Pitta balancing diet Part 1: Using specific Rasas (tastes) to balance Pitta

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If you are suffering from a visible Pitta imbalance like premature greying, acne outbreaks, then a Pitta balancing diet can help holistically heal your condition. Ayurveda believes in following a holistic approach to understanding skin and hair issues. Hair and skin reflects the body’s state of balance. Diet, emotional well being, quality of sleep, quality of daily Vyayama (exercise) all affect the body. These factors create changes in the subtle alignment of doshas in our body. This reflects in the quality of our skin or hair.

Pitta dosha: qualities and life stage

Pitta is “snigdha” (oily), “teekshna” (sharp), “ushna” (hot), “laghu” (light) “vishra” (mal-odourous), “sara“ ( flowing / laxative), and “drava” (liquid).

Hence when we have Pitta aggravation in our body, we could experience sharp discomfort in the abdomen, diarrhoea, gastritis, temper flares, strong body odour, high sweating, oiliness on hair and skin, etc. We could also develop acne flare ups, experience premature greying & also hair thinning.

Pitta aggravation can cause strong body odour

Ayurveda tells us that every lifestage is dominant in a certain dosha. Middle age, i.e. 30 – 60 years is considered Pitta dominant lifestage. In this age period, we naturally tend to harness and utilise Pitta’s qualities to help us focus on our career, manage our responsibilities, etc. Hence at this stage, we become even more sensitive to Pitta aggravation.

Pitta aggravating foods:

We had written earlier in detail about foods that trigger or aggravate Pitta in the body. This includes fermented foods, salty foods, spicy foods, and sour foods. We have a pretty detailed list of don’ts in the earlier blog post. This list includes commercial packaged RTE foods which are high in hidden salts and imported delicacies like Greek yoghurt, tahini sauce and hummus.

Consumption of these foods is tolerable when our doshas in balance. At this time, Pitta drayvyas help stimulate appetite, aid digestion and allow for appropriately timed digestion in the body. The problem occurs when we have already aggravated Pitta dosha.

In a Pitta aggravated person, a single helping of curd or 2 meals with idlis and dosas in them can act like a lit match on a petrol doused bundle. Pitta sharply flares up and you will notice an increase in rage issues, skin oiliness, breakouts and inability to switch off and sleep on time.

A single helping of curd can tip teh balance if you are already pitta aggravated

Basics of a Pitta balancing diet:

The Pitta balancing diet is based on 3 principles to help balance aggravated Pitta:

  • Introduce Tastes (Rasas) that are opposite to Pitta to bring Pitta down
  • Introduce Agni balancing dravyas and Spices
  • Ensure Pitta is not spiked by controlling meal timings

Each of these work in a slightly different way to harmonise aggravated Agni. In this post , we will explore the use of Rasa (tastes) to help balance aggravated Pitta dosha.

 

Using Opposing Tastes (Rasas) to balance Pitta:

A Pitta balancing diet uses “bitter”, “sweet” and “astringent” tastes that act like a countermeasure to Pitta which is “amla” (sour), “lavana” (salty) and “katu” (spicy) in taste. The tastes are added in this order: Bitter, Sweet and Astringent for best effect on aggravated Pitta.

 

Using Bitter taste “Tikta Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Bitter taste (Tikta rasa) is very pitta balancing. Bitter taste has the quality of “dryness”, coolness” and “lightness”. Hence it helps balance the oiliness and heat caused by aggravated Pitta dosha. Therefore, including foods, herbs and seasonings which are rich in Tikta rasa, is an essential part of a Pitta balancing diet.

Many local vegetables and greens are inherently “Tikta” in rasa. For example, parwal, lauki, ridge gourd, ash gourd are native gourds. All of these gourds have an inherent “tikta” or bitter rasa. These vegetables can be added to vegetable / dal dishes to impart a bitter taste to food.

Local gourds are naturally rich in Tikta rasa

 

“Shukto” and Vempampoo-rasam (Neem flower rasam) are also examples of bitter rasa found in traditional cuisine. Neem flower rasam is introduced in Indian cuisine at the beginning of the onset of Summer, when Pitta is high.

Traditional cooking also has included many tikta rasa rich dishes seasonally

Certain spices and seasonings also have a “tikta rasa”. An example is fenugreek seed which is recommended to be eaten by diabetics and pre-diabetics in Ayurveda. Bitter rasa in moderate amounts is useful to control Pitta aggravation and Kapha aggravation. Similarly, rosemary, oregano and parsley seasoning also has a mild Tikta rasa.

Tikta dravyas can aggravate Vata dosha when eaten in excess and cause dryness in the body. Hence, as always, please follow moderation when planning your meals.

Some examples of Tikta Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Bitter gourd
    • Methi greens
    • Parwal
    • Lauki (Bottle gourd)
    • Ash gourd (white pumpkin)
    • Ridge gourd
    • Non sour locally available greens
  • Spices & seasonings
    • Turmeric
    • Fenugreek seed
    • Rosemary
    • Oregano
    • Thyme

Turmeric is rich in Tikta rasa and is highly nutritious

  • Ayurvedic Tikta Herbs used in Krya products
    • Neem
    • Neem flower
    • Kalmegh
    • Vetiver
    • Sandalwood

Sandal is cleansing and good for skin and high in tikta rasa

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Tikta (bitter) foods  to craft a Pitta balancing diet :

  • Local gourds added to liquid / gravy dishes in a rotational basis like Lauki, Parwal, etc
  • Use of Tikta herbs in cooking to season food like turmeric, Fenugreek, etc
  • Occasional use of Tikta dried herbs to flavour food like Rosemary, Thyme, etc wherever appropriate

Include seasonal local gourds into your cuisine

Using Sweet taste “Madhura Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Madhura Rasa is “guru” (heavy), “sheetya” (cold), “snigdha” (oily) and is nourishing and grounding due to the predominance of Prithvi Panchamahabootha. Hence it helps calm down and ground aggravated Pitta. This does not mean that we should gorge on desserts and sweets. These are artificially sweet due to the presence of sugar in them. In Ayurveda, when we say “Sweet” or “Madhura rasa”, we mean that the tongue recognises the substance as “sweet” (Rasa) and that its taste post digestion in the body (Vipaka) is also sweet.

An example of this is Milk. A2 cows milk when freshly boiled has Madhura Rasa (tongue taste) and Madhura vipaka (taste post digestion). Hence it is used to balance Pitta aggravation in the diet.

As Madhura Rasa is also “snigdha”, eating too much of this can trigger excess oiliness and heaviness in the body. Hence do not eat artificially sweet substances, or eat too much of Madhura rasa.

Some other examples of Madhura dravya / Substances are the following:

  • Cereals
    • Aged rice
    • Aged Wheat
  • Sweeteners
    • Mishri (unprocessed sugar candy)
    • Guda (jaggery)
  • Vegetables
    • Fresh coconut pulp, milk and water
    • Naturally sweet Vegetables like sweet potato, beetroot, Kaddu (yellow pumpkin), carrot

Beets and naturally sweet vegetables are rich in Madhura rasa

  • Fruits
    • Dried Black Raisins (draksha) – Munakka variety
    • Seasonal Sweet, juicy fruits
  • Dairy
    • Freshly boiled , unpasteurised A2 cow milk
    • A2 ghee
  • Ayurvedic Madhura Herbs used in Krya products
    • Liquorice
    • Guda (Jaggery)
    • Guduchi (Madhura vipaka only)

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Madhura (sweet) foods in our diet to help balance aggravated Pitta.

