How can I calm my reactive skin?

Master herbalist and Ayurveda expert, Sebastian Pole, shares his advice for treating inflamed skin


How can I calm my reactive skin?

The skin is the body’s largest organ and acts as a protective barrier to the elements, including free-radical pollutants, bacteria, viruses and parasites.

According to the practice of Ayurveda, the key contributor towards most skin conditions is orientated around diet and digestion. If an individual eats according to their dominant dosha, it will support the body’s natural eliminative and cleansing processes, preventing the build-up of toxins in the blood, which then erupt onto the skin’s surface.

Ayurveda’s guiding principals believe that our bodies are made up of three doshas – vata, kapha and pitta – and each one is formed by different elements, from air and ether, to water and fire.

As you might expect, in Ayurveda, most skin disorders are dominated by the red, inflammatory heat of the pitta dosha, especially eczema. To counteract this, the inclusion of naturally cooling and anti-infl ammatory foods in your diet is a must. Herbs such as turmeric, green tea and also green leafy vegetables and purple fruits are packed full of beneficial antioxidants and are excellent for helping protect the skin. Cooling and calming herbs, such as aloe vera, to soothe hot, dry inflammation, are also perfect for people with skin conditions, as they can be taken internally, as well as being applied directly to irritated skin.

For external use, castor oil is a natural alternative to cosmetic hand creams, which are often full of chemicals. It is a thick, nutrient-rich oil, packed with vitamin E and omega oils that literally feeds the skin, while also moisturising it. In addition, its viscous nature means it provides a deep layer of protection that’s still present even after washing and drying your hands.