I was intrigued to find out more about Ayurvedic skincare and how Ayurvedic skincare products can improve our skin. And I was interested to find out more about Ayurveda and how it can be used to treat everyday ailments. So I contacted Harmala Singh-Francois, the founder of the Ayurvedic skincare brand, Avishi to find out the amazing benefits of Ayurveda, and Ayurvedic skincare
Avishi has earned the reputation of being the cult ‘mother and baby’ skincare range loved by the likes of Meghan Markle. (Apparently, she’s a fan of their Stretch Mark Oil.)
Personally, I love ’boutique’ beauty brands, and Avishi ticks all the boxes.
Avishi Organics Skincare – Ayurvedic skincare
Packed with plant-based oils like Neem, Tamanu, and Castor and botanical extracts such as Plantain and Gotu Kola inspired by Harmala’s Ayurvedic roots, this organic range has been specially created for use during and after pregnancy and for babies and children. However, to be honest, anyone’s skin will benefit from these nurturing and nourishing formulations.
So I asked Harmala some questions to find out more!
Where does your interest in Ayurvedic medicine stem from?
“ I grew up immersed in the traditions of Ayurveda and natural medicine in India,” explains Harmala. From an early age, I remember my mother concocting herbal infusions for whatever ailed us. During the flu season, we always consumed copious amounts of Amla. We also took Tulsi for digestive complaints and Neem for any type of infection. My mother regularly oiled my hair with Ayurvedic oil infusions that she steeped overnight, and any skin condition, from diaper rashes to teenage acne, was treated with herbal staples from the pantry.”
“As a child, I didn’t understand the power or the science behind these rituals. But as an adult, armed with a passion for research, I realised just how valuable and scientifically sound many of these Ayurvedic remedies are.
Medicinal and beauty rituals based on Ayurveda have been practiced in India for centuries. And the sheer body of knowledge that exists in these rituals is truly phenomenal. So although my interest in Ayurveda and herbalism was always a part of me. I definitely augmented my knowledge over the years. Especially once I had my own kids.”
How did you come up with the name Avishi?
“Avishi, quite literally, means ‘from nature’ in Sanskrit, a language that originated in the second millennium BCE. Ayurvedic philosophy, formulations, treatment methods, and instructions were all, and still are, written down in Sanskrit.”
What are the main differences between Ayurvedic and conventional medicine?
“Normally conventional medicine deals with symptoms. For example, if your skin is itchy, your GP will give you an ointment to suppress the itch. In Ayurveda, the practitioner will look for the cause of the itch by looking at the body as a whole, and then attempt to bring balance and restore vitality.”
How have you brought this philosophy into your products?
“ We use ingredients that have been used for generations for their deeply therapeutic powers, and that work at the root to strengthen and nourish the skin. Why – because strong skin is resistant to damage.
For instance, Avishi Baby Oil contains a time-tested blend of ingredients; Adaptogenic Ashwagandha, purifying Amla, cooling Neem, balancing Holy basil (Tulsi), healing Plantain, and Yarrow, soothing Calendula and relaxing Lavender. These plants and herbs are known in Ayurveda for boosting muscle tone, improving circulation, protecting the skin from stressors, and calming the nervous system.
Similarly, Avishi Ayurvedic Recovery Oil contains Ashwagandha which helps strengthen skin, rejuvenates with Shatavari, cleanses with Manjistha, and tones with Ginger.” (Read more about Shatavari here.)
“We equally make use of a lot of Adaptogenic plants, such as Gotu Kola, Amla, Ashwagandha, and Holy Basil. This is because these plants help the body resist stress while rejuvenating and sustaining vital energy.
Stress is known to have a significant negative impact on skin, ranging from inflammation to premature skin aging and loss of elasticity.
That’s why adaptogens are extremely prized in the Ayurvedic tradition for boosting and maintaining skin health.”
How do Ayurvedic ingredients benefit the skin?
