Ayurvedic skin care is derived from medicinal practices that began over 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda practices the belief that there are three basic principles (or humors) born out of five basic elements that exist in nature. These principles are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These principles are believed to work together in harmony to make up the entire body. For each dosha (or physical type), symptoms tend to appear in groups, because the body-mind responds to imbalance as a whole:
Vatu: Slightly dry skin, dry lips, excessively dry skin, cracked feet, brittle nails, dry scalp, split ends, dandruff, psoriasis, dry eczema, wrinkles on forehead, skin discoloration, dark circles under eyes.
Pitta: Slightly sensitive skin, broken capillaries, whiteheads, acne rosacea, burning sensations, burning feet, burning eyes, nosebleeds or slight bleeding of pimples, dermatitis (eyebrows are dry and flaky), burning scalp, burning eczema all over body, hives, allergic reactions, wrinkles around eyes, moles, changes in pigmentation.
Kapha: Slightly oily skin, blackheads, enlarged pores, excessively oily skin and hair, white itchy dandruff-like patches on scalp (due to too much oil, which is the opposite of dandruff), cystic acne, eruptions with itching and oozing, swollen ankles and feet, weight gain, puffiness under eyes, cellulite, cysts, and tumors.
If you have a skin problem now, you will see an improvement just from doing your basic daily skin care regimen and using the prescribed remedies. Once the symptoms have become widespread, however, it indicates that toxins have accumulated in the body and the doshas have begun to move deeper into the tissue. At this point, no external remedy alone-whether chemical or organic is sufficient to eliminate the internal causes of toxicity. The visible symptoms may diminish, but as soon as you stop the treatment, they quickly reappear, usually in full force. In order to restore balance once disease or premature aging is present, you must cleanse and nourish yourself from within, preferably beginning with a professional purification treatment known as pancha karma or with a home detoxification treatment. If you do not detoxify internally first, then any pure substances you feed the skin and body will simply go to waste. It is equivalent to adding clean water to dirt – all you end up with is mud.
Even a detoxification treatment is only a temporary remedy, not a cure-all. If you change nothing in an unhealthy lifestyle, new toxins will soon appear. Ayurveda teaches we cannot ignore one level of life without a cost to life as a whole. This understanding is the source of hope, not gloom. Ayurveda gives us the responsibility of having a balanced lifestyle, but also the freedom to take care of all psychophysiological symptoms of disease with a single course of treatment. For example, you do not need one medicine for acne, another for depression, and another for water retention. These are not different problems, but three symptoms of the same imbalance-in this case, aggravated Kapha. Therefore, all of them can be corrected by the same means.
Correcting your imbalances on the whole will help you to create a natural, fulfilling lifestyle that balances the doshas on all levels of life-body, mind, and soul and ultimately eliminates aging and skin disease at their root. You can begin with the appropriate external remedies, and enjoy the immediate healing and soothing effects of practiced herbal treatments going back thousands of years.
Of course, an occasional bout of dry skin or rash or pimples will still occur, although it is frustrating, it is also a normal part of the flux of life. As weather changes, so does your skin. As hormone levels rise and fall in the course of a month, and as your diet and activity vary from day to day, so your skin adjusts in reaction to the new environments. The subtle balance of the body is always in shift, creating changes in our mood and even changes in our physical appearance. Ayurveda gives you the basis to recognize these subtle imbalances and the tools to correct them. To be sure, imbalance does not necessarily mean disease, we can be quite healthy and still experience symptoms of imbalance. However, perpetual imbalance can lead to serious disease if it is not corrected in its early stages.