“When we take time for ourselves, it’s an act of loving ourselves, and we can extend that love to our families and the world around us. We find balance and inner harmony that radiates to everyone in our lives.” (Marj Campian, director Delicious Magazine) Very few people are blessed with naturally perfect skin. More people today are living in cities, constantly exposed to dirt and pollution, pursuing high speed, tension-producing lifestyles, yet aspiring to natural beauty! Toxins seem to be everywhere: in the food we eat, water we drink, air we breathe. With a diminishing ozone layer, even sunshine is becoming hazardous. Stress levels for women are perhaps at an all time high with competitiveness in the workplace and less well defined roles for both themselves and men. Consequently, to achieve that natural look, a regular skin care program is no longer a luxury, but an essential anxiety reliever and beauty therapy to combat the ravages of modem living. This chapter describes cosmetics and procedures that will convert your home into a natural beauty salon or, if you own or run a salon, into an exotic Ayurvedic beauty spa. The word “cosmetic” comes from the Greek “kosmetikos,” meaning skill in arranging. The root word, “kosmos,” means order. The term perfectly reflects the ancient belief that beauty, indeed, is born of harmonizing your lifestyle as well as bringing order to the mind and inner workings of the body. Ayurvedic cosmetics are one more way, along with Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle practices, to help towards the ends just described. Using herbs, flowers, essential oils and naturally occurring minerals, Ayurvedic cosmetics bring the skin to its own perfect balance. In a subtle, soothing way they gently allow us to discover our own natural beauty. Just as with all tissues, the skin must be kept exquisitely clean, well nourished, moisturized, and protected from harm in order to both look and feel its best. Cleansing, nourishing, and protecting are the key factors in Ayurvedic skin care. Whether prepared at home or purchased from a cosmetics company, you will find Ayurvedic cosmetics ... simple, gentle, and natural pleasurable and easy to use free from chemicals, mineral oils, petroleum-based products or synthetic perfumes free from animal by-products that require killing (milk, cream, and ghee are used as well as lanolin from sheep’s wool) do not use animal testing work to bring balance to the totality of the individual body, mind, and spirit. The introduction of Ayurveda into modern beauty practices is like going “back to the future;” ancient ingredients and age old procedures speeding toward the cutting edge of today’s beauty care. More and more experienced beauty therapists acknowledge that natural cosmetics are more healthy and effective than their synthetic counterparts. They also are aware that people today are beginning to demand total natural body care. There is increasing interest in treatments that work not only to beautify the skin but also to nurture and relax the whole of our being. Ayurveda is a leader in this “new wave” of self-care consciousness. Totally traditional recipes were designed for Indian people living and working in their homeland, using only what was locally grown, available, and/or affordable. Although fully traditional in approach, the recipes offered here embrace ingredients from both east and west. True to Ayurvedic principles, but adapted for people in today’s western world, these recipes use the best ingredients from many parts of the world, especially western herbs, flowers, oils and natural minerals. Integrating these into an Ayurvedic approach is a challenge, but I truly believe that it is the way for Ayurveda to find a new home and help care for needs of the west. In a time of fragmented traditions and whole world consciousness, it is my personal hope that Ayurveda, whether for beauty or general health maintenance, will broaden and adapt to include the best from many cultures and thus be able to appropriately care for people of all colors, cultures, and backgrounds. Although it is always important to take prakruti, or constitution, into consideration when selecting appropriate herbs, oils, and other cosmetic ingredients, the emphasis in this chapter is placed on the condition or vikruti of a person’s skin and selecting the appropriate ingredients that possess the needed qualities and actions to remedy that condition. The qualities and actions emphasized here are whether an
ingredient or formula is cleansing, moisturizing, or toning. This being said, always please bear in mind that addressing the condition of the skin alone is a symptomatic approach. Thus you may need to alter what you do to your skin on a day-to-day basis. Of course, there are always the constants of one’s constitution which give the skin certain characteristics. Skin conditions that are exacerbations of your dosha dominance will always take longer to address. But even these conditions, as well as ones that are more acute, are affected by so many other factors such as diet, lifestyle, climate, mental state, and general health. It is for these reasons that it is wise not to be too rigid in addressing your skin and it’s condition based solely on constitution. Living in accordance with your constitution and strengthening it will go a long way in bringing out the natural beauty of your skin, but you always need to pay attention to daily needs and addressing the factors that challenge you. Topical treatment together with a positive health-supporting lifestyle are equal partners on the journey toward a vital, glowing complexion. Earlier it was said that those conditions that are in keeping with one’s dosha dominance are more difficult to address than those that are solely the result of aberrant diet and lifestyle which bring out symptoms of another dosha. Here are some practical examples of what I mean . . . Mrs. Jones has a Vata dominant constitution and has a problem with cracked lips. Dry lips are a reflection of the internal dryness in the lower digestive tract, a situation symptomatic of Vata constitution. Because the condition is in keeping with her constitution, Mrs. Jone’s problem is liable to take longer to remedy. As a more deep-seated problem is being indicated by her dry lips, she will need to pay more attention to her full body health in order to restore her constitutional balance and eliminate her cracked lips. If, however, the condition is not associated with dominant dosha balance, it will be easier to work with, possibly needing only temporary topical care. Ms. Brown has an itchy red rash on her eye lids. This is a Pitta-type condition, but her constitution is more Vata-Kapha. She observed the rash arising after using a new eye make-up. More than likely this is just an allergic reaction that has made Pitta-dosha flare up locally on the eyelid and will be relatively easily cared for by a soothing creme. Understanding the nature of the cause of any problem is the real science of Ayurvedic healing. Bringing the body back to balance, by whatever means, is the art.