Here in New Zealand, we are going through Winter, and many of us are feeling the drying effects as the qualities of Vata dosha are reaching their peak.
Our skin becomes dry and tight, and our lips and the soles of our feet may crack painfully. We look drawn and depleted, struggling to cope with the cold and the wind.
What can we do to look after our skin and look good in Winter?
One of the keys to comfortable skin is sufficient supply of oils. The best ways to increase the oil content in your skin is through massage (abhyanga). A highly-recommended oil is sesame, which is warming, grounding, and highly nourishing and easily absorbed.
Daily self-massage is a really nice way to look after yourself. Warm up some sesame oil. Apply to the head and massage vigorously into the scalp and neck, and more gently on the face. Then apply on the arms and rub vigorously, long strokes up and down the arms, and circular strokes around the elbows. Spend some time on the chest and belly, lower back and buttocks. Then finish with the legs and spend good time on the feet.
If you can, keep the oil on you for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with a warm shower. Avoid using soap, so you leave a light layer of oil on your skin.
The massage will get your blood circulation flowing and prepare you for the day. It will keep you feeling warm and grounded, and after a week or two of regular self-massage, your skin will start looking shiny, radiant, and well nourished.
If you can get an ayurvedic massage, that would be good as well! Vata people love to receive attention and care, and feel emotionally nourished from it. Find a masseur or masseuse who is caring and understands how best to perform ayurvedic massage for balancing Vata.
Tip for dry cracked lips
Cracked lips can be annoying and sometimes painful. A good way to avoid them is to gargle with a spoonful of sesame oil every morning and night. Swish the oil around the mouth for a few minutes, then spit it all out. This will keep the lips emollient, and also improve the health of your teeth and gums.
Vata imbalance benefits from increased intake of fats. Ideal fats to use are ghee (clarified butter) and olive oil. Ghee is good because it is stable and withstands high heat. Use ghee for cooking, spreading on toast, baking, or add it to your steamed veggies, rice, pasta, or potatoes.
Again, when you have sufficient fats in your diet, your skin will glow and shine.
Diet for dry skin
Follow a Vata-balancing diet to help your skin. Eat foods that are warm and cooked, that contain fats and oils, and that are sweet, sour and salty in taste.
Reduce foods that are cold (salads and smoothies), that are dry (toast, crackers), and that are bitter, astringent, and too pungent.
Eat regularly, and avoid missing meals. Sip warm water through the day, and you can also drink teas with ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. Warm milks with these spices are also good, especially before bed time.
Go to this blog post for more diet tips for dry skin.
Protecting your skin in Winter
In addition to the sesame oil massage in the morning, you may want to apply a light moisturiser to protect the skin. As your skin absorbs easily, make sure that your skincare and makeup are natural, and free of harsh and toxic chemicals.
Avoid the wind and cold, wear a scarf and hat, and even gloves, and make sure your home is kept comfortably warm.
Need help for your dry skin?
These diet and lifestyle tips will help your skin become healthier and more beautiful. However, if you have some underlying health issues, you may need the assistance of an ayurvedic practitioner. Dr Priya has many decades of experience helping people with skin problems. Call her today on (09) 829 2045 or email us for further info.