One of the things I love most about the teachings of Ayurveda is that there is no one body, mind or skin type that is the best. Ayurveda teaches that your own personal beauty is the natural consequence of being in perfect balance with who you are and where you are in caring for the body type you have been gifted.
Our ideals of beauty are continuously changing and still remain wildly diverse across global cultures. But, no matter what, when we see a healthy body, a happy mind, and an inspired soul, we recognize that individual as beautiful and feel attracted to him or her. This is their Ayurvedic beauty you are responding to.
Ayurveda teaches that our individual shape and style is determined by our natural balance of the three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. We need all three doshas to be alive and well. Kapha gives our body form, lubrication, resilience and shear power. Pitta is the heat and reactivity behind all biochemical processes. It rules our metabolism, digestion and the kindling of our intelligence. Vata is the only mobile energy responsible for all voluntary and involuntary movement in the body, including the thoughts that speed through our minds.
Each dosha also has a unique quality. For vata that unique quality is dryness, for pitta it’s heat, and for kapha it’s density. These doshas not only determine our body shape, personality, and preferences, they also influence the way our skin looks. Essentially, the unique qualities of each dosha manifest in our skin too. Vata skin will always be a little drier, pitta skin warmer, and kapha skin thicker, more moist and dense.
Again, beauty is said to be the result of these subtle energies being in balance, doing their jobs well, supporting our physical well-being, providing a strong immune system, and giving us peace and clarity of mind, and a strong inner conviction that life is good. Of course, we cannot always be in perfect balance and this is when difficulties arise. But it is still important to recognize what our balance looks and feels like so we have a clear goal. No matter what your personal dosha blend may be, you can always be on a path to lasting beauty. Loving and accepting ourselves the way we are, teaching ourselves how best to keep ourselves healthy, happy and inspired ,and learning how to keep our unique dosha blend in balance is the journey we take when we follow Ayurveda. The same is true for Ayurvedic skin care.
Just as one body or mind type is no better or worse than another, there is no best skin type either. All three skin types, vata, pitta and kapha, have their beauties and all three have their challenges. Much has been written about the skin problems our doshas present, but we often forget to appreciate the beauties of each dosha. So let’s do that right now.
Vata: Vata skin is fine, delicate, and thin. By gently touching vata skin, you can easily feel the refined bone structure that supports delicate features. The eyes, nose and mouth may vary in size, but this mix can look wildly intriguing. Vata skin tans and burns easily as the sun seems to power up vata’s vivacious nature. Vata skin is fresh, alive, awake and aware. It is fine pored and not prone to breakouts. Vata makes our mind sensitive, but it does not make our skin reactive. Vata skin does not break out or blush easily.
If vata skin could talk, it would say:
I am hungry, feed me
I am thirsty, keep me hydrated
I am cold, keep me warm and out of the wind
I am delicate, pay attention to my changing needs
Touch nourishes me, so take me for a massage when you can
Pitta: Pitta skin is warm to the touch and has a natural glow about it. Pitta skin is average in thickness and light in color. We see this in the pale Nordic skins, the fair and freckled skins, the coppery toned skin types, and the milky coffee shades of brown skin. Pitta faces are angular and the features are well matched. Pitta skin has a shiny quality that concentrates in the “T-zone.” It is radiant and warm. Unlike pitta’s resilient personality, pitta skin is sensitive and does not take the sun and many skincare products well.
If pitta skin could ask for its needs, it would say:
I get hot easily, keep me cool
I am sensitive, protect me form the sun and from harsh chemicals
I don’t like oil, keep me fresh and clean
I do break out, so pay attention to your digestion so I can stay clear and even toned
I go for quality, so buy me the best products you can afford
Kapha: Kapha skin is thick, full, rich and ages beautifully. We need to press firmly to feel the rounded, strong bone structure under kapha skin. It feels cool, soft and moist like a mossy bank on a hot day. It’s firm and toned like a well-filled beach ball, and seems to bounce under our fingers. Kapha is quiet about its needs, but has a few preferences.
If kapha skin could talk it might say:
I love comfort, please find me a spot in the shade
I appreciate pampering, touch is a precious gift to me
I love aromas, adorn me with delightful scents
I feel better when I am active, so massage is a real treat for my skin
I love gifts, so offer me a full basket of treats
Just as our bodies are a unique blend of doshas, so is our skin. We tend to be more kapha as babies, soft moist plump and super soft. We are more pitta in the years when our hormones are more active, which is why we have more breakouts, rashes or rosacea in our teenage or premenopausal years. We grow more vata with age, as our skin dries and we see more fine lines.
Our skin responds to our climate. It will be more dry and vata in a desert, more moist and kapha in the tropics, and more hot and pitta in strong sun.
Our skin responds to our diet. Dry foods, like prunes and raisins, make the skin drier, while peaches keep the skin full and moist.
Our skin also responds to our emotions. Vata skin needs to feel rested to be refreshed, pitta skin needs to relax to hold a glow, and kapha skin needs a little excitement and challenge to keep it from growing dull.
So you see, working with the doshas is so much more than associating with one dosha for all things. It’s about honoring and learning about your unique blend and how to keep it balanced, wherever you live and however you feel.
Whatever your dosha constitution may be, learn to recognize its beauties, learn to care for it well, and enjoy the lasting results that come when we use the wisdom of one of the most ancient systems of wellbeing on the planet, Ayurveda.
Learn about your unique dosha constitution by trying the free skin type profiler at Dermveda.com. For more on the Ayurvedic doshas and how to balance them with oils, read Balance Cooling Temperatures with Warming Oils.