(Originally published as a “Featured Today” Highlight, in the “Popular Lately” Section & Top 10 Blogs of the Week on Elephant Journal)
Do you ever feel like you’ve tried every skin-benefiting lotion and potion known to man, and yet, do not see any benefits to your skin?
Are you sick and tired of spending tons of time, money and energy on complicated 10-step skin care regimens that are yielding no results?
Ever feel like giving up altogether on the possibility of healthy skin?
Fret no longer. Thanks to the ancient science of Ayurveda, which is the sister science of Yoga, it is possible to not only have healthy, but glowing skin, which really radiates from the inside-out.
Ayurveda’s Approach to Healthy Skin
Ayurveda, which is comprised of the words “Ayur,” meaning “life,” and “Veda,” meaning “knowledge,” is known as the science of life. As such, Ayurveda truly touches upon all of the myriad aspects of life that make it as full and rich as it is.
From digestion to psychology to sexual health to spirituality to skincare, Ayurveda, as a spiritual science of life, really covers it all, with incredible precision, clarity, and insight.
In the modern era, we work so hard to cover up our skin with various products, from moisturizers to toners to serums to lotions and creams that often deliver limited results, at best. At worst, these products, because they are all chemically based, cause our skin to react, which means we resort to wearing to makeup, which then further ruins our skin, creating a vicious cycle.
In Ayurveda, we work to actively promote health primarily by what we put into, versus onto, our bodies. Here are five surprising Ayurvedic skincare secrets that I have truly benefited from, which you, too, can begin to employ from within to activate your inner glow.
1) Avoid or cut down on heavy seafood intake.
In one of the classical Ayurvedic texts called Charaka Samhita Nidanasthana, chapter five, verse six outlines the causative factors of skin-related diseases and imbalances. One of these factors is “continuous intake of fish in large quantity.”
Because everything in Ayurveda is customized per individual, one person may be able to safely consume more seafood than another and actually benefit greatly from the seafood. As a general rule of thumb, however, it would be best to cut down on heavy seafood intake, especially if you are seeking to improve your skin in any way.
2) Do not mix milk with fruits, meat, salt, vegetables or honey.
Ayurveda teaches that there are some things that simply do not go together. The foods listed above are called incompatible food combinations, which hinder the digestive process. Healthy, balanced digestion is considered the cornerstone of optimal health in Ayurveda, as healthy digestion reflects solid overall physical health.
And, digestion is not something that happens in the stomach only. Skin is the largest organ of the body and is more vulnerable to disease, infection, injury and imbalance than any other bodily structure. When we don’t digest our food properly, it doesn’t just affect our bodies internally; it is also reflected in the quality of our skin. That is why we focus so much in Ayurveda on avoiding those foods that cannot be easily digested, such as the incompatible combinations listed above.
3) Go to sleep and wake up early.
Sleep is considered one of the three pillars of health, according to Ayurveda. The body actually heals itself as we sleep at night, ideally by 10 p.m. When we miss the ideal time for sleep and try to compensate by sleeping excessively during the daytime, our health suffers, and it shows up adversely on our skin. Excess daytime sleep is also one of the causative factors of skin-related conditions.
Going to sleep early and waking up early, between four and six a.m., has changed my life in countless ways, giving me tremendous willpower, insight and clarity, in addition to better skin.
4) Stop sunbathing.
This one should come as no surprise. Ayurveda is all about addressing the root causes of why health problems manifest in the first place. No matter how much sunscreen you may liberally apply to your face and body, excess sun exposure will definitely damage your skin. It is therefore essential to protect yourself with a hat and/or sunglasses. Whenever you feel the temptation to soak in the sun, ask yourself, is it really necessary?
5) Do something to be of service, without any strings attached.
Mental stress is a huge causative factor for skin problems. From Ayurveda, we learn that Sadvritta, a noble code of social and moral behavior, is an essential part of health that is just as important as what we put into and onto our bodies. So much of our stress in life comes from the kinds of relationships we have with others, as well as our own worries about our current and/or future security, whether that be physical, emotional, financial, etc.
Whenever we are able to step out of our own suffering enough to help another, we are automatically filled with joy. Even if all we can do is spend an hour a week serving soup in a soup kitchen, that one hour can help us connect with our inherent goodness, bringing out our inner glow and the light of Sattva (an auspicious, peaceful, noble, and joyful state of mind that Ayurveda psychology teaches is our true state).
Beauty is as beauty does, after all.
All the spiritual traditions of the world stress the importance of selfless service. Ayurveda is no exception—in the Charaka Samhita text, in addition to food and lifestyle corrections and developing better mental equanimity, it actually lists selfless service as one of the ways to recover from disease.
When we act in beautiful ways, we are able to connect with the most beautiful part of ourselves, which is our own ever-glowing, eternally radiant, indwelling soul.
Following all of the above secrets has changed my life in countless, wonderful ways.
I am delighted to invite you on this amazing journey of awakening to your true beauty, from within.
1. Sharma, Priyant. Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Oriental, 2003.
Photo: Hotel Costa Calero/Flickr