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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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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Culture, stories, spirituality & ayurveda: celebrating the Divine feminine this Chaitra Navratri with sacred flowers

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

Today marks the start of several auspicious periods according to the Hindu calendar. Today is the Amavasya, or the New Moon day, which is a good time to start new activities. Today is also the day Gudi Padwa and Ugadi are celebrated across different parts of India to herald the New Year.

And today is also the first day of the 9 day Chaitra Navratri, a celebration of the 9 aspects of the divine Feminine. Therefore we thought it would be appropriate to do a short post on some of the sacred flowers in Ayurveda and how they are used in the worship of the divine Feminine.

 

The opportunities that sacred festivals give us:

To us, immersing ourselves in divinity and worship shows us the path to treat ourselves with reverence. When we decide to wake up at a specific time, bathe well and cook in an atmosphere of love and reverence and offer this food as Prasad, we show ourselves higher standards of living. Eventually these rituals become part of our life as we treat our lives with care and reverence, mirroring how we worship our deities every day.

1. everyday reverence

Apart from daily worship, festival times also give us a rare spiritual opportunity. The ancient texts tell us that when we worship at a common time or during a collective festival, the power of collective worship gives us access to a great deal of positive, spiritual and divine energy.

 

Worshipping the divine Feminine in the week:

At Krya, we advise a Tuesday and Friday abhyanga routine for Women. Friday is considered the day the Divine Feminine Energy is strongest in the week. We worship her in different forms like Devi Lakshmi, Devi Saraswathi, Maa Durga, Devi Meenakshi, etc.

2. abhyanga

To receive the divine feminine energy and invite the Goddess into your home, a Friday abhyanga by women is considered extremely auspicious – the benefits of this Abhyanga are twofold.

 

At a physical level, this abhyanga helps cleanse your body extremely thoroughly and activates the major srotas / channels within the skin. This aids release of toxins, and calms down vitiated doshas. Internally it also helps the working of the bones and joints, settles the stomach and leaves your body in a state of tridoshic balance.

On a spiritual level, the Friday abhyanga is said to increase the Sattvic energy in your body. This helps you attract the divine Sattvic energy of the divine Feminine and helps its manifestation in your home, workplace and in every area of your life.

 

 

Navratri: 9 days of worshipping the divine feminine, 4 times every year

Navratri means “9 nights” and is a period during which the Divine Feminine is said to be readily accessible to this world and is willing to grace our home if we invite her. Traditionally, the Navratri period falls 4 times in the Hindu year. Each Navratri falls at the beginning of a specific season as per the Hindu calendar.

The most popular Navratri is Sharad Navratri which is held in the Sharad / autumn season falling in September / October ,post monsoon season. This 9 day festival ends in Vijayadasami or Dusshera.

3.sharad navratri

 

The second Navratri celebrated in India is Chaitra Navratri which begins today. This 9 day worshipping of the divine Feminine ends in Rama Navami, which celebrates the birth of Lord Rama.

4.chaitra navami

 

The third Navratri period is Magh Navratri which is celebrated in winter in January – February. The fifth day of this Navratri festival is celebrated as Vasant Panchami where Goddess Saraswati is revered through music, poetry, different forms of art, and also kite flying.

5. basant panchami

 

The fourth Navratri period is Ashadh Navratri which marks the beginning of Monsoons in India in June – July.

 

Sacred Flowers to worship the Divine Feminine and their properties according to Ayurveda:

The Divine Feminine is revered in religions across the world. She is seen as the source of creativity, and in Hindu philosophy, metaphysical reality is considered a manifestation of the divine Feminine. Creation is considered the divine play of the Goddess and she is considered the fount of beauty, compassion, self realisation, love and protection.

6.divine feminine

We have written before about how Ayurveda and the use of herbs have deep cultural and religious symbolism. The worship of Gods and Goddesses, for example, involves the use of specific herbs that suit the divine energies attributed to these Gods and Goddesses.

Today, at the start of this 9 day Divine Feminine period, we will look at 3 sacred flowers that are used to worship the Divine Goddess and their medicinal properties

 

Sacred flowers in India and their Ayurvedic properties:

Japa (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) for Goddess Parvati:

The Tripurasundari ashtakam is a beautiful 8 stanza shloka to the Goddess Tripura Sundari and was composed by Acharya Adi Sankaracharya. The entire shloka is dedicated to Goddess Tripurasundari, the beauty of the 3 worlds and the consort of the Three Eyed One (Lord Shiva). One of the stanzas says this:

“Vidambhitha japa ruchim vikhacha chandra choodamanim,
Trilochana kudumbhineem tripurasundarim asraye “
In the paragraph above, Adi Sankara mentions that the Goddess likes the fully bloomed Japa flower. The Japa flower finds atleast 2 more mentions in this Shloka, which is of deep significance to students of Ayurveda.

7.japa

In Hindu religion, the Mother Goddess is considered the fount of expressive energy, the womb of the entire world and the Supreme One which gives form to thought. This creative force is represented as a rush of heat and energy which manifests in everything we see around us.

It is therefore no wonder that the divine heat of the Goddess is adorned with the cool red Japa flower, or the Hibiscus flower. The Japa flower is used to reduce and balance the Pitta energy of the Goddess.
8.japa for kalima
Many Mother Goddesses are worshipped with the Japa flower, especially the forms which are considered high in creative energy and the energy of destruction. For example, Goddess Kali in Kalighat Temple of Calcutta (one of the primary shaktipeeths in India) is also adorned with red Japa flower. Similarly, Goddess Tripura Sundari in Tripura, the playful Goddess of creation is also adorned with Japa flower.

Japa in Ayurveda:

Ayurveda considers Japa as a pre-eminent hair herb, and this is because of its pitta balancing property. Just like it is used to cool and balance the Mother Goddesses’ fiery creative energy, it is used in Ayurveda to soothe and cool the head and the scalp which are heated by the workings of the eyes and the brain.

Japa is used extensively in hair formulations as the head is considered one of the seats of Pitta.

In order for optimal working of the brain and the eyes, Ayurveda says that this region has to be kept cool (so you literally and figuratively maintain a cool head). Therefore oils meant for the head are always prepared with cooling and pitta balancing herbs like Japa, Bhringa, Mandukaparni, etc.

Japa in Krya

Japa goes into many of Krya’s Hair Oils, hair washes and hair masks, especially the products meant for pitta type hair. The Krya Classic hair range extensively uses Japa flower. Japa while cooling, is not suitable for use in body wash and oil formulations as it can trigger vata dosha.

9.japa in krya

 

Kamala (The Lotus) – Nelumbo nucifera for Goddess Mahalakshmi:

The lotus is associated with purity and beauty in Hinduism, Buddhism and in Ancient Egypt as well. Egyptian scholars associated the Lotus flower with re-birth as they observed that the flower closed at Night and re-opened its petals with the arrival of the sun.

10.kamala

 

In Hinduism, the Lotus is associated Goddess Lakshmi and her divine consort Maha Vishnu.

Acharya Adi Sankaracharya has composed a beautiful stotra called the Kanakadhara Stotram in praise of Mahalakshmi. Legend has it that Adi Sankaracharya was begging one day for alms. A poor woman who wanted to offer the young sanyasi some food, could find nothing in her home except an amla fruit. In her generosity, she gave this amla fruit to Adi Sankaracharya. Moved by her compassion, Adi Sankaracharya composed the Kanakadhara Stotram requesting Goddess Mahalakshmi to shower wealth on the generous woman.

Legend says that the single amla given generously away to this boy was converted by the Goddess Mahalakshmi into a shower of amlas made of pure gold that rained from the roof of the poor woman’s home.

11.kanakadhara stotra

Such is the generosity and compassion of Goddess Mahalakshmi who is moved when she sees similar qualities of generosity, compassion and sharing of wealth and food. It is said that rather than mantras and rituals, Goddess Mahalakshmi graces a home which is filled with a charitable attitude, soft speech and generous hearts.

Just like a lotus rises from the mud, Goddess Mahalakshmi is said to have risen from the Ocean of Nectar when it was churned by the auras and divas.  She is depicted sitting on a fully blossomed Lotus (Kamala), showering wealth, riches and prosperity with grace and compassion on all her devotees.

12. goddess lakshmi

 

Incidentally, the Amla (Phyllanthus emblica) is the favourite tree of Goddess Mahalakshmi, as is evident even in the Kanakadhara Stotram where she blesses her devotee with golden amlas.

 

Kamala in Ayurveda

Kamala is a revered flower in Ayurveda and is extensively used in pitta and rakta pitta disorders. It is considered nourishing and comforting to the dhatus and is said to relieve illusions, hallucinations, and physical and mental agony brought on by jwara (fevers).

Kamala is indicated in Ayurveda in thirst, burning sensation of the body, certain cardiac ailments, vomiting and unconsciousness. Flowers of the Kamala are considered diuretic, astringent and a cardio tonic.

