iHerb: Beauty through Ayurveda

Beauty is a divine gift to human beings.

Beauty is one of the essential qualities of human beings which gives feelings of confidence and pride to individuals. The skin is the first and largest organ we see beauty in when we visualise someone, and looking charming and beautiful is possibly the main desire of every individual.

The contemporary concept of wellness includes beauty, health, fitness, and anti-aging treatments. The concept of using herbs for beautification is well defined in Ayurveda. Cosmetic preparations have been used for worship and for sensual enjoyment in India since the Vedic period. According to Ayurveda, beauty is determined by body constitution, structural predominance, compactness of the body, and body complexion.

Ayurveda skincare starts from a mother’s womb: Dinacharya (daily regime), ratricharya (night regime), and ritucharya (seasonal regime) with the practice of medicinal herbs and minerals. The acharya charaka recites that the beauty of a female is enhanced by finding a suitable man, and similarly, a man can enhance his appearance by having a similar mind, psyche, and liking with an excellent partner. Beautiful women are always praised in our ancient texts as virtue and wealth; affluence and creation depend on women.

Ayurveda herbs and their significance is popular worldwide. Nowadays, herbs are increasing in demand because of the supreme effects of Ayurveda herbs. Herbal skincare is good not only for routine nourishing of the skin, but also for treatment of skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis. In Ayurveda, “healthy skin” is a result of the overall health condition of individuals and prescribed numerous skincare treatments that need to be pursued at every stage of life. The function of Ayurvedic herbs is to purify skin and eliminate vitiated tridoshas from  the  body  as  they are  mainly  responsible for skin disorders and other diseases.

In authentic texts of Ayurveda, there are over 200 herbs, a number of minerals and fats to maintain and enhance the health and beauty of the skin.  Today, there is once again a restoration of preference for natural products, and in recent years, there has been a great upsurge in the study of medicinal herbs. Ayurveda cosmetic-related medications have been in use since thousands of years ago in India, without any side effects, and are well proven and documented.

Our skin is confronted daily with multiple challenges like exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. This can damage the cell layers of the skin and excessive exposure to UV light causes permanent damage, also called photo damage. If the photo damage is acute, it is called “sunburn”. Erythema skin laxity, wrinkling, and impaired wound healing are some of the side effects of prolonged UV exposure. The next one is dryness of skin: The extracellular water content declines as cells migrate towards outer skin. Dry skin may be caused after prolonged washing with detergents, lack of fatty acids, etc. Another challenge we face is wrinkles; they are highlighted by loss of blood vessels in the dermis. Also, sunburnt skin is more prone to wrinkles. The wound healing process has also become a challenge; after an injury, wound repair is never perfect, hence the tensile strength of a healed injury is less than uninjured skin. The next challenge would be skin ageing; aged skin leads to an overall dull skin appearance and loss of the protective ability of skin.

In authentic Ayurveda texts, it is mentioned that a skincare regime comprises the following concepts, and dinacharya includes the following procedures:

  • Mukha Prakshalana – washing the face with cold water and some specific drugs; it prevents hemorrhagic diseases, acne, dryness, pigmentation
  • Nasya – administration of medicine through nostrils
  • Gandusha (gargling) – medicated oils are used to ease dryness of throat and cracking of lips and to give strength to gums and teeth
  • Abhyanga (massage) – provides softness to the body, cleanliness, strength, and improves complexion
  • Padabhyanga (foot massages) – improves the softness of the sole and enhances vision
  • Samvahana (massage) – gentle rubbing of the skin with oil promotes healthy muscles, blood circulation, and texture of the skin
  • Vyayama (exercise) – builds up the health of the body and gives strength
  • Udvartana (massage) – helps in giving excellent clear complexion to the skin by making the skin soft and smooth
  • Aalapana (packs) – will provide cheerfulness, an even tone and complexion, and strength and eliminates foul smell, impurities, dead cells, and fatigue
  • Snana (bathing) – washing with cold water with amalaki (Indian gooseberry) will surely get rid of wrinkled skin and grey hairs and provide a prolonged life

(The writer holds a BAMS [Hons] from the University of Colombo and a Diploma in Panchakarma, and is currently reading for an Msc in Food and Nutrition from the University of Peradeniya)