As the nights draw in and we come into the autumn and winter months, the air around us begins to turn cold and dry, and this has a knock-on effect on our skin. There is less humidity in the air, that’s why we all suddenly start suffering from chapped lips and dry, possibly flaky skin.
However, just because the air around you is dry doesn’t mean your skin has to be too. There are some things that you can do around this time of year to offset this and keep your skin, smooth, soft, moisturised and healthy.
In Ayurveda, Vata dosha is predominant in autumn. The qualities of Vata are dry, cool, rough, light and brittle. Its effect on the skin is therefore cold and dry leading to rough and unsmooth skin.
So how can we ensure that our skin remains hydrated and moisturised at this time of year? Include these tips into your daily skin care regime, and you’ll keep your smooth, soft skin.
SKIN CARE TIPS
ABHYANGA SELF MASSAGE
Before bathing, ensure you conduct a self-massage with warm (not hot) sesame oil all over the body. Use light but firm long strokes moving towards the heart. This helps with circulation, moisturising, lymphatic drainage and helps to detoxify the liver. Start with the head and feet first, gently massage these then move to the limbs using long, strokes, ensuring you use circular motions on the joints moving methodically up the body. Keep the oil on for at least 30 minutes, as this will be great for allowing your body to absorb the oil before bathing.
Abhyanga pacifies the doshas, enhances the complexion and the lustre of the skin, tones muscles, and acts as a natural moisturiser. It works to purify, nourish, and tone the body on a deep cellular level. This is according to ancient Ayurvedic scriptures.
Although you may be tempted to have hot showers and baths as it gets colder, the hot water actually strips away your natural oils so take warm showers and baths instead. If you do have a hot bath/shower, use an oil in your bath to retain moisture. Try to avoid products with chemicals and choose whole, organic oils instead of creams and lotions, which have a number of different ingredients most of which are not very wholesome.
Avoid using astringent toners or cleansers at this time, especially ones with alcohol as this strip moisture. Instead, wash your face with cooler water and a cream/milk based natural cleanser. While the face is still damp, apply either rose, jojoba or sesame oil to the face and décolletage area for moisturising in liberal amounts. This will help to lock in moisture all day and keep your skin smooth and hydrated.
Drink plenty of warm fluids, water, hot lemon and ginger, chamomile, rose hips all help to keep the body hydrated. Favour warm over cold and add any herbal preparations. Lemon water is gently detoxifying to the liver and ginger brings a little heat to pacify Vata. Chamomile is soothing and relaxing, and rose hip has plenty of vitamin c and is one of nature’s elixirs.
As winter draws near, favour warm, soupy foods over cold and raw. Green juicing or smoothies increase Vata so avoid these. Avoid too many Vata inducing foods like broccoli, or other cruciferous vegetables and add more oil to your diet, olive oil, organic ghee or coconut oil are all good. Also eat plenty of avocados, nuts, seeds etc. to gain health oils into the body, as this will help combat Vata.
Get to bed at a regular time by 10 pm if you can, and sleep for eight hours, this will help to get you into a natural rhythm and routine which helps to pacify Vata and ensure you your beauty sleep at the same time.
Due to the constant heating at this time of year use a dehumidifier to increase moisture in the air.
It’s important to exercise at this time of year to keep the circulation going and eliminate toxins, which can stagnate in the colder months. An active yoga session with a flow yoga or yoga where the body is warmed and the heart is pumping is good at this time of year and allows your body to sweat any toxins out and keeps your skin healthy in the process. Ideally, you should be sweating along your spine and underarms five times a week. This can be done either with yoga or a cardio based exercise, be sure to rest and relax after.
It is essential to breathe properly to ensure that your prana (essential life force) isn’t depleted. Incorporate regular deep breathing in your yoga practice as well as throughout the day to keep your prana adequate. Depleted prana will have a negative impact on other elements and can result in skin that loses its vitality and glow.
Leaving the best till last, the greatest way to combat Vata is through regular meditation. Try to start and finish every day with ten minutes of meditation; this will help with regular sleep, lower stress levels and a better quality of life.
Model: Alex Cerrato
Photographer: Stephane La Neve