Ayurvedic Skincare

Unlocking the Secrets of Ayurveda: The Complete Guide to Dosha Types, Balance & Skincare

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Unlocking the Secrets of Ayurveda: The Complete Guide to Dosha Types, Balance & Skincare

In today’s post, we turn to ancient Ayurvedic texts, for their life-transforming wisdom on skincare (and health).

Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of health and wellness, rooted in the belief that humans are a fascinatingly complex combination of water and nature’s elements, intricately connected to the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of our being. 

According to Ayurveda, we all have a unique skin type that aligns with our dosha composition and ayurvedic constitution. The three fundamental skin types in Ayurveda are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which correspond to the three doshas, which are the mind-body energies in Ayurvedic philosophy. 

An infophraphic highlighing the differences between Vata, Pitta and Kapha skin types.

In this article, we will break down each dosha and what this means for you and your skincare. 

What Are Ayurveda Doshas?

Ayurveda doshas refer to fundamental energies or principles that are interwoven into the fabric of our existence. Every individual, regardless of their cultural or geographical background, embodies these doshas and ayurvedic constitution, making them universal markers. 

An infographic on the 5 elements in Ayurveda. Shown five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth as the building blocks of the human body. Central image is a body surrounded by imagery depicting the 5 elements.

The Five Basic Elements

According to Ayurveda, the five natural elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth) are present in your mind and body, too—in the form of the doshas, vata, pitta, and kapha. These influence everything from your physical shape, and digestion to how you process thoughts and emotions. It also impacts skin and skin type.

So first, lets learn a little bit about each element:

  • Space (Akasha): Represents emptiness and provides the space for all other elements to exist and interact.

  • Air (Vayu): Symbolizes movement and change, responsible for breathing, circulation, and bodily movements.

  • Fire (Tejas): Embodies transformation, controlling digestion, metabolism, and physical body temperature.

  • Water (Jala): Denotes cohesion and fluidity, influencing digestion, nourishment, and lubrication of joints.

  • Earth (Prithvi): Reflects solidity and structure, giving form to the body and governing growth and stability.

Forming the 3 Doshas

Infographic on formation of ayurvedic doshas from 5 elements. Vata = Air + space; Pitta = Water + fire; Kapha = earth + water. Depicted as a hand-drawn sketch on a table.

Each dosha is predominantly composed of two elements: 

Dosha  Primary Elements
Vata Space + Air
Pitta Fire + Water
Kapha Earth + Water

Qualities of the Doshas

Each of the 3 doshas is a collection of qualities that support its particular energy:

Dosha  Qualities
Vata Dry, Light, Cold, Raw, Rough, Subtle, Moving
Pitta Hot, Fiery, Sharp, Well Formed, Liquid, Spreading, Oily
Kapha Heavy, Earthy, Slow, Oily, Smooth, Dense, Soft, Stable, Gross, Sticky

Dosha Functions and Personality Types

Further, the three primary doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, are each responsible for various physiological and psychological characteristics within the body and mind.

Also, an individual's nervous system, personality and physical traits are significantly influenced by the predominant dosha(s) in their constitution.

Here is the correlation of each dosha with specific mental tendencies and personality types:

Vata (Space and Air)

  • Function: Vata is the principle of movement and governs all bodily activities related to motion, including blood circulation, breathing, and nerve impulses. 

  • Personality Type: Individuals with a dominant Vata dosha are typically energetic, creative, and adaptable in behavioral characteristics, but may become anxious or experience digestive issues when unbalanced.

Pitta (Fire and Water)

  • Function: Pitta embodies the energy of transformation and metabolism. It oversees digestion, absorption, assimilation, and body temperature. 

  • Personality Type: Pitta types are often sharp, intelligent, and driven i.e. natural leaders, but can be prone to irritability, inflammation, and overheating if their dosha is out of balance.

Kapha (Water and Earth)

  • Function: Kapha provides structure, lubrication, and nourishment to the body. It influences physical growth, strength, stability, and the immune system. 

  • Personality Type: Kapha individuals are usually calm, loving, and loyal but may struggle with weight gain, sluggishness, or resistance to change when Kapha accumulates beyond balance.

