Pioneer of the Ayurvedic skincare field, Dr. Pratima Raichur has been practicing Ayurveda for over 40 years. Identifying the root cause of health concerns, Dr. Raichur balances the mind and body in accordance with its own nature.
Alongside her personally hand-made skincare line, PRATIMA Ayurvedic Skincare, Dr. Pratima Raichur offers Ayurvedic Lifestyle consultations at PRATIMA Spa in New York City, supported by a team of therapists performing Ayurvedic treatments, including facials and massages in a luxurious, eco-friendly environment.
International lecturer and author of the best-selling book, Absolute Beauty, Dr. Raichur is a Doctor of Ayurvedic medicine, Doctor of Naturopathy, Chemist and Botanist. Dr. Pratima Raichur is interviewed here by Monica Yearwood, Ayurvedic practitioner and founder of Hamsa Ayurveda Center in Chicago, IL.
Dr. Pratima Raichur On Beauty Practices, Skincare Solutions + Unrealistic Beauty Standards
1. Often when we hear of beauty we exclusively think of a pretty face or physical form, but what does beauty mean to you?
We are constantly bombarded with new beauty standards in the modern world that are increasingly unrealistic to achieve. This form of validation unfortunately does not result in happiness, even if you fit the model. Instead, it causes us to live in a constant state of dissatisfaction as the bar continues to become more and more unachievable (while continue to try harder to reach it).
To me, beauty is love. Love for one’s self and everything around you. True beauty is the result of inner happiness and contentment, and the only way you will achieve this is through love and acceptance. External beauty is only a representation of what lies within, so when you invite love into your world, beauty will naturally follow.
This love is a form of vitality. It’s an ongoing energy that cycles in and out, springing from within and returning. It feeds you and everyone around you. This is true beauty.
2. Most of us in natural skincare are trying to bring the elements of nature into our daily skincare regimen. How does your vocation/practice express a synergy with nature, and why is that important to you?
Ayurveda promotes a lifestyle that benefits the mind and body through balance, nourishment and natural, holistic practices (in accordance with Nature). Using pure, natural ingredients in your skincare is just as important as using pure, natural ingredients in your food. My line, PRATIMA, uses only 100% natural plants, flowers, roots, minerals and herbs to balance and heal. These ingredients are easily recognized and “digested” by the body, which is important since the skin ultimately absorbs about 60-70% of what is applied to it topically. Using synthetic and artificial ingredients may give an instant, but temporary result that causes more harm to the body once absorbed. The closer the ingredients are to nature, and the more customized they are to each individual, there will be more genuine and lasting benefits for the skin and the body, as well as the mind and spirit.
3. What is one of the most common skin issues/problems that you’ve observed and how might Ayurvedic skincare and essential oils rectify that?
I have come across many skin issues during my years of practicing, from acne to psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, and many more. The common denominator with any skin issue, including these is that they are all a result of imbalances occurring within the body, whether from diet, lifestyle, skincare products, or other internal causes. Essential Oils play a key role in the healing process as they are able to penetrate the skin deeper than any other type of skincare product, due to their molecular density and particle structure being very similar to our own skin.
Correcting a skin imbalance at its root layers, while maintaining the skin’s delicate acid mantle that can often be disrupted with traditional skincare products, provides the most effective treatment and visible impact. When used in combination with the appropriate Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle choices/awareness, skin issues and chronic conditions can be alleviated and healed.
4. Most of mainstream dermatology approaches skin issues superficially through topical applications. How do your solutions address the problem systematically and from the root?
Ayurveda believes that our body and mind is part of a single ecosystem. There is no individual area that acts independently from the whole. Our skin is our largest organ and quite an integral part of our body; often times mainstream dermatology tends to treat the skin as a separate external layer. While some Allopathic treatments may provide quick results, they will be temporary and effect the condition of the rest of the mind and body. Instead, using the wisdom of Ayurveda, I address skin issues from both an internal and external approach. I basically assess the aspect of ‘food’ or nourishment for the body, skin, and mind; I customize dietary guidance to make sure the individual is getting the nutrition they need while supporting her digestive capabilities; I prescribe herbs which can be thought of as pure, crushed food to help support the diet and digestion; I offer lifestyle guidance which involves wisdom from Ayurveda and the profound understanding of the doshas; and I offer my hand-made Ayurvedic skincare products that the skin recognizes as nutrition and nourishment. Ultimately, this all works synergistically to treat the root cause. The skin, mind, and body really respond when treated holistically. I am grateful to say that I have successfully treated thousands of men, women and children for over 40 years, even healing skin issues that have defied top dermatologists.
