't be damaged when the impurities are released. Repeat this routine twice a week.
On a daily basis, cleanse with the Youthful Skin Herbal Soap and apply the Youthful Skin Toner. Use Youthful Skin Oil only every second day. Choose your moisturizer wisely to avoid oily build-up on your skin. Ayurvedic texts recommend herbs that detoxify as you moisturize, and these herbs are found in the Youthful Skin Cream. This formula prevents oiliness from building up on the surface.
You'll also want to avoid eating foods that are excessively oily and heavy. Eat more light, astringent and bitter foods, such as cooked vegetables prepared with Kapha-pacifying spices such as those found in Organic Kapha Churna, and sip Organic Kapha Tea. Olive oil in small quantities is a good cooking oil for Kapha types, as it is light and easy to digest. Make sure you exercise every day to keep your body's detoxification and digestion systems in good order.
Q: What if you have combination skin? For instance, what if your skin is generally dry, but sometimes you have oily patches?
A: That would probably be Vata-Kapha skin. If you have dry yet sensitive skin, it is probably Vata-Pitta; and if you have oily and sensitive skin, it is probably Kapha-Pitta. For combination skin, you'll want to look to seasonal recommendations. For instance, you'll probably find the dryness increasing in Vata season, when the weather is cold and dry. During that season, favor the recommendations assigned to Vata skin. In the cool, moist spring, when digestion is more sluggish, you'll probably find that your skin is more moist and that excessive oiliness becomes more of a problem. During that time of year, follow the beauty regimen for Kapha skin.
FEED YOUR SKIN
Q: It seems like eating skin-friendly foods is an important way to nourish your skin. Can you go into more detail on that?
A: Eating healthy foods is important for several reasons — especially to provide the building blocks for skin cell regeneration. If you eat foods that are old or dead — such as leftovers, frozen, canned or processed foods — these are of little nutritional value, and that will show up in your skin. Worse, these foods are difficult to digest, and end up creating impurities. If you eat them over a period of time, ama (digestive toxins) can build up, clogging the pores and the internal channels that carry moisture and nutrients to the deeper layers of the skin. Aging skin, wrinkles, and a dull, gray look is the result of ama in the physiology. Eating foods grown with chemicals and prepared with synthetic preservatives and additives can create the more reactive toxin known as amavisha, and can result in breakouts, rashes and other skin problems.
Q: So what should you eat?
A: First of all, you should follow the dietary recommendations for your body type, skin type and season. These foods will help nourish your particular skin type and bring balance to your whole mind-body system. Secondly, Maharishi Ayurveda recommends certain foods to nourish all skin types, and overall health as well. 1) Fruits for suppleness: Eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits, including a stewed apple or pear for breakfast, to enhance suppleness of the skin. 2) Grains for intelligence: Eat a variety of whole grains to nourish your skin with a variety of minerals and the full range of nature's intelligence. Recommended grains include quinoa, couscous, millet, barley, amaranth, rye and wheat. Combine them in different ways for variety, or eat a different grain at each meal. 3) Vegetables for fiber and vitamins: Eat a variety of vegetables cooked in skin-friendly spices. Leafy greens are especially good for the skin. They really do make your cheeks rosy, because they provide nutrients such as iron and calcium, which help to nourish the blood and skin tissue.
Spices for detoxifying:
Maharishi Ayurveda always recommends using spices in cooking, because they aid digestion, which helps overall health and is especially helpful in detoxifying and nourishing the skin. Turmeric is probably the best friend of the skin, because it purifies the deeper layers and also is a potent antioxidant. Cumin, fenugreek, black pepper and turmeric purify the blood and fat tissue. Black pepper and turmeric also cleanse the nutrient fluid and the sweat (the waste product of fat tissue).
Skin-Nourishing Spice Mixture
Proteins for nourishment:
Eat plenty of proteins that are easy to digest. These include pulses such as yellow split mung bean dhal and organic dairy products such as whole milk, panir (fresh cheese made from whole milk) and lassi (yogurt blended with water and a dash of cumin and fresh mint). These light proteins are suitable for all skin types, although people with Kapha skin will want to eat more astringent dhal than the sweet proteins such as panir. Nut butters such as almond butter are a delicious way to add protein to your diet.
GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP
Q: I guess we've all heard the saying that a woman needs her beauty sleep. Seriously, how are deep rest and beauty related?
