According to Ayurvedic medicine, the physical appearance of a person is indissolubly associated with the good or bad functioning of its organs and its endocrine, immune, nervous and cardiovascular system. Therefore, there is no health-free beauty, since inevitably organic pathologies are obviously reflected on the aesthetic appearance
Ayurvedic cosmetics are not the answer to a market demand and consequently have nothing to do with laboratory outcomes dictated by fashion or consumer phenomena but are the expression of a culture of well-being and beauty that for 4,000 years is a point of reference in the field of aesthetics.
Indian cosmetics is the oldest science of existing beauty. Ayurvedic cosmetics are produced in India respecting traditional formulas and methods, which in many cases even date back to the Vedic era (1800 BC – 1000 BC). Many of these formulas are codified in millennial treatises and in the sacred texts of the Vedas. Obviously, the production cycle has been suitably adapted to the latest western sanitation standards.
Unlike traditional (Western) cosmetics, whose vocation is to mask inestheticism and certainly not to act on the psychosomatic imbalance mechanisms that are the cause of it, Ayurvedic Cosmestics is a very effective holistic medicine.
From 4,000 years Ayurveda offers us aesthetic remedies that purify and revitalize the individual by stimulating the resources themselves that are enclosed within us. These are effective, safe, biocompatible remedies with the skin ecosystem, mostly made from vegetable kingdom with natural processing methods.
Ayurveda means knowing or knowledge of life. The word comes from the union of the two Indian terms Ayus (life) and Veda, (knowledge). We need to have the concept that nature is perfect and man, as a part of nature, is perfect and unrepeatable. The contents of this perfection must be well known. Only by knowing himself, man will get the balance of body, mind and soul. Western medicine only deals with the body, for Ayurveda the body care always goes hand in hand with the other two elements. Even the most trivial disease should be cured with the knowledge of the person.
The examination of the person must identify the composition of the dosha. According to ancient Indian philosophy, the functioning of the human body depends on the equilibrium of the three dosha, which originate from the five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth.
Ether and air form the vata principle (action). Fire is represented in the pitta (energy), which is also influenced by the water element. Finally, water and earth form the capha principle (cohesion).
In each person there is always a dosha that prevails over others and determines, according to ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, ten different physical constitutions or types. Each individual is animated by the three main energies (dosha) in different proportions. Whenever these items vary in quantity or position in the body, we experience disorders. Accordingly, there are different subjects, depending on the predominant dosha.
The secret of ayurvedic cosmetics is in nature. Indians use vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs, precious stones, metals, minerals to create the most effective skin care products. The Ayurvedic cosmetics may group under: enhancing the appearance of facial skin, hair growth and care, skin care, (especially in teenagers for acne, pimples and sustaining), shampoos, soaps, powders and perfumery and miscellaneous products.
For example, sesame oil is used as a base for many oils, the compounds containing it make it ideal for use in moisturizing or antioxidant products.
In general, oils maintain the integrity of cosmetic products and could be used as a base instead of chemical preservatives. Goat’s milk is used in facial masks, for its soothing and emollient properties.
Shikakai is one of the most used Indian herbs for body care, especially for its re-balancing properties. Is the indian name of Acacia Concinna, which grows in the central and southern part of the country. It is extracted from the bark, rich in saponins (vegetable substances with excellent cleaning properties); this is reduced to powder and is then used to clean skin and hair and help regularize sebum production.
Aritha is part of the Sapidaceae family and originates in South India and grows above the large soap tree that can reach heights of about 25 mt depending on the species. The fruit of this plant is rich in saponins, that is a natural surfactant that is released more or less intensely depending on the temperature of the water it comes into contact with. Aritha has antifungal, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-foaming properties and of course detergents. It has been used for many centuries in India for a lot of uses, both curative for eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions, cosmetic and domestic use. It’s considered the hypoallergenic detergent par excellence.
