Our skin communicates of our internal health. The skin has many functions, but it so importantly holds everything together; literally, it is what protects our internal body from the external world. Each of the seven layers of skin have their own structure and function.
The skin beginning with the outermost layer reflects the quality of the rasa, expressing whether the body is properly hydrated. It also exposes a quality of the emotional state. The skin reflects the state of our inner aura. One could say if you want to change your appearance first change the way you think and feel, and eliminate habits that breed stress.
The skin expresses the quality of the blood. Any impurities in the blood can result in heightened sensitivity to sunlight. The skin also acts as a barrier to infection. It connects to the rest of the body and communicates its sensations. The skin constantly regenerates and heals damaged tissue while preserving firmness, balance and stability which becomes more challenging as the body ages.
Ayurveda attributes poor skin quality to a lack of understanding about your unique constitution. Each of the doshas experience different challenges with aging. Understanding your personal constitution is necessary if you want to maintain healthy beautiful skin.
Vata dominate constitutions tend to have thin, dry and dull skin. For vata, it is crucial to stay hydrated and nourished. Vata skin benefits tremendously from regular habits and rituals that slow down the mind and body. By simply sipping warm water throughout the day, oiling the skin before bathing and eating a nutrient rich diet, the vata prone skin will be revitalized.
Pittas have the most sensitive skin and are most prone to early signs of age. Pitta skin is most vulnerable to the sun and is most sensitive to products used on it. Pitta types need to protect their skin from the sun and use skincare products that are completely natural to avoid rashes and breakouts. Also maintaining a diet of rich nourishing foods, and eliminating hot and spicy foods will help the skin stay cool and supple.
The thick hearty skin of Kapha makes them less prone to wrinkles yet their low digestive agni causes them to accumulate more toxins. As a result, the kapha skin has reduced circulation which results in an oily, rough and dull looking complexion. To revitalize the skin, kapha should routinely detox the body internally through diet and use exfoliants. Regular exercise in combination with a lighter diet that is easier to digest will help counteract kapha tendencies and keep the skin looking most radiant.
Once you begin paying attention to your body’s constitutional needs and understand how to care for your skin from that vantage point, you can also begin to delve into the other arenas of your life that contribute to the quality of your skin. Stress creates imbalance with every constitution and greatly contributes to a decline in the quality of the skin.
In our modern world where advertising tries to convince us that we need some new product or thing to fulfill us and keep us youthful, we must recognize the very simply truth. Our health and everything that relates to our beauty and health is actually within us. Our aging skin is not something that happens to us, it is something that happens in accordance to our relationship with it. If we neglect to live in relationship with our constitution and nourish our whole self, we begin to feel and see it in our skin.
There is no magical cure for aging, but there is magic in aging gracefully. I find great beauty in the wrinkled face that lives well, exudes joy and expresses a strong life force. Our skin must be celebrated at every stage of life because it is a beautiful organ that functions to protect us. So the next time you look in the mirror, focus on the things you love about your skin, focus on what purpose it serves, be grateful for the health of your skin and develop a better relationship with it so that it can always be vibrant!
Honoring Vitality as a Way of Life!
Megan Fleming for Marin Ayurveda
Ayurvedic Health Educator