 

 

Kamala in Krya

When available, Kamala goes into our specialised pitta formulations like the Krya Sensitive skin bodywash. This bodywash powder is used for skin conditions like acute dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis where there is severe itching and inflammation. Both these are indicative of pitta imbalance, so Kamala flower is used in this formulation.

 

Amla in Ayurveda and Krya:

Though not a flower, we have already mentioned how the Amla is associated with both Mahalakshmi and Mahavishnu. The Amla is a revered herb in Ayurveda and is used to balance all 3 doshas.

In Krya, Amla is used across our entire range of our skin and hair care formulations for its pitta pacifying, and rasayana (rejuvenative) and healing properties.

13.amla in krya

 

Palash (Butea monosperma )– for Goddess Saraswati:

Goddess Saraswati is the third facet of the divine Feminine in Hinduism. She is revered as the patron Goddess of learning, knowledge, music and the arts. Goddess Saraswati is known by many powerful synonyms in ancient Hindu Literature.

14.goddess saraswati

She is called “Brahmani” – the goddess with the power of Brahma, i.e. to create. She is also referred to as “Brahmi” which is the Goddess of all sciences. So a company like Krya owes its lineage to Goddess Saraswati. She is referred to as “Bharadi” which is the Goddess of History.

She is also referred to as both “Vani” and “Vachi” – the goddess who is the patron of both music and melodious speech or “vak”. Just like Goddess Mahalakshmi who believes in the flow of wealth through generosity and compassion, Goddess Saraswati indicates to us that true music and art flow from the sweetness of our daily speech.

15.music

 

Goddess Saraswati is also Varneshwari – the goddess of akshara or letters and Kavijihvagravasini – the Goddess who dwells in the tongue of poets.

The mount of Goddess Saraswati is the white Hamsa or the swan. In Hindu mythology, the Hamsa is said to be the bird when offered a mixture of milk and water is able to separate the milk from the mixture and drink it alone. Therefore, with the Hamsa as her vahana, the Goddess Saraswati symbolises the ability to discriminate and choose wisely.

16.hamsa

 

Palash flowers in Ayurveda and popular culture:

Just under a month ago India celebrated Holi. Today, Holi is a festival replete with commercial advertising and synthetic, toxic colours.

17.synthetic holi

 

Traditionally, Holi was an important cultural festival to mark the onset of spring. One of the meanings behind Holi was that the ritual symbolically depicted the dance and playfulness between Krishna and his Gopis.

18.radha holi

In Ayurveda, Holi was a festival that came just before the onset of summer. Summer is usually characterised by pitta based disorders like measles, chickenpox, etc. The traditional Holi gulal therefore used water based extracts of Palash, and other flowers which were designed to cool down excess pitta and keep skin infections at bay.

 

Palash is an important sacred flower in India. It is a favourite of Goddess Saraswati. It is commercially important because of its hardy wood and the resin exuded by the tree called Gum Kino. The flower itself is extremely pitta pacifying and helps prevent and cure pitta based eruptions like measles, prickly heat, chickenpox etc. It is soothing and healing on skin.

19.palash

 

Palash in Krya:

Happily, Krya will be shortly receiving its first shipment of wild harvested, pesticide free Palash flowers, just in time for our scorching summer season.

We plan to use Palash in our Classic and Anti Acne skin care formulations and also sparingly in our Moisture Plus and Sensitive skin formulations. Palash will also go into our hair colour range to see how it works in our reddish – brown series of natural hair colour.

20.coming soon to krya

 

The Sacred in the Everyday:

We hope this post gave you an appreciation of a few of the sacred flowers in Indian and Ayurvedic tradition and how these flowers are used to celebrate and worship different aspects of the Divine Feminine.

We have always seen the Krya Blog as a celebration of Ayurveda, Indian medicinal tradition and a place to discuss how we can safely and effectively care for ourselves and our families without resorting to the use of harmful and polluting synthetics.

Sacred festivals and spiritually charged times like Navratri always help us to re-focus our energies at Krya. we find that these times give us a new appreciation of what we are doing, help us appreciate the wonderful herbs, grains, lentils and flowers that we use even more, seek more divine energy as we make our products and help us re-affirm our commitment to what we are doing.

Often we are bogged down by the demands of our daily life and do not put proper care, attention and reverence into how we care for ourselves. We are tempted to skip our yoga practice, or postpone our abhyanga as we are late for work. Or we decide to open a packet of processed ready to eat noodles and eat this for dinner instead of lovingly cooking a meal for ourselves with real ingredients.

It is our hope that as you read this post, you are inspired to take the long-cut for yourself – and you develop a fresh appreciation for the Dinacharya that you need to do for yourself. Because when we worship the sacred and immerse ourselves into the divine, we carry a small part of that Divinity into us and everything we do.

A happy Chaitra Navratri to you from us at Krya.

 

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The Toxin-free, great-for-skin alternative to a synthetic moisturiser : Krya shares why you should ditch your day cream and choose Ayurveda instead

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

We received an interesting query on the Krya page today and it set me thinking that this is something I should be talking about in the Krya blog.  “Do you have a day cream”, asked a customer, and this is one among many such queries for people asking us for safe moisturizing products.

 

What goes into a synthetic moisturiser?

A synthetic moisturiser is made up of emollients, emulsifiers, sometimes humectants, preservatives, fragrances, colours and sometimes granular particles like micro beads.

Emollient: An emollient is the “moisturising” part of the moisturiser. However, while a natural emollient like a cold pressed vegetable oil is actually good for your skin, petroleum based synthetic emollients clog skin and canwill increase the chances of acne and other infections.

1.chemicals

Emulsifiers: Emulsifiers are further chemicals added to synthetic moisturisers. These chemicals are added to make the cream / lotion stable and ensure they do not separate. Synthetic emulsifiers are typically made from petroleum and hydrocarbon derivatives and are notorious in triggering allergic reactions on skin. Again these are better used on your car then your skin.

Humectants: Humectants are substances designed to draw moisture to the surface of the skin. There are many natural substances that perform this role like honey and glycerine. However, when synthetic humectants like PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) and PG (Propylene Glycol) are used in products, they add to the occlusive barrier formed by petroleum. This makes the skin “un breathable” disturbing its functionality, and triggering acne, bacterial attacks and allergic reactions.

Preservatives: we have chronicled the issues with Parabens that are commonly used as preservatives before. The very least toxic effect of a paraben is skin irritation. Many of them have been linked very strongly to hormone disruption, developmental toxicity and breast cancer.

 

The need for safety in today’s moisturizing products – a few case studies

We at Krya are increasingly alarmed at the cavalier way in which human safety is sidelined while formulating personal care products. Countries are slow to understand the effects of synthetics when used in products, and the collective effect of using a large cocktail of synthetics is little understood until it is often too late.

For example, with the growing hue and cry over Parabens, we now have many leading personal care companies proudly declaring that they now use Phenoxyethanol as a “safer preservative”. Phenoxyethanol is allowed to be present at a concentration of 1% in skin care products. However, it comes with several warnings by the U.S FDA. For example, any accidental ingestion of Phenoxyethanol even at these low concentrations can be toxic and dangerous to infants.

2.phenoxyethanol

 

If Phenoxyethanol and Chlorphenesin(another so-called safe preservative) are present together in a product, it could lead to depressed breathing in infants and in those already in poor health. For this reason, breastfeeding mothers are not supposed to use any personal care products containing Phenoxyethanol to avoid any risk of transmission to the child.

Now here is another piece of information: Chlorphenesin is a powerful synthetic used to counter muscle spasms in full strength. It is used in small doses as a preservative along with Phenoxyethanol. This is the combination that the FDA has warned against: the toxic combination of the Central nervous system depressing Phenoxyethanol and the muscle action suppressing Chlorphenesin which when used together slows down breathing in infants and geriatrics. And this after applying a seemingly harmless looking skin cream!

Methylisothiazolinone or MI is another among the thousands of suspect ingredients in skin and hair care products. In the UK, doctors first raised the alert against this preservative in 2013, when they said that 1 in 10 eczema sufferers were allergic to this ingredient which triggered rashes and extreme skin swelling. This year, scientific advisers to the EU have called for a ban on using MI in leave on products and a dramatic reduction in the allowed MI percentage in rinse off products.

3. MI

 

However it Methylisothiazolinone is still not outlawed and is being used across the world in products formulated for both adults and children across hair and skin.

 

How were moisturizing products formulated in the ancient world?

After reading the above horror stories, any reader would no doubt ask us the logical question: how did we formulate moisturising products earlier? Was there ever a need for any of these additional horror ingredients?

In the western world, the first reference to cream comes from the 2nd century Greek physician Galen. Galen formulated a simple cold cream which was made from only 3 ingredients: beeswax, olive oil, and rose water. Galen made a simple oil in water emulsion using beeswax as a natural emulsifier, similar to how we would make mayonnaise or salad dressings.

4. galens cream

 

Obviously the shelf life of this formulation could not have been very long – depending on the climate this cream may have lasted between 1 – 3 months. Being a simple olive oil based emulsion, this cream would have been used in cold weather for spot application and to protect the skin from rough cold winter wind.

 

How were moisturising products formulated in India?

