You may not think there's much connection between your personality and your skin type, but one of the oldest medical systems in the world would beg to differ. Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old Indian health system that literally means "life + science/knowledge" (ayur + veda), is based on the idea that, in order for your health to be balanced, your mind, body, and spirit all need to be balanced, as well.
What's Your Ayurvedic Dosha?
"Ayurveda offers a typing system — known as the doshas — to help identify your unique constitution and what your ideal state of balance is," says Ayurveda expert Anna Russ, owner of Anna Apotheca in Atlanta.
There are three types of doshas — vata, pitta, and kapha — and each is connected to specific physical, emotional, and mental traits. "Each person is typically a blend of these doshas with one that predominates," explains Raja Sivamani, MD, assistant professor of clinical dermatology at the University of California, Davis, and co-chair of the Clinical Trials Committee of the Council for Ayurveda Research. Together, they govern your physical, mental, and emotional tendencies — such as your typical energy level, sleep patterns, food preferences, and skin type.
But your doshas also give clues as to what will upset your balance, like how you react when stressed. "The doshas are intended to help you make choices that are in tune with your body and skin in a personalized way," Dr. Sivamani adds.
Ayurvedic belief is that what you put on your skein should depend largely on your predominant dosha, as each one has different characteristics and needs.
The first step is determining your primary dosha. Russ offers a quick and easy quiz* you can try below. Once you know if you're predominately vata, pitta, or kapha, check out the tips below for optimizing your skincare routine to better fit your predominant dosha.
(A quick note: This quiz is not designed to make a diagnosis or take the place of a professional diagnosis or consultation. Always speak with your doctor before making changes to your regimen, and be sure to spot test any new products before applying larger amounts.)
Skincare Tips for Vata Dosha
Comprising space and air elements, this type of skin tends to be dry and prone to fine lines and eczema, Russ says. "The skincare regimen should be focused on restoring moisture, but also using essential oil fragrances that are more grounding to help calm the frantic vata mind," she advises.
Try an essential oil like angelica root, cedar, frankincense, or myrrh. Russ also recommends using body oil daily, particularly during cold and dry weather. And because healthy skin starts from the inside, be sure to drink lots of water and eat plenty of healthy fats.
And ditch the cigs if you haven't yet: "Smoking is never a good option for anyone, but especially so for those with a vata predominance," Sivamani says. "Smoking adds more vata to the system and may cause wrinkles to form even faster."
Skincare Tips for Pitta Dosha
Pitta is composed of fire and water elements, and due to their heated nature, people with this predominant dosha tend to have very sensitive, easily-inflamed skin prone to acne, rosacea, cold sores, and rashes. Pitta-type skin is often referred to as combination skin.
"Using skincare products that are soothing, cooling, and non-irritating is essential," Russ says, recommending facial serums containing coconut or avocado oil (which are also perfect skin-friendly food choices for pitta types).
Pitta-dominant people should also try to stay out of the sun, Sivamani adds. "Although everyone should practice good sun protection, people with this predominant dosha need to be particularly careful about their sun protection, as their skin tends to irritate and inflame more quickly after sun exposure."
Skincare Tips for Kapha Dosha
Those whose predominant dosha is kapha, which is said to be made of earth and water elements, tend to have, "smooth, lustrous skin, but that's prone to oiliness, cystic acne, and deep wrinkles when out of balance," Russ says.
Astringent toners and light moisturizers are the best choices for this type, and dry brushing can help to exfoliate. Because this dosha has a tendency toward more oil production, avoid products that add to the oiliness of the skin, such as heavy, pore-clogging creams, Sivamani says.
Also, to counter the heavy, sluggish energy of kapha types, Russ suggests using products with energizing essential oil fragrances, such as peppermint and ginger.
*This quiz is is not designed to make a diagnosis or take the place of a professional diagnosis or consultation. Always speak with your doctor before making changes to your regimen, and be sure to spot test any new products before applying larger amounts.