Here you will learn basic Ayurvedic techniques for the care of the skin and hair, as well as for the eyes, hands, nails, feet, and breasts. As is usual for Ayurveda, the techniques are natural, mild, and beneficial to your entire well-being.
Routine Skin Care
The skin is one of the most important aspects of any beauty treatment because it is a major aspect of a person’s beauty. The skin is also the largest organ of the body, responsible for expelling toxins and wastes through the pores and sweat. Through this process, healthy skin contributes to the health of the entire body. And similarly, the healthiness of the body will shine through healthy skin, creating a lovely, fresh look of beauty.
Ayurveda prescribes a specific routine for maintaining healthy, lustrous, glowing skin. It is important to care for the skin all over our body, but of course, facial skin treatment has special significance, as our face is the focal point of our appearance.
Ayurvedic skin care consists of seven steps. These are:
- Oil massage
- Herbal steaming or compress
- Cleansing mask or facial pack
- Nourishing mask
- Toning and rejuvenation
The external skin layers constantly excrete sebum, sweat, and other waste products that attract dirt and bacteria from the environment. (Sebum is a mixture of fat and other cellular materials that the cells Of the skin routinely expel. If left on the skin, sebum can contribute to the growth of bacteria and the formation of pimples and other infections.) Ayurveda recommends a process of initial external cleansing to remove this sticky layer of wastes. The process, called body toning program, removes this sticky layer and makes the skin fresh and clean.
Body toning program makes use of various herbal powders mixed with appropriate liquids to form a creamy paste. The paste is then applied to the skin like a scrub.
Ayurveda recommends avoiding the use of soaps for cleansing because the regular use of chemical soaps leaves the skin dry and wrinkled.
Facial or body massage gives nourishment to the skin. Massage increases blood circulation, helps to eliminate toxins, and rejuvenates the body. It also helps relax the muscles and makes the body supple.
This is known as hot fomentation. Hot fomentation liquefies obstructed toxins in the deep tissues by using heat. The steam opens the clogged pores of the skin, and the sweating process removes the toxins. Dilating the body’s internal channels creates a free pathway for the removal of toxins and waste products.
Clay is the best base for a cleansing mask as it acts like a magnet in drawing out dirt and toxins that accumulate deep in the skin. Clay is also a rich source of minerals such as iron, magnesium, Zinc, potassium, calcium, and silica.
Nourishing the Skin
Facial masks can be used for nourishing the skin. This provides vitamins and minerals and rejuvenates the skin by refining pores, healing scars, evening out the color tone, and soothing and moisturizing the skin. Clay is often an ingredient of the facial masks.
Toning and Rejuvenation
Toning removes the greasiness that remains from the cleansing preparations, closes the pores, and refines the skin. Skin toning lotions freshen and stimulate the blood supply to the skin. Apply toners with a cotton ball or spray on with an atomizer.
Moisturizing the Skin
All skin types need moisture. Moisturizers provide a protective film for the skin and replace moisture lost through it. Moisture loss arises from exposure to sun and dry wind, air conditioning, tension, anger, and sorrow.
Moisturizers nourish the outer layers of the skin and should be applied after cleansing to help replace the skin’s mantle. Light moisturizers are best during the day. A heavier, more nourishing one should be used at night when the skin is more receptive to nourishment. Moisturizers make the skin soft, silky, and smooth and temporarily remove tiny wrinkles and disguise deeper ones.
A moisturizer should be applied with the tips of the fingers and smoothed in upward motions on the face, and downward motions from the chin to neck to promote relaxation.
Hair Care Routine
Hair is another vital aspect of external beauty. Everyone is concerned about the appearance of his or her hair and hair disorders. Ayurveda has specific treatments for maintaining healthy and beautiful hair free from disorders. Poor diet, illness, lack of proper hygiene, and nutritional deficiencies can affect the hair and cause various problems.
Regular cleansing and brushing is very important. Brushing activates the sebaceous glands that produce natural oil that makes the hair shine.