A: Getting a good night's sleep is very important for maintaining youthful skin. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, try going to bed earlier, before 10:00 p.m., as you will find it easier to fall asleep during the Kapha time of night (6:00-10:00 p.m.). Avoid stimulating activities at night, such as watching TV or working on the computer. Eat your evening meal a good two hours before you go to bed, so your food can digest before you retire and you can sleep comfortably. Blissful Sleep is a Maharishi Ayurveda formula that is especially designed for Vata sleep disorders, characterized by difficulty in falling asleep.
If you fall asleep easily but find yourself tossing and turning, awakening often, or awakening between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. with so much energy that you can't fall back asleep again, these are signs of a Pitta-based sleep disorder. For this situation, avoid spicy foods such as chilies and sour foods such as vinegar. Be sure to eat enough at dinner — sometimes night awakening can be due to hunger. Go to sleep well before 10:00, as that is the junction point between the Kapha and Pitta times of night. If you fall asleep after 10:00, in the Pitta time, your sleep will take on the active quality of Pitta rather than the settled, deep sleep that results when you fall asleep in the Kapha time. Avoid exercising at night, and stay away from TV or movies that are violent or display negative emotions, as these can disturb Pitta dosha. Before bed, drink a half-cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of Organic Rose Petal Spread mixed in it. It's a delightful drink and the Organic Rose Petal Spread is an effective way to calm Pitta dosha. Deep Rest is especially formulated to balance Pitta-based sleep problems, and is designed to help you sleep through the night.
If you sleep long and soundly but still wake up feeling exhausted, this may be due to a Kapha-based sleep disorder. For this you will want to balance Kapha dosha by making sure you get enough exercise during the day, rise well before 6:00 a.m., and eat lighter, less oily foods. Eat a light dinner several hours before going to bed, in order to give your body time to digest. Deep Rest is designed for exactly this sleep problem, and if used over time, can help you feel more rested and alert when you awaken. Of course, if you continue to feel exhausted, it's a good idea to consult an ayurvedic expert to find out if there is a deeper imbalance that needs to be corrected.
ZAP STRESS LINES
Q: In today's stressful world, we need something more than a good night's rest — we need a way to keep everyday stress and strain from showing up on our faces.
A: What you say is true. If a person is under continuous mental or emotional stress, it shows up on the face as a drawn, dull look. And because stress and lack of sleep go together — one can cause the other — it's important to address both of them. For removing mental and emotional stress — and for building resilience to stress — the most effective thing you can do is the Transcendental Meditation® technique. It is the most powerful way to remove emotional, mental and physical stress — more than 600 research studies have proven its effectiveness. One woman reported that after spending time on an extended Transcendental Meditation course, her friends thought she'd gotten a face lift! The daily practice of Transcendental Meditation can be your best beauty secret.
Q: Are there other ayurvedic ways to reduce the effects of stress on the skin?
A: The Worry Free herbal tablets and Tea are excellent ways to reduce mental stress, which often shows up as a frown on the forehead and premature wrinkles. Research done at the University of California at San Diego on the Worry Free herbal formula shows that it actually lowers cortisol levels, which is a hormone related to stress. But along with this natural tranquilizing effect, it also makes the mind feel more alert. This is a remarkable quality — to reduce stress but also increase alertness — and is especially significant because it is completely natural and has no negative side effects.
CULTIVATE BEAUTY FROM WITHIN
Q: The ayurvedic approach to beauty goes beyond cosmetics and external beauty to true beauty from within. Can you talk a little about this difference in approach?
A: Basically, Maharishi Ayurveda talks about three types of beauty: inner beauty; outer beauty; and lasting beauty, the kind that doesn't fade with age. Everything we've talked about so far helps create inner beauty, and that is reflected in the skin that you show the world. Besides eating the right foods, getting enough rest and meditating regularly, one other way to boost your skin's beauty from the inside and to look more youthful is to take Youthful Skin Herbal Tablets or Radiant Skin tablets. Radiant Skin nourishes the internal functions responsible for building new skin cells, including liver function, pure blood, the temperature and healthy glow of the skin, moisture balance for supple skin, and efficient digestion and nutrition. Radiant Skin creates healthier building blocks to make new skin cells; removes impurities in the blood that can build up in the skin; enhances the natural ability of the sweat glands to eliminate toxins; and nourishes all the layers of the skin. It restores youthful glow. Radiant Skin tablets are especially helpful for Pitta and Kapha skin types.
Q: And what about the Youthful Skin Tablets?
A: The Youthful Skin formula helps prevent the ravages of stress, fatigue and aging from taking their toll on the skin. It promotes firm, unwrinkled skin at any age. Famous herbs such as Sensitive Plant are especially helpful in promoting mental calm and contented emotions, because it nourishes the nerves. Other herbs balance skin temperature, moisture and elasticity. This traditional ayurvedic combination nourishes the seventh and deepest layer of the skin, the mamsadhara layer, which supplies the other layers with vital nutrients, and is the interface between the blood and the skin. The Youthful Skin Tablets are formulated for all skin types, but are especially useful for Vata skin.
