Breakouts and blemishes are not just annoying, they‘re frustrating. While, modern science is highly sophisticated, what seems like a simple problem like acne, there is still no universal cure for. But this is not to say there are no solutions for blemish-prone skin. While we may scrub, peel, pick and dry out our skin in hopes of a clear complexion, it may not be our efforts but our approach that needs changing.
Eastern medicinal science, Ayurveda, considers acne to be our body’s expression of internal dysfunction – and from this perspective it is a signal prompting us to examine our overall health. This not only leads us to our acne’s root cause, but also shifts our attitude towards our skin and selves from exasperation to an inspiration for self-care. Also according to Ayurveda, there are three different types of acne, Pitta, Kapha and Vata acne, each with different causes and required treatment. When we understand our acne type, we can understand the proper approach to it, making treating acne much less confusing!
The differences are stark: what is known as “Pitta acne”, is the result of excess heat and inflammation, while “Kapha acne”, stems from accumulated dampness. Finally “Vata acn”e is actually caused by dehydration and lack of oil (dryness) – a very foreign concept to western dermatology. Each blemish type displays what is happening within us and gives us direction on how to address it.
Pitta acne comes in the form of pustules and papules, is red and inflamed, and is caused by an excess of heat and fire energy (known as Pitta). Over-drying Pitta acne will only aggravate it further and irritate the skin. Instead, we must calm inflammation by using soothing skincare, and ingredients such as aloe vera (used as a base in our acne care line), chamomile water, neem and turmeric (found in our acne care cleanser and lotion) are excellent as they cool and hydrate the skin. Black cumin seed oil is excellent as it is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.
But this type of acne requires that must also pacify Pitta internally too. Avoiding heating foods such as hot spices, acidic fruits and deep-fried dishes is decreases internal fire. This along with staying away from hard-to-digest foods and known allergens is important so not to overwork the digestive system, which causes inflammation in the G.I tract.
Breathing exercises known as Pranayam can also be very beneficial for dissipating heat and clearing up our skin. Oxygen intake helps feed and purify the blood while promoting cool air through our respiratory system.
Kapha acne is cystic and full of pus/ fluid, and are often painful and boil-like, commonly occurring on the chin and jawline. This type of acne is linked to kapha: dampness, wetness and mucous in the body, displaying an imbalance of what Ayurveda considers earth and water energy. Kapha acne can only be extracted by puncturing the skin first. Though, using skincare with ingredients that increase circulation will help cysts break-up and drain. Managing dampness on the skin is also important. That is why black mud, also known as dead sea mud is therapeutic. We have found this ingredient excellent for both kapha and pitta acne, so added it to our acne care cleanser and lotion for daily doses.
Internal care is important when treating Kapha acne. Limiting damp, mucous-forming foods such as milk, wheat and, eggs is immensely helpful, as is reducing candida and fungus in the body by eliminating sugar, yeast and fermented foods. Kapha blemishes are often caused by imbalance in the reproductive organs, and many women who breakout in cysts find it correlates with their menstrual cycle. So, seeking guidance from a holistic practitioner to help rebalance your hormones is also helpful.
Vata (air) acne is caused by excess air energy, and shows up as clogged pores, milia and blackheads. Vata-imbalanced skin is so dehydrated that our sebum (oil) becomes dried out and cannot flow properly to lubricate and moisturize our complexion. Instead, it clogs our pores and creates dry oil-deposits which results in pimples.
This type of acne must be super-moisturized, and the use of natural vegetable oils is very effective. Babassu oil (found in our acne care oil), a particularly nourishing oil is ideal for Vata acne. We combined this with black cumin oil to address all three doshas and different types of acne. Along with this, sesame all over the body is best for Vata grounding. Sesame oil is a traditionally touted pacifying oil for Vata, which is why it also makes a good scalp and hair treatment as it calms the mind.
Those with Vata acne must also increase their fluid intake and eat a moist diet. Foods like watery soups and stews are ideal, and salt-consumption must also be monitored as too much sodium causes dehydration.
Because stress can deplete the kidneys (which govern water-metabolism), practicing activities that help us relax and unwind, restores moisture. So slow, grounding Yoga is good for managing stress as well as clearing up the skin.
Overcoming acne encompasses more than skincare. Instead of wrestling with this skin ailment, we should take a deep breath and realize there is no need to struggle -we should simply look at ourselves and discover what balance needs to be restored. Taking an Ayurvedic approach, addresses the whole body and its energetic composition. This gives way to truly radiant skin, which is both clear and healthy for the long-term.