During these frenzied and complicated modern times, I am a firm believer in simplifying as many aspects of my life as I can. From the food I eat to the clothing I wear to the beauty products I use. I need a simple and accessible morning routine that uses only a few pure and quality products. That’s not to say that it doesn’t take some effort, time and research, but if you’ve got a small budget, I believe you can have a natural morning routine without spending much more than you would on cheap, chemical-laden (or “green-washed”) products from the pharmacy and get superior results. Here are some of my favorite, Ayurvedic products that range between $5-10.
Auromere soap: First of all, I’m a convert to soap-less face washing! Mind you, I used to love the convenience and squeaky clean feeling of soap, but I now happily wash with oils, cleansing grains or a combination of both. Soap is just too alkaline and disrupts your skin’s acid mantle, a protective barrier that keeps out contaminants. It could take at least a couple of weeks for your skin to adjust to not washing with soap, so give it a little time. It didn’t take much transition at all for my dry skin–it pretty much loved it right away! But for those of you with clogged or problematic skin, there’s a chance you might breakout as your skin is detoxifying. Anyhow, why am I recommending this soap? Well, there are times when we just want some soap to wash our hands or scrub off a thick layer of dirt or muck. Auromere has beautifully scented and gentle soaps for such occasions. So far, I’ve tried their Himalayan Rose and Tulsi-Neem scents. And if you do insist on washing your face with soap, I suggest first applying a coat of oil to a damp face and THEN washing with a bit of mild, all natural soap. Afterwards, you can tone with rosewater (or another kind of herbal/floral hydrosol or Thayer’s alcohol-free witch hazel toner) and apply your moisturizing oil or cream.
A tongue scraper: Scraping your tongue is an Ayurvedic hygiene practice that is said to remove the toxic build-up that’s accumulated on our tongues as our bodies detoxify overnight, and therefore, avoiding the reabsorption of toxins. Clinical studies show that when it comes to removing bacteria, tongue scraping is superior to brushing or flossing your tongue, which doesn’t seem to quite get all the nasties hiding deep in the grooves. I recommend the stainless steel one from Banyan Botanicals, as this particular metal is appropriate for all constitutions. This Mindbodygreen article has more information about the benefits of tongue scraping if you’re curious.
Auromere toothpaste: This is one to take with a grain of salt! After using it for a few months, I had several women approach me and ask me what I was using on my teeth because they seemed noticeably brighter. But then two of my family members tried the toothpaste after seeing how much whiter my teeth were and found that it made their teeth darker! I don’t know what to tell them– but I’m still happy with this company and continue to use it. I think that flossing daily and not drinking coffee definitely boosts the effects. And I’ve had dental hygienists remark on the health of my teeth after using this for about two or three years now. (Read below.)
UPDATE: For years, I used the Licorice flavor, which has SLS, a toxic foaming agent found in most toothpastes. I’ve recently learned about how toxic this ingredient truly is and might be trying Auromere’s SLS-free Cardamom-Fennel flavor to see if it’s comparable. I also recently tried their Mint-Free flavor, which does have SLS, and the flavor/smell was awful–it truly smelled and tasted like bleach, which was kind of disconcerting. Most of the ingredients are herbal, mind you, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. Sigh. I’m kinda sad to see you go, Auromere toothpaste, but I may need to find a new, Ayurvedic brand!
UPDATE #2: I am now avoiding any toothpastes with glycerine, as I’ve heard from several sources that this could block your enamel from remineralization. I’m using clay toothpaste for the time being!
A dry brush: Dry brushing your skin has been said to reduce cellulite, the lymphatic system, promote circulation, support detoxification, and soften skin. It’s best to do before your shower, ideally in the morning, as it perks you up. I know I definitely feel a rejuvenating, tingling sensation under my skin as I’m dry brushing! Here’s a helpful video about how to dry brush properly, and remember that when you’re brushing your abdominal area, it’s best to go clockwise. That is, if you’re looking down at your feet, pretend they’re the 12 o’clock mark and go from there. Some dry brushing articles will say clockwise or counter-clockwise, and it gets confusing because you’re not sure whether they mean clockwise from your perspective or someone else’s! But you should go with the direction of your digestion. I think you’ll be able to feel which way feels right and natural. And if you’re having trouble remembering which way to brush across your entire body, nutritionist and acupuncturist Melissa Ramos, can help you out here with her little poem: “From your toes to your nose, and from your pitties to your…” ahem. Basically, always towards your heart! Note that it’s important to buy a dry brush with natural bristles, since synthetics can scratch your skin. If you’d more information on dry brushing, Sarah Britton from My New Roots has a great article about it.
Organic, untoasted sesame oil: This is a wonderful body and face oil (and facial oil cleanser) for those with a predominant vata dosha (dry skin). And please note that if you buy toasted sesame oil, you’re going to smell like a hot wok! For those who are predominately pitta (sensitive, combination, reddish and/or inflamed skin), use coconut or olive oil. As for those with predominately kapha skin (oily), try lighter, absorbent oils like apricot kernel, grapeseed, almond or hazelnut (<–heavier but astringent). And jojoba is a wonderfully absorbent oil that works for most people, regardless of skin type.
Absolute Beauty: Radiant Skin and Absolute Harmony through the Ancient Secrets of Ayurveda book: A comprehensive guide on natural beauty from an Ayurvedic perspective. Although I bought a used copy from my local, independent bookstore, Powell’s, for less than $10, this book retails at $22. You can also order the book from Amazon here.