Ayurveda & Surya (The Sun): Summer Skin Tips

What Ayurveda prescribes as summer skin care is not so different from what experts claim today, but it does give you some organic alternatives to skin care that help you keep away from harsh chemicals and more…

An ancient Ayurvedic text book, the Sushruta Samhita, names seven layers of the skin and goes on to say that depending on the dosha affecting various layers, various skin problems emerge. This is not so different from what science says today – which is why we tend to put on oodles of sun protection and moisturizer.

  1. First, Avabhasini: Pimples, Acne
  2. Second, Lohita: Moles, Dark Circles, Black Pigmentation
  3. Third, Shweta: Eczema, Allergic Rashes
  4. Fourth, Tamra: Different types of Leprosy
  5. Fifth, Vedini: Herpes
  6. Sixth, Rohini: Cancer, Tumor, Elephantiasis
  7. Seventh, Mamsadhara: Abscess, Fistula

Ayurveda's Summer Skin Damage Factors

  • The Sun: Too much sun in the summers increases pitta and vata in the body and so pitta-based skin problems such as prickly heat and rashes and vata-based dryness become the norm. Ayurveda prescribes aloe vera-based sunscreen lotions as well as a cotton-clad body, along with headgear to move in the sun. Drinking plenty of water flushes the system and cools the body – and keeps the skin hydrated as well.
  • The AC: While air conditioners reduce humidity and keep you cool, they do so at the cost of your skin – since the air becomes dry, the skin too gets leeched of moisture and whilst may not “feel” dry as it does in winters, it will certainly look dry and a tad aged. In summers, you need to switch to mild soaps with herbs such as lemongrass, rose or lavender to keep the skin moist and hydrated but not oily.
  • The Air Pollution: Hot, dry and dust-laden winds – coupled with the air pollution -- often clog the pores of the skin in summer, further exacerbated by summer oiliness and sweating. The skin needs to be cleansed well at least twice a day but with a mild cleanser with a little milk protein, glycerin, turmeric or aloe vera. Sandalwood is also cooling in summers, as is the extract of cucumber and coconut.
  • Lifestyle: Finally, too much rich food and too little exercise worsens your health -- and of course your skin health as well. In summers it's best to stick to summer fruits and vegetables – full of juicy goodness and cooling properties. Sweating it out every morning to a brisk walk, jog or even some hot yoga (just turn the darn AC off) will keep your skin glowing and full of vitality as well.

An All-Skin Ubtan

Finally, when the heat starts to make your skin feel bleh, try this ubtan that suits all skin types and can be made to suit any and all doshas as well. You’ll need: 1 cup besan (gram flour), ½ tsp turmeric, 2 tbsp sandalwood powder, 3 tbsp rosewater.

  • For Vata Dosha: Combine all the ingredients with ½ cup warm ghee or coconut oil.  Smooth into the skin with gentle circular motion and rinse off with warm water once it is dry.
  • For Pitta Dosha: Combine all the ingredients with ½ cup fresh aloe vera juice/pulp.  Add 1/2 cup coconut water and stir to blend. Smooth into the skin with quick movements and rinse off with cool water once it is dry.
  • For Kapha Dosha: Combine all the ingredients with 1 cup of yogurt. Work into wet skin vigorously and rinse off with warm water once it is dry.

(For more dosha-specific ubtan recipes, check out this article.)

Remember: Stay out of the sun in peak hours, wear breathable fabrics and use water-based hydration to keep the skin cool and fresh in the summers and free of skin woes. Happy sunshine to you!