We are exposed to a huge number of pollutants on a daily basis, lead sedentary lives and consume junk food without giving it a second thought. Stress and sleep deprivation are routine. No wonder then, that dark circles, sun spots, and fine lines have become all too common. Across the world, there is a growing interest in the ayurvedic principles of skin care.
In the wellness sphere, there is a growing association between Ayurveda, anti-aging and cosmeceuticals. Modern research trends mainly revolve around principles of anti-aging activity described in ayurveda: vayasthapana (age defying), varnya (brighten skin-glow), sandhaniya (cell regeneration), vranaropana (healing), tvachya (nurturing), shothahara (anti-inflammatory), tvachagnivardhani (strengthening skin metabolism) and tvagrasayana (retarding aging). Ayurvedic skin care uses many rasayana plants such as amla (Emblica officinalis) and gotukola (Centella asiatica).Datta, Hema Sharma, and Rangesh Paramesh. “Trends in aging and skin care: Ayurvedic concepts.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine 1, no. 2 (2010): 110.
Ayurveda View On Skin Aging
1. Age Defying Activity (Vayasthapana)
Vayasthapana is an ingredient that nourishes the skin, ensures optimum physiological functioning and has an overall anti-aging property. It literally means maintaining youthfulness or arresting age. Vayasthapana herbs give overall support to the skin by keeping all three doshas in balance.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is the foremost vayasthapana herb with anti-aging effects; one of its many properties is to enhance collagen synthesis.
2. Youthful Radiance (Varnya)
Varnya are an important group of herbs that have an ability to enhance the complexion of the skin giving it radiance. In ayurveda, skin is considered youthful if it has varnya quality – a healthy glow.
Varnya herbs include sandalwood, vetiver, Indian madder and Indian sarsaparilla and so on.
3. Protection From Normal Wear And Tear (Sandhaniya)
Sandhaniya herbs help blend discontinued tissue, in healing and regenerative functions of the skin and repairing effects of aging. One such herb is the ‘sensitive plant’ (Mimosa pudica) that enhances healing and regeneration of the nerves by 30 to 40%.
4. Deep Healing (Vrana Ropana)
Vrana ropana herbs enhance the deeper healing abilities in the skin. Vranaro pana herbs include Gotu kola and ‘sensitive plant’, and are known for their ability to heal wounds.
5. Enhancing And Nurturing (Tvachya)
These herbs support moisture balance and provide overall nourishment to the skin. Gotu kola, silk cotton tree, costus and rose petal are the most widely used. Grapefruit extract and natural sources of Vitamins A, C and E nourish the skin and enhance the value of herbs.
6. Anti-Inflammatory (Shothahara)
By protecting the skin against allergens, inflammatory substances, chemicals and even stress, this group of herbs provides an anti-inflammatory effect that is essential in all anti-aging formulations.
Many factors in the external environment can cause inflammation or breakouts. Inflammation is considered a prime cause of aging. An inflamed site forms a micro-scar that over time develops into a wrinkle or blemish. Inflammatory mediators such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins, cytokines and growth factors target skin texture, integrity and tone. Containing inflammation at its root is therefore an effective anti-aging strategy.Datta, Hema Sharma, and Rangesh Paramesh. “Trends in aging and skin care: Ayurvedic concepts.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine 1, no. 2 (2010): 110. While one can protect every other part of the skin by covering it with clothing, facial skin is always exposed. Shothahara herbs like rose petal, silk cotton tree and aloe vera have anti-inflammatory properties.
Gum resin exudates of Boswellia serrata have been used in the ayurvedic system of medicine in the management of several inflammatory conditions.
7. Strengthening Skin’s Metabolic Mechanisms (Tvachagnivardhani)
Tvachagnivardhani literally means to enhance the skin’s luster by enhancing its metabolism. As one ages, metabolism generally slows down, similarly, skin metabolism also weakens. If enzymes become imbalanced, metabolic toxins (ama) are created. Ama in the skin clogs the channels that lead to wrinkles, dryness and other signs of aging. Clogged channels also create dullness and lack of youthful glow. Applying gotu kola topically enhances enzyme principles and improves circulation. By removing ama and deep impurities, it helps prevent varicose veins, cellulitis, aging skin, and weakened immunity to allergens and skin diseases.
8. Maintaining Skin Health And Retarding Aging (Tvagrasayana)
In Ayurveda the concept of anti-aging is embodied in rasayana. Tvagrasayana literally means ‘skin rasayana’ which refers to refined and powerful herbal formulae designed to prevent sickness and aging of the skin.
Amla (phyllanthus emblica) – a potent antioxidant, rich in Vitamin C, tannins and gallic acid – is foremost amongst the anti-aging drugs (vayasthaprana) and best amongst rejuvenating herbs. It has adaptogenic (rasayana) properties, is useful in aging (ajara), prolongs cell life (ayushprada), improves cell migration and cell binding (sandhaniya) and improves complexion (kantikara).
What Are The Basic Principles Of Ayurvedic Skin Care?