  • Melted A2 cow ghee – across all meals in small amounts
  • A2 cows milk – unpasteurised and freshly boiled – one small glass everyday

 

A2 Cows milk is nourishing and madhura in nature

  • Seasonal sweet, juicy fruits
  • Rotation of Natural sweet vegetables
  • Carefully sourced Aged organic Rice and wheat
  • 2 – 3 soaked Munakka (large black grape) raisins 3 – 4 times a week

Dried raisin is an excellent pitta balancing dry fruit

 

Using Astringent taste “Kashaya Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Kashaya rasa is a taste that is most often missing in modern-day foods. This is an important rasa which is vital to our health. Foods rich in Kashaya rasa usually have a lekhaniya (scraping effect) and are very useful in healing the body of excess fat, fluid collection, inflammation, etc. Kashaya rasa has “rooksha” (drying), “sheetya” (cold) and “laghu” (light) qualities- hence it helps balance Pitta dosha.

Kashaya rasa is wound healing, absorbs excess secretions and clears mucous. It helps clarify the tongue and skin and is calming and healing to the body. It is also a good blood clarifier.

In excess, Kashaya rasa can be excessively drying and vata aggravating on the body. Please do not overindulge in this taste.

 

Some examples of Kashaya Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Lettuce
    • Fennel
    • Banana flower

Banana flower is naturally kashaya in nature

  • Fruits
    • Amla (Indian gooseberry)
    • Pomegranates (choose well ripened, sweet fruits and not sour)

Pomegranate is a medicinal fruit which has strong Kashaya rasa

  • Sweeteners
    • Honey
    • Indian Date – Kharik

Indian date is Kashaya in nature

  • Herbs & seasonings
    • Parsley
    • Coriander
    • Basil
  • Ayurvedic Kashaya herbs used in Krya products
    • Amla
    • Haritaki
    • Vibhitaki
    • Triphala(combination of above 3 herbs)
    • Khadira
    • Arjuna Twak (bark)
    • Lodhra Twak (bark)
    • Sappanwood

 

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Astringent (sweet) foods in our diet to create a Pitta balancing diet .

  • Amla made in different methods 2 – 3 times a week: Can be made as a raita (using buttermilk or thin curd), Chutney, Preserve, or as a souring agent into Dal / Sambhar

Include Amla in your diet frequently

  • Pomegranates – 2 times a week – choose sweet fruits only
  • Chutneys / Dips / Pesto made from Basil / Coriander – twice a week
  • Overnight soaked Khajoora eaten once / twice a week

 

To sum up:

In part 1 of our post describing the Pitta balancing diet, we explored how using specific Rasas (tastes) in your meals can help bring down aggravated Pitta.  Using rasas which have opposing qualities as that of Pitta help balance spiked Pitta levels and also bring in better nourishment and satiety to the body, improving health.

In the next part of our blog post, we will explore how using specific dravyas and spices like milk, ghee, coriander seeds, etc help counter excess Agni in the body. In the case of certain dravyas, we will also explore how different prakritis (body types) should have these dravyas for optimal health. Part 3 of our post will have detailed daily meal plan suggestions that can help you plan a Pitta balancing diet.

 

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5 ways to balance aggravated Vata dosha to heal dry hair and skin

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

Do you have dry hair and dry skin? Are your bowel movements sluggish with a feeling of incompleteness? Do you have scanty periods? Is your hair generally rough and dry? You could be experienced dryness due to vata dosha aggravation. Read on for Ayurveda can help tackle both rough and dry hair and the underlying vata aggravation behind this.

We recently received a consultation request from a 36 year old lady, who was experiencing very high hair fall and hair dryness. From our investigation, we found 3 signs of high vata aggravation:

  • She found it difficult to fall asleep despite being very tired. In her email she said: “I toss and turn at night for nearly an hour before I fall asleep”.
  • She described her bowel movements as being sluggish and incomplete. The bowel movements felt hard , compacted and were difficult to pass out
  • She described her periods as being scanty and variable in their nature – so menstruation cycles varied from 29 days to 36 days every month

Nature of vata dosha and its role in the body

Vata is the most powerful dosha in our body – it governs the action of the other 2 doshas in our body as neither have mobility without vata. The 3 doshas in our body are made up of the pancha bhootas or the 5 basic elements – and vata is made up of air (vayu) + space(akash). This gives Vata dosha the quality of movement, lightness, swiftness and speed.

5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: Vata dosha is powerful and a mobile dosha

All of are made up of a mixture of the 3 doshas. Naturally, for each of us, one or two doshas show pre-dominance making up our general character and determining our attitudes, behavior in situations and the kind of illnesses we are prone to, etc.

Apart from our basic dosha nature, the doshas in our body can increase or decrease depending upon what we eat, how we behave and how the environment around us changes.

Why does Vata dosha get aggravated easily in city people?

Acharya Charaka says that 50% of diseases occur due to aggravation of vata dosha. Vata aggravation is extremely high in cities. By their very nature and by the nature of our demanding jobs, there is a natural increase in vata in urban dwellers.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: CITY LIVING AGGRAVATES VATA

This is because we tend to travel long distances so we expose ourselves to high mobility and wind (both of which are components of vata), work late (again a characteristic of vata dosha), eat food which is high in vata (potatoes, bread and other baked goods, urad, cauliflower, cabbage, fried food), drink stimulating drinks like tea and coffee (which remove moisture and therefore increase vata).

Where does Vata aggravation show up in our body?

Vata governs all mobility and downward movements in the body. So if your back feels stiff, your knees crack or pop, or if your wrists tingle or hurt from excessively using your smartphone, then Vata has been over used and is hence aggravated.

Vata governs all downward movement. So for correct and regular bowel movement where the stools are not excessively dry or hard, and where the bowels are completely emptied in ONE shot, Vata needs to be at the optimal level.

So, if you have dry stools, a feeling of incomplete bowel movements, and the system does not do “its job” correctly, on time every day without external stimulants like coffee, then Vata is aggravated.

Similarly if you have scanty periods where timing is uncertain and there is a lot of variability in the cycle, your body is aggravated with too much Vata dosha.

Vata aggravation also shows up in the state of our hair, nails, skin and feet. Excessively cracked heels which do not respond to any form of moisturisation can be attributed to aggravated Vata dosha. Similarly chronically dry skin and hair can also be a result of vata aggravation. People who lose weight very quickly or find it very difficult to gain weight may also be naturally high in vata dosha.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: severely cracked heels is a sign of aggravated vata

Vata aggravated people find it difficult to get high quality , restful sleep. They either find it difficult to fall asleep, or do not stay in deep sleep for long – so they wake up feeling fatigued, run down and low on energy. This makes them choose stimulants like tea and coffee which are again high in Vata dosha, starting a vicious cycle.

What can aggravate Vata even if our prakriti is not high in Vata dosha?

Not everyone’s constitution is basically high in Vata dosha. Yet, we CONSTANTLY see symptoms of aggravated Vata at Krya. This is because all of us are doing certain things which are calculated to drive up Vata dosha in our bodies. What are these?

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: excessive media usage aggravates vata

  • Chaotic days without a proper , regulated schedule of eating or sleeping – Vata thrives in chaotic environments. The more chaos you subject yourself to , the more Vata dosha is increased
  • Late nights with high media activity – Vata dosha aggravates during night time. So if you habitually work late or stay up late, you will be over using vata dosha
  • Eating foods which are high in Vata dosha: Ready to eat Noodles, Instant foods, Breads, breakfast cereal and vegetables like potatoes and cauliflower whichconsume a lot of oil, are deep fried and which are hard and crisp are high in Vata dosha. In times of stress, people tend to consume these foods preferentially over others. This in turn severely aggravates Vata dosha.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: Junk food aggravates vata

How to tackle aggravated vata dosha : Tackling dry skin & hair at the root cause

Vata is “rooksha” (dry), “laghu” (light) and “Sheetya” (cold) , “vishada” (non slimy), “khara”(coarse) and “Daruna” (instable).

Therefore, it is NO WONDER, that when Vata is aggravated, the very same symptoms are manifested at the level of the skin and the hair. So to permanently reverse this condition of dryness, we have to BRING DOWN Vata dosha from its current abnormally high level in the body. How do we do that?

