“Every person is born perfect. Inferiority is a mistake of the mind, a cloud covering the light. Dissolve the clouds by observing a balanced life with healthy habits. Nourish your mind and body. Connect with your own inner self. Celebrate your own magnificence, and your beauty will always shine through.” -Dr. Rama Kant Mishra, renowned Ayurvedic physician, and dermatologist
The Three Pillars of Beauty
Maharishi Ayurveda (MAV), the modern, consciousness-based revival of the ancient Ayurvedic medicine tradition, considers true beauty supported by three pillars; Outer Beauty, Inner Beauty, and Lasting Beauty. Only by enhancing all three can we attain the balanced state of radiant health that makes each of us the most fulfilled and beautiful person we can be.
Outer Beauty: Roopam
The outer signs of beauty – your skin, hair, and nails – are more than just superficial measures of beauty. They are direct reflections of your overall health. These outer tissues are created by the inner physiological processes involved in digestion, metabolism, and proper tissue development. Therefore, outer beauty depends more on the strength of your digestion and metabolism, the quality of your diet, and the purity of your blood than on external cleansers and conditioners you may apply.
General Recommendations for Outer Beauty
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As we will discuss, the key to skincare is matching your diet and skincare routine to the specific skin type you have. Meanwhile, there are some valuable recommendations for lustrous skin, hair, and nails that will be helpful to everyone, regardless of skin type.
1. Diet: Without adequate nourishment, your collagen layer thins, and a kind of wasting takes place. Over time, your skin can shrivel up like a plant without water from lack of nourishment. To keep your skin plump and glowing:
A. Eat fresh, whole organic foods that are freshly prepared.
Avoid packaged, canned, frozen, processed foods, and leftovers. These foods have little nutritional value, and also they are often poorly digested, which creates impurities that localize in the skin. The resulting buildup of toxins causes irritation and blocks circulation depriving the skin of further nourishment and natural cleansing processes.
B. Favor skin nourishing foods.
Leafy green vegetables contain vitamins, minerals (especially iron and calcium), and high antioxidant properties. They nourish the skin and protect it from premature aging.
Sweet juicy fruits like grapes, melons, pears, plums, and stewed apples at breakfast are excellent for the skin in almost everyone.
Eat a wide variety of grains over different meals and try mixed grain servings at breakfast and lunch. For example, add amaranth, quinoa, couscous, millet, and barley to the wheat and rice you already eat.
Favor light, easy-to-digest proteins like legume soups (especially yellow split mung dhal), whole milk, paneer (cheese made from boiling milk, adding lemon and straining solids), and lassi (diluted yogurt and spice drinks).
Oils like ghee (clarified butter) and organic, extra virgin olive oil should be included in the diet as they lubricate, nourish, and create luster in the skin.
Use spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper to improve digestion, nourish the skin, and cleanse impurities.
Avoid microwaving and boiling your vegetables. They lose as much as 85% of their antioxidant content when cooked in this way. Steaming and sautéing are best.
Caring for outer beauty through knowledge of skin type
Besides these general recommendations, the key to Outer Beauty is to understand the difference in skin types so you can gain the maximum benefit from your individualized skincare regimen. MAV identifies three different skin types based on which of the three main metabolic principles (doshas)- present in everyone but to different degrees- is most dominant in your body.
* Description: Vata is composed of the elements of air and space. If you have a vata skin type, your skin will be dry, thin, fine pored, delicate and cool to the touch. When balanced, it glows with a delicate lightness and refinement that is elegant and attractive. When vata skin is imbalanced, it will be prone to excessive dryness and may even be rough and flaky.
* Potential problems: The greatest beauty challenge for vata skin is its predisposition to symptoms of early aging. Your skin may tend to develop wrinkles earlier than most due to its tendency to dryness and thinness. If your digestion is not in balance, your skin can begin to look dull and grayish, even in your 20’s and 30’s. In addition, your skin may tend disorders such as dry eczema and skin fungus. Finally, mental stress, such as worry, fear, and lack of sleep, has a powerful debilitating effect on vata skin, leaving it looking tired and lifeless.
