The first step in the holistic ayurvedic approach to skin care is finding out your ayurvedic skin type.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha are ayurvedic psycho-physiological principles called doshas. They govern all the activities of the mind and body and determine the physical characteristics and emotional and mental tendencies of every human being. These three principles are combinations of the five elements - Vata, for example, is mostly air and space; Pitta is mainly fire and water; and Kapha is primarily earth and water. A person's ayurvedic skin type, therefore, can be Vata, Pitta or Kapha, or sometimes a combination of two of these doshas.
Further, a person can be born a certain skin type, but over time, that type may change because of external factors such as climate, diet and lifestyle habits or environmental pollution. Such "imbalances" should also be taken into account when choosing a skin care program.
Vata skin is in general dry, thin, cool to the touch, easily gets dehydrated, and is very vulnerable to the influence of dry, windy weather. Pitta is mostly fire, so the Pitta skin type tends to have more breakouts, photosensitivity, less tolerance to hot food, and less tolerance to fieriness in temperament. Pitta skin looks ruddy, and is warm to the touch. Pitta skin types tend to be more prone to freckles and moles than the other skin types. Kapha dosha is predominantly water and earth, so Kapha skin tends to have all the qualities of water and earth, it can be greasy, thick, and more tolerant of the sun.
"Combination" skin can be Vata-Pitta, skin that is both dry and sensitive; Kapha-Pitta, or oily and sensitive skin; and Vata-Kapha, skin that is generally dry with some oily zones. The ayurvedic approach to caring for combination skin takes into account environmental and seasonal factors. For example, a person with Vata-Pitta skin would follow the recommendations for Pitta skin in summer and Vata skin in winter. The Kapha-Pitta type would follow Pitta recommendations in summer and Kapha recommendations in winter. The Vata-Kapha type would be best served by generally following Vata guidelines, with extra cleansing of the oily zones.