Before clean beauty and organic skincare became a rage, ayurvedic medicine was the basis of home remedies for skin care woes for centuries.
Ayurveda is a traditional medicine system that originated in India and focuses on a holistic and natural method for prevention, as well as the treatment of various diseases.
With the development of modern medicine, Ayurveda may not be extremely relevant in many other fields, but Ayurveda in skin care has been booming in the last few years.
With the craze for natural ingredients in skincare, ayurvedic principles have suddenly become extremely relevant and interesting.
Let’s see in today’s post where the traditional ayurvedic skin care tips fit in our modern life and skincare routine.
Ayurvedic medicine in anti-aging
The anti-aging principles(1) of Ayurveda coincide a lot with the modern ones, and the recommended ingredients are increasingly often found in many popular skincare products.
According to Ayurveda, stern coordination of all chemical and hormonal reactions of the skin, healthy circulation of blood and nutrient, and a balance of all the following factors is necessary for slowing the signs of aging:
The herbs to maintain youthfulness are referred to as ‘Vayasthapana.’
Ayurvedic literature recommends Centella Asiatica as the foremost anti-aging ingredients. Centella Asiatica was subsequently crowned as one of the leading superfoods for the skin for its moisturizing, soothing benefits on the skin as well as collagen synthesis.(2)
Once we begin to age, discolorations due to sun and other environmental factors start appearing, making the skin look dull and lustreless.
The importance of an even skin tone is emphasized in Ayurveda to keep making the skin look young. Ingredients like sandalwood are called varnya herbs in Ayurveda and are known to increase the skin’s radiance by treating the discolorations.
With age, skin loses its moisture-holding capacity and starts getting drier. Dry skin is naturally more prone to wrinkles and inflammation and lacks a healthy glow. Rose petal extracts are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, address skin discolorations, and have moisturizing properties.(3)
According to the current knowledge about aging, inflammation plays a very important role in skin aging. Anti Inflammatory agents have become an essential part of all anti-aging skin care formulations.
Inflammation results in a worsening of the skin texture and worsens the visible signs of aging. Rose petal extract and aloe vera are used in many ayurvedic skincare products to combat inflammation.
Aloe vera is, in fact, as potent as a mild steroid cream in fighting against inflammation, without the side effects associated with it.(4)
Protection and repair of wear and tear
Plants like Centella Asiatica and Mimosa pudica have regenerative functions that enhance the healing of micro-tears on the skin due to many external factors.
Mimosa pudica (the sensitive plant ‘touch me not’), largely a folklore medicine in the past, is gaining popularity because of its repair abilities in skincare.(5)
Maintaining skin health
In addition to targeting individual factors, Ayurveda also calls for the maintenance of healthy skin. Eventually, it all boils down to a functioning skin barrier. Healthy skin not only looks better but also ages slower.
A combination of various herbs that protect, soothe, repair, and regenerate without disturbing the skin barrier would be an ideal companion on the anti-aging journey.
Ayurveda also strongly advocates healthy balanced nutrition and inculcation of yoga in the daily routine to delay the appearance of signs of aging.(6)Enjoying this article? Get similar skincare content direct to your inbox! Subscribe to our exclusive newsletter and we will help you master your routine. Receive regular tips and tricks, how-to's, special offers and more...
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Ayurvedic skincare to fight pigmentation
Ayurvedic skin care tips meet contemporary medicine, most commonly in the treatment of pigmentation.
Since the traditional pigmentation treatments have always been at the center of controversies due to questionable safety in the long term or due to their weak effects.
Ayurvedic formulas with natural extracts that inhibit the pigment (melanin) hit the sweet spot by being potent and safe for long-term use.
Licorice roots have depigmenting and moisturizing properties. They block the enzyme tyrosinase resulting in inhibition of melanin synthesis.
Its efficacy as a depigmenting agent is comparable to hydroquinone,(7) a very widely used lightening ingredient in the pharmaceutical industry.
Also, due to its antioxidant components like flavonoids and saponins, it is an effective anti-aging ingredient. And when present in sunscreen products, it boosts its sun protection capacity.
Aloesin, an aloe vera extract, is shown to inhibit various mediators of melanin synthesis. The use of aloe vera alone or in combination with other natural extracts like arbutin reduces pigmentation, as shown by many studies.
There is one catch, though. Aloe vera has to be used in high doses multiple times a day to show a significant effect, as its anti pigment property is dependent on the amount being used.
In low concentrations, it has other benefits like soothing the skin, but will not show a very effective result in pigmentation.(8)
Curcumin, an active ingredient of Turmeric, is a yellow polyphenol. In a study, topical application of turmeric in a moisturizing formula was shown to reduce the appearance of sunspots, fine lines, and wrinkles(9).
Turmeric reduces the synthesis of pigment by suppressing the production of related proteins. This property is also being speculated to be helpful against skin cancer.
Ayurveda in acne
Since modern medicine is constantly coming up with a better understanding of pathogenesis acne and its treatment, using ayurvedic skincare products has slowly become redundant in this area.
Original ayurvedic texts described acne as being a disease of adolescence, which has long been disproved.
The acne treatment was proposed to be with the intake of a combination of herbs:
A trial(10) evaluating those ‘combinations’ found one of them ‘Sunder Vati’ effective against both inflamed and non-inflamed lesions of acne in 6 weeks. Sunder vati consisted of bitter oleander, Indian gooseberry, and ginger.
