I have been writing this post in my mind for weeks, but it’s been unusually busy recently that I simply could not find the time to actually type it. Alternatively, I’m getting worse at time-management, but I don’t want to dwell on that if you don’t mind. We have more important things to talk about!
Why (Ayurvedic) skincare?
I decided to have a good look at my skincare and cosmetic products years ago while dealing with hormonal imbalance. Today, it seems to me that more of us are aware of the harm caused by ingredients like parabens, SLS, or formaldehyde. Sometimes these harmful ingredients are not easy to notice- you might miss parabens since there is an entire family of them, like methylparabens, propylparabens, butylparabens, and ethylparabens. Parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems affecting male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility and birth outcomes. Parabens can also interfere with the production of hormones. How horrible is that?!
It took me a while to “cleanse” my life from these ingredients. I started to check every ingredient; when in doubt, went to EWG skindeep, and typed in a product to see if it is clean enough. In the end, I came up with quite a few products I was comfortable to use. I even included some of these here in the blog.
In the last two years, almost completely organically, I have started to incorporate Ayurvedic products in my life. I say organically, because I was already practicing yoga, you know, drinking warm water with lemon, taking turmeric regularly, and using ashwangandha root (and other adaptogens) in my lattes, baking, or cooking. As a matter of fact, I can say with no hesitation, that adaptogens changed my life. They, especially maca, ashwagandha, and shatavari, changed the quality of my life by helping me balance my hormones, calming me down, curing my anxiety and insomnia. It was almost miraculous. But it was not- Ayurveda is thousands of years old, and it literally means “the Science of Life”. There must be something to it!
I say (Ayurvedic) in the title of the post, because not all of these brands I mention call/advertise themselves as Ayurvedic. But the ingredients are those that Ayurveda accepts and uses. Besides, what is especially important to me is whether a company’s approach to skincare matches that of Ayurveda. The Ayurvedic approach to skincare is that the skin is a manifestation of imbalances in our body. But it does not only tell us about our dis-ease. Taking good care of our skin also helps us take care of our bodily health. You know why? Because, as our largest organ, what we apply on the skin will be absorbed to a great extent. Isn’t it fascinating? Isn’t this the very idea of that holistic approach everyone is talking about these days? We can’t take care of the body/mind, without taking care of the skin.
Cutting to the chase- my favourite (Ayurvedic) products which I use regularly
The very first step you can do is taking a Dosha test. Normally we have various different types of questionnaires for this- one set of questions to find one’s natural constitution, another set of questions to find out about current imbalances. We also look at the tongue, the skin colour, skin condition, the hair type and condition, the way the person speaks, the way they use their body language and many, many other clues and signs. BUT as a first step, and to get a crude idea about this all, consider taking a couple of such tests that you can find online. This might just give an idea when you look into the Ayurvedic products I mention here. Because I have a Pitta constitution and tend to have a Pitta imbalance (especially in the summer!), my choices are mostly for that Dosha type- think of sensitive skin, which gets oily from time to time, especially in the summer, and might have issues with redness. At the same time, some of these products are not specific to any Dosha, and everyone can benefit from them. I will mention which is which. So, read on!
I use this in the morning. It is formulated with aloe vera, uva ursi, licorice, and amla berry, it helps to “deliver youthful, vibrant and radiant looking skin”. Amla is one of the best antioxidants we know today. There are studies suggesting that amla berry extract help stimulate collagen production, and prevents collagen damage when exposed to UV rays. Another one of my favourites, licorice, is known to brighten the skin. In fact, having grown up on an island in the Mediterranean, I have often used licorice to lighten my sunspots. In the summer months, or whenever my skin gets oilier than usual, I use their facial scrub to exfoliate and cleanse the skin.
“Hydrolats” might sound too posh to you (I had no idea what they were until recently!), but hear me out. Hydrolats are like floral waters which contain the same amount of therapeutic benefits as serums. I use mine like a toner, but they can be mixed with serums or like a setting spray, after makeup or treatments. I use the roses hydrolat in the morning (I LOVE anything rose and jasmine). Rosewater is traditionally used to calm, cool, soothe, clear heat. I bought this bottle months ago, so they do last a while. Khus-Khus is a promising, clean, ethical company- and also pretty neat. If I had the means, I would want to try everything they have.
Definitely one of my favourite Ayurvedic companies. I mention Ranavat on my resources page, too. Both the facial serum and the hair serum are divine. The hair serum smells unbelievably nice, that people will actually comment on that. The facial serum has saffron, rose, and turmeric as key ingredients. One of the most expensive spices, saffron is known to brighten and heal damaged skin. I also love it as a tea- I get this Persian saffron that’s high quality, and a little more affordable than other brands I have come across.