Before we delve deeper into how to go about preparing and applying face packs, let us understand the ayurvedic approach to skin care.
Ayurveda believes that the skin’s health depends on multiple factors such as its
- ability to retain moisture,
- an efficient metabolic system that can eliminate toxins, and
- good blood circulation that ensures that our skin receives all the vital nutrients.
The health of our blood (rakta), muscles (mamsa), and nutritional fluid (rasa) are often reflected in the condition of our skin.
Rakta or blood is intrinsically connected with liver function and plays a crucial role in detoxifying the body, while rasa supports all tissues, including skin tissues. Mamsa or muscles lend firmness to our skin.
Ayurvedic skincare rests on the concept of prakriti and dosha. According to ayurveda, from the time of our birth, we are governed by a specific combination of humours or doshas, such as vata, pitta, and kapha, that determine our constitution or prakriti.Rotti, Harish, Kanive Parashiva Guruprasad, Jayakrishna Nayak, Shama Prasada Kabekkodu, Harpreet Kukreja, Sandeep Mallya, Jyothi Nayak et al. “Immunophenotyping of normal individuals classified … Continue reading
Why Should Your Dosha Determine Your Skin Care Routine?
Ayurveda outlines three kinds of skin, vata, pitta, and kapha, and the related skin problems that are common to each. Here are some insights that have emerged from various studies:
- Vata skin type: People with this type are governed by the air element (vayu) and usually have dry skin. This is because liquid evaporates quickly from this skin type and it lacks moisture. This type of skin is cool to touch and often shows wrinkles earlier. When vata is not in balance, the skin becomes rough and dry.
- Pitta skin type: Pitta skin is also dry as it is governed by the fire element. It is photosensitive and vulnerable to sun damage. Pitta dosha or imbalance often refers to chemical imbalance resulting from hormonal imbalance or inadequate blood circulation. Pitta dosha manifests itself in the form of reddish skin, rosacea
- Kapha skin type: This type of skin is oily and cool to touch. This prakriti is governed by the earth and water elements. The texture of the skin is thick and it is more prone to the accumulation of toxins. However, wrinkles are slow to appear in people with kapha prakriti. Kapha dosha can result in excessively oily skin which may be prone to acne breakouts.
Both vata and pitta skin types are dry in nature and warm to touch. They also show early signs of aging. A study found that 92% of people with the vata skin type had very dry (ruksha) skin.Suwarna, Umarkar V., Vyas M. Deepak, Kulkarni B. Sheela, and Sathe D. Kalpana. “Variation in skin hydration on the basis of Deha Prakriti (body constitution): A cross-sectional observational … Continue reading
Skin Care Routine Based On Your Dosha
Each dosha demands a different kind of skin care ritual that addresses its specific concerns.
- Vata skin: Vata skin care must focus on hydrating and moisturizing the skin in order to keep the signs of premature aging at bay. Nourishing moisturizers, humectants and emollients (sneha dravya) and massaging the face with facial oils can help.Suwarna, Umarkar V., Vyas M. Deepak, Kulkarni B. Sheela, and Sathe D. Kalpana. “Variation in skin hydration on the basis of Deha Prakriti (body constitution): A cross-sectional observational … Continue reading
- Pitta skin: This skin type is sensitive to sun exposure. Modern science recommends good sunscreens for all skin types, but people with pitta skin should invest in a good one. Regular massage with facial oils helps in brightening one’s natural complexion.
- Kapha skin: Kapha skin care must include gentle exfoliation from time to time, but it should also focus on replenishing the moisture content with a warm oil massage.Datta, Hema Sharma, S. K. Mitra, Rangesh Paramesh, and Bhushan Patwardhan. “Theories and management of aging: modern and ayurveda perspectives.” Evidence-Based Complementary and … Continue reading
What Is A Mukhalepam (Face Pack)?
The herbal paste that is applied on the face to treat acne, pimples, scars, marks and pigments is known as ‘mukhalepam’ or face pack in ayurveda. There are various kinds of face packs described in ayurveda based on climatic changes which have nourishing, healing, cleansing, astringent and antiseptic properties.
While mukhalepam (face packs) form an integral part of ayurvedic skin care, it is important to remember that ayurveda is a holistic system that treats skin problems internally as well. The ayurvedic approach focuses on getting rid of toxins (ama) from the body and following a healthy daily routine (dinacharya).
Some basic ayurvedic dinacharya practices for healthy skin include the following:
- Bathing twice a day
- Cleaning the face three or four times with warm water
- Consuming a wholesome diet
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- Using herbal powders and oils as mukhalepam to treat skin concerns naturally
What Are The Benefits Of Applying A Face Pack?
Ayurveda recommends applying lepa (face pack) to one’s face a few minutes before bathing in the morning. It should be applied against the direction of hair growth, to maximize its exfoliating effect. The pack must be allowed to dry but it should not be left on for very long once it has dried. While removing the face pack, it is essential to moisten it and follow it up with an oil application.
