Ayurvedic Skin Care

Ayurveda is the belief that there are three basic energies that make up a person’s constitution: vata, pitta, and kapha.

Vata correlates to air and space, pitta to fire and water, and kapha to water and earth. Each person is born with an essential nature, which is expressed through these doshas.
Most generally have a primary and secondary dosha.
You can take our quiz to get a better idea of your dosha, but here are general guidelines. Vata types tend to have dry skin, dry hair, and a tendency toward rough hands with fingernails that break easily. Pitta types are prone to sunburn, hives, and rashes. Kaphas often experience oily skin, large pores, and facial puffiness.

A Balancing Act

When doshas are in a state of equilibrium, we experience a sense of well-being. But when stress, improper diet, or other influences tip us out of balance, the body lets us know.

Too much vata can lead to fine lines and wrinkles, chapped lips, or rough patches of skin (including eczema and psoriasis). Imbalanced pittas can break out in acne and rashes. Imbalanced kapha may cause clogged pores and whiteheads.

“If your skin is feeling normal, use any treatments for your dosha that appeal to you,” advises Reenita Malhotra Hora, author of Inner Beauty. If skin is "showing signs of imbalance, enlist those treatments that target the problem: If dryness is your issue, for example, focus on moisturizing treatments that balance vata.”

Ayurvedic Oils

Important in Ayurveda is a daily routine that includes abhyanga or self-massage with oil, ideally oil infused with herbs. A gentle dry brushing before massage helps all doshas.

For vatas:

Try oils infused with ashwagandha, ginger, black pepper, and gotu kola.

Try calming essential oils (rose otto, neroli, rose geranium, and lavender) with heavier oils (olive, almond, avocado or ghee [clarified butter]).

For pittas:

Try essential oils like rose otto, peppermint, or geranium. Also consider cooling coconut oil and aloe vera in beauty products.

Try herbs such as gotu kola, turmeric, and neem (known for its skin-healing properties) along with lavender, Moroccan chamomile, red mandarin, and clary sage oils.

For kaphas:

Use a light carrier oil with stimulating and energizing essential oils such as cinnamon, lemongrass, or cumin.

What's My Dosha?

Print out this page and circle each word that typically describes you. Add up your points to see which dosha(s) dominate. Your secondary dosha will be your second-highest score.


  • Slender
  • Dry hair
  • Brittle nails that break easily
  • Social
  • Anxious
  • Cold
  • Constipated
  • Dry skin
  • Fine lines
  • Dandruff
  • Popping joints
  • Rough hands
  • Easily aggravated by cold and dry climates

Vata Total: __________


  • Medium physique
  • Straight hair
  • Flexible fingernails
  • Angry
  • Itchy skin
  • Easily irritated skin
  • Sunburns easily
  • Hives
  • Bleeding cuticles
  • Rashes
  • Acne
  • Freckles
  • Easily aggravated by heat

Pitta Total: _________


  • Large-boned
  • Thick hair
  • Smooth fingernails
  • Laid-back
  • Withdrawn
  • Slow-paced
  • Soft skin
  • Sweaty
  • Sluggish
  • Oily skin
  • Clogged pores
  • Facial puffiness
  • Easily aggravated by cold, damp, and gray conditions

Kapha Total: _________


Lynn Tryba

Lynn Tryba is the Chief Content Officer at Taste for Life magazine. Over the past 20 years, her journalism has appeared in Psychology Today and Robb Report, among other national magazines.