“In my opinion, the biggest benefit of using Ayurvedic plants and herbs lies in their ability to restore vitality and strength and help skin resist damage. However there are so many Ayurvedic plants with a variety of benefits, and for this reason, it would be impossible to list them all!
One great example is Neem, a key ingredient in our baby balm and a staple that’s found in many Indian homes. Not only does it boast powerful antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and skin healing properties, but it is also referred to as the ‘village pharmacy’ or the ‘panacea for all diseases. Unfortunately, it has a pungent smell, but it can do miracles for chaotic skin!”
How important it is to use natural, organic ingredients on babies and during pregnancy?
“Extremely important. For example, if you take a walk through your local pharmacy, you will see the number of pharmaceuticals that are administered via transdermal skin patches. This clearly tells you that the skin absorbs a high percentage of what is applied to it.
In fact, in a study by the Environmental Working Group researchers found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from babies born in U.S. hospitals. Notably, most of these chemicals included consumer product ingredients and pesticides.”
Ayurvedic skincare products
“Truly organic Ayurvedic skincare products are typically free from chemicals, colours, pesticides, artificial preservatives, fragrances, and petroleum derivatives. And by truly organic, I mean products that are certified organic. Definitely not products that are green-washed by laying claim to words such as ‘natural’ because they contain Lavender in a cocktail of otherwise toxic ingredients.
However, I recommend that people don’t buy products purely on the basis of an “organic claim.” As organic standards are changing all the time and do allow for a certain percentage of non-organic ingredients. Before you buy any skincare product, scrutinize the ingredients list. Always ensure what you put on your skin – and your baby’s skin – is pure, natural, and chemical-free.”
You also incorporate herbal ingredients from other cultures and countries into your range. What’s the thinking behind this?
“ Currently, there is a current trend in skincare that leans towards minimalism. Along with the less is more approach. And while this approach is extremely useful in limiting the amount of potentially toxic ingredients that we might apply to our skin, I have learned that skincare is like eating your vegetables.
Overall, we need a large and varied amount of ingredients to give our skin the nutrients that it needs. Especially nowadays, as most people’s skin is significantly depleted thanks to the phenomenal amount of pollutants found in our air, water, and food.
During my travels around the world, I have seen this more and more in traditional skincare rituals. Importantly, these rituals – in India, south-east Asia, China, West Africa – often take a layered approach to skincare. This in turn gives the skin everything it needs, to balance and nourish itself.
Likewise, I have learned that many ingredients that are renowned in one body of knowledge, are often renowned in others as well. For example, Gotu Kola, a key ingredient in Avishi Intensive Stretch Mark Oil, is a staple for skin rejuvenation not only in the Ayurvedic tradition but also in Chinese and Indonesian traditions.”
Ayurvedic skincare products
“Similarly, a couple of absolutely amazing African plants that I have discovered are Baobab and Marula. Both can be found in our Avishi Supercharged Body Lotion. The oil from the Baobab tree has been used by local women to protect their skin from the harsh Savannah environment for generations. It improves elasticity, encourages cell regeneration, and absorbs quickly
Likewise, Marula, another gem of a plant, contains a tremendous amount of vitamin C. Traditionally this has been used by the Ovambo women in northern Namibia to smooth and boost the skin’s moisture barrier.
In fact, there are so many absolutely fascinating ayurvedic skincare rituals out there. Rituals handed down from mother to daughter, over generations, and there is so much we can learn from them.”
Tried and Tested: Avishi Supercharged Body Lotion
I was delighted to road-test Avishi’s Supercharged Body Lotion, one of the brand’s best-selling products. Not only is it packed with nourishing ingredients including Avocado, Shea Butter, Marula, and Juniper Berries, but this lotion has been formulated to improve skin elasticity and suppleness.
It smells gorgeous too, thanks to the delicious Rose and Grapefruit essential oils, and has a luxurious texture that leaves skin beautifully moisturised. Like all Avishi products, it is completely non-toxic and paraben-free, so perfectly safe to use during pregnancy – and beyond.
|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|