Winter Skincare the Ayurveda Way: Tips to Keep the Skin Radiant
While winters are for relishing ginger tea, hearty soups and heavy desserts, the onset of the cold season suddenly makes our skin flaky, lips chapped and heels cracked.
However, this doesn't mean that we have suffer these conditions throughout the season.
Every season affects our body and mind in distinct ways. According to Ayurveda our physical, mental and emotional state is deeply influenced by the movement of the Sun, therefore, it prescribes the ‘Routine of the Season’ ( Ritucharya ) based on Sun’s movements to live in harmony and be unaffected by seasonal fluctuations or environmental conditions.
Ayurveda cites vata energy (wind in Sanskrit) as the predominant energy of winters. This energy is dry, light, cool, rough and unsteady. Thus, the cold air leads to vata aggravation in our bodies that causes the dryness of the skin. By pacifying vata and nurturing ourselves with food and experiences that are opposite of vata energy we can be healthy. Ayurveda never treats any issue in isolation. A verse from Sushruta Samhita reads "Life is the dynamic combination of the body, senses, mind and spirit or the conscious principle.” Therefore, an Ayurvedic doctor will always consider the physical, mental and emotional factors before prescribing any remedy.
Skin health and beauty depends on overall health. Topical application of masks and scrubs will be beneficial in the long run only when lifestyle suggestions are followed. You cannot expect to have a glowing skin by living an irregular life, eating junk food, having sedentary habits and going through sleep deprivation.
Diet for Radiant Skin in Winters
Ayurveda's seasonal diet and lifestyle recommendations provide tools and insights to eat, drink, exercise, work and travel in optimal ways throughout the year. It lays a great emphasis on food, "When the diet is correct, medicine is of no need; when diet is incorrect medicine is of no use," explains Ayurveda.
Try to include sweet, sour and salty tastes in your everyday meals
Include new grains
Include milk, milk products and ghee
Include urad dal, all type of nuts/seeds and coconut
Sweeteners like jaggery, sugarcane and honey
Fenugreek or edible gum ladoos, panjeri with nuts should be included
Consume carrots, lemons, radishes, greens like mustard, fenugreek, spinach, root vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Include amla in form of murabba, chutney, pickle or Chyawanprash
Drink warm water and herbal teas
A lifestyle that follows regular mealtimes, exercise routine and sleep schedule is conductive towards good health.
- Start your day with a simple yoga practice and mediation. Winter is no excuse to be lazy or sedentary.
- An oil massage (Abhyanga) before bath keeps skin healthy and smooth. Use warm coconut, sesame or almond oil to massage the body. This moisturizes the body. Abhyanga has a calming effect on the mind, helps us to feel grounded, increases focus and balances emotions. It promotes deep sleep by inducing relaxation.
- Bath with warm water. Avoid very hot water as it increases dryness.
- Avoid harsh, chemical soaps
- Soak 1 tbsp. of sesame seeds for 2 hours. Grind finely, add milk and pinch of turmeric and make a paste. This scrub cleanses and moisturizes the skin.
- Make a paste of coarse gram flour, pinch of turmeric and milk and apply
- Take a spoon of sesame oil, add a tea spoon of coarse gram flour and apply. This scrub exfoliates skin effectively in winters without making it dry.
- Mix few drops of rosewater or paste of fresh rose petals with a teaspoon of milk cream. Apply on face before bath.
- Add 1tsp of almond powder, 1/s tsp of honey to 2 tsps. of milk and apply for 15 minutes.
- Herbs like Shatavari, Yashtimadhu, Anantamool, Nagarmotha, Amla, Aloe vera can be mixed with milk to make a face pack. Apply once a week to keep the skin soft.
Ayurvedic skin care is never about masking skin problems. It is about accepting the flaws and compassionately working with the rhythms of seasons and body to achieve a harmonious balance. Once this is achieved your skin will glow with radiant health. Try incorporating the listed suggestions to experience optimum health in winters to have a happily glowing skin.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)
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