In ayurvedic practice, Doshas are life forces.

The primary aim of Ayurveda is to achieve a harmonious balance among them. When these energies are balanced, it's believed that that person will have optimum health. Conversely, when there's an imbalanced dosha, it paves the way for diseases or discomforts, including acne and other skin conditions.

Black and white image of a female statue hlding  a weight scale which is balanced. Representing balanced doshas.

Discover your Dosha 

Ah yes, the big question! 

To discover your Ayurvedic dosha requires an analysis and understanding of both your physical and mental characteristics.

There are plenty of  Ayurvedic quizzes and questionnaires online, in books, and at Ayurvedic clinics that guide you through a series of curated questions to help determine your dominant dosha. 

For the most accurate and tailored assessment, consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner who will implore various diagnostic tools, such as pulse diagnosis, tongue analysis, and detailed interviews, to determine your primary dosha. 

Can Someone Be Tri-Doshic?

Being tri-doshic is considered on the rare side, but it’s certainly possible. Being tri-doshic means that vata, pitta, and kapha are equal in your body and psychological aspects, too. Tri-doshic skin type is typically balanced and healthy and isn’t dominated by one single one.

Recognizing Dosha Imbalances 

According to Ayurveda, illness and discomfort is often the result of an imbalance in one or more of the doshas.

For instance, some digestive system issues might indicate a Pitta imbalance, while chronic fatigue could point to Kapha. The symptoms are varied and can range from physical to psychological, impacting mental health as well as your skin. 

Illustration showing 3 people with dosha imbalance. Top left person with indigestion (pitta); top right person with dry itchy skin (Vata); and bottom person with chronic fatigue (Kapha).

Recognizing the symptoms and changes in your skin is an important first step. By understanding the nature of your skin imbalance, you can choose the lifestyle habits, Ayurvedic diet products, ayurvedic medicine, and skincare routines to support restoring balance.

An illustration of a person with active lifestyle, balanced diet and adequate hydration.

Let's explore this further.

Skin Care If You Are Vata Dosha Dominant 

The vata skin type is typically on the delicate side that is cool to the touch and on the dryer side, with a thin texture and fine pores. It can easily become dry, dehydrated, and flaky, leading to a loss of plumpness, so it requires regular nourishment and care.

Vata skin tends to have increased fine lines and wrinkles, especially when there is an imbalance.

woman with vata skin type. She has a light frame, dry skin and hair.

Identifying Imbalances in Vata Skin

If you've noticed your skin feeling super dry, maybe even a bit rough to the touch, it could be a sign that your Vata skin is out of balance. Here's what to look out for and some tips to get back to that soft, supple feeling:

  • Super Dry and Rough Texture: If your skin feels like it's thirsting for moisture and has a rougher texture than usual, it's a classic sign of Vata imbalance.

  • Fine Lines and Wrinkles Appear More Noticeable: Seeing more of those little lines? Dryness can make your skin show signs of aging a bit more prominently.

  • Dullness and Uneven Skin Tone: Missing that glow? Imbalanced Vata skin can look a little lackluster and not as even-toned as you'd like.

  • Sensitivity Increases: If your skin suddenly doesn't like the skincare products you've always used or reacts to weather changes, it's a hint that your Vata dosha might be out of sync.

  • Flakiness and Rough Patches Pop Up: Especially during the colder or windier months, those flaky spots are a giveaway that your skin is craving more moisture.

Infographic on signs of imbalances in vata skin.

13 Must-Have Tips to Maintain and Re-Balance Your Vata Skin 

To maintain healthy Vata skin or re-balance it, consider the following:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep the body and skin hydrated.

  2. Eat Well: Include foods that are warm, moist, and grounding. Opt for sweet, sour, and salty tastes; avoid bitter, astringent, pungent and cold foods.

  3. Gentle Cleansing: Use a gentle, hydrating cleanser that does not strip the skin of its natural oils.

  4. Reach for Rich Moisturizers: Opt for heavy, oil-based moisturizers and serums to nourish and protect the skin, with healthy natural ingredients.

