This evening, watching a gorgeous girl in a TV show describe herself as “not being very pretty or attractive” got me thinking about my definition of beauty and wanting to ask you - what’s yours?
What is beauty? Well, the oxford dictionary defines it as, “A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight."
But, what do you think beauty is? Is it the symmetry of your face, it is your bone structure, body shape, color, race, age, weight, or how flat your stomach is? Do you think beauty is what you see on the TV popularised by culture or trends? Or is beauty down to the facialists and makeup artists who transform your face and bring about a bloom of youth in you?
Each culture has a different perception and definition of beauty. For example, the Kayan tribes believe that long giraffe necks are the ultimate sign of beauty. So, people there from age five start priming their necks with heavy brass rings. Similarly, people from several parts of Asia often consider pale and white skin a sign of affluence and beauty.
There are chances that some of these cultural and regional definitions of beauty affected you while growing up.
Have you ever looked into a mirror that is completely steamed and fogged up after having a hot and steamy bath? Well, I think that is how we tend to view our beauty.
We can see ourselves, but the mirror has been fogged up by various life experiences and memories as we grew up. And we struggle to fit into our own definition of our beauty. Hence, it’s time we redefine what being beautiful really means to us.
Ayurveda defines true beauty as “Roopam, gunam, vayastyag, iti shubhanga karanam”.
Here roopam is the outer beauty (reflected by a healthy hair and clear, radiant complexion) , gunam is inner beauty (reflected by warm personality and an innocent heart) and vayastyag is lasting beauty (reflected by feeling young and healthy). This holistic definition of beauty is in reach for everyone and is closely associated with overall physical and mental health.
Real beauty lies in the acceptance of yourself and in realising that all of your flaws are a part of you and make you who you are. Beauty is the radiance of spirit, kindness to ourselves, and to others, having a good character, strength and self-confidence. In simpler words, beauty is being healthy both emotionally and physically.
These are not just my words, an annual beauty survey conducted recently on over 20,000 male and female consumers in 20 markets across the globe revealed that looking healthy is the top-rated definition of beauty. This was followed closely by “hygiene and cleanliness,” “inner confidence,” and “being comfortable in your skin” whereas “looking presentable,” “maintaining a youthful appearance,” “looking your best” fell lower on the list.
Most beauty tips focus on giving you some hacks that promise instant fix to your problems. But if you focus on the factors listed below, you’ll genuinely experience feeling beautiful.
The primary cause of significant hormonal imbalances inside your body is stress. It also affects your skin by damaging the skin’s barrier function, which reduces its ability to absorb and retain moisture. This dehydrated skin looks dry, patchy, and becomes flaky over time. In ayurvedic terms, stress is related to the balance of the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha).
The easiest way to combat stress is to include exercise in your daily routine. Going for a walk and doing yoga and meditation everyday helps in managing stress.
Lack of sleep at night makes you feel sleepy and tired the next day. It also makes your skin deal with the lack of rest, which is why the radiance is lost. Problems such as under-eye bags, saggy skin, and dark circles arise. Ayurveda claims that having 7 to 8 hours a day is not enough; one should sleep at the right time as well.
Ayurveda chants, “Food is medicine when consumed properly.” What you eat determines how healthy you feel. Make sure you eat foods that are rich in Vitamins and Minerals to maintain a healthy gut and to keep your skin glowing. For detoxifying your skin, add colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet and get supple and acne-free skin.
Even if your job doesn’t require you to stay outdoors, even then, your skin gets exposure to the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun that cause lasting damage. Hence, you should make use of natural sunscreens with SPF 21 or above. Otherwise, the rays penetrate your skin, weaken the collagen cells, lead to pigmentation and tanning in the long run.
Of course, smoking affects your body adversely. But, do you know that it strips your skin of essential nutrients and oxidants, leading to degradation of the basic units of skin-collagen and elastin?
These affected units will lead to uneven skin, sagging and appearance of fine lines. A study has also proved that smoking blocks the pores in the skin which results in acne.
Different types of environmental pollutants have their own effects on our bodies and skin. For example, chemicals such as tar and oil can cause acne or folliculitis as they clog our pores while other materials can cause fluids to build up in the skin and result in tissue break down. They can also lead to issues like bacterial infections, hair loss, and skin pigmentation. If you are not careful, extreme climatic conditions can also damage your body and skin.
It’s essential to wear suitable clothing according to the weather, to apply sunscreen regularly and to keep your face covered to protect it from environmental damage when the air is severely polluted. It is also essential to cleanse your skin in the morning and at night and to use natural oils such as Moringa Oil to reverse the skin damage caused by pollution.
