Ayurveda isn’t just another wellness gimmick infiltrating the beauty industry.
On the contrary, the ancient Indian system of medicine has been around for 5000 years.
But what’s it all about and how can it help your skin look its best?
Ayurveda literally translates as ‘the science of life’, and that’s a pretty good way to describe it, says Eranthi Bonney, founder and director of Australian Ayurvedic skincare brand Aika Wellness. “It’s a system of natural medicine that uses science and philosophy to dictate your health and lifestyle choices,” she explains. “There’s the core belief that everything found in the universe is also found in the body and comes down to five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. Think of these as energetic principles over physical entities – for example, earth translates to stability and fire is what gives us our drive.” These elements combine to form your ‘dosha’, a type of energy or constitution linked to everything from your skin type to your sleep patterns.
“There are three doshas: ‘vata’ is a combination of space and air, ‘pitta’ is a combination of fire and water and ‘kapha’ is earth and water,” explains Bonney, adding that your dosha “is like a blueprint for life – it tells us what we need to reach equilibrium and constitutes perfect health.” So why are we only talking about it now? Well, it’s gained popularity in recent years thanks to its celebrity following, with everyone from Jennifer Aniston to wellness junkie Gwyneth Paltrow jumping on board, not to mention the influx of beauty brands formulating products with Ayurvedic ingredients.
And it wouldn’t be popular if it didn’t work, argues Shrankhla Holecek, founder of beauty brand Uma Oils. “Ayurveda promises results – tangibly, sustainably and backed by thousands of years of science and experience,” she explains. “A lot of tenets of Ayurveda such as yoga and breathing meditation are already quite mainstream and practised widely, often without people realising that they’re, in fact, very deeply Ayurvedic.
“The incorporation of Ayurvedic skincare and herbal remedies – from face oils to foods such as turmeric and ghee – is the natural next frontier in a healing philosophy that deeply resonates with people.” Read on to discover your dosha, and what that means for your skin’s health.
Diagnose your dosha
Take our quiz to find your formula for healthy skin
1. You’d describe your body type as…
a) Petite, but I find it hard to put on muscle.
b) Medium and toned.
c) Strong with round features.
2. Your body temperature is…
a) Always freezing.
b) Prone to overheating.
c) Warm but I can handle most climates easily.
3. Your skin is…
a) Dry and dehydrated.
b) Oily and sensitive.
4. Your hair is…
a) Dry and thin.
b) Soft with average volume.
c) Thick, oily and coarse.
5. Your appetite is often…
a) Irregular. Sometimes I’m starving, sometimes not.
b) Ravenous and I get ‘hangry’.
c) Pretty steady.
6. You’d describe your digestion as…
a) Constipated and bloated.
b) Great, I can eat almost anything and feel fine.
c) Pretty regular, but sometimes I feel tired after eating.
7. Your sleep is…
a) Light and patchy. I find it hard to fall asleep as my mind is often racing.
b) Sound, but not for many hours. However, I do wake up feeling refreshed.
c) Heavy and deep, but I wake up feeling tired and sluggish.
8. Your dreams are…
a) Usually about flying or floating. My emotions often connect to my dreams.
b) Realistic, especially around conflict and problem solving.
c) Rare. But when I do have dreams they’re usually peaceful and calm.
9. Your favourite type of exercise is…
a) Anything with lots of movement – dancing, spin class and running.
b) Something that involves a bit of competition like team sports or a group-training program.
c) Chilled. I prefer walking, yoga and stretching.
10. People would describe your personality as…
a) Extroverted, eccentric and creative.
b) Driven, organised and ambitious.
c) Peaceful and relaxed.
As vata is a combination of air and space, your skin may often be dry, dehydrated and cool to the touch. Due to its delicacy, be wary of environmental aggressors as they can wreak havoc on vata complexions. “Vata products need to be nourishing, hydrating and warming,” says Bonney. “Warming ingredients including frankincense, nutmeg, clove and cardamom can work to counteract the imbalance. Other ingredients such as shea butter, rich oils like sesame and macadamia, and medicinal Ayurvedic herbs like ashwagandha stimulate and strengthen the skin.”
Mostly Bs= pitta
“Pitta skin is typically smooth, oily and warm.
It tends to be most sensitive and prone to redness, aggravation and sun sensitivity,” says Holecek.
When healthy it will have a rosy glow. When it’s imbalanced, signs of inflammation and redness will occur. To calm it, use products with cooling, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as rose and cucumber. “Aloe vera is [also] great for pitta skin, as are essential oils of sandalwood, jojoba and moringa, with their nutritional content but lightweight nature,” explains Holecek. “Pitta types should choose sunflower or coconut oils for body moisturising, and look to honey and chamomile compresses for flare-ups such as rosacea.”
Mostly Cs= kapha
“When imbalanced, kapha skin tends to show enlarged pores, blackheads and water retention, and can be prone to acne and pimples,” explains Bonney. As it can be sluggish and frequently congested, look for ingredients that are revitalising. Holecek advises a twiceweekly scrub with a mixture of sea salt and honey followed by a herbal steam with mint leaves. “Given kapha skin type’s proclivity to overproduce oil, essential oils of turmeric and clary sage can maintain its natural sebum balance and manage inflammation,” she adds.