The Story Behind the Next Generation of Skin Care — Youthful Skin® Ayurvedic Skin Care Formulas
We feature an in-depth interview with the formulator of the Youthful Skin line of ayurvedic skin care from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians.
Q: Can you begin by explaining to us the difference between ancient ayurvedic beauty care and modern American beauty care?
A: In a nutshell, ayurvedic beauty care is holistic and all-natural.. The skin is not an isolated part of the body. The skin is widely connected -- intellectually, physically, sensually and spiritually. It is the largest organ and it performs a lot of functions. So, when we are talking about skin care, we have to take care of all these aspects. It should not be an isolated or partial approach. It should be a holistic approach, and that is what ayurvedic beauty care is doing.
Q: That is beautiful. Holistic, referring to body, mind and spirit. Could you describe for our audience the three traditional pillars of Ayurvedic beauty?
A: These three pillars are like building blocks. The whole of beauty care is based on these three pillars. The first pillar is Roopam, which you can describe in two words -- outer beauty. The outer beauty has different levels, but we're referring to that outer beauty which we see in day-to-day life. The outer skin, glow, luster. This is the first pillar. The second pillar is the inner beauty, Gunam. If inner beauty is there, the personality from inside will be so strong, so charismatic, so attractive. No matter what kind of face they have, what kind of skin they have: the glow, the luster, the radiance, the aura will come from inside. This is the second pillar and the most important pillar. I know you are a psychiatrist and you appreciate all these values -- getting rid of stress and managing stressful situations in day-to-day life is very important.
Q: Especially important in America. It is good to hear you talk about inner beauty, because in this country, we have been preoccupied almost to a fault with outer beauty. We have people now who suffer from anorexia nervosa, which used to be a rare condition where young girls starve themselves trying to look beautifully thin. We have conditions where people walk around quite literally with the fear of being ugly. It has a fancy name -- dysmorphaphobia -- literally, the fear of appearing ugly. And it is becoming epidemic. The balance has been lost, in terms of really developing those qualities of inner beauty.
A: And they support the third pillar, which is Vayastyag or lasting beauty. Because, whenever we talk about beauty, age comes into the picture. Vayastyag offers a complete description of lasting beauty, how to look younger than your chronological age, how to reverse aging, how to retard aging. Then again, there is psychological aging, biological aging and social aging. The Charaka Samhita, the best, the most authentic book on ayurveda, says lots of things about social aging -- your friends should be younger at heart, younger in mind than your chronological age. Nobody should be always talking about how you look older you know, how you have fine lines and wrinkles and things like that.
Q: This knowledge is so important for the American public, and women in particular. The old meaning of beauty comes, in the Western tradition, from "beatitude," which means to feel blessed, to be blissful. We have completely, in the West, gotten caught up with simply the surface level, the first pillar that you described. We really need to have a new definition of beauty. What's the ayurvedic definition of a beautiful woman?
A: Very nice. We have a definition from the texts for beautification. It includes the three pillars, "Roopam, gunam, vayastyag, iti subhanga karanam." In the word "subhanga karanam," "subha" means auspicious, "anga" means the body's parts or molecules and "karanam" is transformation. So, ayurvedic beauty care is transforming the whole body to be auspicious, which goes beyond beautiful. The transformation depends on the three pillars. First is outer beauty, second is inner beauty and third is lasting beauty.
Q: The word "natural" is really thrown around a great deal in the American marketplace. Many things are called natural that involve very harsh chemicals and that sometimes are really quite synthetic. When you use the word natural, and when you refer to the products that you have put together for the Youthful Skin line as being all-natural, what does that mean in ayurvedic terms?
A: All-natural relates to protecting nature's own intelligence in a product. Generally here in the West, even in India nowadays, people have started making the extracts of ayurvedic herbs in hexane and benzene and things like that. Basically, what they are doing is putting some very good herbs with a lot of nature's intelligence into harsh chemicals. But these chemicals destroy the inner intelligence of the herbs. So, that's why we do all-natural processing.
The foremost beauty secret is maintaining the inner natural intelligence of the herbs which depends on how you combine and process them. You cannot read about that in books. You have to learn that from your ancestors who can tell you why, and how and what is important. Take for example Gotu Kola, the main herb in the Youthful Skin Cream. Gotu Kola has many kinds of effects on the body, but to derive that delicate intelligence you can't expose Gotu Kola to high temperatures or chemicals.
Q: The Maharishi Ayurveda Youthful Skin products are being called the next generation of skin care. We would love to know more about it.
A: In a nutshell, twenty years ago the description of cosmetics was in terms of non-active substances, which had nothing to do with the physiology of the skin. Today modern cosmetology is talking about cosmeceuticals, the active ingredients. They are talking about different kinds of collagen enhancers and antioxidants and things like that. These things are already in the market. But now people are beginning to learn about ayurveda, and how it can help them holistically, without any long-term side effects.
