Using Ayurveda-inspired skincare brand Wilde Gatherings feels ritualistic. Blend the powdered cleanser with a splash of water until it forms a creamy paste and swirl it over your face to remove dull cells. After rinsing, spritz Aromamist from forehead to chin and let the dewy drops settle. Finally, massage a slick of fragrant oil into every pore until they’re plump and hydrated. It’s a routine founder, Kelley Hughes, developed through her own experiments with natural skincare—blending plants and oils to create effective products designed to target the client’s lifestyle as well as their complexion.
The entire Wilde Gatherings line is inspired by Ayurveda, a mind-body medical system that’s been used in India for more than 5,000 years. We are all born with a unique constitution that is always in flux, depending on our lifestyle and environment. With its common-sense holistic practices, Ayurveda attempts to restore and maintain a state of equilibrium for each individual.
“My take on it is that things are either calming or stimulating, grounding or uplifting, and with your skincare, your lifestyle, and your diet, you can have cooling calming ingredients, or stimulating warming ingredients,” explains Hughes. “For instance, New York is stimulating, coffee is stimulating, running is stimulating. Yoga is calming, meditation is calming, cucumbers and aloe are calming. Ayurveda dials in so directly and easily—it directly relates to your appearance and how you feel.”
Hughes trained with one of the world’s foremost Ayurvedic skincare practitioners, Dr. Pratima Raichur, who owns a lauded skincare line of her own. Dr. Raichur, whom Hughes describes as “literally magic and an incredible resource,” runs a course for holistic-minded estheticians in New York, which teaches techniques for combining herbs and other natural ingredients according to their warming or cooling properties.
“The science of Ayurveda is a profound body of knowledge that teaches us the secrets of vitality, wellness and beauty within the laws of nature and our universal energy,” explains Dr. Raichur. “All we are is pure nature in the shape of a human being. As long as the laws of nature are still true—fire still burns, water still wets, air still flows and the earth supports the weight beneath us—then formulations, treatments and rituals imbued with these scientific truths will have the most profound impact on the nature of our skin and our entire mind-body ecosystem.”
There are three energy types, or doshas, in Ayurveda: Vata, which is characterized by the air element, Pitta, which is related to fire and water, and Kapha, which is defined by water and earth. Knowing her client’s doshas helps Hughes curate products for them, and she usually has some lifestyle advice, too.
“Somebody who’s Vata—in the air, dried out—they’re the people who are jogging, eating salads every day and probably using oil-free moisturizer [even though they’re dehydrated],” she explains. “And the reason is that they get hormonal breakouts once a month and they don’t want to use [face] oils, but that’s an issue you have to treat when it arises. If you think about what you’re eating, what you’re drinking, and what your lifestyle is like it directly relates to your appearance.”
Another common mistake people make, according to Hughes, is using buzzy products or ingredients without due consideration. The Wilde Gatherings founder recommends analyzing what your complexion needs. If, for instance, it’s dried out and prone to irritation, retinols will probably aggravate it further, where as an oil blend incorporating evening primrose, neem, lavender and Vitamin E will calm and repair the skin. Customization is the key to a healthy complexion.
Modern science is finally catching up to what ancient systems like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have known for centuries, that an imbalance in your body, for example your hormones or your gut, will sometimes manifest on your face. Treating acne or eczema as a purely cosmetic issue isn’t necessarily getting to the cause, and while Ayurveda might not have a solution for every skin problem, it does provide a system for better understanding our own delicate and ever-changing ecosystems.