Characteristics of ayurvedic cosmetics
Ayurvedic products contain only natural, vegetable and mineral substances. The plants, herbs and roots used as ingredients are uncontaminated as they are harvested in ecologically pure areas (such as the Himalayas and Tamil Nadu forests) and when their energy (sattva) is optimal (during dawn, within the fifteen days following the end of the monsoon period). Ayurvedic products are devoid of chemical residues (as there is no extraction of the active ingredients with chemical solvents), additives, dyes and synthetic fragrances, alcohols, hormones, phosphates and freon. Conservants, emulsifiers and excipients are only used where absolutely necessary where they are indispensable and are derived from plant substances or light chemicals.
Ayurvedic cosmetics perform a holistic action as they function in a functional way on different levels: body, mind (emotional plane) and spirit, so totally different from a normal cosmetic.
Indian wisdom in optimizing the active principles of nature and the holistic approach of Ayurveda favor an effective and profound re-equilibrating action, completely devoid of side effects. An action that we can define at 360° C. The herbs and minerals contained in Ayurvedic products are used as medication remedies; their primary action is to reinforce the immune system, so they play an important preventative role in the disorders.
They are also phytotherapeutic treatments, they are produced in India according to the ayurvedic principles of plant purification (Dravya Guna). During processing, purification is called sodhana, whereby the inert substances present in the plant are removed and the conversion is carried out. The purpose is to preserve the plant energy (virya) and to enhance its specific action (prabhava).
Unlike normal cosmetics, whose action is skin-deep, the ingredients contained in Ayurvedic cosmetics are absorbed per percutaneous level. Transdermal absorption is favored by the high concentration of the plant’s own qualities but above all by the fact that they contain very small, and therefore penetrating, molecules. This, thanks to the bioenergetic principles and methods of planting and purifying the plants, constitute the undisclosed secret of Ayurveda. The latter considers purification and fortification means to prevent holistic imbalance and all that comes from it, the strong presence of immunomodulatory characteristics (aldenoids, flavonoids, terpenes, phytohormones etc.) carry out a tonic action that contributes to the strengthening of the immune system.
Finally, Ayurvedic cosmetics contain a very high percentage of active ingredients and biosomes (extracted in full). The strong presence of these makes them a powerful energy concentrate from nature. Also the base (coconut oil, beeswax etc.), being very dense and not of chemical derivation, is a natural-based concentrate; so a small dose of product is sufficient for effective treatment. The use of whole extracts (biosomes) and not only active ingredients leads to an increase in sattva. One of the major benefits of biologically active ingredients is that they are easily absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin and affect the cellular level. These organic ingredients are based on the same biological principles as the human body. This is why the human body responds extremely well to natural substances while it has an integrated resistance.
The raw material is subjected to shodana, the process of purification of the raw material, consisting in the removal of inert substances, the elimination or conversion of any toxic phytochemical components, the emphasis on virya (plant power) and prabhava (specific action of plant).
Ayurvedic cosmetics do not forget the relationship between man and the environment, choosing only today as in the past centuries, natural ingredients such as water, plants, herbs and flowers. His philosophy of life urges every man to respect and defend nature.
Ayurvedic skin care
As we have already mentioned, in Ayurvedic philosophy, the use of cosmetics is not only in appearance, but it also contributes to the maintenance of health to contribute to a long life. In ancient Indian civilization, the use of cosmetics was common for men and women, these practices also depended on the season and were subtly intertwined with daily routine (Dinacharya), as the products are based on the available natural resources. Skin care products that are part of the daily routine, described in Ayurvedic literature, include oils, plant water, and powders. Based on extensive and well-established knowledge of Ayurveda, plant extracts, fruit extracts and essential oils are now effectively used in medicines, nutritional supplements and personal care. A wide range of cosmeceuticals take care of skin care, tones, smoothes the imperfections and increases the level of hydration, restoring a radiant and healthy appearance, actively protecting the skin and anticipating premature aging.
