If you want to nourish and replenish your skin, moisturizing is essential. Natural ayurvedic moisturizers can work wonders on the skin because they alleviate drying vata tendencies and enhance the skin’s suppleness and elasticity without polluting the body with chemicals. Moisturizing the face and neck can be done in the morning or in the evening, but it’s a must for your everyday routine (dinacharya). Vata types with drier skin would do well to moisturize their face and neck twice a day, whereas pitta and kapha types can get away with moisturizing once.
Here you’ll find moisturizer recipes for each dosha; remember that you can use the recipe for your dosha, or one that matches any imbalances you are experiencing. Because ayurvedic moisturizers are made from natural ingredients they do not keep long. Prepare enough to last for one week at a time, 1/2 to 1 cup, and store in a cool, dry place. Avoid refrigerating the moisturizers, though, as this will disrupt the natural chemistry with your skin in relation to the climate or outside temperature.
Vata skin needs plenty of natural moisture and oil to keep it supple and maintain elasticity. Ghee is one of the best moisturizer bases for vata skin. In a bowl, mix together equal parts ghee and rose water. Add a teaspoon of honey and a few drops of your favorite essential oil to add fragrance. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Rub a small amount of the solution onto your face and neck at least once a day. This recipe makes an ideal moisturizer for both day and night applications for vata skin types. Sesame oil may be substituted for ghee.
Pitta skin needs a light moisturizer that is also cooling. Aloe is an ideal ingredient for both moisture and the wonderful soothing sensation it brings. For a daytime moisturizer, in a bowl, combine 1 part brewed licorice tea, 1 part aloe vera gel, and 2 parts coconut or sunflower oil. Use the moisturizer on your face and neck at least once a day. At night, moisturize with equal parts aloe and ghee, or just plain ghee.
Kapha skin is generally well toned and needs only a mild balancing moisturizer. Pure mustard oil is an ideal base. In a bowl, mix together equal parts mustard oil and almond oil. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to help dissipate the strong smell of mustard. This moisturizer is ideal for head-to-toe use, both day and night, but if the faint smell of mustard during the day bothers you, almond or sunflower oils are good alternatives for kapha skin.
Although ghee is readily available at Indian grocery stores, it is simple to make your own. Clean and sterilize a saucepan by filling it with water, covering it with the lid, and bringing it to boil for 30 minutes. Discard the water and add one pound of unsalted organic butter, cut into chunks, to the pan and heat over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the foam that collects on the surface begins to settle on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the ghee begins to boil gently. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pour off the clarified butter on top into a clean container, leaving the sediment at the bottom of the pan. As long as it is kept away from moisture and other contaminants, ghee keeps indefinitely without refrigeration because all the milk fats that cause butter to spoil have been removed.
When ghee is at room temperature, it can be semi-solid, so run warm water over the closed container to soften it before use in treatments.
From the book Inner Beauty by Reenita Malhotra Hora. Used with permission of Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco, CA; visit us at www.ChronicleBooks.com.