Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter Skin

Living in Michigan with the winter of 2013/2014 being one of the snowiest and coldest on record, people's skin tends to suffer.  The general feeling at this point is that winter is wearing us out, but we don't have control over the weather.  We can, however. assume a sense of comfort by taking care of our skin while we wait for winter to pass.

As illogical as it may appear, winter is actually the optimal time of year to nourish skin, because skin is dryer and more receptive during the winter season. One of the principles of Ayurveda is to take advantage of the natural tendencies available in every season for rejuvenation and purification. Conversely, in warmer seasons, the skin is sweating and detoxifying more.  And it is less absorbent and needing nourishment.

There are three basic skin issues that are usually associated with each body type.  Dryness, cracking or dullness of skin are common issues in the cold, dry, windy weather of winter. Since this kind of weather is associated with Vata and its season being winter, the qualities of Vata are exhibited both in the outer environment and in our bodies. If the person is a Vata body type or is living a Vata-aggravating lifestyle, the effect of Vata imbalance on the skin is even stronger.  Eating warm foods, having a regular schedule for sleep and meals and doing the daily ritual of warm oil massage will help to balance this skin issue.  I also use plain shea butter this time of year with great results.

The second skin condition reveals an interesting Ayurvedic skin fact.  Some winter conditions will cause heat to build up in the skin.  The freezing temperatures shrink the skin pores and prevent the body from releasing toxins which can cause a build up of inflammation and heat. As internal heat builds, Pitta body type becomes imbalanced.  This results in increased sensitivity, blemishes, rashes or redness.  Pitta needs to chill out with outdoor or regular exercise. Sweet, juicy fruits like pears, grapes and mango are good to eat.  Cilantro is excellent for detoxifying and cooling heat.  Avoid hot, spicy foods.

The third skin condition happens when the weather is cold and wet (which is more common in late winter) which cause the Kapha body type to increase.  And this creates oily, heavy skin.  Toxins tend to accumulate, clog pores and cause breakouts.  There is not the irritation associated with Pitta, but rather large, heavy blemishes.  Kapha needs to get moving with exercise and eat spicy foods and bitter greens.  Kapha should stay warm by drinking warm water throughout the day which also has a detoxifying effect.

While many cosmetic companies view skin care as an external job, Ayurveda uses a holistic approach.  Our skin is a combination of what is going on in our bodies and outside of our bodies, so we need to take care of the internal and external parts of us.

Stay healthy & well,

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