By Prema Patel
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Look again. Is there a glow to the image you see? That glow comes from much more than just applying lotions and potions to the surface of your skin. The skin, the largest organ of the body, is a reflection of your overall health. Nutrients, as well as toxins resulting from vata, pitta, and kapha imbalances, travel throughout the entire body. These nourish and/or deplete your cells, including the cells of the one organ that is present from head to toe: the skin. So what can you do to bring your natural radiance to the surface?
Start with bringing balance to any dosha that is now out of balance. When the doshas are imbalanced, they can affect any bodily system, but the skin is the most visible. Your skin is a wonderful signifier, hinting at the state of your constitution at any given time. Dry, thin, rough skin can indicate vata imbalance. Excess pitta can be seen in irritated skin, prone to heat rashes and pimples. And if your skin is thick and oily and your pores congested, this is a likely sign of excess kapha.
If you know you are prone to vata imbalances that show up on your skin, be sure to lubricate and hydrate. If pitta has a tendency to flare, avoid spicy, fermented, heating, and sharp foods, especially caffeine and alcohol. If kapha leaves you feeling greasy and dull, opt for invigorating and cleansing foods in your diet. Supporting your inner balance supports the health of your whole being.
In addition to dosha balance, a key principle for good skin health is to flush out toxins and impurities that enter your body, either through your skin or your diet. While it’s better to avoid these toxins in the first place, exposure can be unavoidable. Here are some tips for addressing the noxious build-up and stagnation that can lead to imbalance:
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Not only does this help wash out impurities, but it also keeps the cells “plump and happy” and functioning optimally.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. These will help support a healthy liver, which plays a crucial role in cleansing the blood so that toxins don’t come out through the skin. These green vegetables (kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli) also have the highest level of antioxidant value in the vegetable kingdom, according to a study done at Tufts University.
- Make sure you are having regular bowel movements. A cup of hot water on an empty stomach first thing every morning is a great way to get the bowels moving.
- According to Ayurvedic wisdom, certain herbs such as neem, turmeric, and manjistha also support healthy blood and skin. They work internally to help balance pitta, remove accumulated subtle noxious build-up, and keep the cells vibrant and thriving.
- If you have a lot of accumulated ama (Ayurveda’s way of describing the toxic build-up), consider a cleansing program. This can be a gentle home cleanse with whole foods, a home panchakarma routine, or a full panchakarma treatment at a center with a trained practitioner.
Regular self-massage with warm oil is also wonderful for anybody of any age. Oil can help lubricate and nourish the skin, benefit the ligaments and veins, and impart tone and vigor to the surrounding tissues. This is also extremely important for the face too. Massage your face daily with an herbal face oil such as Luminosity, and pair with a Gua Sha Sculpter for additional lifting and collagen boosting effects.
Ultimately, what brings a glow to the skin is the glow from within. This inner glow comes with a healthy ojas, which is the essence of the nutrition your body processes. Ojas is a subtle and vital substance that involves the immune system, the reproductive fluids, and healthy circulation. Ojas is healthy when it is nourished physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
When you feel vibrant, free, and strong, your ojas is radiant. This happens when you are living in accord with your purpose in this life, whatever that may be. When your thoughts, speech, motives, and actions are in alignment, you are able to live life without the internal tug-of-war that tears down healthy ojas, strong immunity, and robust living.