Treating Oily Skin the Ayurvedic Way

The skin performs many vital roles as both a barrier and a regulating influence between the outside world and the controlled environment within the body. The physical toughness of the skin prevents the easy entry of harmful chemicals and invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses into the body. It also provides resistance to shocks for the more sensitive tissues underneath.
Skin type in Ayurveda is individualised. A simple body type categorises the skin into three main types – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is ruled by air and ether and is generally a dry skin, Pitta, a combination and sensitive skin, and Kapha has towards oiliness.

Kapha skin tends to be congested and susceptible to attracting dust and grime. Skin rasayanas for Kapha skin are stimulating herbs that purify and detoxify the skin with subsidiary properties of being nourishing and rejuvenating. These herbs also balance Kapha dosha in the physiology, invigorating the mind and body so that the skin appears alive and vital, and retarding the lethargy that dulls Kapha skin.

Pitta skin is prone to inflammatory conditions and has a tendency towards sensitivity and a combination skin which when aggravated by heat produces more oil. Herbs used for pitta skin have the ability to cool, calm and constrict the capillaries to reduce redness.

Good skincare calls for a regular routine such as the use of the correct cleansers, toners, lotions and moisturizers for a clean and healthy skin.

External Skin Care with Ayurveda
Neem, Manjistha (Indian Madder), Triphala, Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Turmeric are potent Kapha-balancing skin rasayanas. They help detoxify the skin while nourishing it at the same time. They balance oil content in the skin and enhance clarity and brightness. Because of their effective detoxification properties, these rasayanas keep Kapha skin squeaky clean, so that it stays healthy and naturally radiant. Topical formulations for Kapha skin combine these herbs with light oils and Kapha-balancing herbs.
Removing dirt, pollutants and make up that sticks to the skin forms a major aspect of cleansing. Lemon (Citrus limon) and Honey (Meldespumatum) are alternatives to soap as lemon removes grime and oil while honey has antibacterial and antiseptic properties and helps prevent scar formation.

Toning follows cleansing. This helps close the pores and restore the skin’s pH. The juice of lemon has been used for centuries as a cleansing for its powerful anti-bacterial properties. It is also an excellent skin toner and detoxifier.

Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) provides a cooling effect and has healing properties, making it beneficial for oily or sensitive skins (that may be irritated or inflamed).
Soothing agents and nourishers applied to the skin regularly maintain health and integrity of the skin. A natural soothing and moisturising agent is cucumber (Cucumis sativus). It helps keep the facial skin soft, heals and soothes damaged skin and works like a natural sunscreen.

Aloe (Aloe vera), a common herb in skin preparations, is also an excellent soothing agent. It has nutrients and enzymes responsible for moisturising the skin. It also softens and protects the skin. The anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties of aloe are well known.

Sandal tree (Santalum album/sandalwood) is useful for alleviating itchy and inflammatory conditions, again often associated with oily skins. Sandalwood Powder has exceptitonal germicidal and antiseptic properties. In traditional Ayurveda, it is often mixed to a paste and applied on rashes and itchy complexions.

Cloves, for their powerful antiseptic qualities to heal and soothe breakouts and eruptions. Cloves are helpful in the treatment of acne.

Gentle exfoliation can be achieved by combining natural substances like oats, ground barley, wheat and rice
As a spot treatment for blemishes and breakouts a mix of Camphor, Eucalyptus and Sulphur help draw out impurities and heal.
AHA’s dissolve surface skin cells, stimulate cell renewal to minimize fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, scarring & acne. Naturally derived AHA fruit acids offer anti-aging and renewal properties and a softer smoother skin.

Strawberries, for example are a good source of salicylic acid to help clean the pores and eliminate dead surface cell build up. A member of the rose family which has powerful restorative properties, Strawberries are rich in Vitamin C, potassium, sodium and iron.

Bael Fruit, which is similar to the Wood Apple, is a rich natural source of AHA’s and also contains ß-glycol and octane-1, 3-diol, which is an antifungal constituent. It reduces skin inflammation and helps remove dead skin fragments.
Everyday grains such as Wheat and Barley contain a naturally occurring component called Azelaic Acid, very successful in the treatment of mild acne, markings and scarring from acne that cause pigmentation and also rosacea. Combined, these herbs contain powerful anti-bacterial properties that also help to reduce inflammation.

From Ayurvedic perspective, oily skin requires deep cleansing, toning and a protective base. Moisturisers are not generally recommended as the gentle but effective cleansers do not dry the skin but rather balance it. The oil in the skin will naturally balance with both a good skin care regime and a change in lifestyle habits.