Q: Are there any other herbal food supplements that you recommend for the skin?
A: To nourish your skin and your entire mind-body system, take Maharishi Amrit Kalash regularly. The Rejuvenation for Ladies or Rejuvenation for Men also strengthen and balance the entire system from cells to organs. Premium Amla Berry supports skin health and appearance.
CLEANSE GENTLY AND NATURALLY
Q: It seems like beauty treatments need to address the whole body, not just your face.
A: Yes, it is very important to nourish, moisturize and cleanse the entire body with only the best herbal ingredients, because your skin is connected to all the aspects of health — mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and sensory. It is the largest organ in the body. It plays an important role in purifying toxins, is connected to all the nerve endings in the body and is a seat of Vata dosha.
Q: What do you recommend for cleansing the body?
A: It's very important not to disturb the natural intelligence of the skin with harsh chemical cleansers. Our Youthful Skin Herbal Soap is made with grapefruit, olive, orange and almond oils blended with ayurvedic herbal extracts to moisturize, revitalize and maintain a youthful glow. You can also choose a cleansing bar made in a pure vegetable glycerine base and especially formulated for your skin type. Choose a bar for dry skin (Lemongrass) or oily skin (Citronella).
DO A DAILY AYURVEDIC MASSAGE
Q: What about massage for keeping your skin healthy and beautiful?
A: Daily ayurvedic massage (abhyanga) is a traditional way to remove stress and relax the body. If you start your day with an oil massage, you'll increase luster and skin tone appreciably. Many people find that a morning oil massage is so invigorating that they no longer need coffee to feel awake in the morning, which is an added plus for your health and your skin, since caffeine taxes the liver and is aging to the skin. Using warm, organic, cold-pressed Organic Sesame Oil is recommended for most skin types, because it lubricates the skin, cleanses the pores, and penetrates the lipid barrier, replacing tired, toxin-clogged lipid cells with fresh lipid cells.
Better yet, use oils that have been infused with nourishing and balancing ayurvedic herbs to get the most value from your morning massage. Our Youthful Skin Massage Oils for Men and Women are suitable for any skin type. These are our premier massage oils for reducing stress and aging effects on the skin, and the unique combination of herbs helps them to absorb quickly so they reach the deepest layers of the skin to nourish from there.
Persons with Vata skin can also use Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil. For Pitta skin, use Soothing Herbal Massage Oil, and for Kapha skin use Stimulating Herbal Massage Oil. Follow your morning abhyanga with a warm bath to allow the impurities that have been dislodged to flow into the digestive tract, from where they can be easily eliminated. Massage also helps sleep, and if you are having trouble falling asleep, try massaging Youthful Skin Massage Oil on your lower arms, legs, hands and feet before going to bed.
MOISTURIZE THIRSTY BODY SKIN
Q: I understand that you've developed a new body moisturizer, the Youthful Skin Oil.
A: Yes. While a full-body daily massage with herbal massage oils is the ideal beauty and health treatment, sometimes people don't have time to massage. Or they feel it is too messy or oily for them. The Skin Oil formula is a convenient way to provide moisturizing support and nourishment for the deeper layers of the skin on its own, or, better yet, as an additional supplement to a full-body abhyanga with an ayurvedic massage oil.
When you apply the Skin Oil formula after your morning bath or before bed, massage it into your body using the same types of strokes as for the abhyanga: back and forth over the long bones and circular motions over the joints.
Q: I've heard that many people feel extremely calmed and invigorated after applying this moisturizer. What are the ayurvedic herbs it contains?
A: It contains Gotu Kola and Sensitive Plant to pacify Vyana Vata, improve circulation and maintain proper tactile sensitivity. These herbs also nurture the seven layers of the skin and support the sweat glands. Silk Cotton Tree (Bombax), Indian Madder and Woodfordia help enhance the skin's resistance to photosensitivity. Other herbs help the skin resist environmental irritants, and still others provide deep nourishment to the skin and retard the effects of free radicals and aging. The result is truly silky, youthful skin that actually glows with health.