Ayurveda and Siddha both document the use of a rich variety of fats of both animal and plant origin to make moisturizing products, pomades and oils. Depending upon the fat used, you could get a product of oil like consistency or a thick paste like consistency which is similar to that of a cream.

For example: Natural Beeswax (from the hive of a real bee and not synthetically derived) is documented for its skin and wound healing properties in both Ayurveda and Siddha. Natural Beeswax is often used in Ayurvedic products meant for scar healing, in fire accidents and in very putrid, oozing wounds where there is a need to isolate the healing body from the external environment. In these cases, pure honey is also added along with the beeswax to seal off the wound, provide moisture for the broken skin layer and allow healing to take place.

5.beeswax

 

The use of certain kinds of plant butters is also recorded in Ayurveda among specific communities and regions. For example, kokum butter, which is used by Krya in the Krya extra conditioning hair oil ad the Krya Moisture plus skin oil, is extremely well documented for its hydrating properties. Kokum butter is quickly absorbed into skin and scalp and is intensely hydrating, making it very suitable for dry and frizzy hair and very dry skin. At room temperature, kokum butter becomes solid, so this product is often used for making cream / paste like skin and hair care products in Ayurveda.

6. kokum butter

 

Ghee is also another ingredient liberally used in Ayurveda for formulations meant for pitta skin or hair conditions. Again like kokum butter, Ghee is solid at room temperature, so the addition of a good quantity of ghee makes a formulation thick, unctuous and cream like.

 

Thickening without parabens and PEG – traditional skin and hair care in Ayurveda

At Krya, by the use of Ayurvedic herbs, formulations and processing techniques, we are able to deliver excellent skin and hair care oils which have varying textures.

For example, the Krya Moisture plus Skin Oil has been designed for the use of extremely dry or aging skin. We recommend use of this oil as a night, leave on application and also as a pre-bath oil. In the night application, the oil is used in very small quantity (3 – 4 drops) and applied on cleansed skin and left on the entire night.

Our users report that with regular use of this oil, the skin develops an excellent lustre, evenness of complexion and filling in of small lines.

7. moisture plus

 

While the Krya Moisture Plus skin oil has been made using base oils like Sesame and Coconut Oil, the final texture of the oil is moderately thick , does not run quickly over skin and leaves the skin feeling well moisturised without any oiliness.

The secret to this texture change is the Ayurvedic processing technique we follow called the sneha Kalpana process. Ayurveda recommends the Sneha Kalpana process to “prepare” an herb infused oil for skin or hair application by the use of fresh juices of herbs (Swarasa), decoctions of dried herb tubers, roots, stems and bark, herb pastes and cold pressed vegetable base oil.

The Sneha Kalpana process uses “Agni” or fire to boil all these different ingredients so that the properties of the herbs are transferred to the oils. In this process, the particle size and texture of the oil is completely transformed.

8. sneha kalpana process

 

Many of us might have applied raw coconut oil on our skin. We often find that it is runny and feels extremely oil and is sometimes not very well absorbed especially if we have severely dry skin.

However, the same coconut oil, when processed in the sneha Kalpana method, alters in texture as it absorbs the herb Swarasa, kwatha and kalpa to become thick, much more moisturising, less runny and more effective.

When we finish the Sneha Kalpana process, we get a dense, moisturizing, dosha balancing and stable oil.

 

Moderate Shelf Life without Phenoxyethanol – the Ayurvedic way

We spoke earlier about the dangers of several new fangled preservatives like Phenoxyethanol. A true Ayurvedic product does not use any preservatives because the Ayurvedic manufacturing process itself ensures a moderate shelf life, and there right texture for the application.

So you might notice that the maximum shelf life we give to our products is 12 months. Our skin and hair oils have a shelf life between 9 – 12 months. We achieve this without adding either natural preservatives like essential oils which may be unsuitable for certain people or synthetic preservatives like parabens, Phenoxyethanol, etc.

By boiling our oils for upto 10 hours until all the water from the herb juices evaporate, we have removed any medium that can be suitable for fungal and bacterial growth. We follow several precautions to check for complete water evaporation as outlined in the texts and also used specially designed traditional oil boiling vessels made of metals like brass that retain heat much longer, allowing for complete water evaporation.

9.sneha kalpana - no preservatives

By following this authentic Ayurvedic process, we not only ensure that our oil is rich in botanical nutrients. We also ensure that the product is stable and can work well for you for a moderate amount of time.

 

The rich use of botanical herbs – to give you nutrient dense products that really work

Classical Ayurvedic formulations and proprietary Ayurvedic formulations like Krya’s are rich in the use of powerful botanical herbs.

For example: We use Winter cherry (Ashwagandha) and Moringa leaf in the Krya Classic Skin Oil, along with the Swarasa of Daucus carota (carrot) and Ananas comosus (Pineapple) . These herbs are extremely useful in even-ing out acne based scars and blemishes, in correcting the oil balance of oil prone skin and offering moisturisation without creating a medium for bacterial attack or acne.

10.classic skin oil

 

The herbs we have outlined form just a small proportion of the many herbs used. Like all Ayurvedic formulations, the Krya skin and hair oils use large quantities of between 10 – 16 different herbs carefully chosen for a particular skin or hair condition.

This makes an Ayurvedic moisturising product rich, complex, holistic and real food for your skin. It does not use simplistic and poor synthetics like petroleum or hydrocarbons which work against the skin and interfere with its natural functioning.

 

Leave on vs. wash off: the Ayurvedic view point on moisturisation

Here is the difference between Ayurvedic skin care and synthetic skin care: the skin is never supposed to be left feeling dry or in need of a moisturiser during any part of the skin cleaning and care routine. So if your cleansing routine is leaving your skin in need of a moisturiser, you should actually be switching cleansing products and not looking for a better moisturiser.

The Ayurvedic skin care routine we prescribe at Krya is minimal, sensible, simple and extremely effective:

  1. Cleanse your skin only with our lentil, grain and herb based cleansers (we have options separately for the face and the body and for different skin needs)
    1. This cleansing deep cleanses skin and activates and unclogs all the minor srotas – so your skin breathes better, eliminates better and regenerates better
    2. This cleansing cleanses WITHOUT stripping your skin’s acid mantle or sebum barrier – this means your skin feels plum, moisturised and nourished after your bath without adding a moisturising product
    3. Cleansing to restore the right balance of synergistic microflora – this means that your body odour reduces, and you remain sweet smelling without resorting to a synthetic deo

11. herb cleansers

  1. Spot application of our skin oils – prebath. For special areas that get dry because of constant exposure to the elements or as a normal part of aging (face, elbows, legs, knees, sometimes arms), we recommend application of one of our Skin Oils. We have different kinds of skin oils for different skin needs. All our oils can be applied on your face and your body.
    1. Night application of our skin oils for the face – if you are looking for a safe night cream replacement and are above 30, the Krya skin oils are a synthetic free, wonderful replacement to toxic night creams. The oils support the natural functioning of your skin; gently penetrate the skin and supply the nutrition required based on your needs. The oil is to be applied in miniscule quantities (2 – 3 drops) on cleansed skin, 30 minutes before sleeping.
  2. The occasional use of our grain and herb based specialised face masks
    1. If you have special skin conditions like acne, or are looking to supplement your skin care routine, we advise using one of our face masks once a week or once a fortnight.

So from a series of 7 – 8 different products for skin, what we recommend is the use of 2 – 3 products (the oil for face and body, the face wash and the body wash). Occasionally you may use the face mask as a pick me up.

Along with a good diet a healthy lifestyle, these few products are all you need for good quality skin.

 

Skin moisturising options at Krya:

I started this post with a question that is often asked of us: what are our options in moisturising.

I end this post telling you that you should choose your skin care products as carefully as you chose your food. Just like none of us want to eat Endosulfan contaminated rice or Monocrotophos contaminated strawberries, none of us should be choosing ethanoxypenol laced skin creams or moisturisers.

Your skin and hair are bio-engineered to perform very specific and important functions. In their performing of these functions they are supposed to look great. However, when we unknowingly apply damaging, toxic and suspect ingredients on your hair and skin, their health diminishes and they start looking the worse for the wear.

The careful selection of a few well crafted and well thought out natural products are all your skin and hair really needs to function really well and look its best.