We are constantly bombarded with products, opinions, and advice galore when it comes to skincare and hair routines. I don’t blame you if you are confused and your skincare routine is all over the place. From your dermatologist asking to include more antioxidants in your diet to your grandmother asking you to ditch the chemicals and go all-natural, everyone has their own opinions and advice.
So, to make your life easy, I’ve stockpiled some beauty tips that are proven to be effective and are simple to follow. Trust me, following even a few of them, will help you feel more beautiful and radiant.
One of the most common mistakes that people commit while trying to take care of their skin is trying to follow what others suggest or what works for them. Ayurveda strongly emphasizes how every individual is different.
The first step is to identify what doshas are prominent on your skin. Here are a few characteristics of different doshas. You might have one or more of them. You might also realise that a few of these doshas get aggravated by change in weather.
Vata Skin Type - Your skin is thin, dry, has fine pores and is usually cool to the touch. You may experience excessive dryness in some weather and your skin easily shows signs of ageing and stress.
Pitta Skin Type - Usually fair in colour and warm to touch, Pitta skin is thicker and can break out easily. This type of skin is also more prone to rashes
Kapha Skin Type - This skin type is thicker and oilier. While people with Kapha skin types don’t have to worry about ageing till much later, they frequently suffer from excessive oiliness and have enlarged pores that attract dirt and cause pimples.
While understanding your doshas and treating them is a long process, here are a few beauty tips for your based on your dosha.
Vata Skin Type - Your skin needs moisturisation and hydration as it’s unable to retain moisture. So, make sure you drink ample water and apply natural and nourishing moisturisers to your skin. In winters, you can even apply coconut oil for hydration.
Pitta Skin Type - Your skin is sensitive and you should protect it from harsh conditions like excessive sun exposure. Use natural cleansers and creams meant for sensitive skin and apply sunscreen before you step out.
Kapha Skin Type - Your skin is prone to attracting oil and dirt and hence, you should focus on cleansing well. Apart from cleansing at least twice a day, exfoliate your face once or twice a week.
When you have irritated or inflamed skin, try having a milk bath for its soothing and calming effects. Milk has tremendous softening and moisturizing properties, thanks to its fats and lactic acid content. You can even dip a cotton ball into a small bowl of raw milk and apply all over the face and neck once a day. This helps in removing the dirt from your pores. Full-fat milk or cream-based masks are wonderful for soothing and nourishing your skin. If you are a vegan, try coconut milk as it has similar properties.
According to Ayurveda, using a natural bristle dry brush on our body is a key to toned and firm skin. It is great for places that retain fluid and helps cellulite. You have to start with your feet, massage in upward, circular motions towards the heart and then rinse it off.
For Vata and Pitta skin types who have sensitive and dry skin, it’s recommended to use softer brushes that are effective but less abrasive from exfoliation. For Kapha skin, you can use a natural bristle brush.
Aloe Vera is not just for sunburns. It also helps in making the skin smooth, supple and younger-looking. While some use it as a toner or treatment, others swear by a daily swig and sip it in a juice. You can simply apply Aloe Vera all over your face and neck, leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse it off with plain water.
You might have heard that an Ayurvedic massage helps in managing stress, but did you know that it also boosts the radiance of your skin? Abhyanga, an ayurvedic massage done with warm oil not only moisturizes you deeply, but also gives you a radiant looking skin afterwards. When done regularly, it offers many health benefits. You can actually give a massage to yourself by working from your face down to the soles of your feet. Even a two-minute massage before bed with a suitable oil can do wonders for your skin.
My face goes through a lot every day, it tackles the tests of the weather, regular touches like scratching my nose and rubbing my eyes etc.. I thought maintaining a youthful and healthy glowing skin is impossible. But thanks to Ayurveda, I found some facial oils that balance my dosha, detox my skin and provide it with a youthful nourished glow I have been searching for. One of them is the timeless recipe called Kumkumadi Oil which is suitable for all skin types. For a naturally glowing skin, you can choose a natural facial oil according to your skin type/dosha and start using it on your face regularly.
Are you a self-proclaimed lipstick addict? If you don’t give your lips a treatment once in a while, do they look unhealthy? Do they look cracked and sore all the time? If yes, then you should definitely try this hack. Mix sugar and vaseline together and massage on your dried and tired lips. It works just like a lip scrub. Also, make sure you apply a natural lip balm on your lips at least once a day to provide your lips with a healthy dose of hydration.
One common skin care regimen for all skin types is the popular CTM - Cleanse, Tone and Moisturize routine. Every morning and night, make sure you wash your face with a natural cleanser and then use a toner like Rose Water that is suitable for all skin types. In the morning, follow it up with a day cream and at night, follow it up with a night cream or a night serum.
