Naturally fresh and healthy skin is a thing of beauty and joy forever.
Ayurveda suggests many herbal remedies and natural methods to protect our skin from pimples, acne, dark circles, wrinkles or marks, and also improve our complexion.
It is essential to know about the structure of skin first before analysing causes that lead to changes in the skin. Conventionally speaking, our skin is made up of multiple layers of epithelial tissues. The skin has two distinct parts. The epidermis is the top-most layer. The upper layer of epidermis contains dead cells which are gradually cast off. These cells are replaced by fresh, new cells produced by the basal layer, or what is called as the lower layer of epidermis.
The second called the dermis lies below the epidermis. It consists of a vast network of collagen fibres. Collagen is responsible for the elastic property of skin. As you’d know, the sebaceous glands that are associated with hair follicles and sweat glands are present in the dermis; they receive blood supply from the subcutaneous tissue that lies below the dermis. The sebaceous glands get activated during puberty; they produce an oil-like substance called sebum. Blockages in the sebaceous gland can use pimples.
According to ayurveda, the skin has seven layers. When these layers are affected by imbalanced doshas [vital energetic forces of body], they give rise to different skin diseases. The list of seven layers of skin and the diseases that originate from them are as follows:
- Avabhasini. The outermost layer of skin. Pimples, acne, dandruff etc., arise when this layer gets affected by vitiated doshas
- Lohita. This is the second layer of skin. Moles, dark circles, and black pigmentations, occur due to vitiated doshas
- Shweta. The third layer of skin is affected by defective doshas. This results in eczema, allergic rashes etc.,
- Tamra. This is the fourth layer of skin, which when affected by doshas, leads to leprosy
- Vedini. The fifth layer. Any imbalance of doshas in the layer can cause herpes
- Rohini. Defective doshas in this, the sixth layer of our skin may lead to cancer, tumours, elephantiasis etc.,
- Mamsadhara. This is the seventh layer. When affected by vitiated doshas, the layer can give rise to abscess, fistula, and the like.
The skin covers and protects underlying muscles and organs. It guards our body from the invasion of pathogens; it also acts as an insulation cover, and regulates our body temperature. It is one of our great sense organs. It also plays a major role in the synthesis of vitamin D. The melanin pigment in our skin, as many of us know, protects us from the sun’s harmful effects [UV radiation].
For a Beautiful Skin
- Take bath daily; twice is better [morning and evening]
- Wash your face twice daily with herbal natural scrubs like besan, methi powder, green gram flour, masoor dal flour etc.,
- Splash fresh water on face as soon as you wash
- Get a complete body massage with gingelly oil once a week
- Doing pranayama daily for 15 minutes daily keeps your skin healthy and radiant
- Do facials with natural fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables etc., once a week. Cucumber, carrot, water melon, sandalwood paste, turmeric, honey etc., can be used according to seasons and skin types
- Drink a glass of water with a tsp of honey on empty stomach in the morning. This should be one of your daily routines
- Savour a glassful of milk, curd, or buttermilk, every day.
Cause and effect
Several internal and external factors spoil the beauty of our skin.
Sun. Sun is the worst enemy of beautiful skin.
Apply a good sun block on exposed parts of the body. Wear full-sleeved light-coloured clothes when you move out in the sun. Do not forget to wear a hat and cooling glasses.
Mix sandal powder in a large glass of water and keep it in the refrigerator to cool. Transfer the ingredient to a sprayer and spray the mix on your body whenever you feel your skin is itchy.
Seasonal changes. When the environment is hot and humid, the skin gets a sticky feeling due to sweating. Microbial activity is intense on wet skin. Bathe daily to keep the skin clean and lower the microbial activity. Use a mixture of soap nut powder, besan [gram flour] and sandalwood powder to scrub the skin. Drink plenty of water to compensate loss of fluid through sweat.
When the weather is cold and dry, the moisture level of skin lowers and it becomes dry. It also cracks. Apply a good moisturising lotion liberally all over body. Smearing fresh aloe vera juice is also good – it improves the moisture levels of skin.
Massage your body with gingelly [til] oil, once a week. Wear warm cotton clothes and socks in winter. Regular foot massage with warm gingelly oil or castor oil helps prevent fissures in the heels and foot, a common winter affection. Drink plenty of warm water to keep the skin well-hydrated and also to prevent dryness.
Air pollution. Pollutants like dust, smoke, smog, and dirt, can clog the pores in your skin and cause acne and pimples. Apply a good moisturiser which acts as a barrier between your skin and pollutants. Cleanse your skin carefully and gently. Use besan and rose water as a scrub in summer. Likewise, a mixture of masoor dal [orange lentils] and milk make a great winter scrub.
Sleep. Lack of sleep causes dark circles and diminishes the glow of skin. 7- 8 hours sleep keeps the skin healthy and glowing
Exercise. A brisk daily walk for 45 minutes keeps the skin healthy. Walking improves blood circulation and also flushes out toxins. Lack of exercise leads to dull-looking skin
Stress. Stress causes dark circles, loss of complexion, and appearance of permanent lines on facial skin. Yoga, meditation, exercise and body massage are best stress-busters and skin-friendly therapies
Addiction. Tobacco, drugs, alcohol etc., make the skin look lifeless and unattractive. Say “no” to any form of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
A diet that is not healthy [fast- or junk-food] spoils the skin. Likewise, spicy, oily foods also ruin the beauty of your skin. It leads to acne, pimples and black heads. A healthy diet retards the aging process of skin and gives it a charming look.
- Drink plenty of fresh clean water [two litre daily]. It helps to eliminate body wastes and toxins. It also keeps constipation at bay.
- Let fresh fruits and vegetables occupy a major portion of your diet. Dark green and orange vegetables and fruits contain anti-oxidants and also possess cancer-fighting properties
- Avoid sweets, chocolates, junk-foods, deep fried, oily, and spicy foods.