We do not use any harsh chemicals. We don't use any preservatives. And the skin cream contains a high percentage of botanicals. The intelligence in the herbs does much more for the skin than alpha hydroxies or beta hydroxies. That's why we call Youthful Skin "the next generation" of skin care.
Q: It's fascinating. All people really have to do is try the Maharishi Ayurveda Youthful Skin products for a few days and it is so noticeable, the feeling.
A: You know now, the first thing you notice, even before you apply it to your skin, you experience the aroma. That first friendly nature-to-nature interaction is divine, you know that kind of feeling.
Q: Having a 9.5 percent herbal extract in the Youthful Skin formulas is just incredible. Usually, we are talking about one tenth of one percent or at the most a few percent. 9.5 percent is just remarkable.
A: Cosmetologists were saying, "Have you ever seen something with more than one percent?" Nobody has that. But I said, "We want to have that percentage". And that was their problem, nobody was doing it, why do we want to do it? I told them, because "I want to give the maximum effect of the herbs." That was my proposal.
Q: You mentioned self-preservation. With such a high percentage of herbs, how do you preserve the formula without chemicals? And what kind of base do you use for the cream?
A: Chemical preservatives kill the natural intelligence of the herbs. So, we had to protect that intelligence which supports every other ingredient in a synergistic way. And it's not just the preservatives that are harmful. Processing the herbs at high temperatures also destroys some of the innate intelligence of the herbs. We use whole herb extracts which always have more powerful intelligence for self-preservation.
It also depends on how you process the herbs and the exact ratios for combining them. Protecting the biological intelligence of the plants was the main thing that created a good self-preservation system. The all-natural base is part of that protection. There are no chemicals in the base that could kill the intelligence of the herbs. And we added grapefruit extract which helps balance the pH level naturally.
Q: And what Maharishi Ayurveda Youthful Skin products are delivering to people is a complete regimen, that not only is all-natural, but is far superior to anything that's been in the marketplace. There has been an excellent independent laboratory analysis on the value of Youthful Skin Cream. Can you tell us about it?
A: Yes, when we were finished all of our research and product development, somebody told us about the Dermac Lab being a renowned lab for research. And I talked with that doctor. And he did the research and just after one month, he sent me a fax that said, "It is doing great, but I don't know how you did it!"
Q: It's amazing what they do there. They measure the number of wrinkles in the skin, the depth of the wrinkles, they measure the texture of the skin, all kinds of very precise scientific analysis of the skin, a pre-test, and then every step along the way, with the person using a new skin care product. The research is quite remarkable.
A: The research shows a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles an average of 33 percent in the first month, increasing to an average of 40 percent just after three months. And the hydration went from 23 percent to more than 70 percent in the same three months. The clarity and firmness improved an average of 24 percent. Basically, the last time we talked, the researcher said, "This is the first time I've ever seen this kind of product with these kind of results." So, he was quite amazed.
Q: What are some of the herbs that are in the Youthful Skin Cream, and some of the other products in this line?
A: The main herb, which is from my family tradition, is Gotu Kola. Gotu Kola is very famous in Western countries also. Gotu Kola has lots of anti-aging research that you might know about. It's a memory-enhancer, and for anti-aging. When I started to tour in the Western world, I kept my eye on research so I could appreciate those herbs from the modern angle. So, Gotu Kola has ... the ayurvedic term is vayasthapani. "Vaya" means age and "sthapani" means retarding the aging process, stability in aging.
You can also see it in the scientific research, after they isolate the ingredients, they say Gotu Kola has some ingredients that enhance collagen synthesis. This is just one aspect of Gotu Kola. And what we are doing is using the whole extract. But Gotu Kola alone is not advisable in a skin cream. Someone may think "OK, Gotu Kola is very nice as a collagen enhancer. Why not just mix Gotu Kola extract in the cream?" Because Gotu Kola alone is too powerful, too active on the skin, and that was the main challenge for us also. So, there is a word in ayurveda. samyoga. It refers to herb combination. How to combine herbs with other herbs based on some fundamental principles.
Q: That's the great knowledge base that you have gotten generation after generation about what herbal combinations work best in these Youthful Skin formulas. Is there not a food supplement that people can take right along with the products for facial care? How does the food supplement work in terms of promoting more youthful skin?
A: We can do a lot of things from outside, but you have to have support from inside also, like the Youthful Skin food supplement. It includes an herb called Sensitive Plant, that's the main ingredient there. The Sensitive Plant is also in the cream.
Q: That's interesting, Sensitive Plant.
A: It is very common in India. If you apply Sensitive Plant on the skin or if someone is taking it internally, the skin is going to be very nice and balanced in terms of sensitivity. It has very good effects on nerve regeneration. I kept that in my mind when I was trying to monitor the research from modern science. They did some research on taking Sensitive Plant internally. And the result is that it enhances nerve regeneration by 30% to 40%.