Here is Krya’s range of skin care products for different needs:

  1. Krya’s Classic skin range – designed for normal to oily pitta prone skin. This skin has an occasional breakout, has an oily t-zone, and is sensitive to heat and the sun and gets easily flushed in heat
    1. The Krya Classic Skin Oil with Carrot & Wintercherry
    2. The Krya Classic facewash with Green Tea & Chamomile
    3. The Krya Classic Bodywash with Rosemary & Cassia Flower
    4. The Krya Classic face mask with Rose petals & Guava
  2. Krya’s After Sun Range – designed for skin with high sun exposure, heat sensitive, sun exposure induced dryness and high tanning and pigmentation (due to sun exposure)
    1. The Krya Classic Skin Oil with Carrot & Wintercherry – use at night to encourage skin healing and repair
    2. The Krya Soothing After Sun face wash powder with Oatgrass & Mint
    3. The Krya After sun bodywash powder with Arjuna & Ashwagandha
    4. The Krya After sun soothing herb face mask with Liquorice & Rosemary
  3. Krya’s Anti Acne Range – designed for skin that has severe acne
    1. We do not recommend use of a skin oil until the eruptions have reduced in number. Once they have come down , you can use the Krya Classic skin range,
    2. The Krya Clarifying Anti acne face wash with Guava and Lodhra
    3. The Krya Anti acne Face mask with Daruharidra and Lodhra
    4. Acne prone skin does well with the Krya Classic bodywash
  4. Krya’s Moisture Plus Range – designed for normal to dry skin that tends to be flaky around the mouth and eyes, feels rough, dull or lifeless and seems to “drink in” moisturisers.
    1. Krya Moisture Plus Skin Oil with Durva and Pomegranate
    2. Krya Moisture Plus Face wash Powder with Gotu Kola & Liquorice
    3. Krya Moisture Plus Body wash powder with Kushta & Indian Liquorice
    4. Krya Moisture Plus face mask with Fennel & Orange Flower
  5. Krya’s Sensitive Skin Range – designed for skin that is prone to eczema or psoriasis with skin thickening, dryness, crust like scab formation, intense itching and skin darkening in the problem area
    1. Krya Sensitive Skin Oil with Cardamom & Neem (NEW) – we have had excellent results with our Sensitive skin oil – regular use accelerates skin healing, cuts down skin thickening and brings skin back to its original colour with minimal scars and blemishes
    2. Krya Sensitive Face & Bodywash with Lodhra & Lotus flower
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Krya Ayurveda series – The Abhyanga and skin moisture

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

The abhyanga is a central tenet of the Dinacharya prescribed in Ayurveda for the maintenance of good health. Apart from maintenance of good health, an abhyanga has also been used very successfully in the recuperation process of several wasting diseases like tuberculosis successfully in Ayurveda.

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Vayu / Air is predominantly governs the sense of touch which has its seat in skin. Therefore a regular abhyanga is the most beneficial Dinacharya for skin. Apart from keeping the skin in good health, Acharya Charaka, Acharya Sushruta and Acharya Vagbhatta are unanimous in their praise of the abhyanga for maintaining good health.

“Na Chabidhatabihatam  gaathrambhyadgasevinaha Vikaaram bhajatheythyayartham balakarmani va kvachitha

Suspashorpachithadagascha balavaan priyadarshanam Bhavathya bhayadga nithya twanrogalapajara eva cha”

“The body of one who does a regular abhyanga does not get affected by accidents or strenuous physical work. A daily abhyanga endows one with good skin, good physique and the body becomes strong, pleasant to look at, has good lustre and is not affected by old age”.

For most modern Indians, Diwali is the time they encounter the abhyanga / oil bath – tradition demands waking up at Brahma Muhurtham, and having an abhyanga with sesame oil followed by a grain based ubtan to cleanse skin. As we move towards Diwali, we thought it would be a perfect time to write more about the abhyanga and inspire you to make it much more frequent than once a year.

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So here is the start of the Krya Abhyanga series. With this series, which we will write upto Diwali, we will cover different aspects of the Abhyanga, how it is useful to skin and body health and also cover some of the practical aspects of how you can tailor an abhyanga to your body type.


 

“Dear Preethi,

As the cold weather has begun setting in here at Delhi, I am finding that my skin is feeling slightly dry, even when I bathe with a Krya body wash / ubtan. Do you think I should apply a cold pressed vegetable oil like coconut oil post bath? I really want to avoid using a synthetic moisturizer” –DP, Delhi

The Skin – a revered organ in Ayurveda

The Skin is treated with a great deal of respect and sensitivity in Ayurveda. The state of your complexion, moisture in your skin, its appearance and the kind of sensitivities it exhibits are all of great interest to a Vaidya. This is because the skin is the seat of 2 doshas – Pitta and Vata and their proper functioning gives the skin good health and vitality. This is also because along with “mutra” (urine and faeces, the skin is the 3rd largest excretory system in the body, producing “sveda” or sweat which is extremely important in removing toxins from the body and in regulating the body’s temperature and maintaining thermal equilibrium.

The Srota system in Ayurveda
The body also comprises of several srotas / channels according to Lord Atreya. These srotas help transport nourishing materials, or wastes all over the body. The srotas transport “prana” or breath, “udaka” water, “anna” or food, “rasa” (fluids), “rakta” (blood), “mamsa” (flesh, medas , asthi (bones), majja (marrow), sukra (semen), urine, faeces or sweat. Along with these dhatus, the srotas also transport vata, kapha and pitta dosha across the body. The srotas also carry the impulses of the sense organs to the brain and back to the sense organs, so the body responds with consciousness and intelligence to the external environment.

The skin is the seat of the Swedavaha srotas and these channels have their root in medas (fat) and Keshya (hair follicles). When these srotas are blocked they lose their functionality leading rise to several symptoms like a loss of perspiration, excessive sweating, coarseness of skin, excessive smoothness, burning sensation over the body, etc.

Keeping the Srotas clean – purpose of Abhyanga and Snana

One of the primary purpose of the daily abhyanga and bath is to keep the skin clean and ensure the minute srotas in the skin are clear, free from ama / toxins and can function properly.

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Therefore as a general rule, Ayurveda advises oil application / abhyanga before the bath. The abhyanga is done using warm oil and oil is applied vigorously and copiously all over the body, paying special attention to the seats of vayu which is the whole skin, joints, limbs, ears and soles of the feet.

A short bout of exercise is advised after the abhyanga – this could be a bout of yoga, a brisk walk or any form of exercise that is brisk, wakes up the body and helps production of sweat. As the sweat rises out of the skin, the pre-application of warm oil along with the heat generated by the exercise liquefies toxins and excess kapha and helps their passage out of the body through the sweat. The exercise is to be done only until ArdhaBala / half capacity – we stop when we reach about half our capacity to exercise, so that the body still has gas left in the tank for the rest of the day and does not go into a state of exhaustion.

After this exercise, the bath is a last step in cleaning the skin.

Cleaning the skin – the Ayurvedic snana

A grain based ubtan / body wash is suggested – the combination of fine grain and lentil power with the right set of herbs helps in micro exfoliation – this removes the excess oil from the skin and also helps the minute srotas open up so that the ama can be cleansed roughly form skin. The difference in this Ayurvedic bath is that we are treating the entire skin as a living organ and through our activities (abhyanga, exercise and bathing with a grain and herb based product) we are literally coaxing the toxins out of the skin and actively encouraging good elimination so the body is in a state of well being.

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In this scenario, where we are working to clean the srotas and leave them active and unblocked, the application of an external moisturiser post a bath goes against the very principle behind how Ayurveda recommends we care and look after our skin. Unless there are specific cases of infection of skin disease where there is s longer application of herbs required, Ayurveda does not advocate a post bath moisturiser.

In conclusion – to moisture or not to moisturise?

The pre-bath abhyanga is more than sufficient to ensure skin moisturisation. In fact skin moisturisation is one of the smallest benefits of an abhyanga. The improvement in vitality, improved digestion, clarity and focus that a good abhyanga gives you is so much more than just plain skin moisturisation.

So to conclude today’s post, if the onset of Winter is leaving your skin feeling dry, instead of reaching out for a chemical laden petrochemical moisturiser that will just block your srotas, try out an abhyanga instead. Even just 2 – 3 abhyangas a week can keep your skin extremely well moisturised and ready to take on the dry and cold weather. In addition, the abhyanga will ensure your digestion does not go sluggish and leave you feeling active and focused through the day.


Krya Products suggested for an abhyanga and a traditional snana:

  1. Skin Oils
    1. Krya Classic skin oil with carrot & Winter Cherry – a skin nourishing oil that can be used if your skin doesn’t go too dry and you would like to maintain its health –
    2. Krya Traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandha – (my personal favourite) – a traditional abhyanga oil that should be used if your skin tends to go extremely dry and the cold weather gives you aches and pains in your lower back, neck and joints . This is a very good vata reducing oil
  2. Post abhyanga snana (wash-off) products – (range of grain and herb based ubtans for different skin needs) –
  3. Abhyanga systems – a combination pack of our classic skin oil and an ubtan
    1. Krya Women’s Abhyanga System – comes with the Classic Skin Oil and our ever popular Women’s ubtan –
    2. Krya Men’s abhyanga system – comes with the Classic Skin Oil and our Men’s ubtan
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Foaming shampoo, Itching soap : a label lowdown

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Reading Time: 10 minutes

The Krya post yesterday shared a piece written by Dr.Anupama Santosh, an Ayurvedic vaidya at Shrestha Ayurvedic centre . In this piece she shared her concerns about herbal products and some of the issues she faces while recommending authentic natural products to her consumers.

We choose to focus on this important issue raised by Dr.Anupama in the blog today at Krya.

