Beauty Comes From Within
One of the common misconceptions that we have today is the idea that beautiful skin can purchased and applied externally.
As a lover of plants, I will admit that there are many plants and herbal remedies which can enhance your skin’s natural radiance. Working with herbs can be very helpful on the path of self-healing, but they are really just one component of the journey.
Beautiful skin comes as a result of a series of choices that you make on a daily basis: how you think, eat, sweat, breathe, express yourself, love and relax each day. Here, the science of ayurveda provides several recommendations for adjusting to changes throughout the day, season, or life cycle, and with our body’s innate intelligence.
Your Best Cosmetics Come From Connection
The world’s ancient traditions recognized the importance of harmony between ourselves and the world around us. Actually, the modern word cosmetics has its roots in the Ancient Greek word cosmos, where it was well-understood that a refined aesthetic sense comes through our sense of being connected to others, and to a larger cosmic order.
In an age of isolation, frustration, dis-empowerment and disconnection, one of the most powerful medicines we have is our sense of connection to ourselves, to others and to the world around us. Here, spiritual understanding can be invaluable in separating from ego-based consciousness and understanding the unique opportunities given in our times.
In ayurveda, glowing skin is associated with ojas, the by-product of kapha dosha, good digestion and our love for the world of form. In the body-mind, ojas reflect fertility, strong immunity and a harmonious relationship between our physical selves and our spiritual nature.
Your Skin Speaks: Understanding Pimples
We often think that breakouts — such as acne, eczema, rashes, or excess oil — are a bad thing. Yes, they may be unsightly and inconvenient, but, in order to heal, it’s important to understand why our bodies release through the skin.
Skin eruptions are a natural way for your body to release what is unneeded (or potentially toxic) from your system; this can include physical, emotional, environmental or mental toxins. By releasing through the pores, your body is preventing these toxins from going deeper into the internal organs.
In more severe cases, skin eruptions may indicate imbalances (e.g. something is “off”) at a deeper level within your physiology. For example:
- The forehead relates to the intestines (e.g. accumulation of toxins in the intestines.)
- The cheeks are associated with the breasts, lungs and the respiratory system.
- Break-outs around the mouth and chin tend to indicate weakness in the reproductive organs (e.g. menstrual disorders);
- Those suffering from chronic constipation will tend to have more breakouts, since the body’s detoxification processes are not functioning properly.
Modern acne medications (e.g. antibiotics, birth control pills) often work by suppressing the body’s natural detoxification process through the skin. However, without an avenue for release, these toxins will simply lodge themselves more deeply within our systems. This will often result in more serious impacts on our health in the long-term (e.g. digestive issues, candida, poor immunity, chronic fatigue, etc).
Rather than suppressing symptoms, it is better to respect our body’s intelligence, and learn to support its needs.
Tips From Ayurveda For Beautiful Skin
Ayurveda provides a variety of dietary, herbal and lifestyle tips to improve the beauty of your complexion. Where more serious imbalances are at play, you may choose to consult with your ayurvedic doctor, practitioner or naturopath for personalized recommendations.
- Hydrate: Drinking lots of warm water throughout the day will assist your body’s natural detoxification process. You can also select herbal teas suitable for your dosha : chamomile, rose, tulsi, nettle, ginger, turmeric, lavender, hibiscus or dandelion, to name a few. Reduce/avoid alcohol, caffeine, soda pops.
- Digest: Follow ayurvedic suggestions for wise eating, favouring freshly cooked foods and steamed, green vegetables. Try to keep meals 3-5 hours apart, so that each meal is fully digested before you eat again. Avoid meals after after 8 pm.
- Get Moving: Find an exercise regime that is suitable for your dosha, avoiding the extremes of either lack of movement or overexertion. Make sure that your bowels are moving regularly (at least once per day).
- Self-Oleation: The Ayurvedic practice of self-massage can be incredibly beneficial in enhancing your complexion, and assisting in gentle detoxification of the body. When applying oils to your face (or moisturizer), gently pat your skin with your fingertips. Avoid rubbing in circles or scraping the skin, or strong exfoliants
- Face Masks: Face masks with natural ingredients can be a great way to enhance and nourish your skin. One of my favourites is a rosewater turmeric mask, suitable for all 3 doshas.
- Triphala Powder: Triphala powder can be used on a daily basis to assist the body’s natural detoxification process, and to improve the complexion of the skin.
- Meditation: A daily meditation practice will help you to release any accumulated stress from your day, and to get in touch with the deepest part of yourself. Most people find that meditation makes it easier to sustain healthy habits and choices in alignment with your body’s natural wisdom.
- Yogic Breathing (Pranayamas): By incorporating daily breathing exercises into your daily routine, will quickly bring improvements to lustre of your skin. For example, the Kalabati Breath (Breath of Fire or “Shining skull breath”) enhances digestion and complexion (3-5 minutes daily). (See Practical Awakening)
- Sunshine: Try to get at least 20 minutes of sun exposure daily, especially in the Canadian winter or if you work in an office. The sun is a great natural source of natural healing and boosts the mood.
- Favour Natural Beauty Products: Avoid products with chemical fragrances and/or perfumes, which disrupt hormone levels, cause allergies and inflammation, as well as neurological imbalances. Incorporate natural hydrosols into your face care routine, such as rose (balances oil production and helps to rejuvenate the cells) or immortelle (heals scarring and boosts collagen).
- Steam / Soak: A hot bath at least 1x/week (especially in the winter), using epsom salts and/or the essential oils of your choice. In the bath, you can gently press a warm face cloth against your skin a few times to open the pores. Alternatively, you can gently steam your face over a bowl of hot water (using a towel to cover your head).
- Dry Brushing: Dry brushing (brushing your body with a dry brush) can help stimulate lymph flow, improve circulation, exfoliate skin and help cellulite. However, due to the dry, rough nature of this practice, it is aggravating to vata dosha, so you most types may want to limit themselves to occasional session (rather than daily).
- Counseling: Trauma, grief, insecurity or boundary issues will often find expression in the skin. Feedback from a trusted counselor can be profoundly helpful to reveal and heal deeply held emotions.
- Love: Your skin holds an intimate connection with how you feel in your environment. Do what you are passionate about, even if it’s just for a few hours a week. Favour the company of those who uplift, support and inspire you, and/or spend time in your own good company.