  5. Avoid Hot Water: Use lukewarm water for cleansing as hot water can further dry out the skin.

  6. Consistent Skin Care Routine: Maintain a consistent skincare routine that includes cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

  7. Be Mindful of the Elements: Shield your skin from harsh cold weather, especially cold and windy conditions.

  8. Mild Exfoliation: Gently exfoliate to remove dead skin cells without irritating.

  9. Mindfulness for Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction mindful techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing as high stress can aggravate vata imbalance.

  10. Get Plenty of Sleep: Rest is crucial for Vata's skin health.

  11. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Choose skin care products free from harsh chemicals, fragrances, and dyes.

  12. Embrace Seasonality: Change and adjust your skin-care routine with changes in seasons to cater to different environmental factors.

  13. Regular Massage: Engage in regular self-massage (Abhyanga) using warm oil to nourish the skin and promote circulation.

Black woman with Vata skin applying a Shankara cream to her face wearing a pink robe

Skin Care If You Are Pitta Dosha Dominant 

Pitta-type skin is typically a soft, rosy, and luminous appearance when balanced. This skin type is sensitive, naturally warm, and often adorned with freckles, beauty spots, or moles. 

Imbalanced pitta is also prone to conditions such as rosacea, capillaries, acne, blemishes, and redness. Wrinkles are most commonly seen around the eyes in this skin type. 

An american woman with pitta type skin and body.

Identifying Imbalances in Pitta Skin

When Pitta skin gets out of balance, it sends out some pretty clear signals. This skin type, governed by fire and water, tends to show its distress through:

  • Increased Sensitivity: Your skin might start reacting more to products that used to be your go-tos, turning red or irritated with even the gentlest of formulas.

  • Excessive Oiliness: Especially in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin), you might notice your skin getting oilier than usual, leading to that not-so-fresh feeling.

  • Breakouts: Ah, the dreaded acne. An imbalanced Pitta can lead to more frequent breakouts, including red, inflamed pimples that seem to pop up overnight.

  • Rashes and Inflammation: You might see rashes or experience areas of inflammation, a direct nod to the excess heat in your body.

  • Sun Sensitivity: Finding yourself getting sunburned easier or just feeling like the sun is a bit too much for your skin lately? That's a classic sign of Pitta imbalances going rogue.

Infographic on signs of imbalances in pitta skin.

9 Must-Have Tips to Maintain and Re-Balance Your Pitta Skin 

  1. Utilize Gentle Skincare: Use mild, natural skincare products in everyday life. Pitta skin can be sensitive to harsh chemicals, so it's better to choose products with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, rose water, and sandalwood.

  2. Cool and Hydrate Regularly: Keep your skin cool and hydrated by incorporating masks and hydrating serums. 

  3. SPF!: Safeguard your skin from the sun as pitta skin can be prone to sunburn and irritation, so always use a high SPF sunscreen and wear protective clothing.

  4. Dietary Consideration: Munch on cooling and hydrating foods such as cucumbers, melons, and leafy greens. Avoid spicy, fried, or acidic foods as they can aggravate Pitta.

  5. Watch your Stress Levels: Mindful practices like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing in your regular routine can be supported in lowering stress. 

  6. Don’t Forget to Cleanse: Cleanse your skin gently but thoroughly, avoiding over-washing, which can strip the skin of its natural oils.

  7. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of H20 throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.

  8. Avoid Hot Showers: Enjoy lukewarm water showers rather than hot water for showers and washing your face. 

  9. Solid, Consistent Sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for skin health. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Woman with Pitta skin applying sandalwood paste to her face.

Skin Care If You Are Kapha Dosha Dominant 

Kapha dosha stands firm, symbolizing the intertwining energies of earth and water. Typical kapha-type skin is glowy, cool to the touch, and soft, oily, and smooth texture.

Kapha skin tends to be slower to age and wrinkles. When there is an imbalance in kapha skin, it can cause issues like excessive oiliness and greasiness.

woman with kapha body type and skin. Large body frame with smooth skin.