Manjishtha (Indian madder root)
Other herbs with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects could find a place in modern acne treatment. Manjishtha or Indian madder treats the redness associated with acne, reduces inflammation, and kills not only the acne-causing bacteria (P. acnes) but also other bacteria like staphylococcus aureus causing skin infections.(11)
Turmeric is also an effective antibacterial, and it inhibits the bacteria causing acne.(12) It also possesses wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties and could be a potential alternative or addition to traditional acne treatments.
Building a skincare routine: The Ayurvedic way
Using the ancient secrets of Ayurveda, some authors(13) have come up with a skincare routine according to different skin types:
Cleansing has been advocated with a mixture of dry milk with – almond meal and sugar for dry skin, almond meal and orange peel for sensitive skin, and barley meal and lemon peel for oily skin.
This cleansing routine seems too harsh for most skin types and is not advisable.
Moisturizing is advised with sesame oil for the dry skin type, almond oil with sandalwood oil for the sensitive skin type, sunflower oil for oily skin type.
A weekly fruit mask with banana, avocado pulp, or papaya pulp for 10-15 minutes for deep hydration and exfoliation is suggested.
A word of caution
As lucrative as it may sound, ‘natural’ is not always better. The chances of ayurvedic skin care working for you is as much as skin care products with synthetic extracts, but the chances of irritation or allergy are also just as much.
No matter how alluring it is, do not put stuff from your kitchen counter on your face. Not everything that goes well in the stomach will go well on the skin too.
Also, most ayurvedic ingredients do not undergo the same rigorous testing as their synthetic counterparts to prove their place in skin care.
So while it may work for you, taking the words out of an ancient text written centuries ago should be taken with a pinch of salt.
If you want to integrate the natural and ayurvedic skin care secrets in your routine, let it be well-formulated products containing the beneficial ingredients. The ingredients can be concentrated and formulated for high efficacy with minimum side effects.
An exhaustive list of all the applications of ayurvedic medicine in skincare is sadly beyond this article’s scope.
Still, I definitely tried to highlight some interesting and practical points and ingredients you could integrate into your skincare routine.
What Ayurvedic face (and beauty) care tips could be put to use in your skincare regimen?
Do you already use some of them? Let me know in the comments.
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- Datta, Hema Sharma, and Rangesh Paramesh. “Trends in aging and skincare: Ayurvedic concepts.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 1,2 (2010): 110-3. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.65081
- Ratz-Łyko, A et al. “Moisturizing and Antiinflammatory Properties of Cosmetic Formulations Containing Centella Asiatica Extract.” Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences vol. 78,1 (2016): 27-33. doi:10.4103/0250-474x.180247
- Song YR, Lim WC, Han A, Lee MH, Shin EJ, Lee KM, Nam TG, Lim TG. Rose Petal Extract (Rosa gallica) Exerts Skin Whitening and Anti-Skin Wrinkle Effects. J Med Food. 2020 Aug;23(8):870-878. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2020.4705. Epub 2020 Jun 30. PMID: 32609563.
- Reuter J, Jocher A, Stump J, Grossjohann B, Franke G, Schempp CM. Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2008;21(2):106-10. doi: 10.1159/000114871. Epub 2008 Feb 5. PMID: 18253066.
- Kokane DD, More RY, Kale MB, Nehete MN, Mehendale PC, Gadgoli CH. Evaluation of wound healing activity of root of Mimosa pudica. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul 15;124(2):311-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.04.038. Epub 2009 May 3. PMID: 19397984.
- Datta, Hema Sharma et al. “Theories and management of aging: modern and ayurveda perspectives.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2011 (2011): 528527. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep005
- Makino ET, Mehta RC, Banga A, Jain P, Sigler ML, Sonti S. Evaluation of a hydroquinone-free skin brightening product using in vitro inhibition of melanogenesis and clinical reduction of ultraviolet-induced hyperpigmentation. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Mar;12(3):s16-20. PMID: 23545928.
- Choi S, Lee SK, Kim JE, Chung MH, Park YI. Aloesin inhibits hyperpigmentation induced by UV radiation. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2002 Sep;27(6):513-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2230.2002.01120.x. PMID: 12372097.
- Swanson C, Deng D, Robinson L, Raleigh P. Topical turmeric extract in a moisturizing cream formula reduces the appearance of facial spots and fine lines and wrinkles on human facial skin. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010;62(3) Suppl 1:AB19.
- Prakash Paranjpe, P.H. Kulkarni, Comparative efficacy of four Ayurvedic formulations in the treatment of acne vulgaris: a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled clinical evaluation, Journal of Ethnopharmacology,Volume 49, Issue 3,1995,Pages 127-132,ISSN 0378-8741, https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-8741(95)01309-1.
- Jain A, Basal E. Inhibition of Propionibacterium acnes-induced mediators of inflammation by Indian herbs. Phytomedicine. 2003 Jan;10(1):34-8. doi: 10.1078/094471103321648638. PMID: 12622461.
- Liu CH, Huang HY. In vitro anti-propionibacterium activity by curcumin containing vesicle system. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2013;61(4):419-25. doi: 10.1248/cpb.c12-01043. PMID: 23546001.