Winter Skin Care: What’s Best For You!
The winter months, characterized by less sunlight and alternating cold and heated air and low humidity, can take a toll on your skin. Skin feels and looks drier and sensitive skin is more irritable than usual because of decreased oil production, which is a result of insufficient blood supply in the outer layers of our skin.
Winter brings with it the qualities of Vata: movement, cold, light and dry qualities. So our skin and the rest of our body also takes on those qualities. The cold contracts our skin’s blood vessels in order to preserve heat, limiting the ability of oxygen and nutrients to reach the skin. The perfect storm of alternating cold and heated air and low humidity increases cellular water loss, which in turn means the skin lacks adequate hydration to maintain its immune function, and causes the skin barrier to break down. Our skin can become dry, flaky, rough, itchy, cracked and irritated.
Winter is the time of the year to take special care of the skin, and while winter presents a difficult time for our skin, there are things you can do to boost and protect your skin against the cold months ahead.
Switch to a lipid rich moisturizer
When it gets cooler and humidity is low, it’s important to use products that are more lipid and antioxidant-rich and to double up on hydration. In the first instance, you can support your skin by using a face cream that contains valuable oils such as my Seasonal Dosha Face Serum, which helps to balance the skin and nourish the cells, protecting them from dehydration. This is the perfect step to seal the skin’s protective barrier so that the moisture remains in the skin and cannot be drawn out into the dry air.
Use a mild exfoliator
Exfoliation is important all year round but especially essential in winter to help boost blood circulation and gently slough away the dead, dry skin cells that build up on the skin. Dead skin cells interfere with the absorption of ingredients you apply, and block moisture from reaching any healthy living cells underneath. Be careful however not to over-exfoliate; dry, flaky skin might also be more sensitive in the colder months. Use a mild, enzyme-based exfoliant two to three times a week such as my Facial Cleanser, which uses natural enzymes to remove dry and rough skin cells. This provides a deep, yet gentle exfoliation without harming healthy skin.
Use a humidifier
Humidifiers simply but effectively increase air hydration levels by forcing moisture into the environment usually via a mist. They’re especially helpful during the colder months of the year because artificial heat makes indoor air extremely dry and alternating between dry, hot and cold air strips the skin of its natural oils, which can degrade the skin’s natural moisture barrier and cause flaking, cracking, and peeling. Higher humidity can also help combat cold and flu symptoms and can help loosen congestion and lubricate your nasal passages.
Adjust your skincare routine
Aside from a lipid-rich face cream, your daily skincare routine should also include a hydrating mister such as my Winter Dosha Mister with my proprietary formulation of essential oils that are right for your dosha that replenish the moisture in the deeper skin layers while providing an immediate hydration boost to superficial layers. Winter is also an important time to mask. I use a deeply hydrating Pumpkin Face Mask more frequently in the winter along with a richer, lipid-based eye moisturizer like Washed Ghee. Try making it, even though it takes a good afternoon to make it – the results are worth it. Watch my video on how to make the best moisturizer in the world.
Take a sauna or steam bath
Saunas are terrific approaches to winter skin and overall health and wellness, with proven therapeutic benefits. Saunas have been shown in large clinical studies to reduce acne, boost your immune system, improve skin barrier function, and even improve cardiovascular systems. Furthermore, in the winter, our pores tend to “close up” to protect us from heat loss, dryness and the cold. Toxins are then extra likely to build up in the body during the winter. To avoid toxin buildup and help keep your skin clear through the winter months, work up a sweat on a regular basis during the winter through exercise or warm baths or saunas. But they are not for everyone. Vatas will do better with a steam bath, and Pittas have to be careful about getting overheated, even in winter.
After any heat treatment, it is also important to quickly protect your skin from trans-epidermal water loss by sealing it with a nourishing serum.
Don’t forget the rest of your body
What better way to start your day than to give yourself a warm oil massage? Get in the habit of “oiling up” each morning with the ayurvedic self-massage, “abhyanga,” before your bath or shower. This will lubricate and protect your skin and give your complexion a radiant sheen that lasts throughout the day. Vatas use sesame oil or your Vata Dosha Oil, Pittas, use Coconut oil or a Pitta Oil and of course Kaphas can use a heating oil like mustard oil or a warming oil that is just right for this season. Don’t be surprised if your friends tell you how great you look, and be sure to share your secret!
To ensure you stay “body beautiful” this winter, follow these fabulous ways to keep your skin plumped, oiled and glowing. As always, the first step to better health is to take care of yourself by managing the stress in your life, getting good quality sleep, staying well hydrated, eating a balanced diet that is right for your dosha, and exercising properly. Just remember—by making a small effort everyday, you can stay healthy for a lifetime!