It’s futile to use expensive products for your skincare routine and makeup routine when you don’t eat healthy. Because ultimately no matter what you apply from the outside, it is what you eat that makes you glow. Look at the following beauty tips about eating your way to a healthy and glowing skin.
Free radicals, pollution, sunlight and smoking can cause wrinkles and age spots. So, to help protect your skin from cellular damage and free radicals, eat fruits and vegetables that contain powerful antioxidants. Beta Carotene, found in sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots, and lutein found in papaya, spinach and kale are potent antioxidants that are important for healthy skin and normal skin cell development. Aim at least five portions of food rich in antioxidants in a day.
The GI (glycaemic index) is a system that ranks carbohydrate-based foods on how quickly and slowly that gets broken down into glucose in the body. Try to eat low GI or slow-releasing carbohydrates like beans, pulses, porridge etc. High GI foods like sugary drinks and biscuits damage collagen and accelerate wrinkles.
Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants, supports the immune system, helps blemishes heal properly and promotes radiant skin. Vitamin C is needed for the body to produce collagen which helps in strengthening the capillaries. Vitamin E protects from cell damage and supports skin growth. Foods high in vitamin C and vitamin E include oranges, papaya, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, guava, almonds, avocados, hazelnuts, sunflower, beetroot and corn oils.
Zinc in the body is responsible for the normal functioning of sebaceous glands in the skin, keeping skin soft and supple and repairing skin damage. Foods that are rich in Zinc include whole grains, seeds and nuts.
Dehydration makes your skin look dry, tired and slightly grey. It needs moisture to stay healthy and flexible. While all fluids count towards your daily intake, water is the best source of hydration. You should at least drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
Keep a large bottle of water on your desk to remind you to drink while working. Caffeine-free herbal teas also do the job pretty well. Also, fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumber and courgette contribute to overall fluid intake. The added benefit is that the minerals that these foods contain accelerate the hydration of your body and skin.
Well, we all love our hair after a blowout or a heat styling session. We also know that excessive styling can do a number on our hair. No, I am not saying that we need to part with our hot tools totally, but we should make one adjustment to our routine when we are using heat to style hair. We should apply a protective products like heat-protecting serum or a spritz first before straightening, curling or blow-drying our hair.
There are different shampoos for oily, dry and combination hair types. So, find the appropriate one that suits you better. Also, make sure you cleanse your scalp and the hair roots properly. Shampoo should always be concentrated on the scalp, washing lengths and hair tips will lead to dry and dull hair that lack lustre. Scalp that produces oil sheds the skin regularly and must be cleaned properly. This oil if not cleaned well from the scalp can lead to scalp odour, stench, dandruff and stickiness.
Hair stylists recommended using a paper towel to help air-dry your hair while keeping your curls intact. Instead of blasting the curls with hot water and crushing them with a heavy towel, simply scrunch up your damp curls with a paper towel and to help them spring to life. In the mornings, you can wet your hair and do the same thing without using a hair dryer.
Use a clean T-shirt instead of a regular towel to wrap my hair after you shower. Doing so can cut down frizziness and breakage. Try this simple hack to get softer, smoother and shinier hair.
We might be using an endless array of products daily for our skin and hair. But once in a while going back to what our grandmas used to repeatedly tell us is fun and nostalgic, not to mention, very effective.
There are certain age-old remedies that are very effective and have stood the test of time. Even Ayurveda recommends us to follow them to look and feel beautiful. Dive in to know some of these ‘dadima ke nuske’.
The following face masks help in curing skin problems naturally and bring out the lost radiance. You can prepare most of these yourself by using the ingredients in your fridge/kitchen.
For Lifeless And Dull Skin
Mix apple juice and honey and apply a thin layer to your face. Leave it for 5 minutes.
For Dark Circles And Puffy Eyes
Finely grate one potato and apply it to the area under your eye. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with plain water.
For Irritated Skin
An irritated skin can be calmed with a buttermilk mask, just apply on your face and neck for about 15 minutes and rinse it off.
Mix one teaspoon of besan or gram flour, a pinch of turmeric powder, half a teaspoon of milk, a few drops of lime juice and add water to get a smooth paste. Apply this paste all over the face and leave it on for about thirty minutes until it dries. Rinse it off with plain water. Lime juice and the lactic acid in milk mildly brightens and exfoliates the skin. Being a fantastic antiseptic, turmeric helps with acne and of course, besan is a great exfoliating agent.
If you don’t want to prepare your own Ubtan everytime, you can simply choose Kama Ayurveda’s Ubtan and directly apply it on your face by mixing it with rose water.