The modern soap and the modern shampoo find no place in the tradition of Indian skin and haircare. The traditional medicine pharmacopeia is vast, detailed and uses thousands of cleansing herbs and lists formulations that range from cures for baldness to simple hair growth.

This does not mean Indian traditional medicine is simplistic or primitive as is often assumed. Many of the discoveries and procedures described by Acharya Sushruta and Acharya Charaka (the fathers of Ayurveda) are still in use today.

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For example, a facial reconstructive technique described by Acharya Sushruta 2500 years ago uses parts of the forehead and cheek to reconstruct the nose. This procedure was developed as cutting off the nose was a common punishment in that era which necessitated the development of aesthetic surgery. This technique is still in use today and is now called the “Indian Rhinoplasty technique”.

So how did mass produced soap and shampoo evolve ?

The technique for producing a basic soap is ancient. Archaeological excavations and records suggest that it was in use in Ancient Babylon 2500 years ago. The Ebers papyrus , which dates back to 1500BC, also mentions the use of soap in cleaning textiles. Again we see evidence of the use of soap in the Roman world, where it was again used to launder garments.

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If you are seeing a pattern here, stay with me. We move over to Florence in medieval times where soap making has now become more evolved with the addition of perfumes distilled with knowledge brought in by the Islamic empire. Italy and France begin to compete with each other to produce finer grade soaps.

Soapmaking now reaches England. Soapmaking becomes a household art, guarded jealously by the main housekeeper of the Castle and is made in the still room.

So we have reached a point when soapmaking has become a household cottage industry. The fat trimmings from domestic meat of the animals raised for consumption would be used without wasting to be made into a cleaning soap. For the component of lye, water leached through wood ash would be used as a precursor to the commercially available Sodium Hydroxide we use. The Romans were much more economical – they simply used human urine from the public toilets, which is strong in ammonia to make Ammonium Hydroxide to make their soap.

Now here are 2 interesting facts: Soap originally started out as a textile laundering product and was generally considered extremely harsh for skin use as it was very alkaline in its pH. This alkaline nature made sense when it was used exclusively on textiles as this would help effectively cleanse out grease and dirt from wool, linen and other difficult to care for textiles.

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When soap was finally adopted for personal use, it was primarily adopted by countries which experienced extreme cold and where citizens bathed very rarely.

For example, England had a day called Shrive Tuesday which fell in early summer, which was a day when the peasants would have an annual bath. For this annual bath, the lye based soap was used. Yes, your read that right – ONE bath every 365 days.

An infrequent bath was not restricted to the peasant class alone. The nobility and the monarchy in most cold countries would have a bath only once a month. The perfume industry in France itself started as a way to ward off body odour. Frequent bathing was considered an unhealthy practice and this made sense given the extreme low temperatures that could occur in these countries.

 The soap and shampoo in the Modern Era:

The now ubiquitous mass produced shampoo and soap owes its origins to 3 inventors: Nicholas Leblanc, Michel Eugene Chevreul and Ernest Solvay. Their inventions in the mid 19th century,  transformed what used to be a home made cottage industry based process into a multi billion dollar commercial process which spawned the commercial shampoo as well.

Why soap is not good for skin:

The modern mass produced soap is quite different from its cottage industry ancestor which used just 2 ingredients – trimmed animal fat and lye. Today, the modern soap adds other additives like talc, bleaches, fillers, colours and chemical fragrances to the mix.

However, both kinds of soaps share one common trait – they are extremely harsh on skin.

Aug 9th blog post image 5

The key reason for this harsh effect on skin can be traced to a single factor – by design a soap is alkaline with a pH of atleast 8 or above. This alkaline pH makes sense if you are having a bath once a year like in Medieval England. The amount of dirt, dead cells and sebum accumulated in skin for a year would need an extremely harsh, tough cleansing product preferably with an alkaline soap.

But given our penchant for a bath atleast once a day, and often in hot water, an alkaline product like a soap alters the pH of skin. Skin’s pH has been carefully designed to be 5.5 and is kept that way by the natural oil secretions on our skin, our sweat and the presence of synergistic colonies of friendly bacteria on our skin.

When we alter the pH of our skin using a soap, this breaks this ecosystem, dries out skin, kills the friendly bacteria and leaves our skin open to the invasion of hostile bacteria. Consistent and frequent use of soap will leave skin dry, irritable and unhealthy.
(We’ve discussed much better, gentler ways to have a bath earlier.)

The issue with modern shampoos:

We have detailed the drying and scalp irritating properties of SLS in previous posts. We have spoken about how the commercial SLS laden shampoo cleans by stripping all the essential sebum from your scalp and hair. We also spoke about how this causes a counter reaction in your scalp, which then compensates with a greater amount of sebum production to make up for the lack of essential sebum.

SLS and SLeS also denatures scalp protein and damages the hair’s cuticular structure. Undamaged hair has a “hydrophobic” surface which is coated with sebum. This ensures water does not enter the hairshaft and damage hair. With the repeated use of synthetic shampoos, and harsh chemical treatments on hair like colouring and deep conditioning, this hydrophobic oily coating is rinsed away , leaving gaps in the cuticular structure through which water enters the hair shaft.

Yes I get synthetic soaps and shampoos are bad for me. What about my herbal shampoo?

Unfortunately, with the growing demand for natural products and the growing awareness for natural herbs and solutions, chemical consumer products companies have now made a clever addition to their toxin laden products.

They add, what is called in industry parlance as a “claim ingredient “ to their regular synthetic products.

 The claim ingredient as per Indian law:

Unfortunately the consumer products industry – both in India & globally is very poorly regulated industry compared to say the food or pharmaceutical industries.

marketing hype

 

 

 

 

The first problem with “regulation” is the fact that regulation always lags or follows the introduction of a new concept. The very concept of “regulation” is new and most regulatory bodies of the 20th century were set-up by governments in response to misleading or downright false claims made by manufacturers. Think about it, the concept of a BIS standard for a soap or shampoo can be defined only after there is a significantly large industry for these products.

The second major problem is the fact that the major manufacturers are often appointed by governments as experts to set up regulations. In this regard, several shocking loopholes or low standards that favor manufactures have now been enshrined as “government standards”.

industry collaboration

For example manufacturers can add just 1% of a ingredient  say amla and claim ALL the benefits associated with it – all they have to do is use phrases likes “with the goodness of  amla“  while the rest of the product could contain any manner of chemical bases or preservatives. Even organic food, a new and exciting sector , created by folks in response to pesticides & GMO has not been spared. An “organic” ready to eat food product can contain by law, preservatives like sodium benzoate. So much for “safe”, “organic” food!

Example 1:

Consumer VOICE, a leading, independent publisher did a comparative test of major Indian hair oil brands available in the market. The reference to this original article is given below. The independent study found the following in their research:

  1. All the brands of hair oil were based on mineral oil or Liquid Paraffin – while this was mentioned on the product label, the advertising for these products generally emphases only the goodness of the natural oils and herbs used. This test included even leading brands which claimed to be ayurvedic and natural. Light Liquid Paraffin was found to be between 62% – 91% in content. While BIS permits the use of Light Liquid Paraffin in cosmetic products, there is no maximum limit specified. This is grossly misleading as consumers are obviously buying the hair oils based on their claims of the hair oils containing vegetable oils and herbs,
  2. In 2 leading advertised brands of Amla (Indian gooseberry ) based hair oil, the Amla extract is less than 2%. Even with adding such a trace quantity of Amla, the Manufacturer is getting away by naming this product an Amla Hair oil, when it should really be called a Paraffin hair oil!
  3. A leading advertised brand of Almond hair oil contained , in fact, only a few drops of almond oil per bottle- the net weight of mineral oil was 76% and vegetable oil was over 20%.

Ayurveda has not been spared too

Unfortunately the bad habits from the chemical consumer products industry have defiled the Indian Ayurvedic sector as well. AYUSH standards from the GoI allow a range of “permitted” additives, base, preservatives etc. So you could find an “Ayurvedic” toothpaste, with one or two ingredients mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts but with the bulk of the product containing a synthetic base or with sodium lauryl sulfate as a foaming agent.

Example 2:

A leading South Indian brand of herbal hairwash powder has often been brought to our notice by Krya consumers. They check the foam generated by this herbal hairwash and tell us it is atleast twice more than the Krya hairwashes. The foam quality is also surprisingly similar to the foam generated by a synthetic shampoo – the foam is thick, and lasts for a long time on hair.

An analysis of this product’s contents proved difficult, as the Indian label lists only upto 60% of its ingredients. The natural foam generating herbs like Sapindus trifoliatus, Sapindus mukorossi (Different species of Soapberry / Reetha), and Acacia concinna (Shikakai) is less than 5%. The largest herb listed by volume is Coconut Shell powder, which has no nutritive action and is only a natural abrasive and filler.

So 2 questions you might have are: What is in the missing 40% of the product? And how is it foaming?

