This post first appeared on elleSA
Between endless to-do lists, dire morning commutes and a less than encouraging bank balance, we’re constantly looking for something to remedy our millennial stress and bolster our personal self-care revolution.
An ancient practice that feels more relevant (and necessary) today than ever before, Ayurveda is all about balancing your life to suit you. And handily it works in your beauty routine as well.
‘We saw the rise of Ritualistic Beauty emerge in 2015 as beauty brands looked to Ayurveda and ancient ingredients for inspiration,’ says Jessica Smith, Trend Forecaster at The Future Laboratory. ‘Brands are now developing products that connect cosmetics and spirituality. Consumers are looking for products that nourish their body and their mind with historical roots and time-honoured rituals.’
The best bit? It’s pretty damn good for your skin as well.
‘Viewing your health through an Ayurvedic lens, you will quickly learn that skincare is not just down to the products that you use, it’s about diet, sleep, exercise and your overall way of life,’ say Escapada Retreat Co-Founders Maeve O’Sullivan and Emilia Herting. ‘Ayurvedic formulations are often complex combinations of different types of herbs that offer the benefits of both synergy and balance, so that the final product is potent and highly effective without damaging side effects.’
What Is Ayurveda?
First things first, if you’re an Ayurveda novice, it’s time to work out exactly what’s going and why everyone’s so obsessed.
This might be the oldest wellness trend around, but it packs a punch. There are two main guiding principles of Ayurveda, explains Deepak Chopra M.D. Firstly, the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and secondly, nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.
‘Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems’, says Chopra M.D.
‘The term Ayurveda combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge),’ explain Maeve and Emilia. ‘Ayurveda is an individualised system of medicine and a way of life. The tradition is rooted in the idea that each of us is born with a completely personal blueprint for optimum health.’
That blueprint is comprised of your own mix of three ‘doshas’, or energies: vata, pitta and kapha. Each dosha is determined by specific physical, emotional, mental and social characteristics as they pertain to the five universal elements – fire, water, earth, air and space.
Find your dosha, find your personal Ayurvedic beauty treatment.
How To Work Out What Dosha You Are
Discovering your dosha can be almost as confusing as determining exactly how to successfully wear a bum bag, so we turned to author and journalist Jo Fairley whose breakdown for Victoria Health makes it simple.
‘To work out which dosha you are, find the group of attributes in the following list that best describes you. Don’t be alarmed if none seems to fit perfectly; you may have one dominant dosha, or a combination of two. (Occasionally, an individual will have aspects of all three doshas, in which case you may want to experiment with these lifestyle and skincare tips, till you find what works best for you.)’
VATA (air and space)
Body: small, light, doesn’t gain weight easily
Hair: dry, frizzy
Skin: dry, rough with small pores
In balance: you tend to be imaginative, flexible, vibrant
Out of balance: you become tired, restless, worried
- Avoid an irregular routine (sleeping and eating, in particular) and too much bitter or pungent food.
- Practice deep, slow breathing to stay calm.
- Use skincare products that contain warm, soothing herbs such as coriander, cumin and sandalwood.
Body: large, gains weight easily
Hair: thick, wavy, tends towards oily
Skin: oily, large pores, acne-prone
Hunger: easy to skip meals
In balance: you’re affectionate, compassionate, and emotionally even-keeled
Out of balance: you get lethargic and complacent. Your skin looks dull and oily and you gain weight
What Are The Benefits Of Ayurveda?
Like an ancient form of self-care, Ayurveda is here to keep your life in balance, and help prevent diseases along the way.
‘Ayurveda is an unequivocally holistic tradition that reaches far beyond the realms of physical health, healing, and the prevention of disease,’ say Escapada Retreat Co-Founders Maeve and Emilia.
‘It has a remarkable capacity to help each of us get in touch with our truest inner nature, develop our strengths, focus in on our challenge areas and offer real support wherever it is needed. Why? So that we can better maintain balance when we start to feel we are moving out of kilter and our bodies and mind feel out of sync.
‘Ayurveda teaches you how to tune out of the overwhelming world we are in and tune in to yourself.’
How Can You Work Ayurveda Into Your Beauty Routine?
More than just the latest wellness fad, there’s legit reasoning for working Ayurveda’s holistic practices into your daily beauty routine.
‘As Christy Turlington – long-time yoga bunny and co-founder of the Ayurveda-inspired Sundari range – once explained to me, “We recognise that mind and body are intimately connected in terms of health and wellbeing. The skin is a mirror of what’s happening in the body”‘, says Fairley.
‘In other words, beauty is not just skin deep.’
Amen to that.
Or, as The Future Laboratory’s Jessica Smith, puts it, ‘Increasingly consumers see beauty as a holistic experience and are looking for products that nourish their body and their mind.’
That means choosing beauty products while keeping in mind how they help balance our lifestyle as a whole, not just which liquid lipstick lasts the longest.
As tends to be the way, brands have fallen in line to suit our wellness wants. Whether Ayurveda Apothecary’s chic perfume oils formulated to balance your specific dosha, or Mauli’s organic body scrubs that encourage more meaningful self care rituals, luxury brands are making the connection between holistic health and our habitual beauty regimes.
Unsurprisingly, supplements are big news in the Ayurveda beauty biz.
Founder of the satisfyingly Insta-friendly Glow Bar powder supplements, Sasha Sabapathy, has formulated three specific adaptogenic Super Elixir Blends to target the three aspects of women’s lives that are most affected by stress – happiness, skin and sex.
The key ingredient? Ashwaghanda aka one of the most powerful healing herbs in all of Ayurvedic medicine. It promises to calm your body, mind and spirit, as well as strengthen your QI to keep you feeling balanced and happy.
5 Small Ways To Work Ayurveda Into Your Daily Routine
1. Practice Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is an age-old remedy rooted in Ayurvedic medicine that uses natural substances to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It has the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and evidence even shows that it may be beneficial for gum health and that certain oils may help fight harmful bacteria in the mouth.
2. Exfoliate Daily
Full body exfoliation has long been a part of Ayurveda’s deep-cleansing philosophy. On a physical level, daily light exfoliation can stimulate the skin, eliminate toxins more efficiently, and remove dead cells.
3. Try Body Brushing
From an internal level, body brushing is excellent for stimulating circulation and is believed to stimulate the lymphatic system which is important for developing a strong immune system. Use a natural-bristle brush or a loofah glove and brush toward the heart – this will increase blood flow.
4. Slather yourself in oil and learn the art of self-massage
Abhyanga (pronounced Abhy-ang- ga) is is an Ayurveda self-massage technique using warm oil (usually infused with herbs) which deeply nourishes the body, calms the mind, and leaves you feeling grounded and re-energised. Ideally Abhyanga should be done every day before you shower but if you can add this to your daily routine at least 3-4 times a week it will make a huge difference to you.
Done regularly, it boosts immunity and improves circulation and is beneficial for maintaining health.
How to practice Abhyanga depending on your dosha:
VATA – Sesame oil is the preferred choice for Vata dosha’s because it is inherently warming, but opt for organic and untoasted to keep it completely natural (toasted varieties have a very strong natural scent).
PITTA – Use organic coconut oil or organic sunflower oil. These pacify sensitive or reactive skin.
KAPHA – Herbal oils are a superior choice for Kapha doshas. It is also best to use less oil on Kapha doshas as Kapha and oil share the most qualities and you want to decrease or stabilise your kapha with Abhyanga, not increase it.
5. Move more!
Find a daily exercise that moves, stretches and calms your system and lets you breath consciously. Add as many small stroll breaks to your office days to fill your lungs/body with refreshing, skin plumbing air.