What is Ayurveda? Meet the cure to all your beauty and wellness woes
Let your Doshas guide you
By Georgia Nelson
BEAUTYcrew Beauty & Social Editor / October 11 2022
In the post-COVID world, we’re all back to our daily grind of to-do lists that never end, hour-long commutes and trying to squeeze in a sweat session (or two if you’re brave enough). And somewhere in all that chaos, we have to slot in some much-needed ‘me time’ to remedy the stresses of the day — but sometimes the Instagram version of self-care (read: bath bombs and face masks) just doesn’t cut it.
From K-beauty to J-Beauty, cultural beauty secrets have made their way into the mainstream and solidified their place in our daily rituals. And now, a new wave of Ayurveda beauty and wellness brands are bringing the practices of Indi-beauty to the forefront.
Here, we take a look at how the ancient traditional practice can elevate your daily wellness rituals and heal your skin from within.
What is ayurveda?
If you’ve ever done breathwork during Pilates or tried your hand at meditation, you’ve already made your first foray into Ayurveda. But if you’re new to the Ayurveda scene, you’re probably feeling a little lost right now. But think of this as your go-to guide to a better, more grounded you.
Ayurveda is (quite literally) one of the oldest forms of healing in the book. It was first documented in Sanskrit literature thousands of years BC and has since paved the way for what we now call ‘alternative medicine’ such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbalism and naturopathy.
But don’t be fooled into thinking it is some kind of woo-woo approach to wellness. Ayurveda translates to the ‘science of life’, so it’s safe to say that it is a pretty effective way to treat any health and beauty issues you may encounter. In fact, we’ll let world-renowned wellness leader Deepak Chopra explain.
“Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems,” Chopra writes. “More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realising their full human potential.”
Ayurveda is all about mind-body balance, with a focus on prevention rather than the westernised band-aid approach of treating symptoms. Whether it’s to do with your skin, gut health, mental health or overall health, Ayurveda targets diet, lifestyle and wellness to create a harmonious environment within the body.
Herbs and plant-based ingredients are integral to this 360-degree approach to wellness. If you were to see an Ayurvedic practitioner to help treat your acne, for example, they would likely ask about your diet, lifestyle habits and menstrual cycles.
In a nutshell, Ayurveda is all about creating harmony in your body and mind through a whole-body approach. And getting to know your Doshas will teach you everything you need to unlock true inner (and outer) peace.
Discovering your Dosha
In order to understand Indi-beauty and Ayurveda, it's important to know about 'Doshas', which are used to define people based on their energies.
The Doshas are the key to understanding Ayurveda and creating a harmonious body balance. There are three Doshas that define people based on their energies.
According to Dylan Smith, founder of Vital Veda in Bondi, “Every plant, human, substance, medicine, object, body part, season, planet and every thing comprise of different levels of the elements and doshas. So, when we can understand what dosha dominates a certain thing, using the principles of Ayurveda we can balance that thing into a state of perfect health.”
It’s important to know that you have all three mind-body energies within you. So whilst one dosha (or sometimes two for the bidosha among us) remains more dominant throughout your life, the other doshas can manifest in different ways during different stages of life, including seasons of the year, big life events and your hormonal cycle.
“Balance is attained by harmonising the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. When the doshas are out of balance, it can present through physical and emotional distress on the mind and body,” Michelle Ranavat, founder of Ayurvedic beauty brand RANAVAT, explains.
So when it comes to your skin concerns, for example, the doshas play a huge part and it’s important to get to know yours in order to transform your skin from the inside out.
Keen to know your dosha? Let’s take a look at what defines them…
Body: Thin/petite, doesn’t gain weight easily
Hair: Dry, frizzy
Skin: Uneven tone, dry, prone to fine lines and wrinkles
Nails: Brittle, break easily
Sleep: Uneven, prone to insomnia
When in balance: Social, outgoing and very creative
When out of balance: Anxious, sensitive and prone to menstrual pain
Body: Athletic, medium frame
Hair: Medium length and thickness, usually red or blonde
Skin: Fair, soft, prone to conditions like eczema
Nails: Soft and flexible
Sleep: Difficulty falling asleep but rarely wakes up
When in balance: Efficient, passionate and high energy
When out of balance: Oily and inflamed skin, hot-headed, impulsive
Body: Stocky, gains weight easily
Hair: Thick, strong
Skin: Oily, plump, prone to breakouts
Nails: Strong and sturdy
Sleep: Comes easily
When in balance: Nurturing, compassionate and grounded
When out of balance: Lethargic, unmotivated and emotional
Ayurvedic beauty secrets you need to know
Are you ready to step into the world of Ayurveda? Here are a few beauty secrets to kickstart your journey.
Hair oiling is a time-old tradition for the people of South Asia. And thankfully we have been introduced to the benefits of hair oiling through brands like RANAVAT. “I think its incredibly important to understand where traditions come from and honour their history,” Ranavat explains, referring the recent viral TikTok trend of ‘hair slugging’ (read: appropriation of an ancient Ayurvedic tradition).
According to Ayurveda, the scalp contains multiple energy-relieving points or marmas. So hair oiling is used as a tool to relieve the mind and body and restore balance to the doshas. Oiling your scalp and strands is also beneficial for hair growth, conditioning and protection against environmental damage.
Saffron and turmeric in everything
Turmeric is one of the most-used spices in Ayurvedic practice. It is known as the ‘Golden Goddess’ and works to clear toxins in your body, promote oral health, even your skin tone and texture, and reduce pigmentation.
Its lesser-known (and potentially underrated) sister, saffron, is also packed with an abundance of antioxidant properties. “Saffron is such an incredible ingredient for the skin; it not only brightens, but also protects the skin from inflammation,” says Ranavat.
These spices are hailed as miracle elixirs in Ayurveda and used in face masks, oils and serums to promote youthful skin. It’s also worth adding a turmeric milk or saffron tea to your daily ritual to promote radiance from within.
Oil or ‘basti’ treatments have been used for centuries to aid in healing and preventing issues such as joint and muscle pain, period pain and immunity issues. External bastis are most common, and involve pouring warm medicated oil into a doughnut-shaped well over the problematic body part and letting it seep in and begin healing.
“High-quality medicated Ayurvedic oils actually have the ability to penetrate through all the seven layers of skin, and even reach the seven tissues of the body, down to the bone marrow and reproductive tissue,” Smith explains.
The most common treatments include back bastis to relieve back and neck pain, knee bastis to help with mobility and function of the knee joint, and chakra bastis, which are said to enhance energy levels, immunity, fertility and help remove trauma from the reproductive organs.
Main image credit: Getty/Bridgerton via Netflix
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