A touch of lemon is very good for the hair. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice to half a glass of water. After cleansing the scalp, rinse with this solution for shining hair.
Regular use of henna on normal hair is also very good since henna is a safe hair conditioner. (Be sure to purchase the non coloring type of henna. unless you want to change the color of your hair. Different types of henna are readily available at health food stores locally and online.)
Eye Care Routine
As one of our sensory organs, the eyes are one of the most wonderful parts of our body. Where beauty is concerned, most people rate the eyes as the most important feature of the face. The eyes are called the mirror of the soul because they express the emotions we feel: even our innermost self can often be seen in our eyes. The eyes also reflect our state of health. Any sign of ill health, stress, fatigue, or aging is shown in the eyes.
The eyes reflect the state of internal health to such an extent that certain diseases can be detected solely by examining the eyes.
General factors that damage the eyes, and thus should be avoided, are:
- Reading in improper light
- Watching television for a long time (more than two hours continuously) and sitting too close to it
- Overuse of computers or other devices that emit radiation
- Overly bright lights
- Using too much cold or hot water for washing the hair, head, and eyes
- Eating very greasy, fried, cold, or refrigerated foods containing preservatives and chemicals and products containing white flour or white sugar
- Excessive consumption of carbonated drinks
Cooling measures are needed to maintain the health of the eyes. Bathe the eyes with a damp, cool cloth after getting up in the morning or after being in a polluted environment. Do not splash hot water in your eyes.
A mixture of almonds, white pepper, and anise seeds in the following proportion is good for improving eyesight.
Almonds — 50 whole
White peppercorns — 50 whole
Anise seeds — as much in weight as 50 almonds
Grind all the ingredients and store them in a glass container. Take one teaspoonful twice daily with one cup of milk. If you do not like the taste, you may add a bit of rock candy or raw sugar.
Take time to rest the eyes frequently when reading, studying, working at a computer, or watching television. A good way to relax the eye muscles, which are otherwise continuously strained, is to blink often.
Relaxing for five minutes with cotton pads soaked in weak, warm tea placed on the eyelids is a great energizer. Another way to relax the eyes is to roll the head without moving the shoulders. This movement also lessens the development of wrinkles due to strain. The flow of blood induced by rolling the head nourishes the tissues and eases strain within a few minutes.
Also, you may close your eyes and think of something pleasant for a few minutes. This relaxes the eyes and the surrounding muscles. Focusing on an object placed at arm’s length several times during the day also helps.
Another beneficial exercise is called palming. Rub both palms till they become warm. Place the warm palms on closed eyes. Repeat three or four times.
Just doing everyday chores, which involves coming into contact with chemicals, detergents, and dirt, can damage the skin and result in premature aging. The hands often give away a person’s age quicker than the face does. This is partly because very few people spend time caring for their hands. One of the best ways to protect the hands is to wear protective gloves while working with Chemicals and detergents or when working with soil. If, however, you do not like to wear gloves or find them cumbersome, it may be Worthwhile to use a protective hand cream. Here is a formula for a good hand cream.
Hand Cream Formula
Honey — 2 teaspoons
Marigold or mustard oil — 1 tablespoon
Kaolin or fine clay — to mix
Mix the ingredients to make a paste. Rub into the hands. Rinse afterwards. This is particularly useful in protecting your hands from grit and dirt.
To nourish the hands, the following lotion is quite helpful.
Hand Lotion Formula
Lanolin — 3 tablespoons
Clarified butter — 1 tablespoon
Sesame oil — 6 tablespoons
Chamomile oil, or any other essential oil of choice -10 drops Mix and use as a lotion. If you find it too thick, increase the oil.
Following a diet and lifestyle that is suitable for your body constitution and condition is the key to beautiful nails. The diet should be rich in proteins and nail-building minerals such as sulfur, calcium, iron, silica, and zinc, as well as essential fatty acids, biotin, and vitamins A, D, and E. Healthy nails are pinkish in color, smooth, and evenly-shaped.
