"The health of the skin depends upon the health of the internal systems of the body," says Pratima Raichur, owner of Pratima Spa in New York City. "What's happening on the outside of the body is a reflection of what's happening inside." This, she explains, is the basic principle of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian belief that your body operates as a whole instead of separate parts, and it's this practice that helps her treats patients who are looking for radiant skin, clear eyes, and boundless energy. It might also be the kind of lifestyle that can give you glowing skin for your wedding day, so we asked Raichur (who is model Hannah Bronfman's Ayurvedic doctor) to share tips you can easily incorporate into your routine.
Just remember, change takes time. "You shouldn't expect to change the skin overnight, nor do I recommend changing your usual skincare regimen within a few weeks of your wedding," she cautions.
Raichur says stress negatively affects the body in more ways than one, so she takes evening baths with herbal, aromatherapeutic oils and meditates every morning to combat it. "Exercise is also very stress relieving, helping our bodies to eliminate toxins and release endorphins," she says. "Just make sure to choose an exercise you love." Another great way to relieve stress? Get a massage. While these treatments are often seen as a luxury, massages are considered an essential healing treatment in Ayurveda. "You can even give yourself a massage by rubbing herbal oils on your feet every night before sleeping, or coating the body from feet to heart after a warm shower," Raichur explains.
Getting enough sleep is also important Ayurveda. "Unplug from your devices for a couple of hours before bed," Raichur says. "Going to bed and rising at consistent times can also mitigate patterns of insomnia." Try making golden milk at night to help you sleep: In a small saucepan, heat a half cup of almond milk, then add a fourth of a teaspoon of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Stir continuously until it comes to a boil, remove from heat, let cool, and enjoy.
Switch to Natural Beauty Products
"Everything we put on the skin gets absorbed into the body," Raichur says. "Using chemical-laden products day after day can cause toxicity to build and eventually becomes a burden for the liver, which is why using 100 percent natural is so important." Her best advice? If you can't eat it, don't put it on your skin. Avoid products with chemical surfactants, astringents, sulfates, parabens, synthetic preservatives, artificial scents, and dyes—her own line, Pratima Skincare, is made without any of the bad stuff.
Eat Whole Foods
Along with using natural beauty products, stick to an unprocessed diet. "If you find yourself reaching for a bag of something processed, try to think of a whole-food alternative," she says, like choosing an apple over crackers or a small bowl of lentils over chips. Choosing foods that are more easily digestible is important, so avoid cheese, fried foods, and sugar, and opt for veggie-centric dishes as often as possible. Include healthy, fibrous grains, greens, sprouted beans, lentils, fruits, nuts, and spices. Hydrating is important, too, and Raichur recommends drinking water with the juice of half a lime in the morning to stimulate digestion.
Identify Your Dosha
In Ayurveda, there are three types of overarching individuals, called doshas, which depict not just your skin type, but physicality and temperament, too. "The state of your particular eco-system, including its quality and features, is incredibly dependent upon the individual," Raichur explains. "This is where the term constitution, or dosha, comes into play—it's your unique mind-body type."
If you have a thin build, fine hair, small features, cold extremities, and dry skin, you are probably a Vata, or air, Raichur says, and need products formulated to promote circulation, offer warming properties, and provide rich, hydrating botanical nutrition. Look for products with sesame, cinnamon, clove, sweet orange, lemon, and geranium, she says. If you're a Pitta, you're governed by fire and produce combination skin. You can also have sensitivity, rosacea, or acne. The goal is to bring down inflammation and balance skin and dryness. Look for cooling, soothing ingredients like coconut, chamomile, neem, sandalwood, and rose. The last dosha, Kapha, is governed by earth and water, Raichur says, and has thicker skin that can be oily, acneic, and congested if imbalanced. Try clarifying, purifying ingredients, like mint, lavender, rosemary, bergamot, and sage.
Adopt a Simple, Yet Effective Skincare Regimen
Three basic products are all you'll need: an exfoliating cleanser, an essential oil, and a natural moisturizer. "The skin can't glow if it's hidden under dull surface tissue, so herbal cleansing and exfoliating is an important first step," Raichur says. "A formula with pure, crushed herbs that exfoliates with their granular body as well as through enzymatic action is the best type of daily exfoliation." Before moisturizing with a lotion, use an essential oil. "Since essential oils have a similar particle structure as the skin's own sebum, they're able to penetrate deeper than a cream or lotion and treat the skin where it's needed most," she explains. "Essential oils also support the regeneration of cells. The moisturizer on top is an extra barrier to protect against environmental depletion and hydrate and plump the outer layers of the skin." For all of you brides worried about fine lines around the eyes, Raichur recommends patting castor oil under and around them.