* Recommendations for care
With a little knowledge, you can preserve and protect the delicate beauty of your vata type skin. Since your skin does not contain much moisture, preventing it from drying is a major consideration. Eat a warm, unctuous diet (ghee and olive oil are best) and favor sour, salty, and sweet tastes (naturally sweet like fruits, not refined sugar) as they balance vata. Avoid drying foods like crackers. Drink 6-8 glasses of warm (not cold for vata types!) water throughout the day and eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Going to bed early (before 10 PM) is very soothing to vata and will tremendously positively influence your skin. Avoid cleansing products that dry the skin (like alcohol-based cleansers) and perform Ayurvedic oil massage to your whole body (abhyanga) in the morning before you shower.
* Description: Pitta dosha is composed of the elements of fire and water. If you have a pitta skin type, your skin is fair, soft, warm, and medium thick. When balanced, your skin has a beautiful, slightly rosy, or golden glow, as if illuminated from within. Your hair typically is fine and straight and is usually red, sandy, or blonde in color. Your complexion tends toward the pink or reddish, and there is often a copious amount of freckles or moles.
* Potential problems: Among the many beauty challenges of pitta skin types is your tendency to develop rashes, rosacea, acne, liver spots, or pigment disorders. Because of the large proportion of the fire element in your constitution, your skin does not tolerate heat or sun very well. Of all the three skin types, pitta skin has the least tolerance for the sun, is photosensitive, and most likely to accumulate sun damage over the years. In addition, Pitta skin is aggravated by emotional stress, especially suppressed anger, frustration, or resentment.
* Recommendations for care
Avoid excessive sunlight, tanning treatments, and highly heating therapies like facial or whole body steam. Avoid hot, spicy foods and favor astringent, bitter, and sweet foods that balance pitta. (Again, naturally sweet, not chocolate and refined sugar!) Sweet juicy fruits (especially melons and pears), cooked greens, and rose petal preserves are delicious. Drinking plenty of water helps wash impurities from sensitive pitta skin. Reduce external or internal contact with synthetic chemicals to which your skin is especially prone to react, even in a delayed fashion after years of seemingly uneventful use. Avoid skin products that are abrasive, heating, or contain artificial colors or preservatives. Most commercial make-up brands should be avoided in favor of strictly 100% natural ingredient cosmetics. And be sure to get your emotional stress under control through plenty of outdoor exercises, yoga, and meditation.
* Description: Kapha dosha is composed of the elements of earth and water. If you have a Kapha skin type, your skin is thick, oily, soft, and cool to the touch. Your complexion is a glowing porcelain whitish color, like the moon, and your hair characteristically thick, wavy, oily, and dark. With their more generous collagen and connective tissue, Kapha skin types are fortunate to develop wrinkles much later in life than vata or pitta types.
*Potential problems If your skin becomes imbalanced, it can show up as enlarged pores, excessively oily skin, moist types of eczema, blackheads, acne or pimples, and water retention. Kapha skin is also more prone to fungal infections.
* Recommendations for care
Kapha skin is more prone to clogging and needs more cleansing than other skin types. Be careful to avoid greasy, clogging creams. Likewise, avoid heavy, hard-to-digest foods like fried foods, fatty meats, cheeses, and rich desserts. Instead, eat more light, easy-to-digest, astringent, bitter, and pungent (well-spiced) foods as they balance Kapha. Olive oil is the best cooking oil, and a little ginger and lime juice can be taken before meals to increase your characteristically sluggish digestive fire. Take warm baths often and use gentle cleansers to open the skin pores. Avoid getting constipated and try to exercise every day to increase circulation and help purify the skin through the sweating process.
Inner Beauty: Gundam.
Happy, positive, loving, caring individuals have a special beauty that is far more than skin deep. Conversely, we all experience the quick and deleterious effect on our skin from fatigue and stress.
Inner beauty is authentic beauty, not the kind that shows on a made-up face, but the kind that shines through from your soul, your consciousness, or inner state of being. Inner beauty comes from a mind and heart that are in harmony, not at odds, causing emotional confusion, loss of confidence, stress, and worry. Inner peace is the foundation of outer beauty.
Maintain your self-confidence and a warm, loving personality by paying attention to your lifestyle and daily routine and effective management of stress (I highly recommend the TM technique for its scientifically verified benefits on mental and physical health and reduced aging.) You will also be healthier and feel better through the day if you eat your main meal at midday and make a habit of going to bed early (by 10 PM is ideal.)
Remember, kindness, friendliness, and sincerity naturally attract people to you. On the other hand, being uptight or tense makes people want to walk the other way, regardless of your facial structure, body weight, or other outer signs we associate with attractiveness.