Identifying Imbalances in Kapha Skin

If you're noticing some changes in your skin that have you feeling a bit more like a greaseball than your glowing self, it might be your Kapha skin needs some attention. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Hello, Shine!: Finding your skin a bit on the oily side lately? Especially around your forehead, nose, and chin? That's a classic heads-up from your Kapha skin.

  • Blocked-Up Blues: Those pesky blackheads, whiteheads, and the more stubborn, deeper acne could be showing up more often, thanks to those clogged pores courtesy of excess oil.

  • Puffy Party: Noticed yourself gain weight or that your face is holding onto more water than usual? That’s Kapha’s way of telling you it’s feeling a bit out of balance.

  • Lackluster Look: If your skin's been missing its usual sparkle and feels a bit dull and heavy, it’s time to perk things up a bit.

  • Pore Problems: And if your pores are looking more like craters on the moon than their discreet selves, yep, that’s another sign Kapha needs some balancing.

infographic on signs of imbalances in kapha skin.

8 Must-Have Tips to Maintain and Re-Balance Your Kapha Skin 

  • Consistent Cleansing: Kapha skin benefits from regular cleansing to prevent clogging of pores. Use a gentle cleanser that effectively removes excess oil without drying out the skin.

  • Light Moisturizers: Opt for light, non-greasy moisturizers as kapha skin doesn't need any heavy creams. 

  • Exfoliate: Consistent, regular exfoliation is key for preventing buildup of dead skin cells. 

  • You Are What You Eat: A diet low in heavy and oily foods can help balance kapha skin. Be sure to enjoy plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit deep-fried, and foods that are high in sugar.

  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out toxins. 

  • Get Moving: Regular physical exercise will boost circulation which aids in reducing oiliness. 

  • Hold Off the Heavy Makeup: Use mineral-based makeup that is light on the skin.

  • Get your Zzzz: A healthy, regular sleep pattern supports the overall health of the skin.

Woman with Kapha skin appying ayurvedic face mask to her face.

Top Product Recommendations Based On Your Dosha

In addition to building lifestyle habits according to your dosha, it’s a good idea to curate your skin cupboard too. Your skin is your biggest organ and responds best to the skin care it needs.

Here are the top recommendations for skincare products based on your specific constitution: 


  • Daily Repair Serum - Rose: Infused with the calming essence of rose, grapefruit seed and algae extract, this serum hydrates the skin, ideal for balancing Vata dosha.

  • Anti-Age Serum: A potent blend of ayurvedic herbs and oils that targets signs of aging, perfect for Vata dosha, as it nourishes and hydrates dry, aging skin.

  • Rich Repair Moisturizer: Deeply moisturizes and repairs skin, suitable for Vata dosha, offering intense hydration and revitalization for dry and rough textures.

  • Anti-Age Eye Cream: Specifically formulated to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, great for all doshas, but particularly beneficial for Pitta and Vata with its soothing and moisturizing qualities.

  • Moisturizing Mask: A deeply hydrating face mask with honey, avocado oil, and oat flour that restores the skin's natural moisture balance, ideal for Vata dosha, as it contains rich oils that target dryness in mature skin.

Shankara's rich repair moisturizer, perfect for vata dosha skin


  • Microcrystal Exfoliator: A gentle yet effective solution for sloughing away dead skin cells, revealing a smoother, more radiant complexion suitable for all dosha types.

  • Fine Line Face Oil: the nourishing oils are perfect for Pitta’s sensitive skin..

  • Fine Line Moisturizer: with Borage oil and ylang ylang nourish and pamper your Pitta skin, to reduce the appearance of fine lines and get a beautiful, glowing skin.

  • Calming Mask: This algae-aloe gel mask soothes and calms sensitive skin for instant, cooling relief. Ideal for all skin types, eases temporary redness and irritation, while nourishing and hydrating your skin.

Shankara fine line moisturizer, ideal for pitta skin


  • Daily Repair Serum - Balance: Ideal for removing impurities while maintaining the skin's natural moisture balance, perfect for Kapha-related skin issues.