5 point program to bring down aggravated Vata dosha and improve dry skin and hair:

  • FIRST, apply oil all over the body, especially in the primary vata seats (ears, abdomen, wrists, knees, joints, etc). This oil should be vata pacifying and should be applied WARM to counter the cold nature of Vata dosha. Oil Abhyanga traps scattered vata dosha and forces it back to its original place. For very high Vata, Abhyanga can be done DAILY. Else, twice or thrice a week. More abhyanga instructions can be found here.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: abhyanga controls aggravated vata dosha

  • Apply oil FREQUENTLY and REGULARLY on dry skin & hair. For chronically dry skin, we suggest twice a day application of Krya Moisture Plus skin oil. For hair, we have many options like Krya conditioning hair oil, Krya harmony hair oil, etc. Oil application has to be FREQUENT and REGULAR. This helps trap scattered vata dosha, nourish scalp and skin deeply and help proper, re-generative and correct skin and hair growth.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: Apply oil regularly and frequently

  • REGULATE your exposure to cold and dry winds carefully. Strong wind, cold air, long distance travel and office air conditioning all aggravate Vata . To control this impact, plus your ears and cover the head while travelling. Keep your body warm in cold temperatures by wearing layers of clothing and additional garments like a shawl for warmth. Layering of clothing is an extremely practical and effective way of controlling vata .

 

  • CUT DOWN on your use of electronic media especially post 6 pm. We have seen earlier posts on how use of smartphones and electronic media interferes with sleep patterns and excites Vata. So when vata dosha is aggravated, use of devices that stimulate it should be controlled.

 

  • MONITOR your diet – In times of stress, all of us gravitate towards vata aggravating food (pizzas, burgers, fries, cola, caffeine, etc). The more such foods are consumed, the more they throw our doshas out of balance and the more dry our hair and skin get. Read here for more insights on choosing the correct food for you.

To sum up:

All skin and hair issues are indicative of a deeper underlying imbalance. Ayurveda, therefore, treats at the root cause level. So even dry skin and dry hair are analyzed for what they truly represent: aggravated or imbalanced vata.

Skin and hair systems are not just important for aesthetic reasons. They are our early warning systems through which our body communicates with us and lets us know of underlying problems.

Chronically dry skin and hair point to deeply aggravated vata . Vata dosha is a critical dosha in our prakriti which governs many important functions. As it is the only dosha capable of movement, it also does the job of transporting the other 2 doshas where they are supposed to be. So when Vata is aggravated the functions of the other 2 doshas are also impaired.

City living easily and quickly aggravates Vata dosha. This post explored different aspects of how we can bring aggravated Vata dosha back to balance in easy, do-able ways.

If you have any questions on aggravated vata , or would like our advice , please write to us.

Krya products suggested to bring aggravated Vata dosha under control:

  • Krya Abhyanga Skin Oil : A traditionally formulated ayurvedic abhyanga oil designed to balance all 3 doshas. Can be used everyday.

  • Krya Women’s Ubtan and Men’s Ubtan : to completely cleanse skin and remove excess oil after an Abhyanga without drying, dehydrating or damaging Srotas of the Skin
  • Krya Moisture Plus Skin system (consists of Krya Moisture Plus skin Oil, Moisture plus face mask and Moisture plus Face wash) to help chronically dry skin

 

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Men’s skin care basics: caring for and maintaining skin through Ayurveda

Krya men's skin care basics: a 5 step ayurevdic skin care routine for Men
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Reading Time: 7 minutes

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Is men’s skin care even required as a category? This question has promoted thousands of searches online with people wanting to find out the exact difference between men’s skin and women’s skin. It has also triggered the rise of a high range of men’s skin care products. Is this interest in men’s skin care justified? What are the differences between Men’s skin and women’s skin? How does Ayurveda recommend we care for Men’s skin? Today’s post will explore this topic.

Men’s skin care – skin structural differences:

Dermatological and hormonal research tells us that the composition of hormones in the body determine several factors in the skin. The hormone composition in the body determines the thickness of the skin, its texture, its smoothness, the oil secretion in the skin and the way it ages.

Testosterone and the androgenic male hormones help produce coarser and thicker skin, and thicker hair. This set of hormones also influences sebum production – so men’s skin is oilier then women’s skin. The collagen structure in Men’s skin is different from women. Due to the presence of cross links, Men’s skin sags lesser compared to women, and therefore ages less.

Krya post on basics of Men's skin care: Men's skin is structurally different

When androgenic hormones are elevated, or unbalanced, skin becomes oilier, and adult acne occurs.

Estrogen and its sub set of hormones which are found abundantly in women, and to a lesser degree in men also influences Skin. Estrogen has a strong influence on skin moisture. Estrogen can increase or decrease the presence of glycosaminoaglycanes (GAG) in skin. GAGs can increase collagen production skin, helping skin stay firmer and less wrinkled longer. GAGs also maintain epidermal thickness and internal moisture. So skin stays plumper and hydrated and wrinkle free longer.

Krya men's skin care basics: women's skin is naturally clearer, smoother and softer.

When estrogenic hormones are elevated, the skin develops conditions like hyper-pigmentation, melasma, etc. This is a common phenomenon during pregnancy.

Men’s skin care– common problems we have noticed at Krya

At Krya, we have noticed certain special problems in Men’s skin which has to do with its structure and composition. In general, pitta dosha is extremely aggravated and unbalanced in Men. Therefore we see very unbalanced and high sebum production, with constant breakouts, and large, visible open pores.

Krya men's skin care basics: men's skin often has high oil production, visible open pores

Culturally (although this is changing), Men are not as aware of skin care and good routines as women are. We have many complaints of acne scars and blemishes which are due to unchecked picking of acne while young.

We have observed a lot of impatience when dealing with common Pitta problems like Acne among our male consumers. They choose very harsh oil control face washes and soaps to cleanse skin. This is from the mistaken belief that harsher cleaning will remove oil better. But in fact, as we have discussed before, this harsh cleansing only aggravates greater and denser oil production aggravating the problem.

Krya Men's skin care basics: harsh cleansers increase skin oiliness by aggravating skin

Oil production is very high around the hair follicles. So we see greater acne breakouts in the beard and chin area among men. Again, due to impatience, many men simply shave over acne, spreading the micro organism over the face, aggravating the breakouts.

Men’s skin also is much more exposed to pollution and environmental toxins. Due to the thickness of epidermal and dermal layer, the Srotas are thicker and longer in Men. This means there is greater space for dirt and toxins to hide inside the srotas. This makes the skin look dull and feel coarse if the skin is not cleansed periodically and properly.

Krya Men's skin care basics: smog and environmental pollution increase toxin accumulation in men's skin

A good set of men’s skin care products should therefore tackle all these identified issues.

An Ideal Ayurvedic men’s skin care routine

Men’s skin suffers from aggravated Pitta-Kapha dosha when skin is not maintained or cleansed properly. This results in greasy, oily skin, white heads and blackheads, and dense breakouts when younger. As age increases, the pores enlarge, skin texture becomes rough and leathery and pores become more and more visible.

Therefore, the key in Ayurveda to caring for Men’s skin is twofold. The first part lies in balancing pitta and kapha using the correct herbs. Next, Srotas have to be cleansed gently, yet thoroughly. We must not over cleanse the srotas, and we must leave them toxin free, yet supple and elastic.

Krya men's skin care basics: Important to cleanse skin correctly. Skin should retain its elasticity and yet be completely clean

Men’s skin, especially as it ages, can get dehydrated if there is high sun exposure. High sun exposure removes moisture from the topmost layers of skin. This traps heat and dust within skin as the srotas become dry and unable to expand and contract and perform their role of toxin elimination.

Therefore, a good skin care programme must also focus on nurturing the skin and supplementing moisture, to prevent photo aging and dryness.