5. Many people believe that essential oils only smell good, and greatly underestimate their power to address complex skin issues. What 3 things would you like someone new to essential oils to know?
1. Essential oils are the most effective form of skincare, due to their ability to penetrate the skin at the deepest levels, truly healing skin issues when combined with the appropriate carrier oil for your skin type, they are more effective than any other topical skin treatment and are one of the most important steps of your daily skincare routine.
2. Essential Oils have profound aromatherapeutic effects on the mind and senses, helping to balance emotional states according to their properties. Essential Oils have a strong healing effect mentally, physically and emotionally.
3. Essential oils have natural anti-bacterial, anti-septic and anti-viral properties. When combined with the appropriate carrier depending on the condition, essential oils support healing and regeneration of the skin.
6. Can you give suggestions on how to identify which essential oils would be best for your skin type or issues?
Choosing the correct essential oil that balances your dosha is the best way to achieve desired results:
Vata skin tends to be dry and dehydrated and is prone to premature aging. Therefore, oils such as sesame, orange, geranium and cardamom are great for this skin type as they nourish, hydrate and replenish the skin. You can find them in my Vata Essential Oil.
Pitta skin is combination and tends to have imbalances such as inflammation and sensitivity with occasional breakouts (in the t-zone). Soothing and purifying oils of sandalwood, rose and jasmine help to balance, cool and calm irritations, and are included in my Pitta Essential Oil.
Kapha skin is prone to excess oil and cystic blemishes (around the mouth and chin). Essential oils such as lavender, sage and rosemary help to regulate oil production and balance congested skin, all of which are included in my Kapha Essential Oil.
Other herbs and oils that can be used for specialty concerns are neem in the case of acne, brahmi to soothe rosacea, and bakuchi for hyper-pigmentation. Nature has truly given us the tools for everything we need to achieve radiant, healthy skin.
7. Many of our readers would like to understand the differences between holistic skincare solutions and topical applications. Can you give us a general treatment protocol for acne?
A holistic routine that helps purify the body and reduces skin congestion is the most effective way to eliminate acne at its source; much better than a topical treatment that often over dries the skin, causing further irritation, additional problems and ultimately disappointing results.
Each person’s recommendation will differ but general tips that benefit most are drinking plenty of warm water throughout the day to purge impurities; avoiding excess dairy and fried foods to reduce congestion; and avoiding overly spicy foods as well as seafood that cause inflammation.
An invigorating exercise routine as well as digestive herbs and blood purifiers will also help reduce built up ama, or undigested toxins, residing in the body. A skincare regimen that focuses on cleansing and purifying the skin, with soothing herbs that calm and restore, will be the most beneficial.
Acne can arise from different causes, i.e. stress, hormones, diet, lifestyle, genetics, etc. A consultation with an Ayurvedic physician like myself is often the best way to create a tailored routine that focuses on the individual’s specific imbalances and recommendations.
8. What is your personal beauty regimen?
As my skin matures, my skincare routine focuses now on cleansing, nourishing and restoring. Morning and night, I use my Vata Herbal Cleanser, Nourishing Essential Oil and Rejuvenating Pearl Cream because their ingredients are formulated to deeply hydrate my skin while strengthening and toning tissue. In the evening, I use my Rejuvenating Essential Oil and apply organic castor oil around my eyes to nourish this delicate skin and strengthen my eyelashes, followed by my Saffron Eye Ghee. I also perform a self-massage with my Vata Rejuvenating Body Oil, focusing on my feet, limbs, and belly in particular. I massage my scalp with my Brahmi Nourishing Hair Oil to soothe and support healthy hair growth. In addition, I use natural bio-magnets in my drinking water to detoxify the body and repair the cellular damage.
And most importantly for me, I begin and end my day with meditation. Beauty means taking care of yourself outside as well as inside, so keeping my mind balanced at peace and tuned in to a loving consciousness is just as impactful as what I apply to my skin.