In addition to applying the pack, protecting one’s skin from the sun and excessive heat, and avoiding negative emotions such as stress and anger also benefit the skin.
Why Does Ayurveda Recommend Face Packs Based On Seasons?
Did you know, ideally, our skin care regimen should not be the same all year round? Because our skin is affected by our immediate environment. According to ayurveda, ingredients of certain mukhalepam (face pack) are more effective in certain seasons. Here are a few examples:
- Hemanta (dewy season): Ber seed paste (Ziziphus jujuba), savara lodhra (Symplocos racemosa).
- Vasanta (spring): Chandan paste (sandalwood), chawal (rice), saunf (fennel)
- Grisma (summer): Chandan (sandalwood), yastimadhu or mulethi (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Varsha (monsoon): Til (sesame), khas (vetiver), mulethi (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Shishir (winter): Barley (Hordeum vulgare), kateri root (Solanum surattense
Mukhalepam (Face Pack) For Kapha Skin Type
1. Red Masoor Dal Face Pack
- Soak red masoor dal overnight and then grind it
- Make a paste by adding a few drops of almond oil or fresh milk
- Apply on your face and neck and leave on your skin for 10 to 15 minutes and wash off in gentle circular motion
- Avoid using it if you have severe acne or cystic acne or open wounds
- This acts as an excellent exfoliator; it also rejuvenates the skin
- You can apply this thrice a week before taking a bath
2. Multani Mitti Face Pack
- Mix fuller’s earth (multani mitti), sandalwood powder, and rose water to make a smooth paste
- Apply all over your face and neck
- Allow it to dry and wash off. Do not leave on for a very long time as it stretches the skin
- This lepa helps in absorbing excess oil and keeping the skin squeaky clean. It is an excellent pack for the humid summer months
- It is particularly helpful for acne-prone skin because of its astringent and anti-microbial properties
3. Orange Peel Face Pack
- Make a smooth paste of dried orange peel powder and curd
- Apply on face and leave on for about 15 minutes and wash off
- It can help brighten dull skin
Apart from these, you can also apply lemon juice on the face. However be cautious if you have severe acne or if your skin burns too much on application of lemon juice.
Udvartana or scarpering therapy is recommended by ayurveda to get rid of excess ama (toxins).
Mukhalepam (Face Pack) For Vata And Pitta Skin Type
1. Fresh Milk
- Milk is a rather simple but effective remedy for dry skin types like pitta and vata
- Apply milk on the face; leave on for a few minutes and wash off
- Milk can leave your skin soft and supple to touch
2. Multani Mitti And Almond Oil
- Mix fuller’s earth or multani mitti with a few drops of almond oil
- Apply the paste on your face and wash off after 10 minutes
- You can apply this thrice a week for rejuvenation and brightening your natural skin
3. Neem Face Pack
- Make a paste with dried neem leaves and pure butter
- Apply on your skin and wash off after it dries
- This pack can be applied twice a week
Application of mukhalepam not only removes toxins, dead skin cells, and impurities, it helps one fight pigmentation, undo sun damage, and brighten complexion. However, do note that ayurvedic formulations do not change skin colour. Every skin tone is beautiful and ayurveda only enhances the glow of one’s natural skin colour.
Precautions To Take While Using Face Packs:
- Some people may be allergic to some ingredients in the mukhalepam (face mask). Before trying any ingredient on the face, do a patch test, by applying the ingredient on a small area on your wrist to rule out allergies.
- People suffering from indigestion, anorexia, and sleep-deprivation should avoid applying lepa.
- Do not apply lepa at night, because during the night the temperature is cool and our body releases heat through the hair follicles. Application of lepa inhibits this process and harms our dosha.
While these are broad guidelines followed for taking care of one’s skin externally, Ayurveda also places a great deal of importance on the internal health of an individual, as often, skin concerns can be traced to an underlying imbalance in the body. Ayurveda emphasizes the benefits of a balanced diet, adequate sleep, detoxification of the body and mind.
|↑1, ↑2||Datta, Hema Sharma, and Rangesh Paramesh. “Trends in aging and skin care: Ayurvedic concepts.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine 1, no. 2 (2010): 110.|
|↑3||Rotti, Harish, Kanive Parashiva Guruprasad, Jayakrishna Nayak, Shama Prasada Kabekkodu, Harpreet Kukreja, Sandeep Mallya, Jyothi Nayak et al. “Immunophenotyping of normal individuals classified on the basis of human dosha prakriti.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative Medicine 5, no. 1 (2014): 43.|
|↑4, ↑5||Suwarna, Umarkar V., Vyas M. Deepak, Kulkarni B. Sheela, and Sathe D. Kalpana. “Variation in skin hydration on the basis of Deha Prakriti (body constitution): A cross-sectional observational study.” Ayu 39, no. 3 (2018): 127.|
|↑6||Datta, Hema Sharma, S. K. Mitra, Rangesh Paramesh, and Bhushan Patwardhan. “Theories and management of aging: modern and ayurveda perspectives.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011 (2011).|