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Skin Care Basics
I often write about how to restore the function of the inner skin: the epithelium that lines the heart, gut, lungs, and arteries. Now I want to discuss how to care for the outer skin, the skin that covers our bodies.
Aside from affecting how we look, the outer skin also functions as a major protective and detoxifying organ.
The outer skin is drained by an active and detoxifying lymph system, much like the inner skin. In the same way we pay attention to the health of the inner skin—the intestines—we must also pay attention to the health of the outer skin, as it is a major detoxification organ and a major breeding ground for our beneficial, protective bacteria. When the outer skin becomes congested, the body can become toxic and the skin can prematurely age, sag, and wrinkle.
Discover your Ayurvedic Skin Type by taking our quiz and adjust your skin care formula accordingly.
Your Skin – Your Largest Detox Organ
In 1996, I started working with Ben Fuchs, a brilliant natural pharmacist, to co-create the LifeSpa Ayurvedic skin care line.
I was finding that the skin of many of my patients had ceased to function optimally and was unable to detoxify adequately. Many fat-soluble toxic chemicals, including preservatives, pesticides, environmental pollutants and heavy metals, store in the fatty layers just beneath the skin.
These toxins can congest the lymphatic drainage of the skin and slow down skin function. The skin’s cellular turnover–the time it takes for the skin to slough off old cells and present new cells – slows way down. This not only makes the surface layers of the skin look old, dry, and lackluster, it also compromises the skin’s ability to function as a much-needed detoxification organ.
Based on the Ayurvedic principles behind the LifeSpa skin care line, I’d like to share a few DIY at-home recipes for cleansing, toning, and reviving the skin.
Ayurvedic Beauty Secrets – Ingredient Details
I use a few classic Ayurvedic skin-loving substances in these recipes. Here are the details on why I use these specific herbs:
Chickpea Flour: The basics of a good daily cleanser are to first soften and gently moisturize, and then to exfoliate the skin. This ensures that the skin will not be irritated in any way. To achieve this result, we use chickpea flour (also known as gram or besan flour) as a base, which is both exfoliating and moisturizing.
Triphala: From there, we need to approach the skin much like we approach the villi of the gut. My favorite formula for this is triphala, an Ayurvedic 3-fruit formula that is commonly used to detoxify, tone, and support the skin the lines the gut. Here are the 3 fruits that make up triphala, along with an explanation of how each is used to support healthy skin:
Amalaki is loaded with free radical scavengers that encourage the production of collagen and promote elasticity of the skin. It supports the rejuvenation of the inner skin and is shown to support the skin’s natural ability to protect against foreign invaders. It is especially good for pitta skin.
Bibhitaki is known as a natural detoxifying agent that increases microcirculation into the deeper layers of the skin. It supports a natural flush of the sweat glands and detoxifies the skin. It is especially useful for kapha skin.
Haritaki is a natural toner that supports the natural ability to flush toxins from the deeper layers of the inner skin. It is also known as a great rejuvenator for the skin. It is best for vata skin.
Neem: For its skin-smoothing, purifying, and beautifying benefits, Neem has been dubbed “Queen of the Skin” in Ayurveda. Its role as topical and internal support for skincare is one of Neem’s greatest glories. Because of its bitter property, Neem is indicated as having a calming and cooling effect on heat or redness as it shows up on the skin, as well as in the lining of the digestive tract.
Turmeric: Turmeric is a common ingredient in Indian cooking and is also used in religious ceremonies and skin care. Curcumin, turmeric’s primary component, supports healthy circulation and a healthy response to congestion in the body, and inhibits free radical cells. Turmeric has a cleansing effect on the intestines and a stimulant effect on the liver. In Ayurveda, it is considered to be a blood purifier, and is used to enhance the condition and appearance of the skin both through topical and internal applications.