The origins of Ayurvedic Cosmeceuticals date back to the Indus Valley Civilization. The use of cosmetics was not only directed towards developing an attractive external appearance, but towards achieving longevity with good health (Sanskrit – Aayush and Aarogyam). There is evidence of highly advanced concepts of self-beautification, and a large array of cosmetics used by both men and women in ancient India. The whole range of cosmetic usage and its practice as conceived by the ancient Indians was based on natural resources.
Skin care procedures forming the daily routine described in Ayurvedic literature consist of numerous formulae involving herbs and other natural ingredients. They were used as external applications in the form of packs, oils, herbal waters, powders etc. Applications of these as pastes have been classified into several kinds based on the temperature, duration and thickness of application, effect of the application for healing, beautifying, anti-aging etc.
Ayurvedic cosmeceuticals are very much prized for their safe, holistic action. Based on the vast and established knowledge of Ayurveda, herbal extracts, fruit extracts and essential oils are now being effectively used in medicines, food supplements and personal care. Ranges of Ayurvedic cosmeceuticals are available for ageless skin, tonifying it, smoothing its imperfections, and increasing its hydration level, thus restoring a radiant and healthy look. Such preparations actively protect the skin and prevent premature aging.
The Seven Layers of the Skin
Ayurveda describes seven distinct layers of the skin, each with its own structure and function. The layers are designed so that each layer provides support to the layers above it. The skin as a whole is able to effectively perform its overall functions when all the layers are healthy and balanced.
Avabhasini: This is the outermost layer. It reflects the complexion and the quality of the Rasa Dhatu (nutrient fluid, the first of the seven tissues of the body). It also acts as a mirror: it indicates whether the physiology as a whole is balanced or imbalanced, and whether there is inner health or disorder. The avabhasini layer also reflects the aura of the individual-if there is inner bliss, it shows on this layer. It does not have its own color: it reflects the colors of the inner layers. Internal and external re-hydration and regular massage supports the health and appearance of the avabhasini layer of the skin.
Lohita: This layer supports the outermost layer. It indicates the quality of Rakta Dhatu (blood). If there is ama (impurities) in the blood, it impacts the aura of the outer layer and accentuates sensitivity to the sun. The color of this layer resembles molten iron.
Shweta: This is a white layer, and it provides balance to skin color, lightening the darker colors of the inner layers.
Tamra: This layer nurtures the upper layers of the skin. It supports the immune system. This is the layer that helps the skin perform its function of being a “barrier.” Skin infections reflect an imbalance in this layer. It is copper-colored.
Vedini: This fifth layer sensually links the skin to the rest of the body. It is the center for transformation of sensation — feeling of pain, for example.
Rohini: This layer supports healing and regeneration. Imbalance in this layer retards healing and the disappearance of scars over time. A balanced diet, rich in nutritional value, supports the rohini layer.
Mamsadhara: This innermost layer is the platform for the skin’s stability and firmness. When this layer is in balance, the skin looks young and supple. A skin product that has a vayasthapana effect nourishes this layer to help retard the aging process.
Ayurvedic formulations for the skin, both internal and external, seek to combine herbs to positively influence multiple layers of the skin. Turmeric, for example, impacts the avabhasini layer because it is a complexion-enhancer, the lohita layer because it helps purify the blood, the tamra layer, because it is an immunomodulator, and the rohini layer, because it is an anti-inflammatory. That’s why turmeric is found in many ayurvedic formulations for the skin.