My practice of Natural Beauty, as distinct from mainstream beauty, developed at the age of 15. I’d fallen in with a clique of pretty teens. Their smiles glistened with Bonne Bell Lip Smackers Bubble Gum gloss, their eyes were thick with Maybelline Great Lash mascara, and they tossed shoulder length hair that fanned back in perfect undulating wings like Farrah Fawcett, the swim suited avatar of beauty in the poster on their bedroom walls.
Whichever conditioner, curling iron, or brush they’d recommend, my curls did not straighten, fan back, or sprout wings. Sure I wanted to wear a tiny top with my cut-off cords. But how could I? My breasts were B cup for a day. The next morning they were a C.
At the end of that summer of the tube top, I took an SAT Prep Course. My Math professor was a smart and beautiful 30-something. She had thick curly hair, a lot like mine, except hers cascaded in luscious waves.
What kind of conditioner do you use? I asked.
I don’t. My family is Greek and we only use olive oil on our hair and skin.
I sat the SAT. My Math score was passable. My English was very good. My hair was gorgeous.
Natural Beauty Lessons
- Find Your Own Path
Your own path is a journey from the inside out. Inside is where your beauty begins, an innate essential quality of you. Find the guides, techniques, and confidence to express your essence. Mainstream Beauty says use all these products to look like some one else, and use these other products to hide what doesn’t fit. A Natural Beauty told me to use a pure traditional product to feed both hair and skin. I’ve followed that advice for 35 years and it aligns perfectly with Ayurvedic skin and hair care.
- Eat Real Food
Stock your cupboards with organic whole foods like grains, lentils, and beans and your fridge with organic vegetables. Use organic oils, spices, and mineral salt to prepare these staples into different dishes. As you wash, prep, and cook, you nourish your sense of sight, taste, touch, and smell. We are what we eat and what we eat embodies the care, attitude, and thoughts of the cook. Move through your kitchen with a kind heart and a mind filled with peace. Share your meals with family and friends. Bring your own food to work and on a plane.
Go to the source. Start with the basics. I recently bought an All-Natural hair powder. It cost me $30 for less than an ounce. $30! I didn’t know whether to snort it or cut it with baby powder and sell it. With just a few taps, this light white powder lifted my roots and thickened my curls. The main ingredient was silica AKA diatomaceous earth. $30 gets you 20 lbs of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. I have a sack under my sink. Stop by and I’ll give you some. I know you’ll love it, all my friends do. My fridge is filled with organic oils and herbs and my cupboards with essential oils, clays, and glass jars of all sizes.
- Follow a Schedule
In Ayurveda we understand that our health is shaped by our routines. The day is the teacher. This concept is called Dinacharya. We deepen our sleep by waking and retiring at the same times every day. Our digestion functions best when meals are eaten on the same schedule. When distinct times are reserved for work, family, learning, and play, we begin to balance health and heal distress by keeping to our timetable. The most potent herb or master masseuse cannot alleviate the depletion of all night gaming, eating on the run and, coffee fueled days. It’s dark, you’re exhausted, so go to sleep. When the sunrises, rise too, take a few Sun Salutations and give thanks for the new day.
- Adapt and Adjust
Newcomers approach Ayurveda trying to understand the 3 doshas and to figure out which one is theirs. They have an idea perfect health is the equal balance of all 3 doshas. It’s not, but don’t worry, even Wikipedia got this wrong. Constitution is formed at birth; this is Prakriti, your innate quality and personality. Your wellness today, Vikruti, seeks alignment with your Prakriti. Doshas, by their very nature, are always on the move like the seasons, the sun, earth, moods, ideas, and desires. Ayurveda cultivates awareness of these shifts and address them. If you’re cold, put on a sweater, make soup with warming spices and insulating ghee. As we listen and observe these shifts, we adapt to accommodate balance and cultivate awareness. Awareness is the very heart and definition of Ayurveda.