Healthy nails depend on their growth areas and roots being well nourished and efficiently cleansed. Use a soft nailbrush to massage your nails and fingertips occasionally. This not only cleans the nails but also stimulates circulation.
The following routine should be followed once every week. Soak your nails in warm water and lemon juice. Gently scrub them with a brush. Soak again and pat dry. Massage each nail with sesame or any medicated oil. Azadirachta indica oil nourishes and strengthens the nails. Lemon juice is good for dry and brittle nails.
Nails can be made naturally smooth and shiny by bathing them in lukewarm vegetable oil with a few drops of an essential oil, using the following formula.
Nail Soak Formula
Almond oil — 20 ml (4 teaspoons)
Lavender oil — 5 drops; or sandalwood oil — 3 drops
The feet are often neglected because they are usually covered, and they are at the other end of our body from our eyes! However, the feet are important not only for appearance but also for health. The feet bear the weight of the body and should be properly looked after. Ignorance, improper care, and lack of cleanliness can all result in problems. Careless trimming of nails, improper foot posture, and improper posture while walking are other factors that strain the feet.
Simply bathing the feet can freshen and revive the whole system. A variety of foot soaks or baths are available to help relieve, revive, and invigorate the feet. Some of them are given below. For a footbath, use a bucket, pan, or bowl large enough to cover the feet up to the ankles and in which the feet can rest flat. One can often find a special “foot spa” in Western drugstores or drugstore sections. The foot spa is shaped perfectly for soaking the feet.
Four Formulas for the Feet
For soothing and cooling the feet: Soaking the feet in a bath with two tablespoons of sandalwood powder or five drops of the essential oil of sandalwood helps cool the feet and induces a restful sleep in summer.
To relieve tired feet: Brew two tablespoons each of crushed juniper berries, rosemary, and lavender in one liter (or one quart) of boiling water. Strain and add to a hot footbath to invigorate the entire system. A footbath of the essential oils of these ingredients also helps relieve tiredness of the feet.
To soothe and deodorize the feet: Brew one tablespoon of thyme, lavender, sweet marjoram, a bay leaf, and a tablespoon of rock salt in one liter (or one quart) öf boiling water for about 10 minutes. Strain the herbs and discard. Take the remaining liquid and add it to the water of a hot footbath. This helps in deodorizing the feet. To soothe the feet and relieve burning: A paste made of five tablespoons of henna leaf powder and two tablespoons each of vinegar and lemon juice offers relief from a burning sensation in the feet when applied to the soles and left on for at least two hours. Wash with lukewarm water after two hours and pat dry. (Henna will color the feet, so one should be prepared for the skin turning orange.)
More Tips for Feet
An early morning walk on cool, dewy grass in bare feet is refreshing and nourishing for the body besides being an aid to female reproductive health.
To the extent possible, keep your feet bare. If it is not possible to go barefoot everywhere, ensure that you are barefoot at least in your own home.
The shape and size of the breasts are considered an important facet of a woman’s beauty. Sagging or small breasts are common problems. A regular, gentle massage of the following ingredients is useful in treating sagging or small breasts.
Black pepper — 5 grams (2 teaspoons)
Pippali (Piper longum) — 10 grams (3&1/2 teaspoons)
Tagar (Valeriana wallichii) — 10 grams (3 and1/2 teaspoons)
Big kantakari — 10 grams (4 teaspoons)
Apamarga (Achyranthes aspera) — 10 grams (3 teaspoons)
Til powder (Sesamum indicum) — 10 grams (3 teaspoons)
Kuth (Saussurea lappa) — 5 grams (2 teaspoons)
Black gram — 10 grams (3 teaspoons)
Sarshap (Brassica campestris) — 5 grams (2 teaspoons)
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – 10 grams (3 teaspoons)
Honey —enough needed to make a paste
Use a fine powder of each ingredient. Mix with honey to make a paste and massage into the breasts.
This chapter has described general beauty routines to give you an idea of what is needed for complete external body care, from head to foot.