The 5 step Ideal Ayurvedic men’s skin care routine:

  1. Cleanse skin with cool water and using a completely natural, Sulphate free, detergent free, gentle cleansing face wash. We recommend using the Krya Men’s face wash. Avoid hot water and foaming cleansers on Men’s skin.
  2. Through the day, if you are indoors, revive tired and Pitta aggravated skin by spraying rose water or splashing , pure, clean, cool water on skin. If you are travelling outdoors, protect skin by covering it with a full frontal helmet. Once you are back home, cleanse skin with a gentle herbal Men’s face wash to remove any accumulated dirt and toxins.
  3. At night, apply a pitta balancing, evenly nourishing skin oil. Do not use petroleum based moisturisers as they will simply clog skin further. We recommend using the Krya Classic skin facial serum instead.
  4. Once a week, we recommend application of a healing Lepa. If your skin is acne prone, we recommend the Krya anti acne face mask. If you travel outdoors extensively and have high sun exposure, we recommend the Krya after sun face mask. For everyone else, the Krya Classic face mask works.
  5. Aggravated Pitta responds very well to an abhyanga and frequent hair oiling. Many of our male consumers find a reduction in photo sensitivity and pitta related skin issues with regular hair oiling. The Abhyanga is a once a week re-set which is a must for Men. It helps balanced aggravated vata and pitta and greatly improves skin and hair health.

What goes into the Krya men’s face wash?

The Krya men’s face wash is our carefully formulated offering for Men’s skin. We use 33 skin nurturing, pitta balancing, oil balancing and skin improving Ayurvedic herbs, lentils, flowers, roots and fruits in this formulation.

To help deep cleanse hidden impurities and toxins, we use a special mixture of medicated Lentils and grains including Tavakshira, Desert Date, and our medicated Whole heritage Mung bean. This unique combination helps deep cleanse skin of hidden impurities, and toxins without robbing it of its natural oils and elasticity.

Krya men's skin care basics: krya men's face wash is a specially formulated unique herbal facewash powder

To scoop clean the longer and thicker Srotas, we use a special mixture of millets that improve circulation, brighten complexion and help scoop out toxins. These millets include heritage, organic Red Sorghum grains renowned for their skin brightening effect.

To balance oil, balance Pitta ad heal breakouts, we use Pitta balancing , astringent, healing herbs like Bael fruit, Khadira, Kala Jeera. Woody fragrant herbs like Indian Sarsaparilla, India Liquorice, Durva and Punarnava help correct scars, and improve skin texture and appearance.

How to use an herbal face wash powder?

Readers may be taken aback when they realise that all of Krya’s face wash products are powders. By maintaining a powder format, we are able to concentrate a high amount of nutrition by using whole herbs in our products. We also completely avoid the use of synthetic preservatives, fillers and thickeners giving you a toxin free product.

To use our herbal face wash powders, simply take the required quantity and mix in clean water to make a thick paste. Apply this paste gently in an upward direction over your face and neck avoiding the eye area. Leave it on for 30 seconds before rinsing off with cool, clean water.

To sum up:

The structure of Men’s skin is different physiologically from Women’s skin. These differences have to do with the interplay of hormones in the body. When the hormonal balance changes, there are corresponding changes and problems in the skin’s structure.

Due to the influence of androgenic hormones, men’s skin is naturally thicker, has a better collagen matrix and is well supplied with sebum. However, the sebum balance is delicate and can easily get aggravated in polluted environment, with a poor diet or when aggressive cleansing products are used.

This could result in large visible open pores, unchecked oil production and frequent breakouts leading to blemishes and scars.

This post discussed a detailed, holistic and completely natural, men’s skincare routine that helps care for and nurture men’s skin. If this routine is followed along with a healthy diet and good lifestyle, we can prevent skin aging and maintain the health and aesthetic appearance of men’s skin.

In case you have any queries on how to maintain your skin, or would like to gift our products to the wonderful men in your life and have queries, please write to us.

 Krya products suggested for Men’s skin care :

Cleansing:

Lepa (Herbal face mask)

Krya after sun face mask to soothe and nourish sun ravaged skin.

Facial serum:

Pitta Reducing Products:

Krya Men's abhyanga system: helps balance and re-set doshas. Recommend to be used atleast once a week every week.

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Treating open pores with ayurveda

Oily food aggravates pitta dosha clogging pores from within
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Reading Time: 11 minutes

Email 1:

“Dear Team Krya

I have large visible open pores, oily looking skin and craters and blemishes which are remnants of my acne filled youth.

Can you help with this?”

 

Email 2:

“Dear Team Krya,

I am 35. My skin tends to be normal – oily and has a tendency to break out around my periods. My pores are generally large and oily looking. And this is made extra obvious to me when I visit my parlour, and I am told to try chemical peels or microdermabrasion to minimise this.

Is there any natural, non invasive way to get better skin?”

What are open pores?

Have you been “expertly diagnosed” by your parlour facialist as having open pores? Or has a quick perusal of a beauty magazine suggested this term to you? Does your make-up look cake-y on application ? Has a makeup expert suggested that this is because of your open pores?

blog 1 - magazine

Open pores are our chief complaint at Krya as well, and the reason why so many women write to us asking for a better solution to their skincare woes.

Open pores are a mysterious animal though. While commonly experienced and often self diagnosed by many of us, there is no strict definition from a Dermatology point of view, as to what might constitute an open pore. Neither is there a precise definition of when the pilosebaceous ostia (sweat and sebum expelling openings) are enlarged enough to call them an open / magnified pore.

Clinical dermatological Research on open pores:

A study published in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology journal in 2015 gives us some clues about these open pores. This study analysed responses from a multi ethnic group of women (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Brazilian, French etc) of 2400+ women from the age group of 18 – 80.

Some of the conclusions this study drew were as follows:

  • There is no one definition of what is a common open pore. Pore sizes varied across ethnicity, age and region
  • The lowest variation in pore size was seen in Chinese and Japanese women
  • There is a slight increase in pore size from the age of 18 to the age of 40 across all ethnicities and regions. This increase was the most marked among Indians and Brazilians (this increase was not statistically significant nor was it rigorously tested having a reasonable sample size of the full age spectrum in each ethnicity).

Despite not reaching too many statistically significant conclusions, the study concluded that aging affected pore size in some way, and there were differences in pore size across ethnicities. Cultural conditioning and expectations of beauty largely determined each ethnic groups focus on open pores.

Unsurprisingly, the Brazilians and Indians were extremely concerned by their open pores.

blog 2 open pores

Current aesthetic beliefs and practices around open pores:

Pore shrinking is a very common beauty service offered at beauty parlours and dermatologists’ practice. This service exists despite the fact that open pores are not a serious part of any dermatology text. There is also no clear cut acceptable research to show what causes their enlargement to take place.

Opinions among dermatologists vary about the origin of these open pores. Some believe that we are simply referring to old acne scars and pits as open pores. This is explained by the fact that every open pore contains the openings to several pilosebaceous ostia (pores). So what we call an open pore is simply the unevenness of skin.

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Dermatologists attached to beauty companies have a different take on this. Many beauty companies say that open pores are a natural result of skin cells being clogged with dead cells, sebum and cosmetic products. As the ostia are clogged by these toxins, the opening of the ostia widens to help the skin perform its excretory function properly. This explains the slowly expanding nature of the open pore.
blog 4 activated charcoal

Depending upon whose explanation you choose to believe, different kinds of beauty products and services are now available to tackle open pores.

For those who believe in the “clogged pore” theory, products and services designed to “unclog” skin exist. Hence you have exfoliating scrubs, toners, and foaming / non foaming face washes being sold with claim ingredients as varied as tea tree ,rosemary to activated charcoal.

