The skin is a very important organ for protection as well as for cosmetic purposes. It is the most exposed organ of our body, which undergoes constant wear and tear due to exposure to sunlight, air pollutants, irregular diet habits and an inconsistent life style, and is subject to the process of aging.
Cosmetically, the most important aspect of skin is its texture, which differs from person to person. Still, everyone wishes to have lustrous and healthy skin. The ancient Ayurvedic scholars have mentioned many formulae for the maintenance of lustrous skin, as well as medicinal remedies for various skin diseases, both pathological as well as cosmetic.
Skin Types and Dosha Dominance
- Vata Dosha Dominance
The skin of such persons is thin, fine pored, of darker complexion with a whitish or grayish shade, cool to touch, especially in the extremities (hands and feet) and rough and flaky. It is sensitive to the climatic changes. When this skin type gets corrupted by vitiated Vata Dosha, it shows the signs of lack of tone or luster, increased roughness and dryness, cracking, dry rashes. It often suffers from corns and calluses and dry eczema.
- Pitta Dosha Dominance
The skin is usually fair, of freckled complexion, soft, lustrous and warm, and sensitive to chemicals. When the vitiated Pitta Dosha affects skin, it gets afflicted with rashes, inflammation, itching, premature wrinkling, yellowish tinge, pustular acne, blackheads, whiteheads, excessive oiliness, and discoloration.
- Kapha Prakruti
The skin is thick, moist, pale, generally soft and cool to touch, and well toned. When affected with vitiated Kapha Dosha, the skin shows the signs of dullness, sluggishness, enlarged pores, blackheads, large, white pustules, with repeated cyst formations that have thick, oily secretion.
Ayurveda has advised seven types of therapeutic measures for skin care. These are:
- Massage with oils
- Herbal steam or compress
- Gentle scrub
- Cleansing mask
Out of these, cleansing, toning and moisturizing should be followed as a daily routine.
Ayurveda suggests the use of herbal powders called Ubtans to cleanse the skin. A paste of ingredients like turmeric, and licorice can be used for this purpose. Perspiration and accompanying waste products are continually excreted from the pores of the skin,, attracting dirt and bacteria. Initial cleansing removes this dirt, making the skin surface fresh and ready to receive facial massage.
Mild massaging should be done to the face by using oils medicated with herbal ingredients like sandalwood, licorice or vetiver grass. Massaging also tightens the skin and erases fine wrinkles.
- Herbal Steam
The warmth, moisture and fragrance of the infusion used for steam helps dissipate muscular and mental tension, boost circulation and activate the pores and glands. Observing condition of skin should moderate the frequency of this procedure. For dry skin, steam should be applied once in two weeks. For this purpose, mixture of Dashamoola (the group of ten herbs), rose or sandalwood powder should be mixed with water, and boiled. For normal skin, infusion of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and sandalwood should be used, while for oily skin, infusion of lemon grass and rose powder is recommended.
- Gentle Scrub
Scrubbing should be done with a very light hand, otherwise it damages the skin, which is especially delicate in the facial area. This stimulates circulation and rejuvenates the skin.
- Cleansing Mask
Dirt accumulated in the deeper layers of skin is extracted by using a facial mask. It also prevents the formation of acne and blackheads. Clay is the best base for a mask (Gopichandan or Multani Mitti) and is a rich source of minerals. Aloe Vera, lemon juice or spring/rose water is mixed to prepare the mask.
Various face packs, containing the powders of medicinal herbs, and gels of fruits and vegetables are also used to improve circulation, to cleanse and tighten the facial skin. Face packs and masks should be applied and kept till they dry. These should be removed using warm water and a clean cloth or cotton.
These are used to tighten the skin and prevent dirt and dust from settling on its surface. Pastes of Rubia cordifolia (Manjishtha), licorice and embelic myrobalan are the herbs, which tighten the skin by exerting an astringent effect.
All skin types need moisturizing in order to protect from drying and bacterial infection. Aloe Vera with glycerin and ghee can be used as a simple homemade moisturizer. Moisturizers should preferably be applied at night, to make skin smooth and lustrous.