Aren’t you guilty of using chemical products for your skin, especially for your eyes since they are the most sensitive ones? Want to make Kohl in a quick and easy way?
You can actually make kohl at home by placing a copper bowl over a diya while keeping it a little gap to allow the flame to get oxygen. You can burn the diya with any type of oil (sesame oil, canola oil or castor oil) and let it flame for about an hour or two. The black residue that is left in the copper bowl can be used as kohl.
A simple three-ingredient hair mask can be your saviour from hair dryness. You just need a ripe banana, honey and yoghurt. Blend together mashed banana, two teaspoons of honey and 2-3 tablespoons of yoghurt (depending upon the length of hair) in a bowl. Apply this along the length of the hair from top to bottom and allow it to stay for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Then rinse it off using a mild shampoo.
All these ingredients are loaded with nutrients that keep your hair healthy and strong. Honey is an excellent moisturizing agent and is also anti-bacterial in nature, yoghurt is dense in calcium and vitamin D and bananas are packed with the goodness of antioxidants and potassium. Therefore, when combined together, this hair mask will bring back the lost moisture of the hair and makes it look lively and bouncy.
If you have a very oily scalp, then you can simply apply orange juice and honey on your hair as a hair mask.
To protect your hair some the damage caused by hot tools, you should use a hair protective product. Try this homemade remedy to prepare a hair protective spray on your own.
Take one teaspoon of coconut oil, two teaspoons of your regular hair conditioner, one teaspoon of sweet almond oil, five drops of geranium/ylang ylang/tea tree essential oil and one cup of distilled water. Take a spray bottle and pour half a cup of distilled water, then add the remaining ingredients. Now, top up the bottle with the remaining distilled water. Shake well and use this as your hair protective spray.
If you really care about the health of your skin, your body, your hair, then there is nothing wrong in having a bit of a beauty regimen. Beauty isn’t gender specific and there’s no reason for men to care any less about your skin. With the following simple beauty tips for men below, you can keep your body happy without doing overdoing yourself.
Are you really taking care of your skin- the largest organ in the body? Do you make sure it is healthy and hydrated? If not, then it’s time to start doing it! Drink plenty of water and apply lotion after your shower. Also you need to use two, one for your body and one for your face. Yes, moisturisers and face creams are for men too!
Men should use shampoos that are tailored to them as their scalp is more likely to become itchy, irritated and react poorly to certain ingredients. They also tend to produce more oil when compared to women. So, you should grab a shampoo that can cleanse your hair without over-drying it. Look for shampoos with natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera and Amla for best results.
Blades can cause irritation and in-grown hairs. So, if you are not using an aftershave cream, then you should immediately start using one. Choose the one with soothing and anti-oxidant ingredients that will save your skin from redness and irritation. Also, do not forget to prep your skin before shaving by washing your face with a mild natural cleanser.
Most men assume that they don’t need conditioner. Well, if your hair is under two inches then you might be able to get without using it. But, if at all you have longer hair, then you should definitely add a bottle of conditioner to your shower shelf. A conditioner will help you in adding back the moisture your shampoo strips away.
Removing dead cells from the skin leaves healthy and radiant skin for both men and women. Exfoliate your skin well by using a face scrub that buffs away dirt, oil and old cells that might be matting down your facial hair and blocking your razor’s path. Use a scrub on your face before you shave. This will close the pores and soothe the skin. After shaving, pat dry your face and apply a lightweight moisturizer made with shea butter or cocoa butter that help in making your skin soft and comfortable.
Healthy white teeth, not only looks good but also saves your time and money at the dentist’s office. You should brush, floss and use a mouthwash on a daily basis. That way, you can lower the risk of gum diseases, cavities, bleeding and infections. If you are a serial smoker or drink a lot of coffee that makes your teeth look yellow and unhealthy, talk to your dentist about whitening options. Simple hygiene adds to your overall beauty!
These tips are only for you to look and feel healthy and definitely don’t define your beauty. All these beauty tips are useless if you use any external yardstick to measure your beauty. Because ultimately beauty comes from within.
When you look at a flower or a sunset or a piece of art, you don’t judge it. You simply appreciate it for what it is, don’t you? I think it is now time for you to appreciate yourself as you would do to any other masterpiece. It's time for a new mirror that is wiped clean from the fog of comparisons, accusations, expectations and judgement. Take a look, a real hard look and embrace you as you, accept you as you - beauty.
Shreya Dalela is a certified Yoga instructor and a professional dancer trained at The Danceworx. She’s passionate about Ayurveda and holistic living with over 6 years of experience in doing extensive research and content creation in the domain.
Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (Central Council of Indian Medicine) working in Kama Ayurveda as an Assistant Training Manager.