For dermatologists who are still on the fence about the cause behind open pores, services to peel or sandpaper away the top layer of skin are the treatments of choice. Hence chemical peels and micro dermabrasion are suggested to literally sand paper the skin and remove its outer layer and encourage a new and smoother layer of skin to grow back.

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The Ayurvedic point of view on open pores:

Let’s start with the most obvious point: Ayurveda does NOT have any point of view on open pores. What Ayurveda does have, is a very strong, well researched point of view on skin health, and several rational explanations to make us understand why our skin texture and nature changes with age. Ayurveda also focusses heavily on health of Srotas. Through various practices and products, Srotas are supposed to be kept pliable and clean in order to function well.

The Rise of Pitta dosha in middle age:

First, Ayurveda says that “pitta” strikes us at 2 phases in our life. The first is at puberty, when it is triggered by hormonal changes in the body. The second time Pitta strikes is in middle age (defined in Ayurveda and Siddha as the age between 30 – 60). The increase in Pitta in middle age is due to the increase in responsibilities that we face in this period, necessitating the gifts that enhanced Pitta dosha gives us.

blog post 6 teenage pitta
Pitta dosha is the dosha responsible for decisiveness, an ability to complete things, the ability to lead. In short the ability to lead your family, shoulder responsibilities, make financial decisions , plan your career, etc. When we enter Ayurvedic middle age, we throw away the carefree nature of childhood and become responsible . We get married, perhaps start a family, shoulder responsibilities for our parents, take charge of our careers, etc. It is therefore no wonder that we draw upon the qualities of Pitta dosha to see us through this time.

blog post 7 middle age

However, high use or over use of a dosha, leaves the body vulnerable to the effects of that particular dosha being aggravated. Also, as per Ayurveda, like attracts like. So when we are overusing a particular Dosha, we tend to aggravate it further by eating Pitta stimulating foods or doing Pitta increasing activities.

So in our Pitta phase of life, we may see ourselves gravitating towards sharp, spicy, tangy foods (Chinese hot and sour anyone?). We may also became more impatient, get stressed out more, and become less tolerant to things not proceeding as per our plan.

blog post 8 eating pitta
When this mixture of life phase, foods and behaviour all overload Pitta dosha, we see its effects on the way our body functions and the way our skin and hair looks.

Pitta aggravated skin and hair symptoms:

We have seen the basic nature of Pitta dosha before: Ayurveda terms Pitta dosha as “sara” or liquid, “teekshna” or intense, dravya (oily and spreading nature), foul smelling, hot and quick to spread.

If we interpret this in skin terms: we see that Pitta afflicted skin is oily, sweats easily, reacts quickly to disturbances in pitta (quick skin rash), is usually warm to touch or flushed looking, and can have a foul odour .

blog post 9 pitta skin
On hair and scalp we see something similar: pitta afflicted hair has an oily scalp, can sweat easily, and hair is usually prematurely grey, and has reddish tints in it naturally (like Agni / fire). Pitta aggravated hair thins easily especially in the parting and the hair is usually fine and not very thick.

blog post 10 pitta hair

How pitta aggravation enlarges and worsens open pores:

High pitta in the body dilates the blood vessels, and heats up skin. In this scenario, you will have a greater amount of sebum being secreted. This excessive sebum attracts the invasion of micro organisms. As they multiply, they fill the skin surface with debris and dead cells.

When pitta is aggravated, we are repetitively drawn to eating Pitta aggravating food. If you respond to this call and eat junk food, and sharp and spicy food, you are also reducing the body’s ability to metabolise food properly . As metabolism is impaired, there is an internal build up of Ama / toxins.

Oily food aggravates pitta dosha clogging pores from within

This internal toxin build up and external clogging affects Srotas at both ends. Without enough free space to perform their normal functions, they are forced to expand further resulting in larger and more visible open pores. The excess material in the srotas is ejected improperly onto skin in the form of whiteheads and black heads and acne.

This can make your scars and pits look larger, and generate a lot of excess material which should be removed gently from skin.

How is Pitta aggravated skin treated in Ayurveda?

All Ayurvedic skin and hair care starts with the right diet and regimen. So, there is no point in treating pitta aggravated skin without correcting the underlying diet or behaviors.

Once we have tackled the diet, and adopted the right lifestyle practices to control excess Pitta, we look at specific herbs and products that Ayurveda recommends for Pitta aggravated skin.

Pitta aggravated skin is treated extremely gently in Ayurveda. This is because pitta reactions start very fast and spread in an uncontrolled manner through the skin (imagine a forest fire raging out of control, and you will get this analogy). So Ayurvedic skin care for pitta problems (open pores, oiliness and acne) has a very gentle approach.

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Ayurvedic Srota cleansing

The original Ayurvedic equivalent of ostia is the Srota. We have seen how Srota are present all over skin and help in heat exchange, excretion of sweat and toxins and also produce minute amounts of sebum to help skin stay at the right pH and well moisturised. Ayurveda says it is critical to cleanse these Srotas properly to ensure they are debris and clog free and open to doing their job well. This cleansing has to be done WITHOUT drying out the srotas. When Srotas are dry, they do not expand and contract properly, so the skin’s job of toxin removal and heat regulation is not done properly.

Srotas have to be cleansed with the adsorption and pressure method as per Ayurveda. As Ayurveda says each Srota is like a tube, we have to scoop out debris and dirt from inside the tube (think of cleaning a slim plastic straw). Soaps and face washes use surfactants that only clean the opening of the srotas.  But, because of their drying nature, they also suck out moisture from skin. So the dirt and debris lodged in the srotas still remain and the srotas lose their elasticity.

So a mixture of grains and lentils and herbs that are ground and sifted to a very small particle size are used. By the gentle pressure they exert on the skin surface, the Srotas are encouraged to open up and dislodge dirt trapped inside. The cleansing base adheres to this dirt and excess sebum and sponges off the dirt and debris by skin.

As there is no surfactant use, there is no stripping of sebum from skin.

blog post 12 srota cleansing

Use of pitta balancing, cooling herbs

To counter excessive pitta, Ayurveda suggests using specific, pitta balancing herbs. These herbs counterbalance Pitta in the skin surface by using sweet and bitter qualities to pacify aggravated Pitta. Therefore herbs famously used for Pitta aggravated skin are Usheera (Vetiver), Chandana (Sandal), Sariva (Indian Sarsaparilla), Avartaki (Cassia auriculata), Bilwa, etc.

blog post 13 pitta balancing

These herbs counter the warm and hot nature of Pitta aggravated skin and bring a soothing, cooling effect on skin, besides balancing Pitta and improving the complexion.

Use of bitter, anti bacterial and anti fungal herbs

Because of the nature of Pitta to generate so much liquid (sweat and sebum), it tends to create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.  Hence all Ayurvedic formulations for pitta prone skin use bitter, anti bacterial herbs to help keep invasive micro organisms out of skin. Obviously, these herbs do not work like standard synthetic anti bacterial ingredients like Triclosan do.

Instead, Ayurvedic herbs work along with the body’s microbiome layer and helps keep invading organisms out by boosting conditions for friendly organisms, and working on keeping out only harmful micro organisms. Most importantly, we do not develop resistance to anti bacterial herbs – like we often do to ingredients like Triclosan.

Some of these herbs include Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Bhui nimba (Kalmegh), Triphala (blend of 3 Ayurvedic fruits), Bakuchi (Psoralea cordifolia), etc.
blog post 14 bitters

Use of complexion improving and blemish correcting herbs

Ayurveda classifies many herbs as “Kantivardhaka” herbs, which means complexion improving. When we use the word Kanthi vardhaka, we mean something that is very different from “fairness”.

Ayurveda does not especially value “fair skin”. Skin is only measured for its health aspects and ability to function well. So smoothness, quality and evenness of complexion, etc are all ways of understanding the underlying balance of skin.