Talk about brightening! Beauty Counter might not be an “ayurvedic” brand per se, but they use many ingredients that are commonly used in Ayurveda. I am SO glad I discovered this particular one, and my only regret is not discovering it the moment it came out. I had sun damage on my forehead, from years ago, and honestly, it only started to worry me recently. This serum has turmeric and camu camu- it’s seriously packing antioxidants and superfoods altogether in one tube. Turmeric helps with fine lines and wrinkles, and more to my benefit, camu camu reduces the appearance of dark spots.
I think turmeric is getting to be more common in “the West”, but for those who are not familiar with camu camu, this tiny fruit is loaded with vitamin C, which, of course, helps the body in collagen production and support the health of reproductive organs.
I don’t always use all of the products in this post, but I cannot, will not, be out of my Acid Potion. Besides the AHA and BHA acid complex, this toner has adaptogenic reishi, vitamin B3 and tocotrienols (from the vitamin E family). I use it only at night, and it lasts me at least 2 months. I mean, I’m telling you, this exfoliating toner is as good as its pricey rivals.
I’m not going to lie: I use good old (but organic, unrefined, cold-pressed) coconut oil as a cleanser and makeup remover (not that I use make up these last few months). Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, anti-yeast, and, apparently, because of its detergent effect, it works well as a makeup remover. That said, I do appreciate that it clogs pores for some people (I always use the Moon Juice Acid Potion afterward, and I think it prevents any side effect of the coconut oil, but still). You know your skin best. If you don’t think coconut oil is for you, I would recommend kumari cleanser from Pratima Skincare. This is actually an eye makeup remover, but you can use it on your face as well. The base is almond oil, but it also has aloe vera, grape seed extract and olive oil (which is high in antioxidants).
Paavani Ayurveda Pitta Mask and Serum
Again, if you don’t know much about doshas, think of Pitta skin as sensitive, oily in the T-Zone and can be prone to redness and blemishes. (Vata types are more likely to have dry skin, and Kapha types have oilier, larger pores and less sensitive to sun. Please know that I’m now crudely summarizing these skin qualities). I use Paavani Pitta serum and the mask regularly. They obviously have a much wider selection for different skin types, so check them out here. I can also recommend their nasya oil (especially if you have sinus problems, dry sinus issues). Another product to try, if you have the habit of oil pulling, is their mint pulling oil. CONFESSION: I am telling you all this, about nasya oil, or oil pulling and so on, but ask me if I have the self-discipline to follow these wonderful ayurvedic rituals on a regular basis? Nope. I am writing these while munching on chocolate snacks after midnight, so clearly I have a lot of work to do in the good habit building department. But anyway. Do as I say, not as I do!
Another cleanser that I like is Sahajan. I like oil cleansers, to begin with. But this one has rose oil in it, and I love everything rose. And jasmine. and neroli. Rose has calming qualities, so it is especially good for easily inflamed, delicate, sensitive skin types. I also like the brightening mask from the same brand because of the hemp seed oil which alleviates redness.
Clarins is probably the most conventional/commercial brand I have in this post, but I love their body oils. I used the Tonic Body Oil while pregnant, on my extremely big bump; and the Contour Body Oil on the rest of my body. The ingredients are minimal, and mostly plant extracts like hazelnut, flower and citrus oils.
Last but not least: Moon Balance from Yoursuper
My favourite Yoursuper Mix, which I love so much that I eat with the spoon, is the Energy Bomb. It gives me amazing energy with no jitters. But I run out of it recently. And I ended up losing it completely. I actually put the cat food in my coffee cup. Yes. This is how my “mumbrain” looks like, without my Energy Bomb.
Besides the Energy Bomb, I regularly (aka ALL the time) use the Chocolate Lover (not surprising, is it?) and the Chocolate Protein Bundle. For our purposes here (skincare), I should, of course, mention the Forever Beautiful mix with its skin-friendly ingredients such as chia seeds (to soothe inflammations, calm acne, and blemishes), acai and blueberries (antioxidants, vitamin C which encourages collagen production). NOW there is yet another mix which I think will be helpful to deal with skin problems that are due to hormonal imbalance. This new mix, Moon Balance, has Ayurvedic ingredients like shatavari, amla, and baobab- I’m especially excited about amla and shatavari because I already use these every day.
I know from experience that hormones are everything- they influence the mood, quality of sleep, ability to focus, skin and hair health, weight change, and cognitive function. I also experienced firsthand how body-mind-spiritual health and wellbeing are all affecting each other. We simply have to care for ourselves as a whole, and skin, as our largest organ, can be our first step to better health.
Editor’s note: The information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programme.
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