  • Balance Face Oil: A loyal friend to the Kapha skin, a unique blend of 100% pure deep penetrating oils that decreases oiliness while nourishing the skin.

  • Balance Moisturizer: A deeply hydrating solution that nourishes the skin without clogging pores, making it an excellent choice for balancing Kapha dosha.

  • Balance Oxygenating Mask: This Kapha mask will deliver nutrients while improving skin tone and absorbing excess oil, creating a healthy, rejuvenated appearance.

Shankara balance oxygenating mask for kapha skin.

Integrating Ayurveda into Your Skincare Routine

Embracing Ayurveda in your skincare routine can transform your skin health, catering to the unique needs of all dosha types. Ayurvedic principles focus on holistic wellness, and by incorporating products from Shankara's Ayurvedic skincare line, you can effectively balance Vata's dryness, Pitta's sensitivity, and Kapha's oiliness, ensuring your skin remains vibrant.

Here are tips for using these products effectively to harmonize your skin with the wisdom of Ayurveda:

Start with a Clean Slate: Hydrating/Purifying Cleanser

Morning Ritual: Begin each day by gently cleansing your face with the Hydrating Cleanser or Purifying Cleanser if you need to balance Kapha. This not only removes impurities but also prepares your skin to absorb the benefits of subsequent products more effectively.

Evening Care: Use the cleanser again in the evening to wash away the day's accumulation of dirt, oil, and makeup, ensuring your skin breathes freely overnight.

Shankara purifying cleanser

Revitalize and Renew: Microcrystal Exfoliator

Weekly Exfoliation: Incorporate a Microcrystal Exfoliator into your routine 2-3 times a week, depending on your skin's sensitivity. This step is crucial for removing dead skin cells, promoting cell regeneration, and enhancing your skin's natural glow.

Gentle Application: Apply with a light hand in circular motions, focusing on areas prone to dullness and congestion. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Shankara microcrystal exfoliator.

Repair and Rejuvenate: Daily Repair Serum

Daily Nourishment: After cleansing (and exfoliation on those days), apply a few drops of the Daily Repair Serum to your face and neck. Any of these serums is especially beneficial for balancing oiliness and dryness issues, and enhancing skin repair, making it a vital step for all skin types.

Serum Before Moisturizer: Let the serum absorb fully into your skin before moving on to moisturizing. This ensures the active ingredients penetrate deeply, optimizing their healing and rejuvenating effects.

Shankara serum collection featuring daily repair serum for vata and pitta skin; and brightening serum, blemish support serum and ageless serum for all skin types.

Balance and Hydrate: Timeless Moisturizer

Lock in Moisture: Finish your routine with Timeless Moisturizer to hydrate and nourish your skin. Its lightweight formula ensures your skin's moisture is balanced without adding excess oiliness, making it perfect for all skin types.

Morning and Night: Use the moisturizer twice a day, after the serum, to maintain optimal hydration levels and protect your skin from environmental stressors.

Shankara Timeless moisturizer.

Your Path to Balanced Beauty

Your path to balanced beauty begins with understanding your dosha and choosing skincare that supports and nurtures your natural constitution. 

Although the roots of Ayurveda reach deep into ancient history, its principles remain incredibly relevant in our modern, contemporary era. Ayurveda presents a variety of powerful techniques designed to harmonize the doshas. Lean on the powers of Ayurveda and information about your dosha towards preventive skincare. When you emphasize balance, you extend holistic wisdom to your skin and beyond. 

Are you ready to transform your skin with the power of Ayurveda?  

An image of a miniature tree balanced on a rock. Signifying Balance and Beauty.
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Aurva Kapoor
Aurva Kapoor Editor-In-Chief Aurva steers the ship at Shankara’s Skincare Blog. He specializes in creative storytelling, content creation and SEO. As our editor-in-chief, he excels in making complex skincare topics accessible and engaging to a broad audience. He uses his talents to educate consumers through relatable and informative content; and help elevate their daily skincare to a form of self-love and self-expression. When he is not teaching meditation or innovating new ways to educate clients about skin care, Aurva likes to sing and play his harmonium.