Kantivardhaka herbs work to improve micro circulation of the skin and boost cellular repair. They therefore promote an even skin tone, good texture and good elasticity in skin. Some of these herbs include Kushta , Punarnava , Durva, Ashwagandha, etc.

blog post 15 even out

Judicious use of skin balancing facial oils to maintain elasticity of Srotas :

Ayurveda suggests a 2 pronged approach to skin care. The first is cleansing with live, whole grains and herbs. This ensures the srotas are thorough cleaned and that skin is not stripped of its natural protective oils. The second is to augment the skin’s natural facial oils by a carefully prepared botanical oil.

An ayurvedic botanical oil judiciously adds nourishment to skin and srotas leaving teh skin system healthy, supple, elastic and well nourished.

When we apply herb, flower and fruit infused botanical oils on skin, we help improve the elasticity of the srotas. We also selectively encourage the growth of a healthy microbiome.  Balance and health are restored to skin.

To sum up:

We have discussed open pores, and seen the differences between how they are treated by Western Cosmetic ‘Science’ and Ayurveda.

Ayurveda focuses on holistic living and looks at the sum of everything an individual is doing to treat problems that may arise. Therefore, this post discussed how the right diet, right lifestyle practices combined with the right herbs and skin care routine can help look after pitta prone skin.

One of the biggest differences in how Ayurveda treats skin lies in the ayurvedic concept of Srotas. This post saw how Srota health = Skin health . We also discussed why Ayurveda recommends the use of special facial cleansers made of grains , lentils and herbs to cleanse and care for skin.

This is why chemical peels or microdermabrasion are not a long lasting holistic solution to open pores, breakouts and oily skin. Unless we tackle oily skin both internally and externally, we cannot reverse the appearance of oily pores or blemishes.

We hope this post gave you good insights into your skin and explained how to care for skin. Please do try the methods we have recommended to cleanse and care for oily, pitta-prone skin.

If you have any queries on the above, please write to us. 

Krya Products suggested for Pitta prakriti Skin :

Visibly reduce open pores, heal oily skin and improve skin functioning, appearance and texture:

 

 

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The role of sweat & sebum in healthy skin – the Krya Ayurvedic skincare series

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Reading Time: 8 minutes

Our new series on Ayurvedic skin care and how to look after your skin well this winter will run all this month on Krya. We ran a short poll earlier last week asking for suggestions for this week’s series. Unsurprisingly, 2 topics were very popular: winter skin care and suggestions on improving hair length and volume.

25 years ago, many parts of India would have laughed at the very idea of “winter skin care”, especially cites in the deep South like Chennai, which enjoyed warm, sunny weather through the year. But a combination of reasons has made winter come even to Chennai. Global warming, change in rain and seasonal patterns and most importantly, winter like conditions throughout the year, courtesy the freezing temperatures at work.

If you live in a humid 40 degree Celsius climate and go to work in a cold, dry 16 degree office, your body is going to get confused. And when the weather outside changes from 4 degrees to 25 degrees, and your office is still cranking the temperature to 16 degrees, your skin is certainly going to suffer.

It would come as no surprise to any of you, that the Ayurvedic skin care regimen in winter is surprisingly effective. And it involves the regular use of just 2 products: skin oil and a facial cleaner. For those inclined, a facial mask that is applied occasionally (once a week / once a fortnight), can further improve skin quality.

1. surprisingly effective

For those of us used to reading about a 7 step or a 11 step skin care routine involving many expensive serums and different kinds of products, hearing about how Ayurveda recommends using just a skin oil and a grain based wash may leave us feeling deflated. However, as we have written about before, the recommendations from Ayurveda come from a well researched, extensively documented, tried and tested 5000 year old system – and most of us who use Ayurvedic products know how effective they are.

We start the Ayurvedic skin care series with today’s post on sweat and sebum: read on to find out just why sweat and sebum are such important health and skin markers and why Ayurveda recommends such a simple skin care regimen.

 

Ayurveda on skin:

Western science tells us that skin has 3 layers. Acharya Charaka and Sushruta have magnified this further and tell us that skin has 7 layers, as per Ayurveda. The classical texts tell us that just as cream rises to the surface and covers milk when it is being boiled, so also, the 6 layers of “Tvacha” or “Twak” (human skin, rise from the fertilised zygote and form a layer similar to cream, covering the surface of the body.

2. skin and cream

The skin is our largest excretory and heat exchange organ system (second to the kidneys). Skin also contains a very large number of Srotas (minute openings / pores), through which the body understands external temperature and humidity, and also waste products are passed out.

The skin also plays host to a very large set of micro flora. These organisms act as our first line of defence. When this microflora barrier is strong, the entry of hostile micro organisms is prevented, so we do not fall ill easily, no matter the provocation.

 

The sweating mechanism of skin and the srotas:

Sweat is a combination of discarded water and salts that arise through the normal excretory functions of the body. Just like the kidneys filter out toxins and waste materials through urine, the skin filters out waste materials and salts from the circulatory and lymph systems and eliminates it through the Srotas (minute openings / pores ) found on the surface of skin.

Sweat is an important mechanism to filter out impurities or unwanted materials from the blood and lymph system. It is also a heat exchange mechanism, and helps cool the body through evaporation.

3. sweat

Fro the sweating mechanism to function properly, the srotas of the skin need to be completely clean, unclogged, at the right pH and with the right level of natural oils to do their job.

The Acharyas describe each Srota as a slim, minute tubular structure with a mouth like opening. If the Srota is not oiled and cleansed properly, the structure loses its elasticity and its ability to draw out impurities from the blood and move it to the surface of the skin.

What impairs sweat production in our skin?

Our actions and our lifestyle choices can hamper the production of sweat. In a normal, healthy human being, sweat production is balanced. However, when your dosha balance is impaired, you are eating food that accumulates ama, or your digestive system is out of balance, the body accumulates a high amount of toxins and the sweating mechanism struggles under the weight of this.

So if you are sweating too much or too little, it is a sign of imbalance. The odour of sweat also gives us a sense of the level of toxins in the body. Excessive body odour usually indicates imbalanced pitta or high levels of Ama (toxins) in the body.

4. odour

 

Elasticity of Srotas through oiling

Even if your eating is healthy and your doshas are in a reasonable state of balance, your choice of skin regimen can also affect the health of the srotas. To be able to contract and expand properly in order to push out Ama, Srotas need to be well nourished and retain their elasticity.

If oil application to skin is negligible or non-existent, the srotas struggle to expand and contract properly without losing their structural integrity.

5. dried srotas

Cleanliness of Srotas

Similarly, if the srotas have an accumulation of dead skin and foreign matter, they are unable to properly expel waste material. This is often the case when Skin is cleansed with a synthetic soap or body wash.

The Ayurvedic texts list out the large and small orifices in the body in great detail and also enumerate the mala (impurities) that accumulate as a part of normal wear and tear from the dhatus in these orifices. Moisture of the tongue, eyes, mouth, excretions of the eyes, ears tongue, teeth, axilla, genitals, pimples, greasiness of facial skin, sweda (sweat) , sebum secretions of kesha (hair) are all mala from the dhatus (tissues).

If this mala is not removed periodically, especially in seasons where the mala can increase, the body loses its health and appearance of well being. It is only by thorough cleaning these minute pores, and removing debris and dead cells that could clog these channels, can the body be truly clean.

The Mala or toxins from many organ systems find their way to our Skin. From the skin, they are released outside through the outpouring of Sweda or sweat. Sweda contains Mala from the body in the form of oil, debris, dead cells, vapour or gases and debris of micro flora or the small organisms that live on us. This is generated everyday as we sleep through the normal process of cell and organ system repair and regeneration.