One woman told me this experience: "I was feeling overwhelmed with the holidays and an unexpected death in the family. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I'd aged ten years in the last few days. So I decided to give myself a treat. I locked the bathroom door and lit a Blissful Heart Aroma Oil. Just inhaling the soothing scents of Sandalwood, Peppermint, Lemon and Thyme made me feel emotionally lighter. Then I warmed up some Youthful Skin Massage Oil and gave myself a long, luxurious massage. I felt the oil soak deep into my body and it seemed like it was not only nourishing my skin but the delicate nerves as well. By then I'd drawn a bathtub full of warm water and added some bath salts. I could literally feel the tension leaving my body. After bathing I applied Youthful Skin Oil, which made my skin feel like the comfort of the massage was continuing on and on. By inhaling all the delightful scents of these products and feeling their herbal magic working, the strain of the past weeks lifted, and I felt completely relaxed and even happy again. When my husband saw me he said, 'Wow! You look terrific!'"
GIVE YOUR HAIR THE ROYAL TREATMENT
Q: What can a person do to make his or her hair shiny and thick at any age?
A: Basically, whatever you do for your skin in terms of diet and routine is going to benefit your hair. To take care of your hair, you must also take care of your bones, because hair and nails are the by-products of the transformation from bone to bone marrow tissue. If your bone tissue is healthy and sufficient in quantity and quality, then your hair's quality and quantity will reflect that. To nourish your bones, hair, and nails, be sure to eat lots of calcium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, milk products and sesame seeds. Calcium Support contains excellent sources of vegetarian calcium, such as Pearl and Conch Shell. More importantly, it contains herbs to help your body to absorb calcium from food and other supplements.
Q: What about cleansing and conditioning your hair?
A: How often you cleanse depends on your hair type (which usually corresponds to your skin type). People with Vata skin and hair will need to wash their hair less often, because they will have drier hair and won't need to cleanse natural oils as much. Pitta hair needs a moderate amount of cleansing, and Kapha hair, because it is the most oily, needs the most, usually every day. Outer contaminants, such as air pollutants, cigarette smoke and dust also collect on the hair, so if you are exposed to them you will need to wash your hair more often.
There are a number of ayurvedic herbs that nourish your scalp as they cleanse. One of the unique and powerful ayurvedic methods for caring for the hair is a warm oil massage of the scalp. The massage motion helps increase circulation, cleanse the pores and purify dead skin cells — all of which promotes healthier hair growth. The oil is lubricating, and the herbs in the oil, such as Shankapushpi and Gotu Kola have keshya value — the ability to nurture the hair externally and internally.
It's easiest to use the same massage oil that you use for your skin: for Vata hair, use Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil or almond or sesame oil; for Pitta hair use Soothing Herbal Massage Oil or coconut oil; and for Kapha hair use Stimulating Herbal Massage Oil or olive or sesame oil. If you can leave the oil in for at least an hour or two before washing it out, that will have a greater value.
Q: What if you have problem hair, such as premature graying or dry, flaky scalp?
A: Problems with dull hair, hair loss or premature graying start in the liver. When the liver is strong, it filters out toxins. But if it is weak or overtaxed, the impurities can accumulate in the scalp and hair follicles, causing problem hair. Healthy Hair & Nails is an herbal supplement that directly addresses these problems. It nourishes liver metabolism and the ayurvedic sub-doshas responsible for natural hair color and brilliant luster.
KEEP A BEAUTY CALENDAR
Q: How can you keep track of all these recommendations?
A: One thing you can do is keep a beauty calendar. On the calendar you can write down your customized daily routine. For instance, you can write down your normal routine for cleansing, toning, nourishing and moisturizing your skin. You can also write down special beauty routines, such as using bentonite clay once or twice a week for deep exfoliation. You can also write down reminders to yourself to eat the right foods, to go to bed early, to take time to massage.
Q: What about seasonal routines?
A: That's a good question. A beauty calendar can also help you keep track of the ayurvedic seasons, which is especially helpful if you have combination skin, because your entire routine will change more dramatically with the seasons.
In the dry and windy winter (Vata Season, November-February), for instance, you'll want to nourish your skin more with more moisture. During that time you'll want to be especially careful to do your daily massage, and to use Youthful Skin Cream morning and evening. During the cool, wet spring (Kapha Season, March-June), your body is naturally detoxifying, and you'll want to pay more attention to cleansing. And in summer (Pitta Season, July-October), when your body has more heat, you'll want to calm your skin and protect it from the sun. Both your health and your beauty will benefit by adjusting your diet and daily routine to take the seasons into account.
Q: It seems like making yourself feel more beautiful is a good way to make yourself feel good, period.
A: Yes! That is the beauty of Maharishi Ayurveda. Its recommendations are so holistic, so natural and supportive to all parts of the mind, body and spirit, that when you do things to create more beauty, you're actually improving your health and well-being too.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.