Both questions have one definite answer – SLS. This is not declared in the Indian pack as companies are not required by law to do so here. But SLS is listed in some of its export packs and the percentage volume is sometimes as high as 17%.The balance could possibly be made up of preservatives, other fillers, foam boosters and perhaps a fragrance – we say could, because, again the Indian law protects cosmetic manufacturers. We don’t have to disclose what goes into the products that are used so intimately by billions of consumers everyday .

Ok, dang! What are my options now?

So what is an Indian Consumer to do? If you find a product that is cheaply priced, colourful, easy-to-use, with a shelf life of more than 12 months and still “natural”, you may wonder, is this too good to be true ? Yes, indeed it is too good to be true.

Some of the points we ask our consumers to check on the label:

  1. Add the ingredients listed to check if they add upto a 100 % – if not ask the company what is not part of the declaration – this includes vague declarations like “base”, “q.s”, “lotion base”, etc
  2. Check the fragrance – if it lingers in your bathroom for a long time or on your person for a long time, it is probably not natural. Natural fragrances rarely last for long.
  3. Check the foam quality and consistency – synthetic foam derived from SLS / SLeS / ALeS and other chemical sources is usually extremely white, thick (think thick clouds of foam), and is retentive and substantive – so it will stay for a long time.
  4. Check for the mention of the words “extracts” vs. the use of whole herbs
  5. Check for the mention of surfactants which are described as being derived from coconuts . My favourite example is how SLS is repackaged as a natural coconut derived surfactant – My challenge back always is this – If I give you a coconut, can you make SLS for me without the use of manufacturing equipment and synthetic chemicals? If your answer is no, then stop linking this poor coconut to SLS. The coconut is as much a precursor to SLS as a real Nagpur Orange is to a synthetic orange cola.

The human body – designed for health:

Ayurveda and Siddha classical texts reveal a very wonderful fact – a normal human body is designed to live healthfully and well upto atleast 100 years of age. In fact, the texts classify middle age, as the age between 33 – 66, and old age begins only from 66 years onwards. Rasayana and rejuvenative treatments like Panchkarma are designed to internally balance the doshas and set the body back to its natural balance.

Aug 9th blog post image 8

The external use of whole herb based toxin free products along with the right diet and lifestyle gives almost magical results even in decades old stubborn hair and scalp issues like dandruff, scalp flaking, hair breakage, etc.

We have chosen this August to focus on hair health and care. And to inspire your transition to natural haircare and to re-discover just how good your hair can look / be, we have a very special deal on all of Krya’s haircare products with upto 20% off on all our haircare goodies!

The Krya August Hair Olympics Challenge

To inspire a change to toxin-free natural products and to give your hair a much better shot at real health, we are celebrating the Krya Hair Olympics Challenge this August.

BeFunky Collage

Looking for thicker, healthier, stronger hair this August?

Throw away your synthetic hair care products and replace them with Krya’s nourishing hair care products instead.

Every Krya hair care product for adults carries a special discount only in August 2016

  • 10% off if you buy a single piece of any Krya hair care product for adults
  • 20% off if you buy 2 or more pieces of any Krya hair care product for adults or a Krya hair care system for adults

Explore Krya’s huge range of good-for-you hair care products at special prices here.

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Is your natural product really natural? – an ayurvedic doctor’s perspective

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

This is a guest post written by Dr.Anupama Santosh of Shreshtha Ayurvedic Centre, Bangalore, an Ayurveda Centre that offers authentic, high quality and effective, personalised Ayurvedic therapies to meet people’s health needs . Dr.Anupama Santosh and Dr.Santosh, regularly prescribe Krya’s hair and skin products to their patients.

At the end of most consultations involving complaints related to hair& skin, I am often posed with this question:

“Doctor, what do you suggest to wash my hair with? Not that I use any brand, I am very careful and choose only herbal shampoos. Hope that’s fine, Doctor!”

In my practice, spanning over 15 years, I have tried to answer this query in various ways. I have often told my patients, what the label “herbal/ayurvedic product” can mean and to what extent, it can be herbal and (un)safe. A labeled herbal product can get away with containing a miniscule amount of herbs in it bringing a great deal of advantage to a pharma company which can just add a herb for namesake and marketing it.

I also mention my 7 years of experience as a consultant in the pharmaceutical companies where I am also involved in product development. I use this as a background to explain the concept of fillers, preservatives, artificial coloring agents and other additives to products. Thankfully, the understanding and acceptance of this kind of information is much more now than ever before.

So, after the shock and incredulity passes, their next question is this: “OK, doctor! Please give us some better and safe options and make them available.”

And this is exactly where I became less chatty. Not with an intention to hold back, but because of the lack of trustworthy products. Recommending a product to a patient, is a huge responsibility which I am not willing to take unless I am really, really sure.

Over the years, I have suggested herbs which patients can mix and use, which is practical only for a handful people who have the time and willingness to do it.

Krya blog post aug 8th - indian haircare herbs pic

At our clinic, we do make a lot of our own medicines and we did try and make a herbal hair wash and a hair mask which worked really well. But, we did not have the bandwidth and time to pursue these products for long. And another major requirement is also to have various options of hair washes and hair masks to suit specific needs like prakriti/dosha/roga/age. After all, Ayurveda is rogi-specific not roga-specific (specific to the patient and not specific to the disease)

And in this long pursuit for safe and effective hair care products for my patients, I came across Krya products. I was ecstatic to find their thoughts reflected mine. I immediately ordered a few products and started prescribing them. Initially, I had to spend some time educating patients (mostly the younger lot) about methods of washing hair with a powder as opposed to washing with a frothy shampoo. After a couple of months, the feedback has been really good.  Some of them have become more aware of the other unsafe products they have been using and have started picking up the face wash range as well.

My husband Dr.Santosh, specializes in treatment of Skin problems and is relieved to have found Krya products which he confidently prescribes to his patients with eczema and scalp psoriasis.

We are prescribing Krya products regularly for about 6 months now and are extremely glad to associate with their team. Thank you, Krya, for helping us to further our endeavor towards safe and chemical free healthy living.

About Dr.Anupama Santosh:

Dr Anupama SantoshDr.Anupama is an Ayurvedic consultant at Shreshtha Ayurvedic Center based in Bangalore. She believes that the Ayurvedic way of living is more relevant today than ever before. Her success in treating infertility cases has earned her immense love and gratitude from her patients. She is also a medical consultant for some Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical companies and advises them on product formulation and development of proprietary Ayurvedic medicines.

About Shreshtha Ayrvedic Centre, Bangalore

Shreshtha Ayurvedic Center, founded in 1997, is run by leading Ayurvedic consultants Dr.Santosh and Dr.Anupama. Though the center is located in Koramangala, Bangalore, patients from various parts of the country visit, owing to the genuine Ayurvedic treatment made available here. Apart from the consultation services, the center is equipped with a good pharmacy stocking Kottakkal medicines and organic lifestyle products. A Panchakarma center is also maintained at the center, which offers none of the spa kind of massages ( which is often confused for Panchakarma), but authentic, classical chikitsa with curative effect. To reach out to the growing demand of patients outside Bangalore, Shreshtha Ayurvedic Center started their Online consultation portal and also shipping facilty for prescribed medicines, which has had an overwhelming response.

You can explore more about Shreshtha on their website and facebook page

Team Krya would like to thank Dr.Anupama Santosh and Dr.Santosh for their generous support of our work. We are privileged that such reputed Ayurvedic Vaidyas have found Krya’s products useful for their patients.


 

To inspire a change to toxin-free natural products and to give your hair a much better shot at real health, we are celebrating the Krya Hair Olympics Challenge this August.

Looking for thicker, healthier, stronger hair this August? Throw away your synthetic hair care products and replace them with Krya’s nourishing hair care products instead.

Every Krya hair care product for adults carries a special discount only in August 2016

  • 10% off if you buy a single piece of any Krya hair care product for adults
  • 20% off if you buy 2 or more pieces of any Krya hair care product for adults or a Krya hair care system for adults

Explore Krya’s huge range of good-for-you hair care products here at very special prices.

 

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Herb Magic at Krya – The Indian Nutgrass

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

We are often asked about the nutrient value of the many herbs we put into our formulations. Our formulations are quite complex, sometimes using upto 35 different ingredients in a particular formulation and these combinations of specific herbs have been worked on , drawing from the wealth of ethnobotanical knowledge we have access to and what traditional medicine says about each individual herb.

The Krya herb Wednesday series on the Krya blog was born to revitalize our collective interest around herbs and give us a chance to talk about and hopefully demonstrate how diverse, long reaching and powerful herbs are in their action.

All of us were in production today to get trained on the Krya Kids Ubtan , its benefits, what goes into the product and what are the special challenges in making the product.

Krya kids ubtan compressed for blog 2

While discussing the benefits of having a bath in one of our ubtans vs a regular soap, PS , brought up an interesting observation. Compared to having a bath with a synthetic soap, she felt that our ubtan gave longer lasting deodorizing action, and she remained sweet smelling and fresh much longer despite working in high heat and humidity.