 

To cleanse this Mala from the Skin, the Ayurvedic texts recommend using a specific combination of lentils, grains and specific herbs that suit each kind of prakriti. The action of this cleansing product is extremely subtle – unlike a synthetic soap, the Ayurvedic Snana product opens up the pores of the skin, encouraging the removal of Mala through the srotas of the skin. The most minute pores of the skin are gently encouraged to open up and this opening action helps suck out Mala which adheres to the Ayurvedic ubtan as it cleanses the skin. Finally when the skin is rinsed with water, the entire body is left feeling refreshed, lighter, deep cleansed and ready for the new day.

6. cleanser

Sebum and its use on skin:

When we were growing up, every anti acne commercial talked about “oil on skin” and how, this was the cause of the large, pus filled pimples we got with distressing regularity. So many of us spent our teenage years over washing and using stronger and stronger surfactants on skin in an attempt to dry out this oil.

However, despite what the commercials tell you, sebum has a very important role to play in skin and body health.

Natural sebum performs 2 functions. Because of its thick and sticky texture, it adheres to dirt, bacteria and their foreign micro organisms and prevents them from invading our internal body. By forming these agglomerations, sebum helps these substances get easily removed from our body.

7. sebum on dirt

Sebum also helps maintain the elasticity and pliability of the various layers of skin. It also acts as a bonding layer keeping the layers of skin attached to each other. When it is in the right amount, and is in balance, skin has a smooth, pliant and elastic structure. The skin is also clear and radiant and functions in a healthy and normal manner.

The same sebum is present on our scalp as well. Here it is present in a slightly thicker and more copious amount. Here the sebum helps cool the scalp and also allows the hair to be deep rooted and strong, when present in the correct amount.

 

What impairs the sebum production in our skin?

Internal reasons

Just like we saw with sweat production, the choices we make can impair the production of sebum on our skin and scalp leaving us with either too much or too little sebum for our skin.

When we eat greasy, sweet and clogging food, we encourage both the production of ama and impair the functioning of sebum so too much sebum is produced. This excessive sebum tends to clog the srotas, and can also form pockets of trapped dirt and bacterial organisms on our skin which are called blackheads, whiteheads or acne.

8. greasy food

 

When we eat plenty of drying, crisp food, do not hydrate our bodies adequately and consume foods or drinks that remove biological water from our bodies like tea, coffee and cola, we impact the normal production of sebum. The body is unable to produce the right amount of sebum for our skin’s needs, so we find that our skin is dry in patches, has cracked, has started forming wrinkles and is coarse and dehydrated.

9. dehydrating

 


External reasons

When we frequently wash our skin with the wrong products, we find that our sebum dries out much quicker than our skin can replenish it. This is especially true when we use foaming, surfactant based cleansers on skin. These substances can literally suck our skin dry of sebum and “bubble out oil” from our skin.
10. cleansers

When skin is subjected to such an aggressive cleansing routine, it retaliates by hiking up the sebum levels unevenly through the skin. So you will find that the skin is oily and shiny in patches and in these places, you are likely to have breakouts or acne.

Ironically, when skin is cleansed right, with gentle, non-dehydrating substances, the sebum production balances automatically. You do not need to worry about shiny or patchy looking skin, or breakouts.

 

The Ayurvedic skin care routine: Nourish & cleanse for proper sebum and Sweat production

We are going to, over the course of this month, discuss how you can care for your skin much better using what Ayurveda recommends. We have seen consistently, that when these simple guidelines are adhered to, even the most problematic of skin calms down and looks better. Skin develops good health and its functioning is much improved. The external mechanisms of sweat and sebum work properly. And skin looks naturally radiant and healthy.

So here is a thought we would like to leave you with for today: for your skin to look its best, you must nourish it (with the right skin oil) and cleanse it (with a non foaming, herb and grain based cleanser). This simple routine when followed religiously will help your skin stay in good health.

Krya has a range of skin nourishing facial oils and a wide range of facial and body cleansers that work with skin and not against it.

Explore our skin oils here . 

Explore all our facial skin cleansers and masks here . 

Explore all our body skin cleansers here . 

 

 

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Krya formulation Tuesdays – Krya classic skin oil with Manjishta & Chandana for oily skin

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Reading Time: 10 minutes

I recently received an email from a consumer asking for help to choose the right skin care products for her. She is a 21 year old girl who lives in a very hot and dry climate where temperatures are usually between 37 – 40 deg centigrade. She found that her skin was going dry in summer, so she opted for a reputed brand of moisturizing face wash (synthetic).

At first, her skin responded well and the sense of dryness was gone. Within a few weeks of continuing to use the face wash, this young girl found that her skin started to get much oilier than normal, and whiteheads and blackheads started to crop up.

Here’s where Ayurveda’s subtle nuances on diagnosing exactly which dosha is unbalanced can help us. Regular cosmetic science simply diagnoses dry skin as well, dry skin. So skin is simply subjected to an oilier lotion with a higher number of humectants. As all synthetic creams and lotions are made from a base that is derived from petroleum, we see that the product tends to be comedogenic (pore clogging) and is also not absorbed by the skin.

1.when dry skin isnt really dry skin

So any difference we see is surface, and we are not helping the skin at a deeper level. Also, because of the pore clogging nature of the products themselves, we are interfering with or impairing the normal functioning of the skin underneath.

 

Prakriti (individual constitution): a valuable tool to identify the correct dosha imbalance in skin

Ayurveda classifies our prakriti as the unique mixture of doshas that make up who we are. This is made unique by taking in factors like our age, the season, the climatic conditions where we live, the current stresses we go through, our life stage, etc.

Each of these factors contribute to our prakriti at any point in time. Depending upon where we live, season, age, etc, our natural prakriti may see an increase in specific doshas or a decrease in specific doshas. This can cause an imbalance which can lead to skin, hair or other health issues.

 

Example 1: Life stage and diet affecting prakriti

Take the case of a Vata-Pitta prakriti individual. She is around 30, and has just delivered a baby 2 months ago. She is not following standard pathiyam diet and is instead eating a lot of sour and spicy food. Her hair is greying and is also looking very dry, with brittleness and snapping of the hair when ebbing combed.

 

In Ayurveda, we would analyse her condition thus:

Being a Vata-Pitta prakriti individual, she is already subject to the drying, mobile influence of Vata and heating influence of Pitta. As she is in her 30s, age-wise she is in Pitta dominant stage of her life. As she has just given birth and has not followed proper pathiyam and post partum abhyanga, her Vata dosha will be in excess. As she is now eating Pitta increasing foods, pitta prakriti will also be in excess.

2.post partum greying

 

So we see vata and pitta vitiated condition in hair like premature greying, drying of scalp, and brittleness of hair. If we further question her, we may also see dryness and redness in skin, presence of youvana pidaka (acne on back and skin), aches and pains in the back and hips and IBS or constipation depending upon what is being eaten.

For this lady, we should give pitta and vata pacifying (shramana) measures. Her diet must be corrected, eating timings must be regulated, and vata pacifying measures like Abhyanga should be adopted. Hair oiling must be done with a pitta reducing oil and ghee intake and stomach and back exercises must be done to regulate both doshas and promote strength and vitality in the body.

 

How is skin diagnosed in Ayurveda: an example

Taking the example of the young girl who had written to us about her skin. She is 21, and lives in a hot and dry climate. In this age, pitta is generally dominant. Pitta may have gotten worse by the pitta in the environment because of high temperature.

Skin can go dry in Ayurveda because of 2 reasons: Vata dosha dominant climate so in peak winter, due to cold weather, we see “rooksha” or roughness in the skin.

Skin can also go dry in hot sum. So when we spend a day at the beach, or stay outside in very hot weather, we see that the skin goes dry and parched when the sun removes moisture from the skin. Tanned skin is also dry due to high heat. However, it does not crack like skin does in cold and dry weather. Instead it burns and becomes tight and uncomfortable due to excess pitta.

3. sun aggravated dryness

 

The herbs and anupana used for vata related dryness and pitta related dryness will therefore be completely different. For vata related dryness, we use moisture-rich herbs and seeds like almonds, charoli, and sweet herbs like Yashti (Liquorice) and damage repairing herbs like Ashwagandha.

