The Skin Types of Ayurveda

by Magdalena Tomczak

I feel very fortunate to say that I truly love my work as a holistic skin care therapist.

I love it because I get to work so closely with people and because skin is a very fascinating and very telling organ. One never stops learning about the skin, its interaction with the environment, its relationship with plants and human touch and its place within the wholeness of an individual.

Our skin and its looks are a big preoccupation in today’s society and the search for that perfect glow is a very serious pursuit. All you need to do is watch a few minutes of any TV channel and you’ll see several commercials about skin and skin care products.

However when I see new clients in my practice I can’t help but notice that even though so much energy goes towards achieving ‘the perfect skin’, most of us don’t really understand our own skin. And we are rather confused about what our individual skin needs are.

So how do we begin to understand our own skin?

I must say that there is a little bit of confusion within the skin care industry which doesn’t help. Some even believe that there is no such thing as a skin type. They rather suggest that there are only skin imbalances. Even though this is a compelling concept, in my professional experience I have found that skin types exist, as do imbalances.

Rather than looking at skin types from the somewhat limited old school aesthetic skin type perspective (solely surface focused: dry, combination, oily, sensitive) in my professional skin care practice I choose to embrace the Ayurvedic blueprint for how we understand each individual including their skin. The Ayurvedic perspective adds depth of understanding which goes way beyond the basic aesthetic classification of the skin types.

Ayurveda categorizes individuals into basic constitutional types (Vata, Pita and Kapha). And it takes into account that even though we are all human, we are all a little different in our physical and emotional composition; This unique composition also predisposes us to specific imbalances and at the same time speaks to our inherent strengths.

Even though we all have the same layers of tissues, the fact is that they can vary in their qualities between each person quite a bit. For example, we all have bone structure but some were born with a small and light frame while others are built with a bigger more robust one. Some individuals are born with thick, coarse hair yet others with thin and soft hair.

When we look at human skin we can observe that there is a wide range in an individual’s skin colour, thickness, texture, temperature and so on. Some people have thin, delicate skin and some have thicker and more resilient skin; Some exhibit signs of vigorous circulation in their skin, yet some are on the pale side; We can’t see pores on some faces yet on others they are rather pronounced; Some get easily dry and dehydrated and others are prone to oily shine.

So let’s look at the basic skin types while remembering that even within these types we are all unique. No two individuals who fall into a specific skin category are completely alike. And ultimately each one of us is a very rare mingle of nature.

Dry Skin or Vata Skin according to Ayurveda

The lovely Vata skin is:

    • delicate
    • thin, with very fine pores
    • cool to touch
    • tends to feel dry and tight
    • with darker tone to its complexion, often with whitish or blue-grey undertones
      tans easily

When under stress Vata Skin is prone to:

    • premature wrinkles
    • dark under eye circles
    • sallow complexion
    • lack of glow
    • excessive dryness, flakiness, dry patches
    • chapped, cracked lips

Sensitive Skin or Pitta Skin according to Ayurveda

The lovely Pitta Skin is:

    • soft and glowing
    • warm to touch
    • rosy
    • lustrous
    • has larger pores in the T-zone
    • fair and possibly with freckles
    • oilier in the T-zone than the rest of the face
    • burns easily

When under stress Pitta Skin is prone to:

    • allergic reactions and rushes
    • redness and inflammation, blotchiness
    • enlarged pores in the T-zone
    • excessive oiliness in the T-zone with blackheads, whiteheads and pimples
    • acne rosacea

Oily Skin or Kapha Skin according to Ayurveda

The lovely Kapha Skin is:

    • thick and soft
    • cool to touch
    • moist and oily
    • has large pores
    • pale
    • tans easily
    • slow to show signs of aging

When under stress Kapha Skin is prone to:

    • congestion
    • water retention
    • excessive oiliness, enlarged pores, blackheads, shiny
    • cystic acne
    • dull appearance
    • deep wrinkles
    • scarring

It is important to note that each type of skin when balanced and well-functioning looks healthy (I suspect that’s why some say that there are no skin types.) But even when in its healthiest state, the skin will still exhibit its individual qualities in the form of its thickness, colour, texture, temperature, etc. These will always inform us of the direction that the skin may take when the individual is faced with physical or emotional stress.

To sum it up, in my opinion, skin types do exist and based on their inherent qualities each is prone to specific imbalances.

Because of our personal emotional attachments, we can often lack objectivity when it comes to our own body and our skin. We often see ourselves through a distorted perspective of self judgement. It is always best to have a trusted professional assess your skin and help you confirm which type of skin graces your unique face and body. Having professional support will assure that you can care for your skin in the most nourishing, effective and healthy way possible using food, plants, essential oils, touch therapies and lifestyle.

*If this has sparked your interest in the Ayurvedic outlook on skin care I highly recommend “The Absolute Beauty”, a very informative book by Dr. Pratima Raichur.