Skin health is endangered by several factors, including adequate hydration (Kapha in balance), the good functioning of the metabolic mechanisms that coordinate all the chemical and hormonal reactions of the skin (Pitta in balance), effective circulation of blood and substances nutrient to the different layers of the skin (Vata in equilibrium). The health of the three types of dhatus is reflected in the skin, the nutrient fluid (Rasa), the blood (Rakta) and the muscle (Mamsa). Rasa supports all body tissues, especially keeping healthy skin. Rakta, in association with liver function, helps to detoxify the skin of toxins, while Mamsa provides firmness to the skin.
An effective cosmeceutical product should support these three areas. For example, anti-aging treatments include two types of Urjaskara (support) and Vyadhihara (curative) therapies. In order to keep the skin vata young, you must use products to nourish and rehydrate the skin, in association with self-massage with hot oil, otherwise it may be sensitive to premature aging. For pitta skin, good sun protection is required and daily use of facial skin oils is recommended. Tanning treatments that expose sensitive skin for long periods of time to heat should be avoided. For the skin of the capha, it’s recommended to perform a daily massage of hot oil and purify the skin with an exfoliant not too aggressive.
Among the medicinal plants used as moisturizers, tonic and anti-aging can we cite, Aloe Vera (moisturizer, sunscreen, emollient), Calendula officinalis (wound healing), Cichorium intybus (skin blemishes), Ocimum sanctum (anti-aging, antibacterial, antiseptic), Rubia cordifolia (wound healing, anti-aging), Triticum sativum (antioxidant, skin nourisher, anti-wrinkle).
In an anti-aging cosmetic, the following properties should be present (in whole or in part). Age defying activity (Vayasthapana), Centella asiatica) is the foremost vayasthapana herb with anti-aging effects; one of its many properties is to enhance collagen synthesis. Youthful Radiance (Varnya), an herbal group with the ability to enhance the radiance of the skin. Protection from normal wear and tear (Sandhaniya). Deep healing (Vranaropana), include Gotu Kola and sensitive plant, and are known for their ability to heal wounds, enhancing and nurturing (Tvachya), anti-inflammatory (Shothahara).
In recent years, consumer demand for products using natural or vegetable components is growing, as they become more aware that chemical use in cosmetic products can cause side effects. The Indian cosmetic tradition, derived from ayurvedic philosophy, is part of this sphere, as it is traditionally predisposed to natural products, with a history and a millennial knowledge in the use of natural products. Ayurvedic cosmetics are fully in the category of natural products required by consumers, companies that manufacture this type of cosmetics are against genetic manipulation and require non-transgenic components suppliers. Components and finished products are not tested on animals and do not contain animal substances and the packaging is sustainable. Many companies have used ancient ayurvedic recipes to produce superior cosmetics in modern, easy-to-use formats. Ayurvedic cosmetics are still competing with synthetic products and must seek to ensure a similar quality.
Safe, effective and hypoallergenic
Cosmetics have been tested for at least 4,000 years and millions of consumers. To further confirm their safety and effectiveness, they are tested at Indian and Italian university clinics. The risk that their use may result in skin sensitization or intolerance is minimized. In addition, Indian philosophy and religion are centered on the ethical principle that life must be respected in all its forms, therefore, are not tested on animals.
Harmony of mind and body
In harmony with the environment, the man takes care of his own body, mind and spirit, thanks to the natural elements that contribute to the achievement of a primary and fundamental condition: well-being. Ayurveda does not forget that cosmetics nourish through the skin and is aware that each body cares for a Soul. For Ayurveda, blemish is not a surface discomfort to cover, but the symptom revealing a deeper discomfort. And it’s in depth that it acts, intervening in its origins and causes.
– Datta HS, Mitra SK, Paramesh R, Patwardhan B. Theories and management of aging: modern and ayurveda perspectives. Evid -Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011.
– Lewis N. Planet natural: New actives from around the world. Beauty innovations. In-cosmetics 2009 – Marketing Trends Review.
– Kunda B. Patkar. Herbal cosmetics in ancient India. Indian J Plast Surg. 2008 Oct; 41(Suppl).
– Vasant Lad. Ayurveda: A Brief Introduction and Guide. The Ayurvedic Institute 1996.
by Marco Colombini, Economic Analyst