Photo by Engin Akyurt
Winter is a fantastic time for your skin. Stick with me here. Skin definitely dries out in colder weather, but that just primes the skin to soak up the goodness you lavish upon it. Many of us experience rougher, duller, chapped skin during winter precisely because we're not taking the right steps to nourish winter skin. Fortunately, Ayurveda has some valuable advice to offer to make winter a time of year for firm, smooth, glowing skin.
If you're unfamiliar with Ayurveda, it's a holistic healing system dating from ancient India. In Ayurveda, there are three doshas, or life energies present in everything. They are vata (wind), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth). Individuals each have one dominant dosha.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, winter is the season when vata gets pushed out of balance. Vata is the dosha associated with wind and carries some of its properties: dryness, movement, cold, and changeable. You can see these properties show up in unattended winter skin as cracks, flakes, tightness, and redness.
Warming up and Plumping Skin up with Warm Oil
Abhyanga, a self-massage using warm oil, is one enjoyable, effective method to remedy winter skin.
It takes about a quarter cup of warm oil to do your whole body from scalp to toes. Sesame and almond oil are good options for any dosha. Start by dry brushing your skin to remove dead skin. Then use the warmed oil, starting at your scalp, and massage into your body. Yes, include your face in the abhyanga. The massaging itself also improves circulation and plumps up blood vessels, which constrict in the cold.
When you're out, noses, lips, and cuticles are under constant assault by the winter air. Carry around coconut oil, which is a light oil that can mollify rough skin on the spot. The fatty acids in the oil warm, soothe, and moisture skin.
Pick an organic, virgin, unprocessed coconut oil that's cold-pressed. Any processing, such as refining or bleaching, removes the beneficial nutrients from the coconut oil.
If you select a coconut oil that solidifies, carry it around in a small shallow travel jar. Fractionated coconut oil doesn't solidify and is lighter, which you may prefer. Since fractionated coconut oil remains in its liquid form, make sure the bottle you carry it around in seals tight. Take a small bit of the coconut oil, warm it up between your fingers, and then dab or rub it wherever you have a spot of dryness.
Switching up Your Diet to Strengthen Skin from the Inside
Much of Ayurveda rests on the principle that what you eat and drink has the most significant impact on your health. The same is true for the health of your skin.
One positive winter change is to stop drinking coffee. I know, it is an odd recommendation given our blog title is Shower Shave Coffee. At least consider reducing intake of coffee by half. Ayurveda considers coffee to be aggravating to vata regardless of the season. Kapha dominant people may benefit from the dry, warming qualities of coffee. Yet everyone should look for alternative warm drinks that won't dehydrate or weaken your skin in the cold.
Ginger and cardamon are vata-reducing spices and make for good tea. Masala chai is another effective tea to soothe and nurture irritated, rough skin. It's a black tea made with various Indian spices. Having a chai latte, masala chai mixed with warm milk, is also a good option. Boiled milk adds moisturizing properties to the drink.
Another positive change to make is ditching cold greens for warm ones. A cool, crispy salad is perfect in summer but go for the opposite during winter. Preparing warm greens is winter skin trifecta win. It includes warm oil, warming spices, and the skin-loving nutrients in greens.
Plus, preparing warm greens in a skin-loving way is super simple. Pick a dark, leafy green. Warm some oil in a pan. Walnut and olive oil are tasty oil choices. Black pepper, mustard seed, sage, and tarragon are vata-reducing spices you can choose. Wilt the greens in the oil and spices. Done in minutes.
Winter Is a Needed Counterbalance to Summer Skin Detox
Don't fear winter weather's impact on your skin. Embrace what's good about it: It's a time that lets dry skin soak up all the nutrients you want to lavish on it. After a summer of sweating out toxins from our skin, take advantage of this period of replenishment.