Q: That would be so valuable for any people who have suffered nerve damage to the skin because of excessive sun exposure, radiation. So that is a tremendous benefit. Can you explain to us more about the herbal combinations that you use for the Youthful Skin Cream. You've talked about Gotu Kola, and Sensitive Plant, but there are others. Why are these different herbs used?
A: Gotu Kola enhances collagen synthesis. Then, we have Sensitive Plant to support the nerves. Then, we have other herbs like Flame of Forest. The name itself...when you go in the spring, particularly in the rocky areas of eastern India, you will see whole forests that look like they are all aflame from the bright color of the flowers. This flower can last at least 15 to 20 days against the radiation of the sun. It has a natural protection from photosensitivity. This herb also balances the other ingredients, and gives silent support-or what we call pacifying bhrajaka pitta which governs the skin. Then we have another flower which we called Shirish. And that flower is very good for its anti-allergic value, or hypoallergic value. Whenever you are mixing so many herbs together, you have to include one that has the capability to balance all of the ingredients, so that no allergic symptoms arise.
Q: There has been a lot of talk about some of the cream products that are used in cosmetics, using alpha-hydroxys and beta-hydroxys and antioxidants. How does the Youthful Skin Cream formula compare to these ingredients?
A: All of these chemically isolated things help. But with regular use you will feel that they are drying or they are not supporting the skin as a whole -- and that's the main thing. For anti-aging, collagen synthesis gives partial support. But aging is not just about collagen. Even with our ingredients, like Gotu Kola, if you use the extract alone, it will enhance collagen very well. But it will also give some drying effect, because the potency of Gotu Kola is not in balance. So Gotu Kola by itself does not offer holistic support.
This is the whole theoretical difference between ayurveda and modern skin care. In ayurveda the science of samyoga and sanskar, combining and processing the herbs is very important. Whether you want to process a tablet, or cream, or oil, you must know the authentic herbs to combine and at what ratio. That's samyoga. Then, sanskar is the processing, how to prepare each herb according to the pharmacopoeia or individual character of the plant. And then how to mix them. Whenever you talk about alpha-hydroxys and beta-hydroxys, they are again isolated chemicals. They have an effect, but the effect is not holistic.
Q: Exactly. We discovered with retin-A, for example, that people end up with very dry skin, increased photosensitivity and over time it has negative effects associated with its use. Could you tell us more about how ayurveda brings dietary factors to complement the use of the Youthful Skin formulas? And are there other lifestyle recommendations?
A: Yes, it is very easy to understand the lifestyle and dietary factors with ayurveda. Diet has a great role. You might have seen in day-to-day life, if someone eats a lot of chilies, her or his face is ready to break out, an instant effect you can see. That is just an example, but what ayurveda says is that if you want inner beauty and outer beauty and all those things, there are very precise recommendations for skin care. In particular, we always say don't aggravate your pitta (body heat). Eat holistic, good food, a lot of sweet juicy fruits and vegetables, particularly green vegetables. The Charaka Samhita text says eat a lot of green vegetables, leafy vegetables with a bitter taste. It is very clear about all these things.
I was going through some research on milk for probiotic support of the skin and body. My father was always saying if you want to support your skin, drink a good amount of milk. But you should know how to drink the milk. Don't just take cold milk out of the refrigerator and drink it. First boil milk with some ginger or cinnamon stick or cardamom. And then, sip gently when it is warm. And there are a few other recommendations. Never skip your meals or overeat. And don't eat any one taste. We have six tastes in ayurveda: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter. Don't eat just one taste, like only sweet, because it will create ama, a certain type of toxin. That ama will clog the channels of the skin. And the skin will not get proper nourishment from the body. If somebody is eating a lot of salt, then the pitta -- especially bhrajaka pitta which governs the skin and all the biochemical changes of the skin -- will be out of balance. So, don't eat a single taste. Always eat balanced proportions, and all the six tastes. That's why we have a lot of recipes for that.
Q: You mentioned earlier the third pillar of Ayurvedic beauty care, looking younger than your age. This is the preoccupation of tens of millions of people, particularly baby-boomers who are now turning fifty and worried about looking older. In bringing our interview today to a close, what advice do you have for our listeners in terms of eliminating wrinkles, and even on the other side, being able to accept gracefully some of the changes that go along with aging?
A: See, baby-boomers have a lot of stress. They have a lot of responsibilities. So the number one message I'd like to give the baby boomers is to start learning ayurveda. Start reading about ayurveda. If they go to our Web site, they will gain a lot of knowledge about their health. This is not only going to help with wrinkles, this is going to help in their overall performance towards their kids, towards their life, towards their behavior, towards their relationships, everything.
Q: It is incredible the amount of knowledge that is now coming forth from ayurveda, most particularly from Maharishi Ayurveda, which has brought back this great knowledge in its purity. Thank you.
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.