Nutgrass : the ayurvedic deodorizer

Nutgrass also called Nagarmotha or Mustha / Mustaka in Sanskrit and Cyperus rotundus in Latin, is a gorgeous underground tuber that is used in Ayurveda and Siddha for various ailments. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with a nut, and is a starchy underground tuber that has been eaten by many ancient civilizations. Cyperus rotundus is native to Africa, Southern & Central Europe and Southern Asia.

Cyperus rotundus has been used across time by different systems of medicine. Ancient dental records in central Sudan dating back to 6700 BCE suggest that the low frequency of dental caries in that population may be attributed to their consumption of this tuber. Ancient Greek physicians like Pliny the elder used it both as a medicine and as a perfume. Traditional Chinese medicine mentions this as a “qi regulating” herb.

Nutgrass - herb magic

 

Nutgrass in Ancient Ayurveda:

Musta has been celebrated in ancient ayurveda as a herb that can be used to treat a wide variety of illnesses. Acharya Vagbhatta has called it the herb that can be used to cure any type of “jwara” or fever. It is also considered a “dipaniya” (appetizer), pacaniya (digestive) and sangrahi (anti diarrheal herb).

Acharya Charaka categorises Mustha as a trishna nigrahaniya (thirst reliever), kandughna (fever reducer). Importantly, Mushta is a “amapacaka” , a remover of ama / toxins.

Properties of Nutgrass:

Ayurveda considers Mushta to be astringent with a cold potency – so it allievates kapha and pitta , but in excess can aggravate vata. It is laghu (light) and ruksha (dry).

As the roots are fragrant and astringent and has several important medicinal properties, it is used both internally and externally. Its pharmacological properties include anti inflammatory action, anti pyretic and analgesic action.

Internally, Mushta is used in a wide range of diseases. It is an excellent herb to treat digestive disorders as it stimulates a poor appetite, improves digestion ad cleans out ama from the system. It is also a very effective vermicide, so it is often used to treat worms, and dental diarrhea in children. As it alleviates kapha, it is useful to treat asthma and chronic cough.  It is also used along with Shatavari to treat menstrual disorders and in urinary infections.

Externally, Mustha reduces foul body odour due to excessive sweating, brings down pitta based skin conditions like itching, heat boils, etc, and is extremely helpful in skin diseases like scabies, eczema, etc. The essential oil when applied in the eyes reduces pain, redness and ocular discharge.

Ayurvedic deep cleansing: how an ubtan works to clean skin

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 thoroughly clean.

The difference between a soap’s action and an ubtan’s action:

Synthetic products have a strong artificial fragrance that lull you into feeling that you are much more cleaner than you actually are. A soap dissolves oil present on the skin. Its lyophilic end surrounds the oil molecule and moves it away from skin as you pour water on it. This is an excellent property if you are cleaning an inanimate object like your car, but not if you are cleaning living tissue like your skin.  If you use a soap on your skin, it will dissolve the sebum layer which is required to keep your skin moisturized and keep your barrier layer strong. This cleansing method is also quite superficial. A soap works on the outer layer of skin and dissolve oil and remove surface level sweat and dirt using a typical detergent action. But the sweat that emanates from the body in a few hours time continues to smell stale and unclean.

Kryawomensubtancompressedforblog

 

A herb based bodywash powder / ubtan on the other hand is much more subtle in its action – it combines exfoliant, temperature altering, scrubbing, micro polishing and surfactant benefits all into one. This is in direct contrast to a synthetic soap – the herb based bodywash / ubtan works by actually opening up and removing mala from the minutest of pores in your skin – so the instant difference after a bath is a feeling of lightness and refreshment. If you smell yourself a few hours later, your skin will not stink, even if you have been sweating profusely.

The grains and lentils and herbs in it are mildly acidic. They work by a process of adsorption and by forming a homogenous mixture with the excess oil, dead cells and dirt on your skin. The grains and lentils also contain small amounts of oil and other nutrients which coat your skin as you rub the mixture.

Because the herb mixture is mildly acidic, aromatic on its own and contains properties that keep down the growth of invasive fungi and bacteria, your skin is left intact after washing. As your skin’s acid mantle is left intact and its pH level is not altered, your skin is able to defend better against invasive micro organisms.

A herb bodywash is so much better than a soap in any season. In winter, it will prevent the dry, itchy, tight feeling a soap will give you after a bath. It will help conserve sebum and moisture which will be in short supply in the cold. In summer, a herb bodywash will give you an extremely clean and fresh feeling.

Specifically due to the addition of natural deodorizers like Nutgrass and Cassia auriculata, a herb bodywash like ours will remove sweat and odour much more efficiently and you will not feel as malodorous / sweaty as you would after using a soap .

So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties of Cyperus rotundus, the Indian Nutgrass.  The Indian Nutgrass is just one of the many hundreds of whole herbs we use to make our nutrient dense skin, hair and home care goodies.  Our whole herb goodies are completely plant based, use whole herbs that are carefully processed and use absolutely NO synthetics in their making – the result are toxin free, kind on the planet, vegan and cruelty free skin , hair and home care solutions that actually work.

A happy Friday and a fantastic weekend ahead to you from all of us at Team Krya.

Krya’s authentic herb and grain based body cleansers:

Here is a list of all our grain and herb based cleansers. If you haven’t tried one before, do try one today to see what really clean and fresh skin feels and smells like:

  1. Ubtans (traditional cleansers especially designed to be used after abhyanga (oil massage) – to remove excess oil. Can also be used without an abhyanga for those who like ayurvedic ingredients and fragrances. Very cleansing and refreshing on skin while being gentle)
    1. Ubtan for Women with Himalayan turmeric & Gotu Kola
    2. Ubtan for Men with Lodhra & Indian Sarsaparilla – (can also be used by women- formulated skin that is heat sensitive and prone to prickly heat, rashes, etc) 
    3. Ubtan for Kids with Cassia Flower & Sweet flag 
    4. Ubtan for Baby Girls (below 1) with Rose & Wild Tulsi
    5. Ubtan for Baby Boys (below 1) with Chamomile & Neem
  2. Bodywashes (herb and grain based cleansers that can be used everyday instead of a synthetic soap or bodywash. Use non-traditional, exotic herbs like Palmarosa, Chamomile, so they smell different from our ubtans. Very refreshing, cleansing, gentle on skin. )
    1. Bodywash Classic with Lemongrass & Vetiver for normal to oily skin
    2. Bodywash Moisture Plus with Palmarosa & Indian Liquorice for normal – dry skin
    3. Zingy Bodywash for Men with Lemon Eucalyptus & Green Tea (can also be used by women) – formulated for skin that is heat sensitive and prone to prickly heat, rashes, etc
    4. Soothing Bodywash powder for toddlers 
    5. Soothing bodywash powder for toddlers with Sensitive skin – with Rosemary & White eclipta – (
    6. Gentle Bodywash powder for Baby (below 1 year) with Chamomile & Purple Rice

 

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Urban Survival 102 – reading cosmetic labels

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

This is the second part of our article on the science of reading product labels, in which we will decode cosmetic product labels. In the earlier part we dived into the different elements that make up a food label in the Indian context. Krya does not make food products. We work only in household and skin care products. However we are also aware that good nutrition and health are fundamental to great skin and hair, which is why the earlier article examined food labels.

 The amazing human skin

The skin is the primary recipient of personal care products and to a lesser extent the scalp and hair. It is also our first line of defense and very integral to good health. Therefore I am constantly appalled by how poorly we treat our skin by applying products on it without due diligence.

Consider these skin facts :

  • The skin is the largest organ in the body.
  • The skin renews itself every 28 days ( it is a living growing organ !)
  • The adult human skin can weigh around 3 -4 kg and covers approximately 20 square feet in area.
  • The skin can absorb up to 60% of any product applied on it. (It is not a inert physical barrier like a raincoat)
  • A baby’s skin can be three times thinner than an adult’s skin (& therefore is more vulnerable)

The cosmetic products industry is beset with two main problems today which makes label reading a vital survival skill.

  1. Lenient regulatory standards

A good friend who is the marketing director for a global brand of powder fruit juice concentrate revealed that in India, their formulation contains 96% white sugar, 2.5% preservatives and just 1.5% fruit juice extracts. Even at just 1.5 % levels, they can legally show lush pictures of fruit orchards and claim all the benefits of eating the fresh fruit from the tree. So if you went to the store with just the image carried over from TV advertising and purchased the product without reading the label, you will be sugar high and nutrient low.

8. Oranges_and_orange_juice

What is actually in your “straight from the orchard” orange juice? Mostly sugar?

 2. Creative re-interpretation

Creative re-interpretation is the other side of the same coin that also has lenient regulatory standards. Benefit claims made by brands today are stretched to the point be being farcial or even false. A common example is the use of the word “goodness” in many food and cosmetic products. It is legally possible to add 1% olive oil to 99% liquid paraffin’ to create a massage oil and then claim the benefits of pure olive oil. Here the trick is to use the word “goodness” of olive oil in the claim.

In this backdrop we would like to provide you with 4 filters to scan any cosmetic label to help you make a technical decision, and hopefully a better decision.