9. What beauty products do you use that you wouldn’t go without if you could help it?
While it’s hard to choose, I would have to pick my essential oils for face and herbal body oils for the body. Besides the profound and incomparable nourishment to my skin, I enjoy the soothing, grounding effect they provide. The aromatherapeutic qualities of the delicate aromas calm my mind and ease all my tensions. This is especially wonderful after a long day!
10. What are the top skincare practices that should be done on an everyday basis?
Cleanse, nourish, moisturize. These are the 3 essential steps for everyday care that everyone should follow, morning and night.
When it comes to a skincare regimen, it is incredibly important to follow the practice of cleansing, nourishing and moisturizing the skin both morning and night.
When choosing a cleanser, look for one that removes impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils nor altering its delicate pH. I love my herbal cleansers because they cleanse the skin while replenishing with nurturing botanicals. You can also adjust the consistency depending on skin type or usage.
To nourish, feed your skin with potent essential oils full of nutrients that replenish the skin, provide anti-aging support and have the potential to heal skin issues. My PRATIMA line includes 9 different essential oil blends that cater to many different skin needs and concerns.
Lastly, it’s important to moisturize as this provides hydration and protects the outer most layers of the skin. All PRATIMA moisturizers are formulated with pure ingredients from the earth to provide the skin with optimal support.
It’s also incredibly important to use a natural SPF on a regular basis to protect against sun damage and prevent premature aging. Staying sufficiently hydrated throughout the day by sipping lukewarm water and lubricating the body internally through the inclusion of nutritious oils in the diet are also important steps that should be taken to maintain the health of the skin.
11. Often when we hear of beautifying practices we think of topical applications. What other practices do you suggest can aid in beautifying the skin?
A night of quality, restful sleep. We hear it all the time but proper sleeping habits are so important. We must give ourselves the sufficient time to rejuvenate and heal from everyday stresses.
Daily meditation. Even if you start with 5 minutes at the beginning of your day, you will begin to feel and see a difference. Our minds are very powerful and we digest our thoughts just as much as we digest our food. Meditation is directly related to a sense of connectedness and peace, which uplifts moods, eases tension, wards off anxiety, and restores equilibrium to the entire mind/body. When you are at peace, your skin reflects this radiance and harmony.
Be mindful of your eating habits, as awareness is one of Ayurveda’s founding principles. Even if you do not follow your dosha’s dietary recommendations exactly, you will notice that your skin responds differently to certain foods. Adjusting a little here and there based on your observance greatly improves your body’s ability to digest and your skin’s ability to maintain health and vitality.
Sip warm water throughout the day. This helps support digestion, cleanse internal systems and pushes toxins out for a clear, beautiful complexion. Cold water can shock your internal organs so be sure to keep the temperature on the warmer side whenever possible. Be mindful of this especially around mealtimes. Cold water will cause your stomach muscles to tense, slowing your body’s ability to digest.
Practice breathing exercises and yoga asanas. This stimulates circulation in the body and brings oxygenation to the skin, which relieves physical, mental, and spiritual blockages. These exercises can also contribute to a feeling of connectedness within the self and can greatly facilitate meditation. Body massages with the appropriate essential oils are also ideal to nourish the body tissues, remove toxins and to promote good health in general.
12. Can you tell us 1 essential oil for each issue below and a suggestion on how to use it?
Acne: Purifying Essential Oil. This formula includes one of Ayurveda’s most potent herbs, neem, which is a wonderful multi-tasking botanical due to its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. This can be applied all over the face or as a spot treatment, morning and night on a clean face.
Premature Aging: Rejuvenating Essential Oil. This deeply hydrating formula includes Amla, Tulsi and Shatavari to replenish the skin with necessary moisture and regenerate the skin, while firming, toning and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Apply generously as a night treatment when skin is working hardest to repair itself.
Dry Skin: Dry skin is often an imbalance that accompanies a Vata skin type. My Vata Essential Oil, which includes sweet almond oil combined with sweet rose, geranium and cardamom essential oils, deeply hydrates the skin and replenishes lost moisture, while reducing dehydration lines and rejuvenating the skin.
Photo: Dr. Pratima Raichur