What your skin is trying to tell you: An Ayurvedic approach to skin health


Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and what happens on the outside reflects what is happening on the inside. While people often seek to address skin issues with external remedies, Ayurveda suggests healing them from the inside out.

By understanding the doshic imbalances behind common skin issues, you can make changes to bring whole-body health. Addressing the underlying imbalance will bring a calmer mind, healthy digestion and an improved relationship with the God of your heart. You certainly can’t get that from a prescription cream!

Here’s a look at three common skin ailments, their root causes and ways to bring your skin to its natural state of health.


This skin disorder is most common with excess pitta dosha, but it can also be related to vata or kapha. The difference is in how it appears on the skin. Pitta, made up in part of the fire element, causes red, inflamed and often bleeding eczema. Vata, related to the air and ethers elements, causes dry, scaly, itchy eczema. The earth and water elements that make up kapha cause oozing and damp eczema.

The most common type of eczema is pitta in nature. It is often accompanied with other signs of pitta imbalance, such as impatience, anger and diarrhea.

To heal pitta-type eczema, focus on cooling your body by reducing your intake of the fire element:

  1. Practice sattvic eating. Space your meals at least four hours apart, but ideally 5 to 6 hours, to keep your agni balanced. Be sure to chew your food until it is liquid and eat without the distraction of television, reading, loud music or unpleasant conversation. Include cooling foods in your meals, such as coconut, cucumber, mint, cilantro, adzuki beans and white basmati rice. Avoid spicy or pungent foods and have only a very small amount of the sour taste in your meals. Stop eating at your first burp to allow successful digestion, avoiding ajeerna, indigestion, which aggravates pitta.

  2. Practice abhyanga with cooling coconut oil or an herbal oil recommended by our practitioners in a health consultation and use aloe vera gel or juice externally on inflamed skin.

  3. Develop a daily pranayama and meditation practice to calm your body, mind and spirit.

  4. Take triphala daily. This Ayurvedic herbal blend balances all three doshas and rejuvenates the lining of the intestines, which will support proper elimination to release toxins that cause eczema.

  5. Surround yourself with sweet scents. Keeping a vase full of fragrant flowers near you is a classical Ayurvedic remedy to calm pitta dosha.


Acne is mainly caused by poor digestion. The inflammatory type of acne comes from pitta, while clogged skin is a sign of the heavy and slow nature of kapha. No matter how you experience it, balancing agni is key to healing acne. Here are a few tips:

  1. Eat a sattvic diet. Leave out deep fried foods, alcohol, fermented foods, refined sugar and caffeine, as these foods become toxins that are released through your skin. Eat the right balance of augmenting and extractive foods and keep agni balanced with the sattvic approach to eating by avoiding distraction, chewing food until liquid and spacing meals at least four hours apart.

  2. Address unresolved emotions. Acne is often the result of pent-up anger. You don’t need to act on every feeling you have, but you shouldn’t mask them either. Meditation, journaling or any other method that allows you to release old feelings and move energy without judgment work well to help you acknowledge and move on from negative emotions.

  3. Replace harsh skin products and scrubbing with soothing facial oils. It may sound contradictory, but nourishing your skin with oil will calm acne. That’s because using harsh chemicals or scrubbing contributes to skin imbalance. Even natural cleansers strip the oils that protect the delicate tissues of your skin. The more you dry out the skin, the more oil it will produce in response. Still not sure? Here’s a testimonial on using oil to heal oily skin.

Dry skin

Vata dosha’s dry, light properties are at the root of dry skin. But healing is not just a matter of applying lotion; you must address the lack of internal lubrication that is signaled by lack of external lubrication. Here’s how:

  1. Daily abhyanga. Especially if you live in a cold or dry climate, this practice keeps dry skin at bay and nourishes the skin to provide improved protection to the body. To calm vata dosha effectively, use an oil decocted with herbs, such as ashwagandha and bala) or grounding black sesame oil.

  2. Add more oil, especially ghee, to your diet. Cooking with high quality oil lubricates your body from the inside out. In addition to the benefits for your skin, you’ll notice less joint pain and greater mental stability.

  3. Avoid vata-aggravating foods. These are generally dry, crispy and light (think crackers, popcorn and salads). Focus on warm, grounding foods, such as grain and gently cooked vegetables.

  4. Avoid the wind and cold air. This includes turning off fans indoors and avoiding excessive forced air (use a humidifier if you live in a cold or dry climate). Stay covered with clothing when you go outside, especially the back of your neck and head.

  5. Drink 4 to 6 cups of warm water per day. Be sure to have only a half cup per serving, with about an hour in between servings for best absorption. Sipping a half cup at a time hydrates, while chugging stresses the kidneys and washes minerals from the body.

  6. Avoid harsh chemicals, especially synthetic fragrances, in skincare products and clothing detergent. These often mask the problem or make it worse. We like Banyan Botanicals’ Beauty Balm as an all-purpose moisturizer and Miracle Soap for laundry.


Do you suffer from skin ailments? Consider Agni Therapy, a 4 week online program designed to heal your digestion for good and as a result, resolve painful unwanted symptoms associated with distressed skin, hormonal imbalance, and gastrointestinal conditions. You deserve to feel well and live a happy, healthy, vibrant life. 

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