The 4 things to think through when reading a cosmetic or household product label

  1. Does it add up to 100 %?

This is the first point to check on a cosmetic label and ask yourself whether it all adds up.

The norm is to provide a full list of ingredients. This is not followed by many products. Then there are cases where complete declaration rule is relaxed, which we will talk about shortly. If the ingredient list says “key ingredients” mentioned with their percentages, you should quickly add the numbers. They will not add up to 100% and often the list of ingredients will account for only 30%-40% leaving you in the dark about the remaining 60% -70%. This is cause for concern.

Example 1: The label of a leading herbal hair wash powder calls itself completely natural and goes on to claim it is a proprietary Siddha formulation. The label declared many wonderful natural ingredients like Soapberry (which we use across our Krya cleaning and hair care formulations), Shikakkai and Amla (which goes into our body wash products). However, the ingredients declared were only key ingredients adding up to just 27% of the product.

6. Acacia concinna

Acacia concinna: a wonderful natural herb used throughout India for hair care. A common ingredient misrepresented in “herbal” products

But what about the remaining 73% of the product,  which is really the major part of what is being applied on your hair. I found the composition of the remaining 73% on the label of the export variant of the same product. The balance 73% contained the following

  • sulphates (a cheap foaming agent)
  • hydroxy propyl tiammonium chloride
  • Hydrated aluminium silicate
  • Preciptated silica
  • Dimethicone
  • Glycerol

None of the above ingredients are good for hair. Let us leave aside the debate of whether they are toxic to hair and environment. At the very least I can aver that the composition of the 73% not declared on the pack is nothing to be proud of and the claim of “herbal hair-wash” is certainly misleading.

  1. Excipients , QS

Many formulations contain active, potent ingredients which need a carrier medium or a buffer or a diluting agent known as excipient, which can safely deliver the active ingredient. These excipients can be natural or synthetic and are usually cost effective, inert, bulking agents. The excipient concept has its origins in medicines. For example bitter medicines for children were given with honey as an excipient to mask the taste. The excipient concept and the format for declaring it has now been borrowed by processed food and cosmetics industries as well.

It is common on labels now for brands to declare their ingredients by weight per 5 gm of the product with the excipient listed at the very end with the suffix “q.s”. Now q.s. from the latin ”quantum satis” is an instruction to add “quantity sufficient “of the excipient to make the formulation. It is also assumed that formulator has an understanding of the safe limits in which the excipient can be used. This is a tricky situation for someone interested in decoding the label. The manufacturer need not disclose what the name of the excipient used neither is there any clear guideline on what chemicals or ingredients that can be called excipients.

Example 2: For example I used an Ayurvedic toothpowder and found it to be rather sweet. The label had listed several herbs well known for oral care which added up to nearly 40% by weight of the product and the balance 60% under excipients. Now I assumed that the excipient would be salt which is rather common. However after tasting the toothpowder and finding it to be really sweet, I discovered that the excipient was mostly sugar, which is not a good idea at all in a toothpowder.

2. toothpaste on brush

Sugar: a common excipient used to make the taste of toothpaste more appealing

Then there are cases where the excipient appears to outright misleading. After our earlier post on sunscreens, a mother messaged us requesting an audit of the Ayurvedic sun screen lotion that she used on her kids. Now the product’s ingredient list read as follows:

  • Key ingredients like aloe , zinc oxide , oil etc at 11%
  • Bees wax at 7.5 %
  • Purified water Q.S.

It appears that water is the excipient forming 91.5% of the lotion. Here is the problem which the lay person would not be aware of.

It is just not possible to form a stable water based lotion with just beeswax as the emulsifier. In the lotion industry a number of other chemicals like cetyl alchohol, stearic acid, polysorbate, carbomer are used as emulsifiers to product a stable lotion in all conditions.

Further with 91.5% water and a long shelf life, some preservatives are required. The industry depends on chemicals like parabens and benzoates for preservative action, which are also not listed in the ingredient list.

This raises many questions: how did this brand of Ayurvedic sun screen lotion achieve a stable product with just beeswax? Is any ingredient deliberately left out to protect the intellectual property? Is it just plain omission?

The only option here is to directly write to your brand and ask them for a complete disclosure of all ingredients including excipients.

  1. Claims & Mis-directions  

Product claims are stretched to the absolute limit today. What started off as creative interpretation of the law can now be stretched to the point where it is no longer true.

Example 3: An example that immediately comes to mind is the line used by an Ayurvedic preparation which claims that their product helps you “stay slim and smart”. I have always wondered about the use of the word “stay” for this therapeutic product. If I am already slim and smart, why do I need this product? The visual communication gives us the impression that it is a problem solver, so if you do not notice the fine print you could easily conclude that this product will “make” you slim and smart. Sadly I know that many consumers have purchased this product in the hope of losing weight. I am not sure whether it worked for them or not.

The other disturbing trend in Indian cosmetic industry is use of the “Ayurvedic” tag to claim the halo of this sacred branch of our tradition. It is possible with some legal jugglery to add a few ingredients that have mention in Ayurvedic texts to an otherwise basic chemical formulation and pronounce the product as “Ayurvedic medicine”. Apart from the obvious benefit of piggy backing on Ayurveda, there are some licensing and tax benefits which motivate brands to borrow the Ayurvedic cloak.

In his book, India Unbound, Gurcharan Das recounts the story of how Vicks Vaporub became “Ayurvedic” when faced with the twin problems of very poor profits and a boycott by the Pharmacies in India. He recounts in the book that in this dire situation someone came up with the idea of re-classifying Vicks as an Ayurvedic formulation. Coincidentally some of the key ingredients are also mentioned in Ayurveda as remedies for common cold and the government approved their reclassification. They then were allowed to distribute the product widely in all stores and not just pharmacies. They also claimed tax benefits allowed to Ayurvedic medicines and scripted a spectacular financial rescue.

Is this really Ayurveda? Is this really presenting a true picture to the consumer who reads the label and trusts that Vicks is a genuine Ayurvedic formulation originally created by a qualified Ayurvedic doctor?

Ayurveda is a very exact and exacting science that has great reverence for the patients well being as well as for the plants, animals and minerals that provide the raw materials to create Ayurvedic medicines. For herb collection Ayurveda specifies place of origin, method of cultivation, time , season of methods of collection and storage.  I very much doubt if Gurcharan Das and the rest of the team at Procter & Gamble regularly invoked the blessings of Lord Dhanvantari at the factory manufacturing Vicks Vaporub as prescribed by Ayurvedic tradition.

This was most likely the first incident in India of a brand exploiting the Ayurvedic classification loop-hole. Since them this is a route abused by so many brands that is has also corrupted many hoary Indian Ayurvedic companies. Many Ayurvedic brands in India have now incorporated “bad habits” from cosmetic companies. For example, I know of an Ayurvedic company that manufactured only tooth powder for over 80 years. The current generations of owners have suddenly started manufacturing a tooth paste with the known cosmetic villains like SLS, sugar, artificial colours and flavors and still continue to call it an “Ayurvedic formulation”.

Charaka, one of the father’s of Ayurveda has said that medicine is that which restores health and brings longevity. He also avers that a pure medicine is one which when eliminating disease should not give rise to even the slightest cause for another disease.

4. Is this product free from known Chemical Villains?

In this blog, we have written several articles putting forth our point of view on several industrial chemicals in cosmetic products that are toxic to some or all humans. These chemicals are skin irritants, endocrine disruptors and even carcinogenic. This is not the place to present a case for or against these chemicals. So we will go straight into our recommendation. Given the bewildering array of what could go wrong with chemicals in cosmetic products it is far easier to look for what is NOT present in a product that read the ingredient list. In our opinion the following claims on a product label should help you make a better choice. So look for

  • Sulphate ( or SLS ) free
  • Paraben free
  • Petrolatum free
  • Fragrance free
  • Aluminum free
  • Lead free
  • Cruelty free
  • Phthalate free
  • DEA / TEA free

We hope that this article and its companion on reading food labels will give you the basic skills to survive shopping in a supermarket aisle filled with thousands of potentially harmful ingredients. Hopefully, you will walk out carrying products that genuinely fulfill the promise they made to you in their communication of being safe and natural for you and your family.

This article is a part of Krya’s series on toxics in household and personal care products. Through this series, we hope to inform, educate and inspire you to look around your home and detox it and yourself from the harmful action of more than 100,000 suspect industrial chemicals that surround human life today. The natural world is full of safe, environmentally sustainable, cruelty free options to care for yourself and your home, and our series will try to present atleast a small part of this exciting world to you. 

If you would like to explore our series further, here’s what we’ve written before this piece:

  1. An introduction to the series
  2. Common carcinogens implicated in breast cancer found in your home
  3. Is it a conspiracy? A pre-planned genetic supremacy race? Or simply misinformation? Some reasons behind common toxics & why they continue to be used
  4. Are we putting our children at risk by using these products on them? Here are 3 toxins that plague children through the products we use on them.
  5. Do the products we buy contain toxins? How do we decode what goes into them? Here’s Urban Survival 101 telling you what you should look for in food product labels.

 

 

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