Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine, has a holistic perspective on health and wellness that includes skin health. Although Ayurveda doesn't directly address the concept of pores in the way that modern dermatology does, it offers insights about maintaining healthy skin that would naturally encompass care for pores. Healthy pores are usually small in size, which indicates that they are not clogged or enlarged and help keep the skin looking smooth and even.
In the pursuit of flawless skin, enlarged pores can be a recurring nightmare for many individuals. Ayurvedic principles emphasize the importance of balance and harmony within the body to achieve overall well-being, and this extends to skin health as well.
Understanding skin pores
Skin pores are small openings on the skin's surface that allow sweat and oils to escape. They are crucial in regulating the skin's temperature, moisture levels, and overall health. However, the importance of skin pores goes beyond just these functions. They affect the appearance of the skin as well.If our skin pores become clogged with dirt, oil, and dead skin cells, they can trigger acne, blackheads, and other skin troubles.
The size of the pores can also affect the appearance of the skin. While the size of pores is mostly determined by genetics, factors like age, sun damage, and improper skin care can also cause them to enlarge.
It is important that you are gentle with your skin. Scrubbing your face won’t make it any cleaner rather it will end up irritating your skin. It is crucial that you avoid picking at, squeezing, or digging into your pores at all times, as it can irritate the skin, making your pores look even more noticeable.9
Ayurveda on enlarged pores
According to Ayurveda, skin pores are important channels of the body that allow for the release of sweat and toxins. Ayurveda views the body as a network of interconnected channels known as 'srotas.' These channels transport fluids and nutrients throughout the body, playing a crucial role in maintaining physiological balance1. One such group of channels, the swedavahasrotas, is responsible for sweat production and excretion1.
These sweat channels originate from medadhatu (fat tissues) and the hair follicles on the skin. Sweating is a natural and necessary physiological function, that helps in maintaining the body temperature and plays a critical role in eliminating waste products. Any imbalance or obstruction in swedavahasrotas can lead to skin issues (kushta)1. A well-functioning swedavahasrotas aids in maintaining healthy skin by expelling toxins and keeping skin pores clean.
What causes enlarged pores?
Enlarged pores are primarily caused by excess oil production, often combined with impurities and dead skin cells clogging the pores. Additionally, genetic predisposition, age, and environmental factors like pollution and sun exposure can contribute to the issue. Ayurveda believes that imbalances in the doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) play a significant role in skin conditions, including enlarged pores.
Easy-to-Perform remedies at home
Cleanse your skin: It is important to keep the skin clean to prevent clogged pores. However, excessive cleansing of oily skin may further irritate the skin. In Ayurveda, cleansing the skin is considered an essential step for maintaining healthy skin and reducing the appearance of large pores. Ayurveda recommends using natural ingredients to cleanse the skin unlike chemical-based products that can strip your skin of its natural oils.
Exfoliate the skin: In Ayurveda, skin exfoliation is considered an important practice for maintaining healthy and radiant skin. The concept of exfoliation is referred to as "udvartana" in Ayurveda, which means to elevate or promote something upwards. Udvartana involves the gentle removal of dead skin cells, toxins, and impurities from the skin's surface, promoting better circulation and rejuvenation.
Steam (swedana): Steam can be a helpful natural remedy for reducing the appearance of large pores. It is a simple yet effective way to open up the pores, remove impurities from the skin, protect it, and make it healthy3. Adding herbs or rose petals to the water may enhance the cleansing and soothing benefits of steam. This may also help reduce the appearance of large pores, as pores that are clogged with impurities can appear larger than they actually are. Additionally, steam can help to soften the skin, making it easier to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells. It is important to be gentle with your skin after using steam, as the skin can be more sensitive and prone to irritation; follow up with a gentle exfoliant and moisturizer to further support healthy skin and reduce the appearance of large pores.
Practice self-massage: Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage with warm oil, can be beneficial for the skin in several ways, including reducing the appearance of large pores. Vitiation of swedavahastrotas may be related to the appearance of clogged or large pores and abhyanga is suggested as a treatment for this vitiation.8 Abhyanga involves massaging the skin in circular motions, which can help improve circulation to the skin. This increased blood flow can help nourish the skin cells and remove toxins, which can contribute to the appearance of large pores. Abhyanga involves using warm oils, like coconut and sesame oil, to massage the skin4. These oils can potentially help nourish and moisturize the skin. When the skin is well-hydrated, it tends to appear plumper and helps reduce the appearance of large pores.
It is important to choose an oil that is suitable for your skin type when practicing abhyanga. For example, coconut oil is cooling and can be beneficial for Pitta skin types, while sesame oil is warming and can be beneficial for Vata skin types.
Dry brushing: This technique involves using a soft, natural-bristle brush to gently brush the skin in circular motions. Dry brushing is believed to stimulate lymphatic drainage, promote blood circulation, and slough off dead skin cells.
Ayurveda offers several herbs that can be used to promote healthy skin and reduce the appearance of large pores.
Sandalwood: Sandalwood has a cooling effect on the skin and is often used in Ayurvedic skincare to reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin. Sandalwood has astringent properties that can help to tighten and tone the skin5. It can be used as a powder, paste, or oil and can be applied to the skin as a mask or used in a gentle massage.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic practices to promote skin health. It is rich in antioxidants and has a cooling effect on the skin, making it ideal for reducing inflammation and soothing irritated skin. Aloe vera gel can be applied topically to the skin or taken internally as a supplement. It has a hydrating6 and cooling effect on the skin, which can help to reduce inflammation and irritation. To use aloe vera to reduce the appearance of large pores7, you can apply fresh aloe vera gel directly to your face.
To address large pores from an Ayurvedic perspective, it's important to focus on balancing the doshas. This can be done through a skincare routine that includes gentle exfoliation, cleansing, and using skincare ingredients that help unclog pores and promote healthy skin, dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, use of Ayurvedic herbs and remedies. These remedies can help to reduce excess oil production and promote healthy skin, help improve blood circulation and remove impurities from the skin.