The herbs and anupana used for pitta related dryness are quite different. We use pitta balancing herbs like Neem, Durva, Sariva, etc. All these herbs suck out excess Pitta and improve the skin pigmentation and darkening brought in by excess pitta. We use circulation and rakta rejuvenating herbs like Manjishta and Daru haridra. We also use rejuvenatory and skin improving herbs and fruits like Brahmi, Mangoes, etc.

4. neem

 

 

Facial care in Ayurveda: cleansing rules

Skin cleansing is done following a rigid set of rules in Ayurveda. Skin is always cleansed with a well thought out combination of herbs, grains and lentils. This ensures that the skin’s pH and barrier function is well maintained. Depending upon the prakriti of the individual and ritukala (season), specific herbs are added to the base.

When cleansed this way, the sebum levels in the skin are never suddenly depleted or added to. Skin remains soft and does not feel parched and tight. Most importantly, the cleansing is strongly functional and removes clogs and toxins from the cells leaving the skin free to continue its normal functioning.

5. gentle ayurevdic clenaisng

Facial skin is always cleansed in cool or luke warm water. The cleansing is done using gentle circulatory movements and is done after yogic exercise or any sort of movement to help flush out toxins from the skin pores.

 

The role of lepas (creams), oils and leave on masks in Ayurveda:

Try as we might we do not see references to leave on skin products in Ayurveda. Certain lepas (creams) are formulated specifically for diseased skin conditions like burns where the skin requires the healing effect of herbs and cannot be left open and unprotected.

Masks or short leave on products are routinely referenced too and used in Ayurveda. Sometimes this could be a part of the bathing routine itself where the ubtan / bathing powder is itself used like a mask. Sometimes, a specially formulated mask is used to transfer the healing and repairing properties of the herbs to skin.

6. lepas and masks

 

The concept of emulsions is very well known in Ayurveda: so many ancient recipes for Ayurvedic creams exist. However, lotions are not a common skin care format in Ayurveda. For skin application, different kinds of oils are routinely used.

 

Many specific facial oils are referred to in Ayurveda: kumkumadi tailam is one such formulation, which has now become extremely well known (we will do a separate post on this later on the Krya blog). This is a very ancient formulation said to have been developed by the Ashwini Kumaras. Kumkumadi tailam is generally used for youvana pidaka (Acne) or skin which has hyper pigmentation, blemishes and darkening due to excess pitta or sun exposure.

7. kumkumadi tailam

Generally even these facial oils are used pre-bath. The texts also allow for application at night on damp skin in very minute quantity. When doing a leave on application of any skin care product, we must take great care to understand the right dosage of the product for our skin. The product must be easily absorbed by the skin and should not persist, and clog its pores.

 

How does very dry skin occur as per Ayurveda:

I often receive emails from consumers stating that their skin is very dry and literally “drinks up” moisturiser. So they are dismayed when I tell them I have no natural substitute to their leave on moisturiser. Being used to routinely applying a leave on moisturiser, our no-moisturiser-on-skin policy is received with dismay.

 

Here are some points where Ayurveda differs when it comes to slathering skin with moisturiser:

  • Skin is supposed to perspire and do heat exchange with the atmosphere keeping the rest of the body cool
  • Sweda (sweat) is an important vehicle to remove excess salts, and toxins which are excreted form the body. The proper production of Sweda supports other excretory organs like the kidneys which can get overloaded if your skin does not do its work
  • Therefore the goal of Ayurvedic skin care is to properly moisturise the skin and all its layers and then cleanse it well so the minor srotas (circulatory channels) are open and functioning well to do their job of heat regulation and cleansing.

8. Sweda

This leads me to the main reason many of us like using a moisturiser: dehydration due to the AC at home / work.

 

Skin dehydration due to high usage of the air conditioner:

If we work in an air conditioned environment, we are subjecting our skin and body to microbes which are constantly being circulated in the stale air, low humidity and temperatures which are not ideal for the body. Living and working in an air conditioned environment sharply increases vata in the body so skin becomes dry, and aches and pains increase. When vata aggravating food is added to this (tea, coffee, crisp, and dry food, junk food), the vata aggravates even more.

10.ac and coffee

In this environment, it is good to eat a meal which is rich in good fats like ghee, avoiding dehydrating drinks like tea and coffee and taking breaks from the ac environment to give your body a break. It is also important to stay hydrated and ensure you drink a minimum amount of clean water (preferably warm) to keep vata from being unbalanced.

 

The use of Ayurvedic facial oils to supplement skin healing, nourishment and moisture retention:

When you eat right, cleanse right, and broadly live right and either avoid the ac or supplement for the AC, you will find that your skin is able to generate enough sebum to protect it.  A weekly Abhyanga is a very important health giving practice that is extremely beneficial to skin and hair health as well. Once this is done, skin requires only small amounts of external moisturisation to aid it during difficult seasons like winter or to overall boost its radiance and lustre.

 

Therefore a popular Krya recommendation is the use of appropriate facial oil, in very small doses to help the skin balance and heal itself. The facial oil is usually applied in very small quantities before a bath and left on for 15 minutes before cleansing, if the skin is very dry to begin with. This helps protect the skin until its health is restored and it is able to help itself.

9. moisture plus skin oil

 

Another very beneficial way to use facial oil is at night. Here we use even smaller quantities of oil, as a little oil goes a very long way o skin. Facial oil is applied 1 hour before sleeping on clean, damp skin. The slight amount of dampness on skin helps take up the oil being applied. Precisely 3 – 4 drops of facial oil are used and very gently and lightly massaged onto damp skin using the ring finger. The oil is left on at night.

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The needs of different kinds of skin vary, and skin also needs sometime getting used to a new routine. We advise that you start slowly (application before bath) and then graduate to night time use. When in doubt, use less product and not more.

 

The Krya Classic skin oil with Papaya and Jatamamsi:

We have been working and re-working our formulation with the classic range for some time now. This variant has been in existence at Krya for more than 1.5 years now, and with every successive batch, we have made minor tweaks to the formulation based on our growing body of research and consumer feedback.

 

The Krya Classic skin oil with Manjishta and Chandana has been formulated with 22 nourishing, oil balancing and pitta balancing herbs and fruits like Manjishta, Chandana (Sandal), Lodhra, Brahmi, Neem. We also add complexion enhancing and blemish reducing seasonal fruits like papaya into the oil.

11. Krya classic skin oil resized

The oil also uses sneha (oils) like Neem and Tamanu which classically help balance sebum secretion and are useful for pitta prakriti skin.

 

As we have seen in the example shared above, even Pitta prakriti skin can go dry in certain conditions. This is a dryness which comes with excess heat, so a skin moisturising product that works with skin without disturbing Pitta and adding excess oiliness will suit this skin. Continued use of the product helps work on minor skin blemishes, scars and evens out skin tore and lustre. The anti bacterial nature of many of the herbs and oils used also helps preventing microbial infection and the occurrence of cystic acne with regular use.

 

To sum up:

On Formulation Tuesdays, we generally focus a lot on how we make the formulations we discuss for that day, and our philosophy behind the herbs, oils and manufacturing process followed. As I re-read my post, I notice that the post discusses the concept of Ayurvedic skin care in much greater detail than the formulation itself.

I hope this background was useful to you and you were able to understand, appreciate and resonate with the differences between how Ayurveda cares for your skin (vs. modern cosmetic products). Our ongoing Formulation Tuesday series is designed to improve transparency and give you a greater understanding into how we think about, design and manufacture our products. We believe that greater transparency promotes better choices and helps you make better decisions on what you apply o yourself or use around you in your home.

 

If you have any questions on our products, the philosophy behind our products, or a specific question on skin and hair, please do get in touch with us.
Krya’s skin oils can be explored here:

 

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