Ayurveda believes that all ailments result from an imbalance. In the case of acne, it can be your skin or body or both. The recurrence of acne in the same place can give you vital cues about imbalance in your dosha or where you might be holding toxins. Here are some clues:
Acne types often correspond to your dosha, here's how to figure out which one you are.
Milia, blackheads, and whiteheads are vata acne, which most often appears around the nose, upper cheeks and near the eyes. It's often caused by stress and dehydration, and the best remedy is to drink lots of water and regularly partake in yoga and meditation to relieve anxiety.
Try: Drinking lots and lots of fluids and coconut juice, and eating avocados, sweet fruits, cherries, and oranges.
Avoid: Dry fruits, apples, melons, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, beef, and peas (they tend to aggravate the vata).
Pitta acne is the most common—angry red bumps often found on the cheeks and sometimes the forehead. This acne is caused by a heat imbalance, so be sure to eat plenty of naturally sweet, cooler foods (such as fruit) and to stay away from spicy food.
Try: Aloe vera juice with a pinch of turmeric in the morning and tea made from cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds. Eat sprouts, green salads, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, mangoes, and pears.
Avoid: Tomatoes, garlic, sour fruits, bananas, peanuts, and spicy foods.
Deep, cystic breakouts found in the t-zone are common in the kapha dosha. This type of acne is usually painful and full of pus, but it can be avoided by waking up early and drinking warm, detoxifying beverages such as ginger tea.
Try: Warm drinks—even water should be no cooler than room temperature—and detoxifying teas like ginger tea or hot water with honey several times a day. Eat dry fruits, pomegranate, cranberries, and basmati rice.
Avoid: Coconut, dates, pineapples, and dairy products.
Breakouts can be a result of toxins in a specific part of the body.
Your forehead relates to the nervous system and digestive system, which means stress and internal stagnation are probably causing breakouts here. Reduce the amount of processed foods and fat in your diet and partake in de-stressing activities. Dandruff can be the culprit of breakouts on your forehead too. Treat your scalp with a hair oil and/or lemon juice for 10 to 15 minutes once a week to reduce flakiness.
Hormonal imbalances and stress will make themselves known here, which means you're more likely to break out here around your menstrual cycle. Reducing stress as much as possible, getting adequate sleep, and exercising will help heal blemishes around this kapha-ruled area
Cheeks and noseSpots here indicate poor metabolism and low absorption of nutrients, such as folic acid and iron, an internal flare-up or a blood pressure issue. Up the amounts of essential fatty acids in your diet (avocado, flax, olive oil), and avoid alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods. Changing your pillowcase and washing your sheets often will help prevent breakouts on the cheeks too, because bacteria and sweat build up on your pillowcase especially, so make sure you are changing it frequently or placing a clean towel on your pillow each night.
If you find yourself breaking out on your chest, back, or neck suddenly, it could be because you've recently changed your laundry detergent. Sometimes, this is also a result of an allergy to the fabric your bra is made of or because you are wearing it too tight.
Furthermore, for all acne types, Ayurveda recommends the following:
- Adding iron and a robust anti-inflammatory like turmeric to your diet. Aloe vera and honey can be further additions—both when consumed and when applied topically.
- Practice daily detoxes like cleaning your tongue, trying a metabolic detox like starting your morning with a cup of warm water, and practicing oil pulling.
- Add in yoga, which aids both circulation and detox—powerful acne fighters. Sun salutations and breathing meditations can be of great help in preventing and healing blemishes.
- Try antibacterial, anti-inflammatory topicals that don't damage the skin: neem, tea-tree, and clove are some of our favorites. I love UMA's ultra-potent yet gentle, 100 percent organic Deeply Clarifying line.
Most often, acne is a result of an outside cause that is affecting you, so always make sure to listen to your body to prevent stubborn blemishes. Sometimes it is difficult to remember to take care of yourself in such a fast-paced world, but your sanity (and your skin!) will thank you for it in the long run.