Usually when we think of our problem skin, it's in term of a set of unrelated problems: dry skin, eczema, acne, oily skin, etc. But what if you could address your skin woes using a unifying theory?
That's the goal of Sundara Holistic, a new skincare line that addresses your skin problems using Ayurvedic principles and organic essential oils.
Quick review of Ayurveda: it's an ancient belief system out of India that describes three fundamental energies we all possess, though in differing amounts. Vata is wind, Pitta is fire, and Kapha is earth. And together, they determine our personalities and health. Some people possess more of one or two of these "doshas," as they are called. And when a dosha is out of balance, it can lead to health and mental problems. But you can balance your doshas through nutrition, meditation, massage, and music. (Read more at Chopra.com.)
I'm only mildly acquainted with this belief system, in a sort of, "Oh, I've heard ghee is better for you," way. (Ghee is clarified butter and big in the Ayurvedic nutrition world.) But when I was offered a chance to get my dosha read, I took it. That's how I ended up hanging out with Kiera Nachman, founder of Sundara Holistic.
Nachman immediately pegged me as a Vata-Pitta when she met me. "You have a very small frame," she said. "Vata is the smallest frame. Your energy levels are Vata. But you definitely have Pitta as well. Pitta is fire. Anyone who has a healthy amount of Pitta in their constitution has to be careful in the summer, not have too much spicy foods, or too much alcohol. Have you ever suffered from acid reflux?" she asks. Whoa. I did have terrible acid reflux in college.
As she says, everybody has all three of the doshas in us, but we have certain ones that are dominant. Sundara Holistic offers a range of natural beauty oils and elixirs for the face, body, hair, and lips, each meant for a certain dosha.
"The products that are for a certain dosha are meant to balance things that that dosha tends to have when it's out of balance," Nachman told me. For example, Vata, which is the principle of movement, air, and space, is prone to dryness and roughness. Fall into winter is Vata season, with the wind whipping around. To balance this, Sundara's Vata products are grounding, nourishing and the most luxurious, with avocado oil, castor oil, and jojoba, with a geranium and lavender scent. The Vata serums and oils are great if your dominant dosha is Vata, or for anyone in the wintertime. "I'm not Vata," Nachman told me, "but this is the only thing I use in the wintertime, in the morning and at night."
Or take Pitta, which is the most sensitive type of skin. It's prone to acne, inflammation, and redness. "I'm Pitta, I've always had problems with acne coming and going," she says. (Me too.) Her Pitta face serum and body oil is made with cooling and soothing ingredients, and can be used in the summer on any skin, or anyone with Pitta skin. The eczema body oil is also especially good for Pittas, because eczema is an expression of too much Pitta.
Kapha is the grounded dosha, and the season of winter moving into spring, when the ground is cold and wet. People with a lot of Kapha are calm, sweet and loyal, but also prone to depression and weight gain. Because their skin is thicker and more oily, pollutants tend to get trapped in their skin. "Kapha needs to be detoxifying at all times – through the skin and through the diet," Nachman says. So the Kapha serum and body oil have oils that help detoxify the skin.
And then she has products that are good for any dosha. There's a tridoshic face serum, which can be used any time of year. The clary sage and geranium will help balance your hormones.
The hair oil has brahmi, which is good for the brain, nervous system, and also hair growth, plus rosemary, curry leaves (also amazing for stimulating hair growth), amla oil, and coconut oil. "A lot of people are experiencing hair loss, especially in New York," she says. "When you are stressed out, your scalp tends to constrict, so it stops the natural growth of the hair follicle. It's important to use oil with the scalp massage to open up those follicles again. My boyfriend is using it for his beard and it's growing like crazy."
The eye cream has tumeric and saffron-infused ghee. It's meant to help with puffiness, circles, and lines. "I put tumeric in my products so people can take it in through the skin in addition to the diet, so they can take in as much as possible," she says.
Plus, Nachman is a Reiki practitioner. "I infuse Reiki energy into them as well, so it brings them to an even higher vibration than they are," she says.
Nachman sent me home with some Vata face serum, since we're in Vata season, and I have that dominant dosha. I've been applying it to my face as a nighttime moisturizer, as it's recommended for dry skin and to combat aging. My skin has responded well, and I'm looking forward to using the Pitta oil come summer.If you're curious about how your doshas are affecting your skin, you can get a lifestyle consultation Nachman for $110. I took an abbreviated one, and a few days later she sent me a packet filled with tips, recipes, and rituals that will help me eat and live mindful of my Pitta-Vata tendencies. In NYC, Sundara is sold at Integral Yoga Natural Foods, Jivamukti Yoga Center, and Marlow Goods. Or you can buy it from her online store.